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A Short History of Sachs

Part 2: Sedis Chains

by John Neugent

Tech articles | Commentary articles |

Sachs history Part 1, Ernst Sachs begins making bearing and hubs | Part 3, Sachs expands

John Neugent probably knows more about bicycle wheels than anyone else alive. Maybe more about bikes as well. He's spent his life in the bike business, at every level. He now owns Neugent Cycling, a firm devoted to delivering world-class equipment at the lowest possible price. If you are in the market for a set of wheels, please, check out John's site. He really knows his stuff. —Chairman Bill

John Neugent

Author John Neugent

Sachs – Sedis Chain

It’s funny how a business develops. Often it’s not the plan that works, but the continuing reaction to the market. When I started with Sachs in 1989, the U.S. business was based on the sale of Sedis chains and Maillard freewheels. The freewheel business was to two main mass market companies, Huffy and Murray. Within a year I found out that the freewheels were being sold at a loss, so they not only discontinued the sales but fired my boss.

Strangely, both Huffy and Murray had very sophisticated engineering teams. Much better, at the time, than the major quality bike brands. The mass market bike makers were much bigger in terms of dollar and unit sales and were still considered the biggest bike companies.

Sedis was considered, by bike shops, to be the best derailleur chain, so that market was pretty solid. At that point, it was sold to distributors in minimum order quantities of 10,000. For the larger distributors that quantity was not a problem. The problem was that I didn’t make enough money on the commissions. So I decided to make the chain only available out of my US based warehouse and increased the price to a point where we could survive.

Sedis Chain

Introduced in 1978, with its bushingless design and champfered plates, the Sedisport chain shifted better than any other chain in the world.

At that time, Mountain Biking was King, so people used a lot of chain. To promote the chain and introduce the other Sachs products, we displayed at lots of races. Russ Okawa, my right hand man, knew many of the racers from his BMX days. He was one of the real down to earth founders of BMX, and ran the Mongoose team for many years. As a result, many of the top riders, like John Tomac, used Sedis chain – although they couldn’t say so because they had different sponsors.

I was mostly on the sales side and visited all of the major bike brands trying to sell them both the chain and derailleurs. So for most of the first 10 years of Sachs USA income was all about the chain but the goal was the introduction of derailleurs and, for a while, disc brakes. I had virtually no success until the middle ’90s when I got a call from Scott Montgomery, the head of marketing, and son of the founder of Cannondale, but that story is for the Sachs derailleur post to follow.

John Neugent was was one of the first to establish quality hand building in Taiwan around the turn of the century. He now owns Neugent Cycling, a firm devoted to delivering world-class equipment at the lowest possible price.