Oval Concepts bought by Advanced Sports

New UCI 3:1 rule enforcement claims first industry casualty

Advanced Sports, Inc (ASI) have added component brand Oval Concepts to their growing cycling portfolio, which includes Kestrel, Fuji, Breezer and SE.

Oval are known for their integrated and bolt-on aero bars and unique split-blade JetStream forks, both of which have seen widespread use under a number of ProTour riders and teams, including road world champion Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) and the Fuji-Servetto squad.

Bosses decided to sell the company following a 50 percent dip in worldwide OEM sales, attributed to the downturn in the global economy, and news that the UCI would begin more stringently enforcing its 3:1 aero profile ruling in mid-2009.

Several of Oval's aero platforms were in clear violation, instantly creating a glut of virtually unsellable product and setting the company back years in terms of product development.

"In the spring when the UCI's new mid-year enforcement of the 3:1 rule for aero bars started being threatened and then enforced we took another 25 to 30 percent hit in our biggest sales and profit category," said company founder Morgan Nicol. 

"Stories about 'illegal aero bars' were not productive [Oval Concepts' unique JetStream bar models were incorrectly assumed by many to be non-compliant – Ed.]. I was besieged by customers wondering why I sold them 'illegal' bars one, two or three years before.

"I guess the guy who predicted [on Cyclingnews.com] that the UCI enforcement of the 3:1 rule could put a company like Oval Concepts out of business wasn't far off the mark."

Nicol said Oval Concepts were in good hands with ASI, though, and there would be little, if any, impact on consumers. "ASI are continuing to sell the existing product line through the current Oval distribution system while adding the horsepower of spec'ing the product on 100,000+ bikes," he said. "They will continue development and expand the product offerings."

As for Nicol himself, he and wife Simona will continue to consult for ASI for the next few months and he also retains ownership of key patent technologies – several of which ASI will license immediately – leaving him freedom to pursue other partnerships such as ones he developed with bicycle companies Ridley and Avanti. 

Nicol will also continue to consult with several professional road teams such as Footon-Servetto plus a loyal following of triathletes, and is looking forward to at least one aspect of the sale: "We want to enjoy our other two (real) kids before they grow up and go off to bigger and better things."

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