Reebok enters cycling arena
Reebok International Ltd., Canton, Mass., has introduced a full line of men’s and women’s cycling shoes and apparel for a market that industry observers report has “taken off.’
“There are two big opportunities in athletic footwear now,’ said Robert Meers, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Reebok. “One is the walking market, which is currently in vogue. An even greater opportunity is in cycling.’
At the recent National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA) trade show, here, Reebok presented a cycling seminar to retailers to spark interest in the sport. The company will be initially marketing the line through bicycle sports shops and sporting goods stores that currently stock cycling gear.
“There are over 80 million participants in cycling,’ noted Meers. “And for the first time since World War II, there are more adults riding bikes than children.’
According to research conducted by Reebok, cycling is the third largest participation sport in the U.S. (second to swimming and fishing). Nearly 42 million participants are adults–more than 51 percent. Additionally, 55 percent of the market are women.
To meet that market, Reebok has introduced three categories of cycling shoes: performance, fitness and lifestyle fun. It has also introduced a complete line of apparel for both men and women.
According to Brian Igoe, product manager for cycling, Reebok’s shoes are made on American lasts to fit the American foot, claiming shoes currently available are not. Manufactured in South Korea, the shoes retail for $40-$60.
“We have created a performance shoe for every possible cycling category,’ said Igoe. This includes racing, touring, all-terrain or mountain riding, cycling /fitness and BMX competition. The line includes nine different shoes in 17 styles and color combinations.
There are three cleated shoes for serious road riders and triathletes, the All-Terrain Pro for mountain bike riders, two cycling fitness shoes each for men and women, as well as the RAD, a rugged high-top that doubles for BMX riding or skateboarding. The line also includes the Velo-Sandal, an adjustable neoprane rubber sandal to be worn before and after cycling competition.
“The typical athletic shoe is too flexible for efficient pedaling,’ Igoe noted. “The cyclist should have a stiff shoe to push the pedal. Also, the high-performance cleated shoe is uncomfortable for walking, so for the fitness category, we designed a shoe that could take the rider off the bike and into a mall, or around a health club.’