Criterium Corner with Euro Freddie


Last month I was an honored guest at Sachs Bicycle Components in Frankfurt. Their new owners, Grip Shift’s SRAM, sent two corporate chaperons to escort me there. Both Heidi & Elli were very professional, take charge kind of women. Not five minutes after crossing the border, on their native soil, and they decided to debrief me! The reception at the home office was a little more circumspect. The occasion, it turns out, was the unveiling of Sachs’ latest road racing gruppo. These bicycle parts, with a working name of “Newer Than New Success”, finally seem to establish Sachs as a major parts producer with a chance at a Tour de France sponsorship.

This is quickly becoming a sensitive issue for the teutonic manufacturer, as its feudal kingdom of Huret, Malliard, and Sedis, has failed to garnish nary a knight on a shiny stead. They took me on a private tour of their “Polecat Werx” design lab. There I was surprised to find an array of disassembled Asian fishing hardware, undergoing careful inspection. There were hollow-arm fishing reel cranks, reverse action casting bailers, and other dubious implements of angling leisure. When I looked confused, they told me they were as perplexed as I that these items owned a lion’s share of the market place... Fishing tackle is the global rage.

In fact, Sachs’ bread and butter line, their internally geared “Torpedo” hub, has been hit hard in Europe by the very same Asian company’s “Nexus” hub. This has led to some current negotiations at Sachs towards the acquisition of yet another subsidiary, in the form of WALD Manufacturing, in the USA. Sachs’ reasoning here, I was informed, is to remove themselves from a defensive posture, and boldly up the cycling ante with the world’s first road gruppo which includes a set of paperboy baskets.

I found their conversations beginning to bore me, and I announced my intent to leave. Heidi & Elli packed up the BMW with strudel for the road. After an exchange of bear-hugs all around, we hit the autobahn. Talk about Sachs in the back seat!   Auf Wiedersehen -Euro Freddie.

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