Setting the Pace: Developing cutting-edge technology and keeping ahead of the competition are all in a day’s work for Pace. Jonathon Harker speaks to Adrian Carter to find out about life in the mountain bike fast lane...


Pace has been in the cycle business for over 20 years. How has the firm changed?
The business of designing and supplying high-end MTB products hasn’t changed, but the structure of the company has. For many years our core business was fork manufacture, with other products in our line-up such as frames, components and clothing taking a back seat due to the demands made by the suspension business.

That changed three years ago when DT bought our suspension designs and manufacturing rights, freeing up the company to develop Pace products and services. Now we have three separate departments: Pace Cycles – MTBs and components, DT Swiss Distribution – suspension and wheel components, Service Centre – suspension servicing and warranty for DT, Scott and Pace.

Is the sector as strong as ever?
Certainly it’s currently challenging. High-end MTBs are luxury goods, so it’s important to ensure customers first choose mountain biking above a snow-board or whatever for their next high spend acquisition, and secondly we encourage them to choose Pace by reinforcing the brand with strong marketing and advanced products.

Technically it’s the most demanding sector to be in, plus it’s easy for a small niche brand to be drowned out by the big USA players. But small is beautiful as they say and our strength is technical innovation – a main driver in this market.

Innovation seems to have been a bedrock at Pace. How important is it to be at the forefront of new technology?
It’s essential and in a tough market it would be easy to justify development spending cuts. But in actual fact, Pace has more new product for 2010 than ever and we worked our little butts off to break into new market segments, develop totally new components and reinforce that ‘Pace brand equals innovation’ perception.

What are the 2010 highlights?
For Pace, the fact that for the first time we have a complete mountain bike range including the beautiful fillet brazed steel RC104 (which stole the show at Earls Court), plus the new Scandium four-inch travel RC204 trail/race frame with Free Floater suspension technology. There was a real buzz from our dealers when we launched the new range and we’re all expecting big things in 2010.

The big story from DT Swiss has to be the incredible 54 strong suspension fork line-up headed by its new magnesium models with new Twin Shot damping tech – particularly considering the competitive price points these models achieve. Behind the scenes DT designs many exclusive products for the OEs – for example the new M210 shock found on some 2010 Scott bikes (and standard fitment on the new Pace RC204 and 405 models).

Are you looking to expand your dealer base?
Yes, for both Pace and DT Swiss. Now we’ve completed our three-year strategy to increase the Pace frame range and develop products for targeted niches, we expect to broaden the brand’s appeal and the dealer network. If you only have one or two frame products in your range, this limits the work a dealer is willing to invest in the brand and that restricts the retailing network. We’re getting more dealer interest, enthusiastic about the extended range; they see Pace having broader appeal.

The DT suspension range – although high quality and high performance –was previously super high-end product. For 2010, DT has retained quality, improved technology, expanded the range and, importantly, pitched in with some competitive pricing, so more dealers now see DT as a true challenger to the established suspension brands. It’s very appealing to dealers who see these changes are achieved without squeezing their margins.

We have a technical sales guy on the road and we’re happy to arrange a visit should any quality dealer have an interest.

Any 2010 predictions?
Pace is investing a lot into its range and brand and hopes that other brands likewise drive the quality of product, function and service forward as well. 2009 seems to have been a story of missed opportunities for many, with reduced manufacture and stocking providing real headaches for dealers.

Cycling shows so much potential for growth and all OEs and suppliers need to be ahead of the game, ready to meet demand.

T: 01723 867919

The New Pace RC104 fillet brazed steel MTB has an SRP of £595, while the RC80BB has a £69 SRP

UPDATE: Pace’s relationship with DT Swiss has changed over the course of the past few weeks. For more on that click here

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