Michelin’s New MTB Tyres Are E-Bike Ready
CANNES, France – “In the past three years we have doubled our OEM sales,” says Karl de Quick, General Manager of Michelin’s bicycle tyre division during the presentation of the latest MTB range. The distribution strategy, which was implemented three years ago when De Quick became responsible for the bicycle division at the multinational Michelin, seems to be paying off.
The shift to put more focus on the bicycle tyres appears fruitful for the French manufacturer. “There wasn’t much attention for this product group in the past years, but that has changed a lot now,” De Quick adds. “We don’t do everything at the same time and focus on one issue at the time. Last year we launched a new Power road tyre which succeeded the successful Pro4 line. This year we concentrate on the MTB category with the introduction of the Jet XCR, the Force XC, and AM, as well as the Wild AM.”
Priority to premium segment
Previously De Quick already stated, “Michelin gives top priority to develop tyres more rapidly that meet the quickly shifting expectations of our customers. We will put even more emphasis on our two main target groups: road race and mountain bike and we will give priority to the ‘premium’ segment.”
Michelin’s distribution strategy
“We are convinced that one of the key elements of our success is the improved availability and visibility in the retail market, in all distribution channels and on all levels. This also goes for our new Jet XCR, the Force XC and AM, as well as the Wild AM MTB range. We are working on two different levels to support our distributors and retailers. To guarantee the transparency of our distribution strategy we also offer exclusive products to both web shops as well as retailers. We have differentiated four distribution channels: wholesalers/retailers, pure players or online shops, large sports retailers such as Decathlon, and finally the general stores. The availability of our products is of great importance for the success of our new strategy. Therefore we decided to broaden and deepen our market presence. The role of the dealer is of vital importance and we will roll out a new strategy to motivate the dealer to sell Michelin. To provide maximum sales support for the retailer we will step up our training facilities as well as the in-store information, including the packages. This will improve the availability of our products but also increase Michelin’s marketable value. The importance of the dealer channel is further enhanced by the introduction of the ‘Gold’ partnership with a select group of wholesalers.”
OEM and distributor preferences
For De Quick, distribution is key to the success of the brand. “Market studies taught us that OEMs and distributors do not base their choice on price. For them it is far more important to have a reliable supply chain and products with a steady quality. Next to that OEMs want to get involved in product development. It gives them the opportunity to offer a bike with special features and unique selling points to be distinctive in the market.”
New MTB line
Michelin’s investment in all-mountain and cross-country tyres marks the latest step in its return to the MTB market following the introduction of its range of Enduro tyres in 2013. “Mountain biking is increasingly about commitment, while both the bikes and the activity itself have evolved considerably. More than 98% of today’s all-mountain bikes are equipped with suspension systems, for example, so it was vital to bring new tyres to the market as quickly as possible. The two overriding objectives that were set for these four new ranges led to great results. Innovative, high-performance ranges which deliver significant gains in terms of both grip and strength, two factors that contribute to increased fun and enjoyment. With a choice of just 16 sizes, the new ranges are easy to understand, in contrast to the market’s previous lack of clarity. To achieve all this in such a short time, we had to review our methodology and these new ranges were co-developed in association with our partners in the world of competition. Meanwhile, experts working out of our Technology Centre in Ladeau, France worked more than ever on a co-design basis.”
E-Bike Ready label
The growth of electric MTB has seen a shift when it comes to tyre performance. Strength has become an essential parameter in order to withstand the additional torque produced by the rear wheel and to cater for the heavier weight. All the tyres in Michelin’s new All Mountain ranges are compatible with electric bicycles and carry the e-Bike Ready label. When asked, De Quick confirms that Michelin is currently developing an e-MTB dedicated tyre with stronger carcass but less weight. The introduction is planned for next year.