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Zipp wheels and Tyler make the Sunday paper(3 posts)

Zipp wheels and Tyler make the Sunday papercking17
Aug 10, 2003 7:08 AM
Nice article in the Springfield (Massachusetts) Sunday Republican buisness section about the Zipp Speed Weaponry company. Several picts that include Tyler on his P3. It's an Associated Press story so it might be in your paper too... or hopefully gets posted on Zipp's or the Associated Press/Springfield news web sites in case you miss it.

Here's the article...biknben
Aug 10, 2003 9:36 AM

Tour speeds wheel maker's success

Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS - A small U.S. bicycle wheel maker is enjoying a marketing bounce from an American cyclist's fourth-place finish in the Tour de France.

Tyler Hamilton couldn't top winner Lance Armstrong, but Hamilton's strong performance and single-day wins by two of his teammates have increased the visibility of Zipp Speed Weaponry in the United States and Europe.

The company supplied carbon fiber wheels to Hamilton's Team CSC in a two-year equipment deal, joining other U.S. bike parts makers that are chipping away at European and Japanese equipment dominance in Europe's road racing circuit.

At stake is leadership in cycling's global consumer market, where buying decisions are influenced by the equipment used by stars like Armstrong and Hamilton.

Zipp's president, Andy Ording, said his privately held company has enjoyed significant European sales growth this year because of exposure from the equipment deal with Danish-based Team CSC, which is sponsored by El Segundo, Calif.-based Computer Sciences Corp.

That exposure rose another notch at the Tour de France, where Hamilton stood out as a symbol of courage by gutting it out after suffering a broken collarbone in a 35-rider pileup during the first stage of the race July 6. Hamilton, of Marblehead, Mass., also won a single-day stage in the tour's final week, following two earlier wins by foreign teammates.

"The reaction to the product and the results of the past few weeks has been mostly tremendous enthusiasm," Ording said.

Zipp's Team CSC contract is the biggest in the 15-year history of the company, whose 42 employees work next to auto racing industry shops within sight of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

U.S. wheel makers such as Zipp, Rolf Prima, Bontrager, HED and Spinergy, as well as bike makers Cannondale and Trek, have gradually made inroads in the racing circuit. The smaller U.S. companies are up against big parts makers such as Japan's Shimano, Italy's Campagnolo and France's Mavic, as well as road racing's tradition-bound nature and a conservative governing body that closely regulates racing equipment, balancing the need for speed with safety and cost concerns.

The U.S. companies lack the contacts and distribution networks their bigger rivals have established over decades. But the Americans say the technological edge now rests on their side of the Atlantic.

"There's no way they could have done it without a superior product," said Lennard Zinn, who covers the technical side of cycling for VeloNews, a Boulder, Colo.-based racing magazine. "It's a good ol' boy network, and there is a lot of money involved."

Individual pro riders actually have used Zipp and other U.S.-made wheels since the early 1990s, but that's been largely a secret. Top riders sometimes buy the wheels they like the best, but remove manufacturers' decals so as not to run afoul of their teams' contracts with other wheel makers seeking prominence for their logos.

Visibility-hungry equipment makers typically pay teams to use their products and provide parts for the duration of a season or longer. Zipp's Ording declined to reveal details of his company's contract with Team CSC and its two dozen racers.

In the consumer market, Zipp wheels and their high-end competitors are not for everybody. A retail set of Zipp wheels ranges from $1,350 to $3,000, depending on the model.

The wheels feature V-section, aerodynamic rims that are the width of a thumb to reduce rolling resistance when paired with tires pumped up to four times the pressure of car tires. The rims are made of carbon fiber cooked at high pressure in specialized ovens.

Such features quickly won over U.S. triathletes in the early 1990s, and the triathlon market remains bigger
Here's the article...(cont.)biknben
Aug 10, 2003 9:37 AM
Such features quickly won over U.S. triathletes in the early 1990s, and the triathlon market remains bigger than Zipp's bike road racing market. Fifteen top triathletes have contracts to use Zipp wheels.

Zipp's international sales now amount for 51 percent of revenue, a figure Ording expects to grow with Zipp's marketing bounce from the CSC deal. European cycling participation dwarfs that in the United States.

"There's no question racing exposure pays off internationally," VeloNews' Zinn said.