CHICAGO (BRAIN) — SRAM has completed the purchase of the Time Sport pedal business from Rossignol Group. The acquisition adds another brand to SRAM’s portfolio of RockShox, Avid, Quarq, Zipp, and Truvativ and gives it a distinct pedal brand and technology should it choose to re-enter the growing market for pedal-based power meters.
Other than some Truvativ flat pedals and PowerTap power meter pedals — which it recently stopped selling — SRAM has not previously been in the pedal business, although the Chicago company offers virtually every other component for road and mountain bikes.
The companies did not release the purchase price. Earlier this month BRAIN reported that Rossignol Group had sold its frame and bike business, including its TVM carbon factory in Gajary, Slovakia, to Cardinal Cycling Group.
Cardinal and SRAM will operate separate businesses for the products — Cardinal’s bike and frame business will use the “Time Bikes” brand and SRAM will use the “Time Sport” brand.
“I’m thrilled that we have found two exceptional buyers for Time,” said Scott Rittschof, the senior vice president of Rossignol’s bike division. “Each brings unique strengths to drive the great Time brand forward.”
Rossignol bought Time in 2016, soon after the death of its founder, Rolan Cattin. With concerns about climate change affecting its winter sports business, Rossi’ was making a push into summer sports and fashion to diversify. It later bought Felt Bicycle in 2017 and has expanded its Rossignol-branded bike business, especially in Europe.
SRAM’s move comes at a time of great activity around power meter pedals. Road power pedals from Garmin and Favero Assioma have become steady sellers, and Wahoo’s purchase of Speedplay is widely seen as a prelude to a power pedal entry from the Georgia brand. Several companies are said to have dual-sided mountain bike/gravel power pedals in the works. SRAM brings power meter knowledge and intellectual property from both Quarq and PowerTap, which it acquired in 2019.
SRAM bought Time’s “entire range of road and mountain pedals, cleats, and all related patents” from Rossignol; the company did not say if it had bought any manufacturing assets.
SRAM’s president, Ken Lousberg, said that like its previous acquisitions, SRAM will retain the Time brand as a distinct offering.
“Time is a legendary brand and was the first to focus on ergonomics through the pedal stroke,” Lousberg said. “We will work to preserve Time’s history and heritage, and continue their legacy of innovation and quality.”
Not all the brands that SRAM has acquired have remained distinct. It acquired Fichtel & Sachs in 1997 and soon shelved the Sachs brand, although it continues to benefit from Sachs’ engineering and manufacturing assets.
According to SRAM, customers in need of service and support for pedals can contact their usual Time office during a transition period that will extend to mid-2021. Cardinal has already begun shipping Time frames and bikes in Europe and the U.S.
Cardinal hopes to rejuvenate Time’s bike business
Despite Rossignol’s hopes to diversify its offerings and grow Time’s business, the brand failed to thrive at Rossignol. Its Europe-made frames and bikes couldn’t compete on price with Asia-made offerings. After Cattin’s death, Time appeared slow to innovate or to respond to market shifts toward gravel bikes and road bikes with clearance wider tires. By early 2020 Rossignol started exploring plans to restructure or sell the business and revealed that Time sales had dropped by almost half in the previous year.
In June 2020, Rossignol announced it had agreed to sell Time to WhaTTfornow, a four-year-old French e-bike brand. But WhaTTfornow failed to raise the funds necessary to complete the purchase and eventually Cardinal Cycling Group stepped in.
Cardinal Cycling Group’s founders are U.S. industry veteran Tony Karklins and French engineer Martial Trigeaud. Karklins is well known in the U.S. industry as the former head of Orbea’s U.S. business and as the founder and former CEO of HIA Velo, the parent of Allied Cycle Works. Karklins, who lives in Little Rock, Arkansas, left HIA in 2018.
Cardinal purchased Time’s bike business in late January and immediately took over distribution of Time bikes. Trigeaud quickly flew to Slovakia after the purchase to oversee production, Karklins told BRAIN. Time now has about 50 U.S. dealers and Karklins said initially U.S. dealer frame orders are being drop-shipped from a central warehouse in Europe. Eventually the brand may keep bike inventory in the U.S. as well, he said.
Karklins said Time’s biggest markets remain Europe and Asia, making the U.S. market a new opportunity. He said Time has a good inventory of frames in Europe but the U.S. inventory of Time frames is “squeaky clean,” giving the brand a clean slate to start over here.
Time also has distributors in about 35 countries.
He acknowledged that since Cattin’s death, Time had failed to keep up with trends. He hopes to change that soon.
“We’re investing a lot in product development right now and we’ll be working to put new designs into production in the second half of the year,” he said.
After Karklins left Allied he founded ACK Enterprises, which distributes Frog juvenile bikes and other products to U.S. dealers.
He said Time’s carbon factory is still cutting edge and “a finely tuned machine.”
“The factory was one of the main reasons we wanted to purchase Time,” he said. He said the new owners are retaining all the factory’s workers.
Trigeaud moved to Little Rock a few years back because his wife’s career brought her there. He worked in Arkansas as business consultant and an adjunct professor at the University of Arkansas. He and Karklins met there and formed a friendship that led to the joint bid for Time, Karklins told BRAIN.
Trigeaud, who serves as CEO of Cardinal Cycling Group, said, “Having grown up in France, cycling has always been part of my life. I have always had a strong passion for Time because this brand, through its history, is a legacy of French cycling heritage throughout the world. I am honored to become its ambassador and to shape its future.”