QBP’s 2013 Frostbike dealer expo brought around 140 vendors and 850 bike shop reps to the company’s headquarters in Bloomington, Minnesota.
For the past 23 years, Quality Bicycle Products (aka “QBP” throughout the industry), the largest bike parts distribution company in the US, has hosted an annual event called Frostbike. Select brands from QBP’s immense catalog are invited to display their latest wares and interact with a gaggle of dealers in town from across the United States, all at QBP’s 135,000 square-foot headquarters in Bloomington, Minnesota, just outside of Minneapolis. ‘The purpose is really to bring dealers and vendors together,’ says Frostbike’s Event Coordinator, Matt Anderson. ‘Dealers are able to see some products that may have been released in the months following the Interbike trade show. And we’ve also been hosting educational seminars for around the past 10 years, which help educate our dealers on the latest bike technology, as well as selling and marketing techniques.’
RBA got an invite to the 2013 Frostbike show, and so while Neil was off at some pro team training camps and Zap was attending the Handmade Show in Denver, I headed to the snowy side of the country to get a close-up look at QBP’s immense, modern and stylishly appointed headquarters.
QBP’s massive headquarters features bike racks placed all around the complex, encouraging employees to ride their bikes to work.
Throughout the modern building you’ll find small design details that reflect QBP’s philosophy of being all about the bicycle, like the clock above made from an old chainring.
Befitting a company whose employees rave about the high quality of their work lives, there’s a gallery of employee portraits adjacent to the visitor welcoming area. They’re all strung up with bicycle chain, of course.
Down the hall from the employee portrait gallery is a display proudly showing each of QBP’s catalogs going back to 1981.
QBP’s variety of bicycle-related artwork is immense.
Inside QBP headquarters is a sprawling warehouse area that is complete with a state-of-the-art conveyor system and shipping department.
FOUNDRY BIKES & WHISKY PARTS: QBP’S HOUSE BRANDS ? While distribution has been QBP’s bread and butter throughout the years, the company has created several ‘house brands’ of bikes and accessories to fill various niches in the market. So a few years back, QBP launched Foundry Cycles and Whisky Parts to offer comparably-equipped, carbon road, cyclocross and mountain bikes. For 2013, all of Foundry’s road and cyclocross models will feature disc brakes and thru-axle forks, like the above Thresher model.
Whisky Parts, QBP’s house brand of components, produces carbon forks for both road and ?cross bikes, as well as a carbon drop handlebar. What’s most unique about Whiksy’s road and ?cross forks, however, is the use of a 15mm thru-axle, making it a current exclusive in the industry. ‘Thru-axles create a more rigid system which we feel offers a better ride,’ says Foundry’s Brand Manager, Matt Larson. ‘It’s something we develoed with RockShox, but for 2013, all Foundry road and ?cross bikes will come with disc brakes and thru-axles. As our slogan says, Foundry bikes are ?tools, not trophies.’ They’re built for riding.’
The Harrow is Foundry’s ?cross race bike. This display model was built-up with TRP Brakes’s latest hydraulic disc conversion system, the HyRd. The 2013 Harrow will come standard with mechanical disc brakes, but Foundry execs are considering spec’ing 2014 models with the HyRd after some testing over the coming months.
Most Frostbike attendees had yet to see TRP‘s HyRd hydraulic disc caliper up-close, so it was one of the most talked about new items at the show. The HyRd features a master cylinder placed directly onto the caliper body, that is actuated by a standard mechanical pull cable. This means that it’s compatible with all major gruppos and is a sleeker alternative to TRP’s Parabox convertor released last year.
Have any idea why they call it ‘Frostbike?’
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