We sat down with Gary Fisher to talk about his principles, how his business picked up, and the story behind the first mountain bike ever made!
If you happen to be into the sport of mountain biking, you owe this man a world of gratitude. Gary Fisher is widely considered as one of the inventors of the modern mountain bike.
FHM caught up with Mr. Fisher during the grand opening of Trek Bicycles in Bonifacio Global City last Friday, December 5, to talk about his success, business principles, and the story behind the first mountain bike ever made. Read on!
Photo via Creative Commons
INSPIRATION FROM INCONVENIENCE
Gary first toyed with the idea of upgrading his bike back in high school. "Me and my friends used to bike in Marine County, a small area with a lot of houses and an incredible amount of open space. The whole place was like a big natural roller coaster, but our bikes were so primitive," he recalls. "I was tired of pushing my bike up the hill all the time. I was spending 80 percent of the time off the bike. I was sort of a mechanic, so it felt like the natural thing to do."
THE FIRST PROTOTYPE
The first ever mountain bike was built over a three-month period. "I cobbled together a bike and had to make sure that it was really robust and it wouldn't break," he points out. "I put in the drum brakes, some brake levers and cables, and triple chainrings. The bike weighed 42 pounds. It had all these parts in it so it wasn't light, but it worked."
THE FIRST EDITION
Other than Mr. Fisher, the first person to ever own a mountain bike was his roommate. "I built one for myself, and then I built one for my roommate," he tells us. "I eventually built one for his best friend, and I built one for the guy down the street. In my first year I built about 20 of them. The purists looked down on my bikes, but people couldn't wait to try it out."
RAKING IT IN
The first mountain bike Gary ever sold in 1974 earned him $450. "The bike wasn't cheap. There's a bunch of whole funky parts that I had to put in there. But it didn't matter because riding was such a fun activity. People went with it anyway. They were sold. Between 1975 and 1979, it grew from a couple of people to about 500 customers."
Photo via Gary Fisher's Twitter page
COMPETITORS ARE WELCOME
When competitors started to copy his concept, Mr. Fisher welcomed them with open arms. "You know you're really in business when the competitors come in," he explains. "Other bikemakers wanted to see my designs. I gave them all the information they needed—how to do it and who the customers are. I didn't want the exclusivity. All I asked in return is that they give me the best price, the best delivery, and the best terms."
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Mr. Fisher's business principle is very simple. "You have to have a great product, generate a lot of hype, and live up to it by producing good quality bikes," he reveals. "We did all three of them really well. People used to wait months to get their bikes. That's not how you grow a business. We were the first ones to have people walk in and walk out with a bike on the same day."
IT'S ALL ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS
Mr. Fisher believes that relationships, not numbers, make businesses. "At the time, my brother and I put the company up for sale. Our business was growing like crazy, and the supply caught up with demand worldwide," he tells us. "People were giving incredible terms and prices just to gain market share. We were getting all kinds of offers to buy our company. I got better offers than Trek, but they were the best people. I've partnered with the wrong people in the past, so I was really careful. But with Trek, it just felt like we were on the same team."
Photo via Trek Bikes PH Facebook page
Thanks for sharing your success story, Mr. Fisher! Let's ride in Marikina or Tagaytay next time!
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