Automakers release luxury bicyclesForeign automobile brands have seen rising sales in Korea, and are now trying to see if another product can also attract customers here: bicycles.
Porsche officially began selling its Bike S and Bike RS from Wednesday, according to Stuttgart Sports Cars, the official importer of Porsche models. These models were first unveiled in Korea at the Seoul International Sports & Leisure Industry Show in February.
Porsche bikes are designed in association with Germany’s ADP Engineering, one of the leading producers of high-tech bicycles. The Bike RS weighs only 8.7 kilograms (2.2 pounds) thanks to its lightweight carbon frame. It is equipped with Shimano XTR 20 speed gearing, weight-optimized carbon brake levers and Magura hydraulic disc brakes.
Its smaller counterpart Bike S restricts the use of carbon fiber with a frame made of aluminum. As a result, the S model is slightly heavier than RS, but it also features hydraulic disc brakes and a Shimano 11-speed internal hub gear system with a low-gear belted drive.
The price of these 29-inch wheeler bicycles follows what consumers can expect from buying Porsche cars. The Bike RS sells for 12.5 million won ($11,100), while the S model is sold at 7 million won with a two-year warranty.
Mercedes-Benz Korea said this week that they are giving a 20 percent discount on bicycles until June 30. Its 2013 Trekking Bike is sold at 2.79 million won, while the 2013 Fitness Bike costs 2.39 million won.
Mercedes bikes are also manufactured in collaboration with ADP Engineering. They include Shimano hydraulic disc brakes and the Suntour NCX-D Lo suspension fork.
Mini, the premium small car brand by BMW Group, released its folding bike in Korea last month. The 20-inch wheeler weighs 11 kilograms (24 pounds) and has an eight-speed shift system. Mini Korea has been promoting the bicycle with various accessesories such as small bags and smartphone cases. It costs 950,000 won.
Among Korean companies, Kia Motors is promoting its K Velo, the bicycle designed by Hyundai Motor Group Chief Design Officer Peter Schreyer. It has been sold since November in association with local bike maker Samchuly Bicycle. The price of the City model is 1.5 million won, while the Speed model is at 1.1 million won.
Industry insiders said these automakers are releasing bicycles to increase brand value and become friendly with customers. Almost all famed carmakers, including BMW, Audi, Volvo, Cadillac, Chrysler and even super car brands like Ferrari and Lamborghini, have a history of releasing bicycles.
Peugeot and Kia began their businesses manufacturing bicycles.
“Selling bicycles is one way to improve brand image,” an official from Hyundai Motor Group said. “As brands like Ferrari and Mercedes produce accessories under their brands, Hyundai and Kia are also trying to release various products under the brand name.”
By Joo Kyung-don [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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