Trek Purchases Electra Bike Company

Trek has been known to acquire companies along they way. When they see smaller companies like Bontrager, Klein, Lemond, and Gary Fisher doing big things, rather than purchase them and put them out of business, the Trek method has been to continue to operate said businesses as normal, but to use the Trek supply chain and resources to grow the brands even further. That seems to be the case with their latest acquisition of Electra Bicycles – one of the leading companies in life style cycling, and the company that really championed Flat Foot Technology (geometry that allows flat feet on the ground when stopped).

Electra president Skip Hess mentioned, “We’re thrilled to have a great new partner in Trek. “It’s going to give us the resources to grow the Electra brand and get more people everywhere riding and loving Electra.” The Electra brand will continue to operate out of its Vista, California head quarters with Skip at the helm. What will this do to the current line of Trek comfort and hybrid bikes? Only time will tell.

More after the break.

From Trek:

Move combines the bike industry’s leading performance and lifestyle bike brands

(Waterloo, WI/Vista, CA) – Trek Bicycle has acquired the Electra Bicycle Company in a move that joins the bicycle industry’s leading performance brand with the most popular name in lifestyle cycling. Joining the Trek family provides Electra with business and logistical support as well as distribution assets that will ensure the growth of the brand.

“I have always admired the Electra Brand, said Trek president John Burke. “Skip and his team have done some amazing things with limited resources. Trek will be able to provide financial, supply chain, distribution, and sales support that will help Electra take its business to the next level and will stay out of their way when it comes to product and marketing.”

“We’re thrilled to have a great new partner in Trek,” said Electra president Skip Hess. “It’s going to give us the resources to grow the Electra brand and get more people everywhere riding and loving Electra.”

The Electra brand will continue to be managed and marketed at its headquarters in Vista, California.


  1. “When they see smaller companies like Bontrager, Klein, Lemond, and Gary Fisher doing big things, rather than purchase them and put them out of business, the Trek method has been to continue to operate said businesses as normal, but to use the Trek supply chain and resources to grow the brands even further.”

    Except in the case of Bontrager, Klein, Lemond, and Gary Fisher, 3 of which no longer exist and 1 is a shadow of its former bike manufacturing self.

  2. “rather than purchase them and put them out of business, the Trek method has been to continue to operate said businesses as normal, but to use the Trek supply chain and resources to grow the brands even further”

    And then…put them out of business.

  3. Personally, I think it’s great. Trek puts a lot of effort into the commuter/comfort/townie type bikes, and Electra has it nailed. This will allow them to take all that energy wasted and focus on what they’re good at, which is racing bikes.

  4. Huh. Interesting. The shop where I currently work is an Electra dealer, along with Cannondale and Specialized. I doubt this will make a huge difference, since we carry Trek at one of our other 2 shops, but I think it’ll impact non-Trek dealers the same way their purchase affected Gary Fisher, Bontrager, LeMond, and Klein dealers in the ’90s.
    My first shop was a Gary Fisher dealer, second was a Bontrager dealer, both right before the purchase. Seeing what Trek did to these companies was, well, eye opening. Lo these many years, I’ve come to understand just how much of a business Trek runs. The idea that the bike industry is all about warm hugs and unicorn farts has been gone for me for a looong time.

  5. From Trek’s dealer FAQ

    Q: What will happen with the current Electra retailer network?
    A: The existing Electra retailer base will remain intact.

    We’ll see for how long though.

  6. What will happen to the current Electra reps? Have they been let go? And will he current Trek reps now also be the new Electra reps?

  7. “When they see smaller companies like Bontrager, Klein, Lemond, and Gary Fisher doing big things, rather than purchase them and put them out of business, the Trek method has been to continue to operate said businesses as normal, but to use the Trek supply chain and resources to grow the brands even further.”

    Well written, sarcasm all over the place!

  8. Dave: Trek reps will now be the Electra Reps. Paul: For now current dealers will remain Electra dealers. Trek dealers will have options to carry the bikes.

    I do think do will see alot more mergers this year. Very hard for the smaller brands to go up against the largers brands with health care, insurance, buildings, and people cost going up every year.

    Now I hope Trek will just get a BMX Race brand!!

  9. I am stunned as is all the sales reps that just lost their jobs. They created the network provided the support…really built the brand in the field. Their ample reward from Trek is to be put to pasture. I remember how dealers were treated back in early 2000 when they were to carry 100% Trek or be terminated. Seems like the same leadership, same disaster for Electra dealers. Death to the dealer that doen’t carry 100% Intrepid brand.

  10. I was always under the impression that Trek had something to do with Electra anyway. My assumptions may have been correct and now Trek officially has full owner ship of the company. The Trek Philosophy with gobbling up brands goes right back to the old day’s of Raleigh. How Many British brands did they buy and operate for a period of time before being killed off?

  11. “Except in the case of Bontrager, Klein, Lemond, and Gary Fisher, 3 of which no longer exist and 1 is a shadow of its former bike manufacturing self.”


  12. Listen to any interview from Bontrager. He admits his brand was having issues selling steel bikes when everything else was going carbon and aluminum. He sold to Trek willingly so he could focus on components which were his passion anyway.

  13. “Except in the case of Bontrager, Klein, Lemond, and Gary Fisher, 3 of which no longer exist and 1 is a shadow of its former bike manufacturing self.”

    To be fair, those guys probably wouldn’t be around now anyway, even if Trek hadn’t bought them out.

    And WTF is haromania talking about? This has nothing to do with fat bikes.

  14. To be fair, Trek never acquired LeMond, just licensed it.

    I don’t understand this move at all. I feel like the market for Electras is saturated, and they don’t offer anything significant that Trek couldn’t make themselves. Not even a dealer network.

    Goodnight Electra.

  15. @Don

    If what you said were true, then every Trek dealer would basically be a concept store, which isn’t the case. I’ve seen Treks alongside the other brands in plenty of bike shops.

  16. Trek has been demanding brand integration at the dealer level in my town, and most other places I’m sure. We had a great shop that sold Lemond along with Felt Bianchi etc. and when Trek demanded that he sell Trek brands exclusively or lose Lemond he told them to kiss off. Electra dealers, be forewarned.

  17. Unlike the other brands trek has purchased, Electra isn’t failing. Electra also has more dealers then trek does as they are carried by sporting goods chains also like sport Chalet and rei. It doesn’t make business sense to lay off all of electras reps and employees because you still need them for all the accounts that trek can’t deal with

  18. Josh,

    Business is business but eventually all of the companies that are doing less than $10,000,000.00 in business will be swallowed up by the top 5 or 6 companies.

    Soon all of the bikes will all look and feel the same. Do you like that? It will make cycling very boring.

    Imagine if every car you saw was a Nissan Altima and a Toyota Camry. Nothing wrong with these cars. They drive well, last a long time but they are nothing special.

    Just vanilla or milk toast.

  19. Trek makes good bikes, but they have no soul, you know what I mean. Electra bikes are kinda different but they have character. I hope Trek doesn’t mess that up.

  20. This is a good move for Trek. I own a Madone 5.2, and it DOES muck up their branding by having the hybrid FX series branded Trek like the Project One and Radioshack team bikes. Trek is positioned as a race bike, and they’ll do well to expand into coaster bikes with an established brand that is separate. Maybe we’ll see Trek Electra Townie” bikes in a couple years?

    Ultimately, good bikes are built by good companies, and big companies can make some dreams easier to realise – Surly has been left flatfooted in the fatbike market with changing rear hub standards and they build steel bikes – it shouldn’t be too hard to weld up a few prototypes to adapt… Trek, Giant and Merida have the R&D and cash to do more, and that’s why they are where they are – huge. If they swallow up players like Surly or Electra, then that’s life. If you want a brand, not a bike, you are no different to the Pinarello or Colnago crowd, just a smaller budget.

  21. People keep talking about Trek demanding 100% Trek in all their stores, but that’s hasn’t been remotely the case in the eight years I’ve sold Trek bikes. What the DO insist on is that you buy a certain percentage of Trek and Bontrager products from them, in return for Gold or Platinum dealer status (which means a greater discount on Trek products, in return).

    In my experience, this a win-win for Trek, who sells more of their stuff (duh), and local bike shops, who get a huge discount on mostly high quality merchandise that’s easy to sell. So basically, you buy lots of Bontrager bartape from Trek, you get a big discount, and make a better margin than you do on Cinelli. The only thing that sucks is that every damn year, they make you buy some number of their junky computers, which are inevitably failure prone and difficult to program.

    And Dave, you are just wrong. There are literally HUNDREDS of bicycle companies out there who are in no way owned by the big boys and absolutely never will be, and it has been this way for decades. The irony in your statement is that, of course, is that the bulk of all bikes are made by a handful of companies, no matter what brand they say, yet we all know that a Trek and a Giant ride totally different, despite being made in the exact same factory.

  22. Every store I’ve been in that has sold Treks has also sold other makes. This includes stores in several states.

    It’d be interesting to hear Electra’s reasoning for the sale. That might render some of the assumptions made here invalid. I mean I know everyone posting here is an industry insider and an industry expert with a perfect record of assumption accuracy, but despite such weighty evidence and testimony, it’d still be interesting to hear from the relevant people….you know: the people actually involved with the day-to-day business and the sale of Electra.

  23. Graves,

    One thing that you miss is that these brands suck up so much floor space and open to buy dollars that dealers cannot bring in other brands because of the commitments to these large brands. This leaves the smaller brands out in the cold. Sooner or later these brands will start to fade away.

    Again I do not question the moves of Trek or Electra but there are less and less true IBD stores today. Most are 50% to 70% of a single company calling the shots.

    This though is something that dealers can control but many of them feel that they need these anchor brands to survive so many do not know how to say no because of fear that these brands will go else were.

  24. ^^Agree with Dave. Then dealers claim to “sell” Intense, Pivot, Santa Cruz, etc. but other than a 3 year old frame on the back wall collecting dust none are to be seen. When a Trek dealer owes Trek $200K in 3 weeks mid season, they keep trying to sell me a shitty Trek (or Specialized) instead of the cool bike I want.

  25. Dave, my point is that dealers can choose to carry a lot of Trek, or a little. Very, very few carry a little, and it’s not because Trek bullied them into carrying it.

    Ultimately, consumers are making the decision, and if they stop buying Trek’s tomorrow, they’ll be out of shops in no time. It’s not as though there are no other options.

  26. There is a disproportionately large amount of interest and hate for the near death of a boring cruiser bike brand. No one that visits this site should even know what kind of bikes they make/made.
    I am shocked that both people affected by this takeover are bikerumor regulars.

  27. Trek has been dwindling their cruiser models over the last 2 years. This move makes a ton of sense if they want to move into that part of the market. Electra carries weight as a name, just as Gary Fisher does. That is why Trek continued to make Gary Fisher specific bikes and then slowly started putting the Trek logo where GF used to be. It was done in a respectful and timely manner. What’s the big deal?

  28. Electra was up for sale over six months ago. I had hoped dorel or accel would grab it. Sad to see it go to trek, who I am sure will quickly move it to trek stores, and away from ibds that have supported the brand for many years.
    Interesting side note: Electra sued trek over the flat foot tech over two years ago.
    And now trek owns them completely. Hooray.
    My outside Electra reps lost their accounts today. Happy new year.
    Typx- they didn’t dwindle those lines, they stopped making them to avoid continuing to send Electra a check.

    And I don’t know about treks current business agreements with shops, but they came to us- a longtime trek store- and said 80% trek or nothing. We said F off, and a trek store opened a year later a mile away. And now a specialized store a mile another way, and a giant store a mile another way…..all following the trek business plan….

  29. I have 2 Electra Townie 24 speed bikes. I bought the second one as a back-up in case the first one gets stolen or something. The Townie is such a pleasure to ride that I have often thought that it will be the last “upright bike” I will ever buy. The standard diamond frame/wedgie configuration is just too uncomfortable for me anymore. Kudos to Electra for making the Townie! I wish them everlasting success and a heartfelt “Thank you”! for making the most comfortable bike to ride outside of a recumbent.

    Roadies and “Bike Borg” conformists; you may now dispense your hate….

  30. Graves,

    You and i both know it is not as easy as that. Here is a situation that is not uncommon. Good shop in a medium sized market does say 1 million (retail) in sales a year. So product cost is $500K if everything averages 50% margin. Now the anchor brand (and I am not picking on Trek) to be an A level dealer (top level) is say a commitment of $300K (wholesale) a year. As you are a Trek dealer if I am way off please let me know. Of course you want to be an A level dealer so that no other Trek dealers will open close to you.

    Ok so you now have say 200K open to buy dollars for all of your other product lines. Shops that want to offer at least 2 competing lines per category have maybe $100K to spend on these lines. What I mean buy this is say road bikes. You want to offer a boutique road line say like Colnago and a mid sized line like Orbea for example to give your customers a comparison against Trek. Again these are just examples that I can think of. They may or may not be the best examples.

    So you have covered road which still leaves open mountain, lifestyle, and maybe bmx. How many bikes do you really think you can buy from these other brands while still having to cover what you have to buy from Trek.

    This all does not include accessories and soft goods which you are now required to buy from your anchor brand if you want to or not because your anchor brand makes much more margin on the accessories and soft goods that they sell you than they ever did on the bikes.

    So again your open to buy dollars keep shrinking and shrinking. They will tell you that you are not required to buy all of these categories but if you do not their is a very good chance a new dealer will pop up close to you selling the same anchor brand you are selling because the new shop promised they can for sure buy what is required to be that A level dealer.

    As you say there are a lot of choices out there but only if you can choose them.

    I understand how business works and all of these top 5 companies want to be #1. BTW the top 3 cover 80% of the market and they still want more.

    The casual customer buys these brands not always because they are the best but that is all they know. Because if all that shops can put in their stores what they are told to put in their stores customers do not see all of the choices that they might have.

    I have said this many times. Grow our riding population in the USA to 200 million or so versus the 45 million that currently ride bikes and there will be plenty to go around.

  31. A-Ron, there are people that just like bikes, no matter what the bike type is. Those people are real cyclists, too, and deserve the same amount of respect that any other cyclist deserves.

  32. @ Shawn Moore

    “Except in the case of Bontrager, Klein, Lemond, and Gary Fisher, 3 of which no longer exist and 1 is a shadow of its former bike manufacturing self.”

    Not entirely true. Trek’s entire aftermarket is Bontrager, they just don’t build the bike frames anymore. Gary Fisher still designs his own bicycles as Trek, he still has a complete line and signature bicycles.

    Klein and Lemond are out of business indeed, but they weren’t really doing anything different from Trek’s own. Trek also aquired Diamant, a German bike brand years ago and they still have a big share in the German market and are doing better then ever.

  33. A-Ron, thank you for keeping the cycling elitist description alive. I’m surprised a cruiser thread is worthy of your superior comments.

    Big companies buy small ones all the time. Even though I don’t like what Trek has done to smaller brands in the past, it’s simply business.

  34. Electra owns 40% of the comfort bike sales. Trek is the next largest at 20%. This the reason bought them. They did not buy them to close them down. The thing with Bontrager Klein or fisher is that they all were in distress. Electra was not in distress. This will add value to Trek. I believe some if the trek models will go away and become Electra models. Has a trek dealer I am very excited. We never carried Electra before because of shipping cost, not very great terms, and a rep we saw maybe once a year. This is going to be great.

  35. @trekdealer re: “BMX race bikes”

    Mirraco doesn’t count? Or do they not make true BMX race bikes?

    @ Squirrel: Trek still lists the Pure bike line — the ones which Electra sued them about — for 2014. The lawsuit was not the end of that line or Trek’s own brand of feet forward positioning. They just changed the design to a seat tube with a dramatic curve in the bottom so that technically the BB was still feet forward, but also at the bottom of the seattube and not, in effect, somewhere forward of the bb along the downtube.

    My guess would be that you see the Electra Verse line of bikes go away, the Trek District Steel and will become an Electra, the Cocoa will go away in favor of the Amsterdams, and Trek will use the Electra brand to launch something similar to Specialized’s Globe line of urban bikes.

  36. Dave,

    If companies do not want to sell then they do not have to. Also if they are making something fun and different that works they usually do well enough to not get swallowed up. That is how business works here.

    I can give car examples and I can give bike examples.

    If what you are saying is true then there would only be about 5 of both.

  37. So many in here are so high on their own ideas of what they believe the bike industry to be that your comments are laughable.

    The bike industry is still an industry and this is a brilliant move by Trek.

    My shop carries Trek/Specialized/Electra/Salsa/Surly/Santa Cruz/and on and on and on. Electra rep? what Electra rep? At least Trek, Specialized, and the QBP boys put boots on the ground.

    The reason those $5000, 2 year old Santa Cruz frames sit and collect dust? It’s not because the Trek and Specialized guys have forced us to hide them in the corner, it’s BECAUSE NO BODY WANTS TO BUY THEM. It’s a very rare rider that comes in and wants to hop on a niche brand bike that half the time rides worse and costs more than a bike from the big brand simply because they don’t want to ride a big name bike.

    Don’t like it? Don’t care.

  38. Dave’s comment is the closest thing to reality that I have read.

    Our family was in the bike business from 1978-2011 (and still dabbling) selling nearly every brand you can think of (and a bunch you might not be able to) at one time or another.

    One major challenge to growing the bike market as a percentage of the population (it is growing in numbers, but shrinking in population participation percentage) is making sure that new riders buy the bikes they need for them to have fun (and become a “cyclist”), not necessarily the bikes that the big 3-5 brands are selling (and their dealers are under pressure to sell to meet commitments for terms and discount levels).

    Something that makes cycling special is all of the various ways the sport can be enjoyed. In the pursuit of homogeneous volume, individuality is lost. We have seen the disappearance of some great brands through this process, several that have been purchased (or otherwise consumed) by Trek in the past 10-15 years. (Klein, Bontrager, Gary Fisher, LeMond)

    The epitome of the volume sales model is the big box store bike which every cyclist recognizes is a significant challenge to getting more riding buddies. Big box store bikes are not fun, and do not encourage people to continue to ride.

    It isn’t easy for a person newly interested in cycling to understand the difference between lots of marketing and product availability (ie. Specialized, Trek, or Target, Walmart) and purchasing the experience that they require in order to enjoy and remain involved in the sport. If it’s difficult to believe that the Specialized & Trek models are extremely similar to the mass market (Target, Walmart) models all one has to do is look back to the late 1990’s when Specialized announced it was canning Independent Bike Dealers for mass market retailers. (Which, I’m sure many remember backfired terribly and Specialized nearly went bankrupt.)

    In order for this potential new cyclist to buy the “right” thing that keeps them involved in the sport the dealer needs clear & unique options, sales management and sales people that truly care about helping people becoming cyclists (lifetime value of a customer vs. a one-time sale) and the financial ability to sell every option with the same enthusiasm. This is a very hard thing to do as a dealer when a large chunk of your inventory dollars are tied up with a single vendor and payments are coming due!

    It’s difficult to blame Trek or any other company for wanting to improve their business through whatever methods deliver greater revenue or lower costs. Likewise, Independent Bike Dealers want (or even need – it is a very difficult environment to maintain sustainable margins) the same things, and the easiest route to getting these business improvements in by being a Specialized, Trek, Giant, or Cannondale dealer. However, I’m not sure the all out pursuit of these goals is what’s best for cyclists or growing the percentage of population that rides regularly. Lots of bikes are sold, but not near as many cyclists are made.

    In the 4-5 years that our family sold Electra, I was amazed by all of the casual folks that became regular riders through their comfortable and reasonably priced bikes. Did they create a lot of hard core road racers or mountain bikers? No, but I certainly saw many migrate from Electra to hybrid to casual roadie or recreational trail rider. The vast majority of Electra buyers rode their bikes at least semi-regularly, bought accessories (sometimes lots!), and often bought additional bikes to support other types of riding.

    Trek builds some great bikes (I even raced one a long time ago), and certainly they’ve built a successful business, but I’m not sure if the cost to the cycling community was worth it. Electra is an amazing gateway bicycle brand that I hope doesn’t become debris along the trail like Klein & Gary Fisher.

  39. Robo:

    As you said (paraphrasing): “many have their own ideas of what they believe the bike industry to be”.

    In fairness, I’m sure you have a great shop and you’re brand lineup is impressive. As I’m sure you would agree by the first sentence in your post, others have a different idea/experience of the industry.

    Some shops maintain an anchor (big 5) brand in order to have a wide range available to them, but tend to sell those $2000-$5000 frames hanging on the wall.

    Variety in bikes, parts, dealers, and market approaches is what makes cycling such an interesting sport and business!

  40. @Gabe. Trek does not own MirraCo. Trek has distribution rights ( ). MirraCo does not make a BMX Race bike. MirraCo makes dirt, street and Freestyle bikes. I have seen that Trek is not going to renew distribution rights and that MirraCo may close. I really don’t care. All the large brands have killed BMX sales. No kids like the newer style bikes. Short seatposts and nosed up saddles are not something to ride around the house. Now I do believe their is a market for this type it is very small. We used to sale 300 20″ BMX a year. Now it is around 25. Kids are getting mountian bikes.

  41. Don’t forget that Trek does does a heck of a lot to give back in the form of financial support to bicycle advocacy, in order to to get more people on bikes, with their efforts with IMBA and People for Bikes. Much more than any other brand that I’m aware of.

    My family owns a 100 year old bike shop and has carried almost every brand under the sun, and Trek has been an “anchor” brand for us for many years now. Trek does so much more than most brands in the from of retailer support. From our experience, they care just as much or more about their dealers compared to other brands, and work WITH them to achieve success – in turn they ask for a large commitment (only if if the dealer wants the max discount and payment terms) but they give a lot in return for their dealers business.

    …Just saying that Trek gets a bad rep by many, but rarely gets props for in fact running a great business that cares about their dealers, and cares about getting more people riding bikes and growing the industry.

  42. Imagine if all yall went and actually rode your bikes instead of arguing on the interwebs about what happens behind closed doors of billion dollar companies…..

    Advocating for cycling would be a much better use of your time, don’t ya think?

  43. A lot of shops think that they must sell trek or one of the big 4. Shops forget that they are the brand and people go to them because of their relationships with the community.

    Trek tells you what you can sell and what you can’t (They want to be the only brand), tracks your sales with their POS and makes you buy 35% of your bike sales with their weak soft goods… I don’t think brands should bully shops.

    I also agree with Tkeaton that we should be advocating for cycling which Trek does do well also…

  44. I work at a current Electra dealer and I have been trying to get a hold of them for days regarding a warranty issue. now I see why no one answers their voicemail/emails.

  45. For all of you claiming that Electra did not have to sell, I’ll tell you that Electra was owned by an investment capital firm for several years prior to the sale to Trek. It was known that this sort of thing would happen sooner or later. I do believe that once Trek begins to dig their hands into the company they’ll realize the real magic was gone long ago. It is very unfortunate for all those who worked hard to build the brand to lose their jobs. I have no doubt that still more will lose their jobs in the months to come.

    So it goes.

  46. Some vague references to the demise of Mirraco have appeared on the internet. Can anyone verify this? Did Trek can Mirraco? Apparently their sponsored team riders have been dropped for 2014. Or something.

  47. hate to see another trek buyout. i saw what happened to klein. The thing i want most is a modern day klein 29er mtn bike frame – without any trek influence.

What do you think?