Written by Two Wheel Gear President, Reid Hemsing
The buzz word at Two Wheel Gear for 2017 is “Pro.” Everything we do and everything we aspire to be. So to start off this next chapter, we wanted to look back at some of the milestones and successes from 2016 that have helped us be more pro.
- 1 new product launch + new colours and styles
- 1 Olympic sponsorship leading to a bronze medal
- 2 new video campaigns
- 1 new office
- Thousands of happy new commuters biking with Two Wheel Gear
Pannier Backpack Launch
Quite possibly the biggest thing for Two Wheel Gear in 2016 was the launch of our Pannier Backpack Convertible. We spent a year and a half designing, testing and creating the best convertible bike bag on the market. It started as our “casual Friday” commuting option but has quickly become much more to a wide range of commuters.
Our innovative pannier to backpack conversion system received a lot of attention (maybe a little too much by some of the wrong eyeballs…). This has been an interesting challenge for our small company. While we have made the best conversion system that customers love. We have found other companies trying to replicate our design (not the first time..) which lead to some interesting legal discussions and in this case some silver lining collaborative brand partnerships.
I’ve always taken the position that cooperation (if possible) trumps competition. I am very excited to see what 2017 brings for these spin off opportunities. You will likely be seeing some Two Wheel Gear co-branding on different bike bags which have adopted our designs into their product offering. The shared belief of “more butts on bikes” and cooperation between small brands has created mutual opportunities where that could have easily turned into an ugly rivalry.
Georgia Simmerling = Bronze in Rio
A few months prior to 2016, I was introduced to local Olympian Georgia Simmerling. I was blown away with her dedication and intense work ethic to reach goals. Georgia is a unique athlete who crossed over to professional cycling from Olympic skiing after a season ending injury. She was now gunning hard for a spot on Canada’s Team Pursuit Track Cycling team.
There was an awkward transition of not being on a team after leaving the national ski team and trying to make Canada’s cycling team. Georgia wasn’t eligible to receive her regular funding that helps pay for training and travel. Two Wheel Gear was able to step in and help fill this gap.
A portion of every bag sold in 2016 went to support Georgia’s run at the Rio Olympics. She became Two Wheel Gear’s first athlete brand ambassador and we were proud to showcase her amazing story. Watch it below:
Navigating the Olympic committee’s Rule 40 that governs athletes in advertising around the games proved tricky for our small company. Simply mentioning Georgia’s name or posting congratulations on social media was enough to get us in trouble several times during the games. Even with Two Wheel Gear’s Rule 40 approvals I was still called twice by the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) to immediately remove social media posts that mentioned Georgia. They proved to be very sticky indeed.
Regardless of Rule 40 frustrations, we were immensely proud to watch Georgia’s competitive edge all throughout 2016. She rode in her first World Cup race in Hong Kong in January and Canada won the gold medal. At the World Track Cycling Championships in London Canada won Silver. When Rio came around, Georgia had earned her Olympic spot and rode every race. Canada defeated New Zealand to win bronze and cemented Georgia’s place in history as the first person to compete in 3 different sports at 3 different Olympic Games.
The Naked Truth With Two Wheel Gear – Episode 1
One of the most entertaining projects of the year was creating and releasing our Episode 1 of Behind the Brand. This short skit provides a hilarious look inside my old corporate locker room days when we were just developing the Classic 2.0 Garment Pannier.
We partnered on this project with some ambitious young entrepreneurs at Noravera Visuals. It has been a dream of mine to write and be involved with creating comedic tv so it was a blast to write an over the top version of my experiences. Writing jokes, creating our script and watching the actors perform it was very gratifying. We had a day of auditions full of hilarious professional actors and we could not have found a better cast. One guy even showed up to the audition in only a towel.
The fun is not over yet! We will be releasing Episode 2 soon and its even funnier than the first. We introduce a new character and continue the subtle slapstick comedy. We’ve even started to talk about episodes 3 and 4 and believe me, I have some wild ideas for those…
In addition to the health, environmental, financial, emotional and ‘gazillion’ other benefits of riding a bike, now you can reward yourself with the new app Biko. Bikos are automatically counted through the app when you take your bike out for a spin. Each Km cycled = 1 Biko. Bikos are redeemed for awesome rewards from awesome local companies…Like us! This year we partnered with Biko and offer exclusive discounts that can only be redeemed on the Biko platform. The future outlook is incredible to be involved so closely at this early tech stage. As Biko grows internationally, Two Wheel Gear will be there. We have some major freebie Biko promotions coming soon for local commuters this year too. So if you are in YVR, you need to be on this platform. Quit spinning your tires and get rewarded. Every ride counts!
Bike to Work Week Vancouver
The highlight of the 2016 Vancouver Bike to Work week sponsorship was recording hundreds of answers to one simple question: Why do you bike to work?
From the Bike to Work Week momentum we kept expanding our reach and started to partner with bike-friendly organizations like Vancity, SAP, and EA Sports. We also started a cool pilot project with the Vancouver General Hospital Cycling centre where we had doctors and medical professionals start cycling to work with our garment bag. This spurred some really interesting insights and sparked our new 2017 Gear Lending Programs.
Two Wheel Gear – Notable Moments
We exhibited at Bike Expo New York with our pals from Momentum Magazine. That little partnership helped score me a part time contributor writing gig for the magazine which lead to my first “big” Momentum article on clipless pedals. The comments below my article are pretty funny to check out. There are some real opinions on the matter and the very least it sparked some major conversation (or maybe it was a debate). I also attended Interbike in Las Vegas this year with the Momentum Mag team and contributed to the top gear picks from the show.
We won the Rising Star Award at the Canada International Film Festival for our work on the Morning Ride where I used the microphone acceptance speech time to talk about riding your bike to work…haha.
We had our gear featured in Momentum Magazine, Bicycle Times, Velo News, Pedal Mag, and even got our Garment Pannier featured on Nest (by Google) for their father’s day roundup. I’m always a little surprised on how unknown we actually are so that really keeps my ambition high to keep pushing Two Wheel Gear to reach its potential in the world.
Our little team grew a bit in 2016 too adding Eric Chocron and having our star Nancy Huang return as #2 in command. Eric, a feisty young french Canadian, was our dealer account manager and did a wonderful job but ultimately moved to California to complete his masters degree and follow his dream of silicon valley. We wish him all the best. Nancy is our digital guru and marketing manager who has lead so many of our new amazing digital initiatives. We are truly grateful to have her as such an important part of the team.
We also brought on some new Toronto dealers this year while pulling double duty at the Canadian Entrepreneurial Summit. Another highlight was the visit to Shopify headquarters in Toronto (our ecommerce platform partner). We also did some pavement pounding in Kelowna and are happy to welcome some awesome new dealers to the Two Wheel Gear family.
We had the pleasure of collaborating with Modacity this year on several cool cycling initiatives. Modacity is all about promoting cycling in everyday life and advocating for better, bike-able cities. We were proud to sponsor and co-brand Pannier Backpacks for the whole Bruntlett family for their trip to the Netherlands to learn about the bike culture. We were a proud sponsor of the now 3rd annual cargo bike championship in Vancouver that the Bruntlett’s organize. We also got together for an awesome chat about bicycles, business and the roots of Two Wheel Gear. You can read about that Modacity story here.
Some of our Favourite 2016 Customer Photos
2017 & Beyond
To be honest, some days are tough. We are niche and exceptional at what we do but growing comes with pains. Learning to overcome the frightfully real business challenges has at times been a test. As you get more noticed, more people take notice of you (including competitors). Competition is fierce and sometimes the gears can grind pretty hard. However, we keep looking over the horizon and will remember these early days as some of the most rewarding in the end…That I am sure.
For the new stuff, we have been working on new brand collaborations, expansion with international distributors, local gear lending programs with cycling program partners, new bag designs, commuter stories from around the globe and the launch of our 2nd episode of Behind the Brand with Two Wheel Gear will be hitting screens very soon.
Thank you to everyone who supported us in 2016. We always remember that what we are doing, producing and spreading is good for the world. We thank you for helping us do that!