Heller boasts good value with open-mold bikes

Q&A with QBP's new budget-minded carbon mountain bike brand

Heller is the latest bicycle brand wished into existence by North American bicycle parts behemoth Quality Bicycle Products. It launched the brand at this year’s Interbike tradeshow with the Bloodhound, an open-mold carbon fat bike.

Related: BikeRadar’s complete Interbike coverage

At first glance, it seems that QBP needs another fat bike brand as much as I need another a hole in my head. The distributor already has Surly and Salsa, both of which have extensive fat bike lines. So why does QBP feel there’s a need for another player?

I caught up with Heller’s brand manager Tim Gallant and asked him to shed more light on how this new brand fits within the QBP ecosystem that plays such a critical role in US bike shops.

The Heller Bloodhoud fat bike will sell for $2,199 rigid and $2,599 for the Bluto-equpped version.

Heller is launching with the bloodhound, an open mold carbon fat bike that is backed up with safety testing and a three-year warranty:
Heller is launching with the bloodhound, an open mold carbon fat bike that is backed up with safety testing and a three-year warranty:

Heller is launching with the $2,199 Bloodhound, an open-mold carbon fat bike that is backed up with safety testing and a three-year warranty

BikeRadar: How does Heller fit into the QBP line?

Tim Gallant: “Heller is about being a little less serious and just getting out and having fun with your friends. Salsa is really centered on ‘Adventure by Bike.’ Surly is steel bikes and they do touch the edge of just getting out on the trail with your friends. We’re looking at the space in between.”

Is Heller going to be a carbon fat bike company?

“Not necessarily. We started here because we thought we could do a really well-priced carbon bike. We’re launching with a fat bike because we’re going into the traditional fat bike season.

The next bikes that we will be doing are not fat; they're trail-oriented mountain bikes.”

Who is Heller for?

“This isn’t anyone’s first mountain bike. It’s for the person who got serious into off-road a few years ago and the bike that they bought isn’t quite what they need now, so they’re looking for that first really great bike.”

Unlike Salsa, Heller uses off-the-shelf carbon, also known as open-mold frame designs. What’s the reasoning behind this?

“We’re not shying away from the fact that a lot of brands are doing OTS carbon. We see a lot of brands starting to go that route and think we can do it better. By doing OTS we’re saving money on development costs, which allows us to get to a much more aggressive price and still back it up with safety testing and a warranty.”

Heller will be an open brand, like Surly, meaning any bike shop with a QBP account can order one of your bikes, correct?

“Yes. This is a truly open, just-in-time brand.”

Will we see 27.5+ bikes or full-suspension models?

“Likely. We will be looking at industry trends just like everyone else does. As quickly as we can, we want to react to where the market is going.”

Josh has been riding and racing mountain bikes since 1998. Being stubborn, endurance racing was a natural fit. Josh bankrolled his two-wheeled addiction by wrenching at various bike shops across the US for 10 years and even tried his hand at frame building. These days Josh spends most of his time riding the trails around his home in Fort Collins, Colorado.
  • Discipline: Mountain, cyclocross, road
  • Preferred Terrain: Anywhere with rock- and root-infested technical singletrack. He also enjoys unnecessarily long gravel races.
  • Current Bikes: Trek Remedy 29 9.9, Yeti ASRc, Specialized CruX, Spot singlespeed, Trek District 9
  • Dream Bike: Evil The Following, a custom Moots 27.5+ for bikepacking adventures
  • Beer of Choice: PBR
  • Location: Fort Collins, CO, USA

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