Word came out this week that a group of cycling industry veterans has purchased the manufacturing equipment of the defunct Montreal-based Guru Cycles, which went bankrupt in 2015, and will manufacture carbon bikes in a factory they've opened in Little Rock, Arkansas.
The group, led by Tony Karklins, who founded Orbea USA, also purchased the well-known Cyclart bike painting business, which is moving to Arkansas. HIA Velo (HIA stands for "Handmade in America") will launch its first brand, Allied Cycle Works, by spring of 2017 and expects to manufacture for other brands as well.
Earlier this year, HIA Velo was formed as a partnership between Karklins, Douglas Zell (long-time cyclist and founder of Intelligentsia Coffee), and Sam Pickman (an 11-year veteran of Specialized’s senior engineering team).
“For the last two decades, I have seen bicycle factory after bicycle factory close down and shift their production to Asia. Now, few bicycle brands actually manufacture the products they sell," said Karklins, HIA Velo’s founder and managing director. "Even stranger, most of the composite bikes from nearly every known brand are made in only a handful of factories in Asia. We founded HIA Velo because we feel there is a real competitive advantage in having full control of the entire product development and manufacturing process under one roof, here in the USA. Our goal is to re-shore best in class, high volume composite bicycle production and to create great American manufactured cycling brands.
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“Guru had one of the largest and best equipped high-end bicycle factories in North America,” said Karklins. Five containers of equipment and machinery were relocated to HIA Velo’s facility in Little Rock, and the installation took approximately 90 days.
The company has assembled other bike manufacturing experts to round out its team. Chris Meertens, previously of Specialized, joins HIA Velo as Senior Composites Engineer. Olivier Lavigueur joins as Composites Production Manager after working in the Guru composites department for nearly 11 years. David Woronets, founder of Zen Fabrication in Portland, Oregon, brings 15 years of steel and aluminum production experience to HIA Velo and joins as Metal Product and Production Manager.
“Paint was the last piece of the puzzle," said Karklins. "We purchased Cyclart from Vista, California, in July and will be relocating them to Little Rock early this fall. Cyclart will handle all production paint for HIA Velo products and continue to offer premium refinishing, restoration and repair services to the industry, including composites repair."
According to Karklins, throughout the fall, HIA Velo will have several limited edition product releases as production scales up toward the launch of the Allied Cycle Works brand in early 2017. To sign up for further information, visit www.hiavelo.com and www.alliedcycleworks.com.