We don’t get to see a bike shop like Primo Cycles everyday. It is not your usual run of the mill bike shop because it does not cater to the usual cyclist. It’s that icing on top. It is a specialty shop. Why? We interviewed Glenn of Primo Cycles to give us the low down at Primo Cycles.
Valleybikes: So let’s start easy. Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do here
Glenn: Ok, so my name is Glenn Colendrino, one of the directors here at Primo Cycles. We started operations last July 2011. My background with cycling and triathlon was when I first got into mountain biking, maybe around 2005 -2008. After that we progressed to triathlons, thus the road bikes and triathlon bikes. It was a nice experience because my wife and I started cycling together. We were heavy then. My wife had just given birth to our second child, so we both needed the exercise. My wife lost around 70 pounds I lost around 45 pounds.
Valleybikes: So fitness was the primary motive?
Glenn: Fitness was the primary motivation for all of this. After that, we got into thinking, “Hey, we love this so much…”
V: …make the hobby a business.
G: There you go. We thought of putting up a place…basically, there are so many shops here, right? Mainly in Cartimar, where you can go get bikes, parts and everything. So the whole concept of Primo Cycles was that we wanted to open a higher end shop to cater to people who are not usually your first timers. Our clients are mainly people who are already into cycling; they have one or two bikes already. They know the brands, because the brands we represent here are quite known. And another reason why we also wanted to open a shop like this is to give justice to the brands.
V: Yeah, you don’t notice a lot of shops here that carry some of the premier brands that you have here.
G: Yeah…well actually, there is one in Cartimar… but of course, the question will always be, is it for real? Because they are quite known for knock-offs, and to try and pass it off as the real thing. But here our main goal is…well, we are in direct contact with authorized distributors. That’s how the brand should be represented. You talk to and deal with the authorized distributors of these brands. When we started out, it was like a gamble, because these brands were, and still are, a pretty heavy investment.
V: Not to mention back in those days I don’t think biking was as big as it was now. I mean from the mid 2000’s onward that’s when we started to see the growth in fitness events such as triathlete and fun-runs and such. Speaking of which, how would you say the biking community evolved since you started the business?
G: The amount of choice has grown of course, and the community as a whole has grown too. The thing is I was in contact already with other bike shops. Because when we opened I was saying, I don’t see the other shops as competition. There’s a big growth in this industry, in cycling. So, for all of us to come out ahead, us as well as the other shops, let’s not kill each other by selling the same brands and starting price wars. I was saying; let’s just make our pie bigger.
V: So in a way you also segregated the market somewhat, because these are pretty high end brands, and the other stores are catering more towards mid-level?
G: Well, Most of the bikes you see here are high end but we also have entry level. But we don’t focus on that much because we’re more known for the high end.
V: So would you say this is one of the best places to choose out a competition bike?
G: Yes, absolutely, for racing, performance parts, and everything really.
V: Have you noticed in regards to the age of the community if it’s getting younger? Are more kids are getting into biking?
G: Well, yes. But right now…Usually the market are people who are going to their mid-life crisis *laughs*
V: Ah, so instead of buying a car now they end up buying a bike.
G: Yeah, that’s the new measure now. It’s not anymore, “Oh, I have a new sports car outside.” It’s basically now, “I have the latest triathlon bike, and I’m entered into an ironman.”
V: Yeah, now there’s also a bit of an accomplishment
G: Yeah, an accomplishment because they know it’s hard. And not everybody can join a triathlon and stuff like that. Some of the runners now are starting to get tired of just running. So they are starting to look at diversifying their workouts. So that’s when I see them crossing over to duathlons.
Retul—The future is now.
V: Let’s talk about this thing – Retul. Primo Cycles is unique here in the Philippines because of the Retul system.
G: Ok, so Retul is a system from Colorado. Basically, it’s the most advanced bike fitting system anywhere in the world.
V: If I knew absolutely nothing about bikes, why would I need to be fit to a bike?
G: Well, positioning on a bike is very crucial. Where you sit, where your saddle is on, it will basically determine what muscle groups you’ll be using. There are other bike fitting systems right now in the market, but they are, well I call them static fitting. Because you are at a standstill and they take your measurements. I have nothing against that; it’s actually a good determinant of your frame size…
G: Exactly. Why is Retul a little bit more advanced? Well the bike fitting science is pretty much standard. But what sets Retul apart is how it acquires the data. It’s done while the cyclist is in motion. It’s 3D. That’s why I have a bike trainer there. I sit the rider there, and I put probes on 8 anatomical landmarks on the body that creates all the angles I need in relation to where you are on the bike. Retul has a set of values from which I can adjust.
For example, let’s look at this reading. I did a fit earlier, so this was her initial fit. Based on the numbers shown, the thing that came to my attention was her knee angle flexion. She’s bending too much. What does that mean? It means she’s not getting the full stroke length. She’s a tall person, and she’s not maximizing her legs. What I did, I raised her saddle by 20mm, that’s almost an inch. That drastically improved her knee angle flexion, wherein it’s already within the acceptable limit. And then, when she was pedaling earlier, here for example, it says here 79 degrees. It means on the 6 o’clock of the stroke, her heel is actually the one going down first. Now, when your heel goes down first on a stroke, it’s basically what my instructor would say, it’s a dead stroke. You are basically turning the crank by the laws of physics, but it’s not generating power. Power comes when the ball of your feet is actually engaging the pedal, and not your heel. So when I raised the saddle, I was effectively able to make her open her ankle maximum to 92 which is an acceptable level for Retul. Everything else followed. So it’s a progression, until I find the optimal level wherein it’s all within an acceptable range. It’s great also because this system is also available for road, time trial, and mountain bike.
G: Yes. Well, parameters – which I play around with…Acceptable ranges.
V: How long does the process usually take?
G: Well it usually takes an hour. I usually give an hour; it depends on what needs to be adjusted. Like the knee forward to foot. That’s the fore and aft of your saddle. That’s why on March 3 I’m going to Colorado to the Retul headquarters for my Master’s Fitters Course. I have already clocked in 400 Retuls; I’ve passed the recertification and the masters qualifying.
V: You’re now in a graduate course for Retul fitting. What makes you more advanced than a normal graduate?
G: The masters; it will allow for more specialized fitting. For example, dealing with a person with leg length discrepancy. It’s more of like a specialization. There will be specifics for triathlon and the other is the cycling insoles. So it’s really very technical already.
V: So this really is the most accurate way to go about fitting a person to a bike.
G: Yes. Right now Retul is the partner of the Pinarello team, who are the defending Tour de France winners. They are also with the Garmin-Barracuda Team, the Colnago team…most of the brands that I carry. A couple of others – Radio Shack, Trek Leopard, and most of the guys that are on the pro tour in the US are using Retul. In terms of Triathlon of course the #1 sponsored athlete of Triathlete is Craig Alexander. Craig Alexander has won the Kona world championships twice (back to back) and then he also won the world 70.3 Championships. And He’s Retul – all his bikes. And he accredits Retul with his winnings. At one point I think in the 70.3 World Championship he even broke the bike split record by like 3 or 4 minutes.
Fitting is really important, because you know – give me your most expensive bike, and then someone will just try to fit it. I’ll put it up with someone with a mid-level but properly fitted bike…and you’ll see the difference. The things that I have seen here before, there’s even this one guy, RP cycling team, I raised his saddle by one and a half inches.
V: Didn’t he feel awkward at that first step of correction?
G: He felt really awkward. But right now, they are out there winning races. Of course there is an adaptation period. Of course there is a retraining period. And I talked to his coach, “Hey coach, you have to you reteach this guy again.” There are so many people here who lack all of this that their bodies just got used to the bad position and then they excelled using a bad position. So it’s either your body will reject it, because it’s already so used to the position and stubborn, or you will adapt to it, and when you adapt to it, you’ll feel it.
V: Where does the standard parameters come from, does Retul has its own set of guidelines?
G: Yes. Retul have doctors on their team who study the movement and stresses of the human body. So, of course they see the stresses of the muscle, even of the hip angle open, hip angle closed… Hip angle closed would suggest if your hip flexors are being overstressed. So what I tell my clients is the system is here to prevent you from having injuries. Retul is more on the conservative side. It won’t suggest a position, but that’s why I call it a dynamic fit. There’s even an interaction because at the end of this, at the end of all this fitting, the best person to determine your best fit, is you. Not the numbers, not anything. You know the numbers might be showing that it’s ok, but for you it’s not.
V: So it’s different stances for different bike disciplines.
G: Absolutely. Here’s a preview. Mountain Bike positioning, 50 degrees. Road Bike, 45 degrees. Triathlon, 25 degrees. Time trial, 20 degrees. I’m actually going to the US also to visit a wind tunnel testing facility. I might also visit John Cobb, of Cobb saddles. He’s the number 1 bike fitter. He’s been a bike fitter for 30 years; he’s the guy who fitted Lance and some other greats. He has produced so many Olympic track cyclists. So you know, just being with the masters.
Cycling overview in the Philippines
V: Who frequents Primo Cycles?
G: Well, right now I get a lot of triathletes more than the roadies. I actually carry both. Presently, there are just more triathlon races right now than there are road races. And the road races kasi, the elite cyclists, sometimes they just stick to their machine. And also some teams are also just sponsored. Like Fitness First sponsors road races, for example.
V: What about Mountain Biking? Is that still a relatively small section of the market here?
G: Well the thing is, for us, no – if you’ve noticed we have the first Pinarello Mountain Bike in the country here. We see a lot of potential. I’m a mountain biker to begin with… my love for that won’t disappear. Eventually I’ll be hitting the trails again, given less time in Triathlon races. It’s that kind of sentiment that a lot of my clients, even if they have road / triathlon, they still manage to keep mountain bikes. It’s still going to be there. Because for young couples with kids, when they go with their kids, it’s not a road bike, it’s usually a mountain bike.
V: But mountain biking; it’s not as much of a competitive event here as it is a social / leisure event wouldn’t you say?
G: Yeah. Well actually, before I got into this I was supposed to open a mountain bike park. I even got the plans from the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA). I have the trail building books and the architect, the one who was going to design the park was the one who designed Whistler. But at the time he didn’t want to come here because there was a travel advisory. Around 2008, 2009. But that’s the thing.
V: Wow! Where were you planning the trails?
G: Actually there were three. I pitched this to 3 local officials. One in Antipolo, where they got very excited about it. They were offering government property there for us to convert. And then in Laguna also, and the other one was in Cavite. So yeah. But it didn’t push through.
VB. What about X-Games style cycling. Is that something we would see at all here?
G. Well the thing is that thing was already around before. It’s always been around, it never disappeared but it just never caught up with the market either.
V: Yeah, without those specialized facilities here, that’s probably a reason why it didn’t pick off.
G: You know what’s getting a lot of attention? The Fixie (fixed gear bike). It’s really big in other countries. There’s already a Manila Fixed Gear. And there are also the folding bike guys. So overall, there’s really a big growth and a big crowd. Weekends you see guys riding in Antipolo, or south going to Batangas. In Nuvali, people are on their road bikes or on the trails. So if ever, I would consider right now to be the golden age of the cycling industry. It goes back to some things of why we put up the business. If you’re going to sell something, make sure it’s of quality. Like one of our concerns were the fakes. It’s scary! It’s just an imitation, and you can’t speak at all for its safety.
V: What is the future of cycling?
G: Cycling is going to stay. It’s been around. And we have sponsors. We’ve done some tie ups with really nice cycling teams you know. To mention a few, the LBC team, they are all on Pinarellos, so we were able to partner up with them. We are the partner shop. Right now, in the Ronda Pilipinas they have won…and keep in mind these are under 23 guys, so they are young… They have won 4 stages already. They just finished second this morning in the team time trial. So it’s good publicity for us. And then, these guys go to Europe too. They race in some of the criterium races. They did one in Belgium, and they are already applying for their continental league status. So they’ll be joining the Tour of Brunei, Tour of Beijing, so you’ll see them there. There are two Filipino teams right now vying for continental league status, that’s the 7-11 and the LBC boys.
V: These are all private teams correct? There’s no Philippine National team…
G: Well there is, but yes, they are all private teams… Just don’t let the politicians go in otherwise they’ll just ruin everything, right? *laughs* And what is nice with cycling also… it’s backed up by LBC, and Manny Pangilinan is backing them up already. And you know, once he sets his sights on something, things happen. He has eyed a couple of sports you know where we could excel. So that’s cycling, boxing, soccer, rugby and stuff like that. Sports that don’t need height… because if you see Alberto Contador, he is what…5’10 in height? You could easily mistake him for a Filipino. His physique, it’s that physique that we Filipinos can obtain. And Contador, he’s already won the Tour de France. Why can’t we have one of those? So things are very hopeful for cycling. Our executive racing scene is very, very active. We have a lot of races, and a lot of club teams that are forming.
V: Thanks so much for your time!
G: My pleasure.
Glenn shows off the Limited edition Colnago C59 Ottanta– only 80 were made worldwide to celebrate Ernesto Colnago’s 80th bday.