For many years, Giant Bicycles has been the world’s biggest mountain bike firm but Dutch company, Pon Holdings, has possibly usurped the scale of the Taiwanese manufacturer.
Most mountain bikers won’t know the name of Pon Holdings but since 2011, it's been buying mountain bike frame brands with interesting technology – especially with e-bike applications. The result is a very impressive portfolio, including Focus, Lapierre and Santa Cruz. It was Pon’s buy-out of the latter, in 2015, that first gained its notoriety among mountain bikers.
Now Pon has announced that it has purchased the bicycle division of Dorel, a portfolio that includes many legacy mountain bike brands. Cannondale, GT and Mongoose are the most distinguished new mountain bike names within the Pon’s growing corporate organogram. Adding the Dorel assets to its existing bike portfolio has inadvertently made Pon Holdings the world’s biggest bike brand – without designing a single frame.
Bikes and brands - for all riders
The Pon strategy has been to buy bike brands that have notable customer loyalty or technology. Lapierre has a tremendous following in the European trail and enduro scene, and Santa Cruz mirrors that marketing status in North America. Pon bought both, to access a share of the growing trail and enduro bike market revenues - on either side of the Atlantic.
Some mountain bike traditionalists might find Pon’s rise alarming, but the acquired brands under its control have not diverged from their core values. Santa Cruz has developed an even better version of its VPP suspension platform and more daring carbon-fibre frame design since coming under the influence of Pon.
With Cannondale, Pon has a strong play in the dedicated XC market. GT is edging to becoming a repositioned trail and enduro bike brand. With Mongoose, there is the possibility of Pon targeting it as an affordable alternative to GT.
The numbers involved in this transaction are substantial. Pon has confirmed that it paid $810m for the Dorel bicycle business. And with this new acquisition, Pon Holdings is expecting to harvest bicycle sale revenues of $2.9bn a year, edging it clear of Giant.