SQlab, expert in ergonomic bike components and accessories including saddles, grips, handlebars and stems, tells BikeBiz how its products help cyclists ease their ride
This piece first appeared in the October edition of BikeBiz magazine – get your free subscription here
Can you give us a little background on SQlab?
SQlab was founded by Tobias ‘Toby’ Hild, a former motocross rider, who had a big crash and switched to riding mountain bikes afterward. In the early 1990s, Toby founded his first cycling businesses: Amazing Toys, a parts and accessories brand for the fast-growing MTB downhill segment, and Amazing Shop, an LBS.
He was riding a lot himself but got huge issues with his lower back due to the vertebrae injury aftermath. He then started to work on products that make riding his bikes possible again, with a close friend, a doctor, and several ergonomic specialists.
In 2002, Toby founded SQlab as the world’s first player focusing on ergonomic cycling parts, to ease the ride and help cyclists with pain and numbness issues. SQlab was the very first brand to introduce a sit bones distance measuring tool for fitting, in the same year.
Today, SQlab owns several patents around all rider-bike-specific touchpoints, meaning saddles, grips, and pedals. Also, bars, stems and apparel items are in SQlab’s product portfolio.
All riding disciplines are covered, from tri, road, gravel, MTB, to trekking and commuting. SQlab was purchased by Boards&More (world market leader in wind-watersports hardware, already having its own cycling brand: ION apparel and protection) in 2021.
In early 2022, the distribution for the UK switched to Sean Reynolds, who had been with Boards&More for almost a decade and is also Rocky Mountain Bicycles rep.
What area of the market do you target?
Aftermarket only, all rider-bike touchpoints, all riding disciplines, sportive to comfort.
Medium to high price points, with good margins.
Absolutely retail/LBS-focused sales approach, because fitting is a huge part of SQlab’s success story.
No seasonal products, long product lifecycles (products are only replaced by successor models if there is a real benefit for the rider), thus avoiding discounting pressure and making products always in stock/available for retailers.
What makes your products unique?
SQlab products make riding your bike more enjoyable, by easing the pain or numbness issues a rider might have. No female/male-specific products, it’s all about fit. All our products come in different sizes to guarantee this. The most important patents are the ‘step-shaped’ saddle construction, or our ‘innerbarends’.
What unique offerings do you have for retailers?
Unique POS systems including measuring tools that make fitting a breeze and customers happy. The latest in-shop sales tool is a super easy-to-use ‘Profiler’ app, which enables the dealer to measure the customer via the iPad/iPhone camera and recommend the appropriate products through a guided, complete needs analysis. SQlab also offers product education workshops and has established its own e-learning platform, called ‘IQlab’.
What sort of feedback have you received from the industry?
Our products do work, and new SQlab buyers (end consumers) are becoming returning customers, some even real brand ambassadors within their personal network. Retailers do value that we are a very LBS-focused, easy-going brand without any ‘numbers pressure’, but simply want our retailers and end consumers to be happy.
Our retail-customer support has been awarded by the VSF (German bicycle and service association) each and every year. Since we joined the ranking, we have always been in the top five within our component category.
What are your plans for 2022 and beyond?
Get to meet way more UK industry friends, get to know the market better, and establish a great relationship with dealers. The first bigger move in the UK is SQlab’s official Bespoked Show collab, where we equip all custom frame builders with products (if they want to use them, and if they are the client’s preference), to support these great artisans, that are a source for unique inspiration and builds, perfectly fitted to riders.
That’s what is most important to us: riders loving to ride, because they use parts that fit them and their riding style, perfectly.