Headwinds and tailwinds: ABUS on the future of the German brand
Since its inception in 1994, ABUS has focused on the travel and leisure markets, but in 2016 it launched into the high performance scene. This is what the future of the German brand looks like
This piece first appeared in the June edition of BikeBiz magazine – get your free subscription here
Unlike many brands in the cycle industry, ABUS is a name that will be recognized well outside the bike trade bubble. Originally founded in 1924 as a padlock manufacturer, the brand focused on producing innovative padlocks, including the first-ever U-lock, before ABUS made the fateful decision to branch out into bicycle helmets. In 1994.
Fast forward to 2022, August Bremicker und Söhne (August Bremicker and Sons) is one of the most recognizable helmet brands on the market, thanks in part to its major focus on performance, from WorldTour road cycling to superstars. of the triathlon.
But the decision to focus on the high-performance side of trading is a recent development for ABUS, so how did that turn out? “Since ABUS started manufacturing helmets in 1994, we have focused primarily on helmets for commuting, leisure and children,” said Roger Seal, Sales and Marketing Director for ABUS Mobile Security at UK and Ireland. “ABUS has a strong presence in most European markets where ‘everyday’ cycling is the norm.
“In 2016-17 we entered the road performance sector, started our sponsorship of the Movistar team and opened the production of ‘Made In Italy’ helmets. We made the strategic decision at that time to attack the road market first, so the MTB project had to wait until 2018 when we launched a compact mid to high range of helmets. trail and enduro.
The move has proven successful, as ABUS has since been present at some of the biggest events in the world of cycling, worn by all-around star Mathieu van der Poel in the Tour de France, the former world road champion Annemiek van Vleuten and the legend of mountain biking. Cedric Grace.
But ABUS’ elite sponsorship isn’t just about exposure, as the brand also uses the expertise of professional cyclists to help innovate and improve its line of protective gear. Seal added: “Every helmet we offer is constantly reviewed and re-developed. Mountain biking is an extremely varied sport and in 2018 our range did not include models suitable for gravity riders, nor were there entry level prices available.
“Working with our brand ambassadors like Cedric Gracia and [freeride pioneer] Ritchey Schley gave our development team a huge boost in expertise and motivation to create products that were class leading in every category.
“We are very happy to work with so many high-level athletes and brand ambassadors. Their passion, their incessant questioning and their search for ever greater performance drive our product development teams.
In 1993, ABUS spun off its cycling offering into an independent division of the company, known as Mobile Security. Today, the company is still divided into three main components: Home Security locks and alarms for private residences, Commercial Security, all focused on businesses, and Mobile Security, where bicycles, motorcycles and other leisure products.
ABUS now offers helmets for all disciplines, from road, off-road, urban and the children’s market, while remaining a major player in bicycle locks. There have been many sporting successes for ABUS helmets, but like the rest of the industry the brand has had to battle through the chaos of the coronavirus pandemic, including the difficulty of developing new products through various global lockdowns.
“Covid has given us both headwinds and tailwinds,” Seal added. “In 2020, it created a boom in getting more people to ride bikes and therefore needing new helmets. In many European markets, our headphone business has grown significantly.
“But at the same time, shipping times and costs have increased dramatically, the supply of bikes and components is spotty, and that situation doesn’t look likely to change in 2022, with a constant rollercoaster of blockages that strain supply chains and fuel inflation. Product development has been a huge challenge when you’re not allowed to travel.
As the repercussions of the pandemic continue to impact business, ABUS still intends to capitalize on the success of its helmet business in recent years, particularly in the gravel and e-bike markets, which , according to Seal, will expand the demographics of cycling consumers. ABUS recently took 100% ownership of its Italian helmet production, making it one of the only brands to manufacture its own helmets, which will help ramp up production in the years to come.
Regarding plans for the future, Seal said: “We will continue to develop the current range to include helmets for all mountain biking disciplines and age groups. We plan to significantly increase capacity over the next four years. It will also allow us to offer EU-made helmets of all categories at a wider price range than before.
He added: “Gravel and e-bikes continue to attract a wider audience in cycling. For mountain bike riders, the range of trail choices and levels is constantly expanding. In towns and villages, cargo bikes are gradually replacing school routes and white vans. We still have a long way to go in the UK before cycling becomes mainstream – but that’s where we belong.