The History of Trek Bicycles
Building Success One Frame at a Time
Trek Bicycle Corporation, manufacturer and distributor of Trek bicycles, Gary Fisher, Bontrager, Klein, and LeMond Racing Cycles, was started in 1976 by Richard Burke and Bevel Hogg as a subsidiary of the Roth Corporation.
The company's main product at the time was steel touring frames which competed with the Japanese and Italian models that were out at the time. By 1977, they opened Penn Cycle their first retail distribution center. Although they managed to reach $2 million in sales within the first few years of their existence, they were slowed by their lack of manufacturing capacity. Eventually, they opened a 26,000 sq ft factory in 1980 and began manufacturing complete road racing and mountain bikes as well as aftermarket parts and accessories.
In 1985, they developed a bonded aluminum frame but didn’t quite know how to manufacture it at the factory. Eventually, they followed up with a carbon composite model which became popular rapidly. To keep up with sales, the company expanded their factory by another 75,000 square feet. Continuing to expand the business’ offerings, they began to produce bicycling apparel in 1988 and opened offices in the UK and Germany. They even forayed into the children’s market with their Jazz line of starter Trek bikes but discontinued the line in 1993.
In 1990, they entered the hybrid market with their MultiTracks line of bicycles that crossed the features mountain bike with those of a road bike.
The company continued to innovate in their market. In the 1990s Bob Read, their director of technology met with a company called Radius Engineering and decided that the company should move towards making Trek bikes from carbon fiber. In 1992, after investing in the redesign of the manufacturing facilities to accommodate the move towards carbon, they introduced two full carbon framed bicycles, the 5500 and the 5200. In 1992, they produced their first full suspension mountain bike. In 1993, they purchased Gary Fisher Mountain Bikes.
Trek Bicycle Corporation continued to expand its reach by moving into the exercise industry. They developed Exercycles, a line of in-home exercise bike which they eventually spun off into an independent company called Vision Fitness. The company really increased the value of their name when Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France in 1990 while riding a Trek 5500. The bicycle star went on to win several more Tour de France races using Trek bikes. Today, the company continues to manufacture a line of road, mountain, hybrid and comfort bikes.
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