If there was anything good to come out of the supply chain crunch caused by the pandemic, it was the emergence of smaller bike and component brands. Simply put, bike shops needed bikes. If you could get a bike to a shop floor, even as a newer brand, the shop owners were going to give you a shot.
They had to. No bikes, no sales. This scenario turned into a win-win for new bike brands and shops alike, plus consumers were treated to bikes they hadn’t seen a million times before. Many of these smaller brands were doing things that the larger bike brands simply weren’t doing.
Take, for example, breathing life into magnesium frames. Magnesium has long been a popular frame material on the fringes of the sport, but could it carry a line of a new bike brand? VAAST, a company based in Dayton, OH, is trying to find out.
Who Makes VAAST Bikes?
VAAST is made by a small company based in Dayton, Ohio. There’s only one shop in the area carrying the brand, although we think there’s a good chance you’ll see the line-up in other parts of the state soon.
I stumbled into Einstein Cycles as the pandemic began to wane and saw a new brand that I had never heard of before. I talked to Dave and Trevor about the bikes on the floor at the time but recently decided to do some digging. I’m glad I did. It turns out, VAAST is trying something pretty unique in the industry. They’re focusing on magnesium for their bike frames and have some pretty big claims as to the benefits of this choice.
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VAAST Bikes 2023 Line-Up
If you’re interested in riding magnesium, VAAST makes off a small but effective line-up; an ebike, an “ALLROAD” (gravel in nonmarketing speak), a mountain bike, an urban cruiser, and youth-sized options for the groms.
For me, the most appealing bike in the line-up is easily the R/1 700C Force AXS. A magnesium frame, paired with AXS, clearance for up to 30mm tires, and carbon wheels for $5,000? Not a bad setup. Plus it looks the absolute business in the white paint job.
The Sustainable Bike Brand (Allegedly)
One other note about what makes VAAST a bit different than many other brands out there. They make a lot of claims on their site about how magnesium is a greener material than carbon or other metal frames. What I don’t see is a lot of data to support this. However, they do ship their bikes using plastic-free packaging. So, that’s a start towards sustainability, which should be applauded.
I did track down some information that substantiates their claims about being a green bike manufacturer if you want to take a look. I think they should include more of this data on their site, as it’s pretty insightful.
Without having ridden a VAAST, I can’t say too much about their quality, their comfort, or their fit. But can we just appreciate, for just a moment, that there’s a bike brand trying something unique as far as frame materials? It’s a heck of a time for smaller brands who are trying something new – VAAST, Allied, Batch, and a host of others have used the supply chain issues the larger brands have been facing to show consumers something unique. I think that’s worth celebrating.
While the supply chain shortages of 2020-2021 allowed smaller brand a foot in the shop door, the resultant supply “overshoot” may throw up some challenges. Almost every dealer in Traverse City has current model year bikes on sales; pre-COVID, that would have been unheard of.
Dealer agreements with large brands usually stipulate at least some sales requirements that limit revenue from other brands. The combination of oversupply and those sales requirements could make it tough for VAAST bikes and other small brands to hold onto their slice of the bike shop sales floor.
Let us know in the comments if you’re interested in magnesium bikes or whether you think small brands can hold onto their newfound importance!