Inside: Spot Brand

Still looking single - but with internally geared city bikes

Although Andrew Lumpkin isn’t exactly sure about the roots of the Spot Brand – “It’s all hearsay, really; I don’t say much about it with confidence” — he does know where it’s headed. The singlespeed mountain-bike brand that began in Canada in the late 1990s now resides in Golden, Colorado, where Lumpkin is steering the belt-driven brand into the realm of high-end city bikes.

Spot moved to Golden in 2006, and Lumpkin and his father, Wayne — the man who founded Avid Brakes in 1991 — bought the brand in 2009. Today, Spot offers two mountain bikes, a cyclocross bike and four city bikes, each with the signature Gates Carbon Drive belt system that Spot has helped progress.

Andrew Lumpkin is the son of Wayne Lumpkin, who founded Avid in 1991

Since taking over the helm five years ago, product design has intensified, Andrew Lumpkin said. “Spot had a niche a few years back, but a lot of that was caught up in fancy paint jobs,” he said. “We came in and pretty quickly started designing innovative technologies, specifically the way to apply the belt drive to the bike.”

“Two things were huge: Wayne designed and we then sold the Center Drive design to Gates in 2010. That was huge; it solved so many pitfalls of the older generation system,” Lumpkin said of the system that prevents the belt from slipping sideways. “And then second, the patented dropout solution called the Kobe Sliders, which lets you remove and reinstall the rear wheel without having to re-tension the belt.”

Wayne Lumpkin designed the Center Drive design and sold it to Gates

All four of the city bikes are internally geared, from the two-speed dualie to the 11-speed Wazee. With prices ranging from US$1,299 to US$2,349, the Spot bikes are certainly aimed at the high-end market.

“With bikes, the talk so often has been race driven. These aren’t. These are high-quality tools for your life,” Lumpkin said. “Our customers are everything from the ex-Madone rider to the urban hipster.”

Lumpkin has a Wazee at home for riding around the neighborhood, and he keeps an Acme in Taiwan for rolling around while on business there.

The 11-speed Wazee features hydraulic brakes, non-quick-release wheels with puncture-proof tires and a weatherproof belt drive. Flask and flask holder optional

Spot manufacturers all its bikes in Taiwan. Yes, it’s a cost-savings thing, Lumpkin says, but perhaps not for the reasons that you’d think. “Sixty-five to eighty percent of the cost of our bikes is in the components, not the frames,” he said. “And the bike industry is set up to deliver components in Taiwan. People talk about cheaper labor; for us, that’s just where the infrastructure is.”

Back in Golden, Lumpkin and his staff enjoy having an office within a few minutes’ ride from great mountain trails.

“We are passionate mountain bikers, we ride constantly. When we had Avid, our offices were down in Sheridan,” Lumpkin said, adding that it was quite convenient for him and his father, being close to their houses. “But it really wasn’t good for the employees for riding. We pay a premium to be here in Golden, but it’s really worth it for the trail access.”

BikeRadar is currently testing a Wazee, and will post a review soon. In the meantime, check out the photo gallery at above right.

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