Over the past five years in Thailand, bicycle shops have mushroomed everywhere, countless bicycle products of international brands have been imported, many bicycle exhibitions have been held in large scale, and large organizations have been setting their goals to make the country a bicycle hub of the ASEAN region, bringing a lot of excitement to the country’s bicycle industry.
Take a look back at the time before bicycling started trending and we’ll find that Raja Cycle has been there since the very beginning. Raja Cycle is among the very few bicycle manufacturers in Thailand back then, who has managed to become internationally accepted for the quality of its made-to-order products – especially those exported to Europe. The company also has served several domestic organizations for no less than two decades.
What we are now!
Raja Cycle is among the top three major manufacturers of bicycle in Thailand. It is proud of being a local brand in the industry. “It’s been nearly thirty years since we started manufacturing parts and components for bicycles and motorbikes. We serve customers in Europe and business customers in Thailand, as well as producing copyrighted products of Disney for instance. Nowadays we’re working on our branding. Apart from parts and components, we make nearly every cycling accessory – including apparel, gloves, cycling socks, bike travel bag, and sport sunglasses. We’ve already researched before coming up with these products that are made by our company or by our suppliers. We offer not only bike ware but also human wear.
From OEM to making Meadow Bikes for everyone
Starting off as an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) who produced regular bikes that cost around 1,000 – 3,000 baht, Raja Cycle later came up with Meadow brand (www.meadowbike.com) that offered medium-end bikes made with high quality parts and components – costing around 2,000 – 10,000 baht. Products of this brand included folding bikes, mountain bikes, road bikes, and electric bikes, as well as fat bikes – covering all the needs in the past decade. However, as the popularity in cycling and the competition in Asian bicycle market are both growing, Raja Cycle has now come up with products of a higher-end brand.
Building a high-end brand with Optima
Optima, a high-end bicycle brand from Raja Cycle, was introduced three years ago to meet the growing need for performance bikes. Optima offers a variety of bikes for customers to choose from – with products that are made with parts and components of premium quality and cost around 10,000 – 150,000 baht. The idea of making Optima brand doesn’t come up from nowhere. We’ve carefully researched and thoroughly considered our options. There was a time when we joined a bike exhibition in Germany as an exhibitor to meet with our customers and to see if there was anything new we could bring back to our country. Since we found nothing new, we decided to make our own brand because it would be much more fun to do so.
With years of experience as a bicycle manufacturer and vision of the company’s executives, it is no surprise that every single detail of Optima bikes best answers to the needs of cyclists. We have quality control in every production section, and what’s more, we’re a manufacturer who exports bicycles to Europe, which means that our products are able to meet their quality standard. Importantly, we’re an official partner of many world-renowned bicycle part manufacturing companies such as Shimano, DT-Swiss, 3T, San Marco etc. In this way we have been able to offer high-end bicycles at reasonable prices.
CSR activities are always in our heart
Our company is not only a manufacturer and distributor of bicycles but also an active activity holder who always works to give something back to the society and cycling community. Upon building Meadow brand, Raja Cycle ran a ‘Learn to Ride’ project that lasted for two years to teach a number of people with different ages how to ride. Later when the company came up with the new Optima brand, it diversified its activities based on the need of its target groups – arranging bike trips to different locations to strengthen the relationship among Optima cyclists.
Last year we had two trips arranged exclusively for Optima users, each of which had 60 participants. This year we’re making it even bigger with around 100 – 150 cyclists per trip as our customer base grows. We have activities all year round. We give away tickets to join our trip via BikeSTYLE and Facebook fanpage. We also created groups on Facebook to communicate with and take care of our customers. As a bicycle distributor, I think our job is not done right when our products are purchased. We should help provide activities and space to encourage their rides – for example, we prepare giveaways for them for the trip they arranged themselves. We believe that Optima users are always nice and sociable, and they chose a local brand because they love it.
A strong cycling brand needs a strong cycling team
In cooperation with THULE distributor in Thailand, Optima has supported a sports school in Bangkok with training space and equipment as well as coach and team manager. We had an idea of supporting a cycling team since the very beginning. We chose to support a team of youth over a team of adults as we look for a long-term relationship and sustainability. We look to support them in the long run, and their recent results have been satisfying. They have the potential to join the national team. What they lack is only budget, equipment, techniques, and of course, the performance bicycle.
Expanding International Market
We’ve started exporting Optima bikes as planned, and are working to earn trust in the international market. We look to expand our market in the ASEAN region first. Now we’re exporting our bikes – both Opitma and Meadow – to Vietnam with a plan to further support our partnership over there. We also are discussing with our potential partner in European countries too.
We always keep in mind that bicycle may have been invented and known to man for a long period of time, yet it is far from being a remark of the past. Instead, bicycle is the innovation that will truly fulfill our future.