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This story originally ran on Beta’s sister publication Bicycle Retailer & Industry News.
Intense Cycles is launching a new series of bikes that is being sold through multiple channels, including consumer-direct, independent bicycle dealers, and through Costco.com.
The 951 series currently includes two models, the 951 Trail and 951 XC. Both are carbon full-suspension bikes that are listed at $3,699 on Intense’s new 951 website and $3,250 on Costco.com. They are currently Intense’s least expensive models, and were designed for new riders, said Jeff Steber, Intense’s CEO.
“A lot of people entered the sport in the last year and are looking to step up to the next-level bike. This is an opportunity to get a good bike at a good price,” Steber said. “It’s not a beginner model, it’s just a premium bike at a good price.”
Steber said Intense’s IBD accounts have been placing orders for the 951s, which the company will begin shipping in the next couple of weeks. “The reception from dealers has been awesome. For one, they are able to get a bike with great spec at a great price point where a lot of other brands have aluminum frames.
Some dealers and consumers are sure to react negatively to seeing a boutique brand in a warehouse store, but Steber emphasized that Costco is selling the bikes exclusively online, not through its warehouse stores. He noted that Costco offers a variety of premium brands online and sells globally.
“The key thing is that it’s Costco online only and that’s the way it’s going to remain. People think of Costco and they think of these huge warehouses, but with their online presence you see more premium products. They sell vacations, Audi’s, you name it,” he said.
Currently the only other bikes listed on Costco.com are from Northrock and AVC International.
Steber said Intense dealers will benefit from increased exposure and some dealers will pick up work doing assembly and supplying new mountain bikers with products and services. Costco will ship the bikes in the same mostly-assembled state that Intense ships bikes to its D2C customers and IBDs. They are shipped with assembly instructions and links to online instructions.
For several years, Intense has adopted what Steber called a “multi-channel, future-proof, sales model,” which includes sales through IBDs, consumer-direct via Intense’s site, e-commerce from sites like Jenson, and now, for the 951 bikes only, through Costco.com. Intense also sells some of its e-MTB models through powersport dealers.
Steber said the sales model allows Intense to hit the margin it needs through the varying margins it gets through the different channels. “It’s not like we need to hit the overall margin we need just from IBDs. We can get there with a blend of the margins from all the channels,” he said.
The first 951 bikes are spec’d with SRAM NX Eagle 12-speed shifting, a Fox Rhythm 34 fork, TRP brakes, WTB rims, Kenda tires, and Intense-branded dropper post, handlebar, stem, hubs and grips. The bikes come complete with Wellgo flat pedals, a water bottle and cage — parts that aren’t common for this type of bike in an IBD setting, but which Steber said better serves an entry-level customer.
Steber said the bike was spec’d with Costco in mind, and that helped in sourcing components. “When you throw the name Costco around it gets a lot of weight,” he said. He also said Intense has developed relationships with new suppliers, such as TRP and Kenda, to keep supply flowing.
In another nod to an expected wider audience, the 951 series colorways and graphics are subdued (as in: gray), to suit customers who may be intimidated by the brand’s traditional moto-inspired look. The 951 brand (a reference to the Southern California area code) is emphasized on the downtubes and headtube. Intense labeling is present, but smaller.
Steber said the 951 series is intended to allow the company to enter categories it hasn’t previously served with the Intense brand, such as juvenile and gravel bikes. Stay tuned on that.
While the 951 series is in stock, Steber said Intense is experiencing the same supply chain delays as most brands. “We have more bikes on the water than we have ever had, ever. But all of them are pre-sold. As soon as they hit the ground they’ll bounce out to dealers,” he said.