Despite its success in the cycling domain, most of the big players in the bicycle industry are far away from Australian shores. Monza Imports has taken charge of many high end brands which are salivated over by cycling enthusiasts. Nick Squillari travelled to Monza’s ‘dealer day’ to learn more about its large range of products from many of cycling’s big name players…
A popcorn machine, large tents full of sights and sounds, banter, laughter and excitement… we were only a magician sawing someone in half away from the Monza trade show being more of a country fair than actual work. Leaving the buttery and delicious popped kernels of corn aside (I had two bags, for those keeping score), this is the best analogy I could give to how the day felt at the giant headquarters of a company that, in spite of being right at the top of the cycling tree, still retains the open and friendly vibe I knew it to have years ago when working in the industry.
Monza Imports is an Australian distribution company and it has, in fact, been expanding its catalogue of cycling equipment at such a rate that parts of the warehouse floor are now being taken up by temporary ‘demountable’ offices. So, when it puts on a trade show you know it’s not going to be a single marquee affair. RIDE Cycling Review was invited as a guest to view what is new for Monza in 2016 and get a feel for how the company is continuing to evolve.
Without even touching on moto, BMX and mountain bikes, Monza has a product range covering everything a road cyclist could need. Think a Cannondale, decked out with SRAM Red eTap with Enve wheels and cockpit. Then, consider riding in Louis Garneau gear and Fizik shoes, on a Fizik saddle, wearing a Bell helmet, and receiving power readings courtesy of Powertap P1 pedals and a Lezyne head unit. Raining? Cycleops has the indoor training covered.
Here’s an overview of the wares on display in this enormous warehouse in Altona North, in the south western suburbs of Melbourne..
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You’re drooling and you are not alone.
Shop owners are almost spoiled for choice when it comes to offerings from the Monza product catalogue – which the product managers feel is a major strength of the Melbourne-based company.
Brands like Brooks might not seem like the correct fit given the brands it’s surrounded by, but it’s thriving. It has added diversity to Monza’s product line, bringing the company into bike shops where there was once a limited depth of sales.
Alternative or ’boutique’ brands like Brooks can provide another option to offer customers – one which they might not have considered. Couple this with the new Guru fit system and suddenly Brooks is now a saddle which riders are casting a fresh eye over. What’s old is new again.
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I cannot mention the Guru fit system without saying how truly impressed I was with it. From years of using a totally manual fit bike, I had a big appreciation for anything that could make that process easier.
Local product manager, Jason Nestor walked me through the Guru system. And while RIDE will have a bigger write up coming soon, I totally recommend having a session on one if you’re in the market for a new bike or in need of tweaking your fit. It doesn’t replace a skilled bike fitter but streamlines the process.
You could be fitted to any bike (regardless of whether the store has it on stock), tweak it to your liking and still be home in time before the significant other is any wiser.
Fizik, Lezyne, Enve, Bell, Louis Garneau, Quarq and SRAM were in the tent across from Guru. If that wasn’t cycling heaven, then it was close.
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New from Fizik is the volume control – featured in its R1 and R4 models.
The Italian company has designed volume control to both accommodate a wider foot type or one that needs the shoe to conform around varying foot shapes (to better avoid hot spots). The R1 was as good as you would expect the top of the line to be. But it was the R4 that impressed with both price and aesthetics. Black and neon green trim… so ‘in’.
The Podiatrist in me wants more of a play, especially because (the Italian product rep) Marco told me Fizik was conscious that its this design was not along the traditional style of Italian-designed cycling footwear.
Both the upper mould and material is designed to conform and stretch with the foot – this could be the answer for all those riders who are tearing their shoes off after a ride in the baking Australian summer heat.
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Bell confirmed, with a wink, to, “stay tuned”, for a new TT helmet.
This brand’s female helmet range received a cosmetic make over after overwhelming feedback from women asking for ‘non-traditional girly’ colour scheme on their helmets. Old cycling stereotypes that ‘all girls like pink’ aren’t relevant… who’d have thunk it?
Bell also showcased its expanding range of helmets that contain Multi-directional Impact Protection System (or ‘MIPS’). So convinced is Bell of the protection MIPS offers, that it actually bought in to the company which engineered MIPS. Bell has the safety of our heads constantly in mind, which is a reassuring thought.
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Enve’s ever increasing bike bling offerings were on display – both road and off-road. Monza staff all have a big love of the dirt and while I’m as good on a mountain bike as I am at quantum physics, it’s still hard to not be in awe of that part of Monza’s range.
This year, Enve’s partnership with MTN-Qhubeka has propelled the company further into the spotlight.
With an SES wheel range that caters for every possible depth (and now with the option of new carbon hubs) and that these wheels are engineered for speed, it was only a matter of time before a pro team would get on board with a company that’s been pushing aerodynamic boundaries since before ‘aero’ was trendy.
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A highlight of the dealer days was meeting Kyle from Lezyne. I’ve always found Lezyne products to be of the highest quality. I have an oft-used multi tool that’s four years old and a hand pump that’s even older! Lezyne’s products are arguably over-engineered but they it just don’t break. Even Kyle’s card was a lesson in precision!
Even with an impressive re-vamp of its lights range (Kyle claimed there were now so many copies of Lezyne’s older lights on the market that it felt was time its customers got an across-board upgrade on battery life and lumens) it was the new GPS cycling computers that had my interest.
Lezyne knows its competition – it’s not hard to guess who – and believe there’s room in the market for an alternative.
The investment in product development was significant, but with electronics and construction knowledge already from LED lights Lezyne was just some solid programming away from having everything it needed.
The result is three GPS models. The smallest – the aptly titled ‘Mini’ – weighs just 30g and is barely bigger than a one dollar coin – the screen clarity was honestly quite stunning.
The larger ‘Power’ and ‘Super’ models are Bluetooth, call and text notification and Glonass enabled. The ‘Super’ also can be synced with ANT+ devices.
All these new computers have in-built altimeter and record to files that are .FIT format, so can be uploaded to Strava, TrainingPeaks, etc. Alternatively they can be pushed those sites from Lezyne’s own upload page. There is also an app (Android and iOS) to manage your rides.
All of Lezyne’s features are packed into its computers at a price that will turn heads a lot easier than the units do in their mounting system. It’s not that they were hard to remove, but rather the spring-loaded locking mechanism was designed to make sure your unit stayed put (because I think we can by now all name at least one friend who has lost a computer).
It took poor Kyle a while to get rid of me. I guess, for Lezyne workers, having guys like me around is a drawback of producing such great products.
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SRAM and Cannondale
With eTap already covered with my report from to Germany (full review in RIDE 69), it was on to the Cannondale tent. It was here that I bumped into the brand’s Australian ‘ambassador’, Phil Anderson (above) as well as a few others. I knew Phil’s story but was soon to learn about David…
Now, I’m not one for Googling people I meet but I assumed that the chief designer of the new Slate, David Devine, would be someone older than me. So when I met a ‘David’ at the Cannondale display I didn’t make the connection until I’d nodded and said, “Imagine being the guy taking the roll-out data (a 650B rim/42mm tyres is the same as 700c/22mm) to the company heads!?” Aged in his mid-20s ‘David’ nodded and humbly murmured, “That was me…” and I looked like the thickest bicycle writer on the planet!
Back to the bikes, and not only has senior (no really, that’s his title) product manager David managed to bring his three-year pet project, the Slate, to market. He’s also overseen the introduction of the tri specific Slice, a revamp of the Evo and the release of the CAAD12. I had to ask if they skipped CAAD11 because, if said aloud it sounds a lot like how foreigners would pronounce “Cadel Evans” (try it with a Sean Kelly accent). Through his laughter he said it they skipped ‘11’ simply because they felt this new CAAD had made such enormous advances.
RIDE 69 will be put a CAAD10 Black Inc. disc through its paces, and we look forward to seeing a CAAD12 review to see if David’s claim is upheld.
I’m just saddened that a guy with this much ability admitted there are no plans in the short terms for an aero bike from Cannondale. Longer term the right pieces are in place, but until then it will be aero refinements (as seen on the 2016 Evo) that will be as close as Cannondale will come to embracing an aero-specific frame.
(Read RIDE 69 for a report on the ride quality of the CAAD12 and SuperSix Hi-Mod Evo as well as rumours addressing the ‘aero road’ plans for Cannondale.)
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For more, including pricing, from the Monza trade show check out the Paraphernalia pages of RIDE 69 or swing by your local bike store. If they’re not stocking some Monza brands, then ask the hard question: why not?
– By Nick Squillari