2020 In Hindsight

Eminent Team
31 Dec , 2020

Yes, “Hindsight is 2020” has become a cliché.   It’s NYE and we figured why not take a look back at the last 366 days.  Yes, 2020 was so good we got a bonus day/leap year out of it.

It started off normal.  January/February is a sleepy time for the bike industry.  Much of the country is under snow; everyone has used up their time off, and is recovering from Christmas.  Then as spring was only just starting, Italy shut down and in response to growing fears, Sea Otter announced its cancellation.  At that time it seemed like a big overreaction.  When we heard the news we were literally putting up Eminent demo tent at the Sedona MTB fest.  In hindsight (yeah 2020 again) we count ourselves lucky to have gotten the trip to Sedona in.  It really was the beginning and end of MTB events for the year.

Jeff x 2 in Sedona

Jeff & Jeff enjoying the fruits of Sedona after slogging it out in the demo tent for three days

It went quickly from that to California lockdown in April.  Just like the rest of the planet we learned how to be efficient and work from home with all its distractions.   Global cabin fever set in.  Human beings found themselves stuck with limited social and physical outlets.  Now If only there was a way to get exercise, de-stress, and get some fresh air without a gym.  What if you actually went outside to work out??... And it didn’t require sharing germy equipment… AND it gave you a default 6 foot buffer zone (2x half bicycle lengths),  AND you could (with proper protocols) socialize with other flesh and blood  human beings… Thus began the COVID BIKE BOOM.

2020 has brought more people into the sport than ever and the influx of fresh blood has pushed things to a new norm.  We are experiencing the sport’s biggest growth spurt ever, and… the resulting growing pains.  The world has discovered our secret.  Strava recorded its biggest usage increase ever in May.  Trails are crowded and trail users and riders are more diverse than ever.   People have repurposed abandoned vacation/entertainment/dine out dollars and bike shops are getting cleaned out.  The industry is struggling to keep up with the demand. 

What does this mean for the present?  Well if you haven’t noticed, it’s a bit of a mess and honestly it’s going to take a bit to sort out.  Expect it to get worse before better.  Our advice for the time being have a few extra tires, derailleur hangers, and other service parts, etc, in the garage ready, because they may not be readily available for a while… and try not to be picky on colors, matching spec, etc.  The priority is to keep rolling.  If you are eyeing an upgrade and by some miracle it is in stock, AND you are in a good spot financially, don’t wait.  Tomorrow it will literally be backordered until October ’21.  Lastly… try to support local business and your LBS whenever you can.

We’ve covered past and present.  Let’s talk about the foresight (the future), cause it’s exciting.  When the smoke clears, it’s going to mean more trail development, more innovation, more quality options when buying your gear.  Mountain bike voices are growing too numerous and too loud to count as minority  trail users.  With that brings respect, acceptance, and collaboration from those who, for whatever reason, simply won’t be joining the growing mtb trail party.   If you have found yourself with more time at home in the evenings find local trail development initiatives, sign petitions, and make your voice heard.  Assist with trail work (when you can do so safely).  And lastly, when you are out there remember that there are a ton of new trail users.  Be patient, be respectful and play it safe.   

So where does that put Eminent?  In many ways, we’re in a sweet spot.  We’ve enjoyed sustained growth this year from the COVID boom, but continue to play safe and focus on what counts: making unique, high quality products that work in ways the competition doesn’t.  We didn’t splurged on massive marketing campaigns and top dollar athletes and in hindsight maybe that was wise since racing was light.  Instead we focused dealer growth and product development and we are poised to push our line to the next level in 2021.  

A few highlights from 2020:

  • Launching the Onset MT… at a cancelled Sea Otter
  • Substantially expanding our dealer network. 
  • Dealer demo events, when we could safely do so, given restrictions.
  • Maintaining our busiest production schedule to date, while down our head mechanic.  2020 #blessed Blake with double broken arms. 
  • Growing and promoting a brand with very compromised ability to travel and demo
  • Engineering, designing, and now testing.... (coming late spring 2021)
  • Working with our traction partners Crankbrothers and Vittoria to further enhance and compliment the virtues of AFS suspension, thanks to Synthesis tuned wheels and Graphene 2.0 tires (on all bikes)
  • Navigating the continual supply/demand challenge with our other spec partners (Shimano, Fox, WTB, KS, Protaper, and now… Cane Creek). The goal as always: offer the best value build at the customer’s price point.  Stay tuned as we have a few new “options” coming soon.

    The future is bright.  A huge thanks to our dealers, reps, digital and creative team, ambassadors, and athletes.  Most of all, thanks to you, the Eminent rider for considering a new brand and experiencing the AFS advantage.  Our goal as always is to continue to provide a ride experience that surpasses expectations while continuing provide individualized service regardless of how fast we grow.  Speaking of growth check out the pic below...

    2020 MT vs. Alu Test Mule Haste

    A look at how far we've come: MT vs. original Haste alu test mule @ UCSC Tanks

    From our pickup tailgate to yours… have a safe and HAPPY 2021.   Cheers!