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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Bike Sales

Hell-of-the-North’ Lures Bikemakers Selling $2,100-Plus Rides

By Alex Duff

April 8 (Bloomberg) -- Magnus Backstedt cursed as his $2,300 carbon-fiber Zipp bike wheels hit a cobblestone and shattered, destroying his chances of victory in the Paris- Roubaix cycling race last April.

“There was a loud bang,” Backstedt, the 2004 race winner, said. “It was a very painful story. I saw the leading group I was with disappearing.”

It was also bad news for closely held SRAM Corp.’s Indianapolis-based Zipp, which is among the North American bicycle and component makers trying to marry the latest aerodynamic design with the rigors of the 113-year-old “Hell of the North” race. This year’s event is April 12.

The likes of Zipp are seeking more of Europe’s high-end bike market. In Europe, sales of bikes costing more than 1,600 euros ($2,123) doubled in the two years through 2008 to 1.47 billion euros and may remain steady this year even amid the worst recession since World War II, according to Jack Oortwijn, an industry analyst for Euro Bike magazine.

“Cycling is good for your wallet and good for your health,” Oortwijn said.

In the U.S., growth is flatter because cycling isn’t as popular, according to Elliot Gluskin, who compiles an annual report on the market for the U.S.’s National Bicycle Dealers more

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