While Europe enjoys several respected brands (Rose, Canyon, etc.) that sell direct to consumer, the concept’s been a tougher sell here in the States. A bit surprising, perhaps, given our proclivity for components and gear online bargain hunting, but Neil Pryde tried, but quickly changed tack and pursued IBDs, Airborne’s given it a few goes and Titus plugging along.
Now, Commençal is giving it a go in an effort to reintroduce the brand to the US. The difference is, bikes and frames will be priced on par with European retail MSRP, not discounted. This keeps the door open to work with retailers since margins won’t be undercut.
They’ve opened a distribution center in Las Vegas through JM Gagne, a former Canadian distributor. Some 2012 models are available now, with 2013 bikes starting to be delivered in January and February. Previously, Commencal was distributed by BTI through model year 2010, with a small effort by an OR distributor in the interim. A new website will come online in January, until then you can email them for info and to order.
We were at their most recent mountain bike launch (coverage here and here), and followed up with a review of the new Meta AM, and really enjoyed the bikes. So, the challenge shouldn’t be one of product quality, just changing riders’ mindsets of how they get their latest ride. It’s tough to plunk down cold, hard cash without seeing, touching and feeling the bikes on a showroom floor. A good national demo program could really help. For gravity folks, this should be welcome news – their bikes have proven their mettle under the likes of the Athertons at the World Cup level in the past, with Remy Absalon and the Ruffins riding them currently.