By John Stevenson
Two of the mountain bike industry’s longest-standing fork names have new owners today. Britain’s Pace Cycles announced this afternoon that it was selling its fork business to wheel and shock maker DT Swiss, while news broke at the end of last week that disc brake maker Hayes was buying Answer Products, maker of Manitou forks.
HB Performance Systems, to give Hayes its full name, has acquired all of Answer, but Pace has only sold its fork business to DT Swiss. Pace Cycles will continue to develop and manufacture its other lines, including frames and clothing.
Pace’s Adrian Carter told MBUK.com that the deal had come together very quickly after Pace had begun discussing using DT Swiss rear shocks in the new RC400 suspension frame. It was an obvious partnership, according to Carter, as, “they had a shock but no forks; we have forks but no rear shock.”
DT Swiss will set up a facility in Switzerland to make the forks and Pace will be exclusive UK distributor. In the meantime, Pace will continue to make and develop its forks, and Adrian was keen to emphasise that there would be no break in supply or support as a result of the deal.
Adrian expects that having DT Swiss concentrate on the nuts and bolts of manufacturing the forks will free him and Pace to concentrate on other projects, especially frames. “Suspension forks are time-consuming,” to make and design, he says.
He expects the range to grow, as DT Swiss wants to make the fork line into a worldwide product, but Adrian couldn’t say yet whether the pricing will change. Pace’s forks have never been exactly cheap, and that has limited their availability outside the UK, but it remains to be seen if economies of scale will affect the price.
Both Manitou and Pace forks have histories back to the very early days of mountain bike suspension. In fact, both companies started out making rigid forks and frames and moved into suspension when it became obvious that shock absorption was the way forward.
Pace has remained independent since its start in 1987, while founder Doug Bradbury first licensed and then sold Manitou to Answer Products – previously known mostly for handlebars – in the 1990s.
Hayes also owns spoke and wheel maker Wheelsmith Fabrications and Sun Ringle, which makes wheels and other components.