Some two years after whacking the fitness industry over the head with its attitude and new style of indoor cycling, Trixter's X-Bike has maneuvered over a few bumps and hurdles to take the next step in its distribution, product, sales and growth.
The company has signed on its first two retailers -- Superior Fitness and HEST Fitness -- with more to come; the company just received shipment of its first retail bike with a price that puts it in the ballpark with other home bikes; and Cybex reps are now acting as agents for the bike in the United States.
"We are gaining ground," CEO James Nicholson Smith told SNEWSÂ® from England, the birthplace of X-Biking and Trixter technology. "We need to be committed to the project."
Working a bit of an uphill battle since it appeared in spring 2003 at the IHRSA show with its bumble-bee yellow and black bikes and a gang of rowdy (by fitness industry standards) mountain bikers to demo the product, the Trixter gang has stuck to it. Admittedly, the slightly "renegade approach" in the early days grabbed attention, Nicholson Smith said, "but we could have popped ourselves into a perceived gimmick class."
It's been the dedication of the small but enthusiastic team based in England and California that has kept it from being a flash in the pan. And that dedication is why it was still around long enough for Superior to watch its development before deciding to come aboard.
"I could see it taking off," said Superior buyer Judy Griffin, who had her company's owners check out the bike at the March 2005 IHRSA show. "I like 'different.' Our company likes 'different.' There's a story to tell, and it's not just a wannabe. It makes perfect sense."
The retailers coming on will still have the original commercial bike to sell -- now called the X-Bike 1000 for $1,300 list -- but they'll also have the new home version, the X-Bike 600, for $800 that includes a manual, DVD and programming. All the mechanics and handlebars are the same, it's just "not as sexy," said U.S. Sales Director Alec Dinner, referring to the less-beefy frame and brackets.
Clubs are still a huge part of the company's mission -- the company just installed more than 400 bikes in 20 clubs in the United Kingdom, and it's in clubs in about 20 countries, including Iceland, Sweden, India and Korea, Nicholson Smith said. That's where the "understanding" with Cybex will help. He said its reps will act as agents and offer the X-Bike when it packages equipment for clubs.
"That suits us fine," said Nicholson Smith. "They have a very, very strong reputation."
The Trixter X-Bike (www.x-biking.com) and Matrix have basically parted ways after announcing an exclusive deal (See SNEWSÂ® story, Aug. 25, 2003, "Matrix enters group cycling with trendy Trixter X-Bike"). The Matrix X-Bike came in toned-down Matrix colors and had a fixed wheel like most indoor bikes instead of the more realistic free wheel that rides like an outdoor bike, which has been one of X-Biking's calling cards along with the handlebar that simulates outdoor riding and mountain biking.
"The Johnson Group in the United States has shifted its focus to its own brands," he said.
"Our preferred brand in the United States going forward is the Trixter brand," he added.
As X-Biking moves forward, the company is also trying to shift focus onto the benefits of its technique as well as onto the fact that the ride is not just for the hard-core.
"The most important thing for us is the X-Biking technique," Nicholson Smith explained.Â "X-Biking is really all about full-body biking. It's for everybody.
"People are beginning to wake up to the fact," he said, "that your mother can use it, your dad can use it, you can use it, your kids can use it."
SNEWSÂ® View: Trixter's "fitter, funner, faster" message and renegade attitude made it attention-catching, although a few in the surprisingly staid fitness industry stepped back a bit and winced. Although the company needed to fit in just a tad more, we certainly hope it never loses its edge, its attitude, or its fun. And we truly hope that more fitness folks realize that the free wheel bike may feel ohmigosh more difficult at first, but it's, one, a great workout, two, a more realistic workout, and, three, feels just like the bike everybody learned to ride as kids before we were tainted by adult creations.