Paid partnership with Trek South Africa

If there’s one bike brand that’s experienced its share of ebbs and flows during its existence in South Africa, it’s Trek. Between 2000 and 2016, one of the world’s leading bike brands has been distributed and marketed by more than half a dozen South African-based businesses, with varying levels of success and challenges. In 2016, Trek, an American-based company, realising the importance of the South African market, decided to invest significantly and open a direct subsidiary office. Here’s how it’s going.

The Supercaliber is Trek’s supreme XCO/Marathon race machine. | Photo: Trek Bikes

Trek invested in a team of local experts based in Johannesburg to manage and market both the Trek brand and the Bontrager accessories and gear brand, which Trek also owns. Trek South Africa’s immediate priority back in 2016/2017 was to service its existing customer base with sufficient stock, appropriate after-sales backing and relevant warranty support.

“It’s so important for a brand to deliver confidence to its customers. And the best way to do that, other than world-class product, is customer support of the highest level,” says Kevin van den Broek, Marketing Manager for Trek South Africa.

This has been successful and today, Trek South Africa consistently vies for the No.1 spot in the global ‘Power Rankings’, an internal customer-service rating system using various scores, which measures consumer satisfaction throughout all Trek’s global territories.

Trek Segafredo’s Jasper Stuyven winning the 2021 Milan San Remo. | Photo: Trek Segafredo

Trek South Africa also set about developing a retailer network that’s committed to the brand.

“The retail experience needs to be exceptional and we want retailers that align with our philosophy on that. There are currently 28 selected Trek retailers in South Africa, but that will grow in the near future as the brand continues to expand,” says Van den Broek.

Trek’s range of bicycles is vast, but in South Africa, the key categories are full-suspension 29-inch wheel mountain bikes and road bikes, with triathlon bikes, gravel bikes, kids bikes and eBikes all catering to key or growing segments. In the mountain bike segment, Trek’s Top Fuel marathon bike and Supercaliber XCO bike are the most popular sellers.

Although the 2020 Absa Cape Epic was cancelled due to Covid-19, the rider survey was unaffected and Trek was the fourth most popular brand of bike – at 8%, Trek’s largest ever share of the Cape Epic entrant base. That 8% for 2020 was up from 6% in 2019, 2018 and 2017 and double its 4% in 2016.

The Italian-based Trek Pirelli team competes in marathons, stage races and XCO races. | Photo: Trek Pirelli

Globally, Trek remains one of the leading first-tier performance cycling brands. Trek is currently the only bicycle brand that’s a headline sponsor of a UCI World Tour professional road team – Trek Segafredo. The team includes Italian Vincenzo Nibali, one of only seven to win all three Grand Tours in his career, Mads Pedersen, the 2019 Road World Champion, Jasper Stuyven, winner of the 2021 Milan San Remo and Bauke Mollema, winner of the 2019 Tour of Lombardy.

Trek’s commitment to women’s cycling is significant and reflected in the fact that it has a women’s World Tour Team (also Trek Segafredo), which employs 14 racers, including Lucinda Brand, the current cyclo-cross World Champion and Lizzy Deignan, the 2015 Road World Champion.

Trek has also invested heavily in top-flight mountain bike racing. It’s Trek Factory Racing XCO team comprises Anton Cooper, Stephan Tempier, Yolande Neff and Evie Richards, while its Trek Factory Racing Downhill team includes Kade Edwards, Charlie Harrison, Reese Wilson, the 2020 World Champion, and new signing, Loris Vergier, former Junior World Champion and winner of multiple Elite World Cups.

Jolanda Neff is a member of the Trek Factory Racing XCO team. | Photo: Redbull Content Pool

And then there’s Trek’s C3 Project team, which comprises Brandon Semenuk, Brett Rheeder, Casey Brown, Emil Johansson, Cam McCaul and Ryan Howard. C3 stands for cinematics, creativity and competition. If you’ve ever been wowed by any freestyle or slopestyle mountain bike video content, chances are more than one of these riders featured!

With the increasing popularity of Enduro racing and the Trail bike category, Trek has a three-rider Trek Factory Racing Enduro team, comprising Florian Nicolai, Pedro Burns and Hattie Harnden. Trek also supports successful athletes in BMX, Cyclo-Cross and Triathlon as well as prominent brand ambassadors  including Gary Fisher, Jens Voigt and Tracy Moseley.

Locally, Trek has a selected number of ambassadors, including Under-23 XCO racer, Luke Moir, triathlete, Mariella Sawyer, marathon mountain biker and ex-World Tour road racer, Jaco Venter and SA Elite Enduro Champion, Frankie du Toit. Trek also supports store ambassadors, a programme that offers support to talented or influential riders in various communities. This is a feeder platform that Trek uses to select directly supported athletes in the future. Trek is also an official partner of the popular Spur Schools Mountain Bike Series.

Under-23 XCO racer, Luke Moir is one of Trek’s South African ambassadors. | Photo: One Movement

From a trails support perspective, Trek sees value in investing in trails networks where it has a retail presence, such as Wolwespruit in Pretoria and Tokai in Cape Town.

“Once we return to a level of normality following the Covid-19 effect on stock, we’ll introduce demo centres at The Bike Store at Wolwespruit and Gear Change’s new Tokai store. In a market with so much choice, it’s important to be able to offer potential customers the opportunity to ride a Trek in order feel the bike, rather than just see it,” says Van den Broek.

In Johannesburg, Trek invested in Arch Cycles as its first fully fledged Trek concept store. The success of this investment has led Trek to consider expanding the concept store strategy in other regions in the future.

Gear Change Tokai is a new Trek store in Cape Town. | Photo: Gear Change

Trek offers a lifetime warranty on its frames and a three-year warranty from original new purchase date for subsequent owners if there is traceable original proof of purchase. There is also a lifetime guarantee on all Bontrager wheels. Trek also adds consumer confidence through its Carbon Care programme, which offers a discounted replacement for any Trek frame or Bontrager wheel damage that falls outside warranty parameters. There is also a 30-day Comfort Guarantee on all Bontrager saddles, helmets and shoes. In the first year of ownership, there’s a free helmet crash replacement policy. All warranty information is here. 

It’s been five years since Trek changed its strategy for South Africa. Based on positive improvements and growth in all areas, the brand has definitely made the right move and is now beginning to gather the all-important momentum to deliver further success over the next five years. For more on Trek and Bontrager in South Africa, check out the website here.

Paid partnership with Trek South Africa