The culture of cycling in South Africa has made a big impression on the European owner of HEAD Bikes, Zdenek Kaluzik, who visited the country on a fact-finding mission this month.
Long an established name in sports such as tennis and snow skiing, the HEAD brand has made serious inroads into the European cycling market in the last six years. This has led to the parent company spreading the brand to other countries.
Following an agreement to set up a South African arm of their operations last year, the highly rated models are now available to local cycling enthusiasts through HEAD Bikes SA.
Kaluzik visited South Africa prior to the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup race in Stellenbosch this month and a spokesman for HEAD Bikes SA said he was “pleasantly surprised” with his experience.
“Zdenek was really impressed with what he saw in Stellenbosch and the surrounding areas,” said the spokesman.
“When we went for a drive through the Cape Peninsula, the South African cycling culture was evident as we constantly came across riders on the road.”
He said the variety of trails and possibilities in places such as the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve and the Cape Winelands reinforced the idea that South Africa could become a permanent base for their off-season training camps.
With the European winter not conducive to extensive outdoor training, HEAD Bike cyclists look set to join a number of other overseas competitors who annually take advantage of South Africa’s favourable conditions.
Their professional teams have already made use of this opportunity, with members of their HEAD Bikes Pro team and HEAD Ciclo XC team with x-Sight having trained in the Western Cape prior to the World Cup race on March 10.
“The European HEAD Bikes owner has witnessed the massive interest in road racing and mountain biking in South Africa and it seems they would like to make a greater commitment to the sport in South Africa,” said the spokesman.
HEAD Bikes SA have already thrown their weight behind the Demacon Women’s Team, signing up as the outfit’s equipment sponsor for the year.
Carla Oberholzer, the winner of the SA national road race title in Oudtshoorn in February, said the sponsorship was a major boost, not only for the team but for women’s cycling as a whole.
The Demacon rider has led the way this year as her team has dominated one-day road races in the country.
Besides the national title, Oberholzer won the Ride for Sight and Bestmed Berge en Dale races, while teammates Lynette Burger (the Fast One) and Kim le Court (Cape Town Cycle Tour and Bestmed Emperors Palace Classic) have also been on the 2018 winner’s podium.
HEAD Bikes SA make use of an online purchasing system, and the brand’s spokesman said there had been plenty of requests for the brand from South African consumers.
“We have had a delay in the first shipment of our 2018 stock but we are excited that our first shipment will be arriving in South Africa during the second week of April,” he said.
“Cyclists have seen our online purchasing model on various platforms and there is a lot of interest.”