I was once an amatuer mountain bike racer. Never mind that I won every race I ever entered. That was mostly because I was what’s termed “Athena” category. In other words, I was more than 160 pounds, so I never raced against the top tier in my age group. I still felt the thrill of the race, and paid the price in bruises and lost skin after close encounters with rocks and cacti.
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Parts, Passion, and Panache
Mountain Racing Products
By Cecily Whiteside
The trail is steep and rocky, the sun strong on my shoulders. My heart pounds as I come around a curve and see an outcropping of boulders that I need to maneuver through. I hear a rider coming up behind me. I am bearing down on one in front. It takes all I have to keep my courage up as my legs tire and my breath comes in labored gasps. I shift gears, thankful at the reassuring thunk of the chain moving between gears. I dab on the turn, but quickly pick up speed again to pass the racer in front of me. Like many other sometime-mountain-bike-racers or passionate enthusiasts, I want quick and efficient shifting so I can think about other things. Mountain Racing Products of Grand Junction hears me, and delivers. Their products are dedicated to preventing chain drop, the most common reason for racers to DNF (did not finish).
“What are our customer’s needs? This is the question that drives innovation and design at Mountain Racing Products. We’ve spent the last ten years focused on developing products organically; reaching out to our customers, finding out what their needs are, and using the fact that our employees are out there riding three times a week or more to make innovative and unique products,” says owner Tim Fry.
As home to world-renown mountain bike trails with some of the toughest terrain there is, the Grand Valley is a perfect testing ground for the development of high-end bike components. While MRP can’t just create products for our trails, they can certainly test them here. “We have a very dry climate here, well except for this year that is. So we have to think about other riders in other places. We ask ourselves, will this design do well in mud? In the Pacific Northwest? Or in the UK [United Kingdom]?” Tim says. Their goal is to manufacture products that will make a difference in the passionate enthusiast’s riding experience.
MRP started in 2000 when Tim and his wife Christy bought several small part manufacturers, combined their product lines, and relocated to the Grand Valley. The latest MRP products are worlds beyond where they began, thanks to creative minds, years of experimentation, and hard work.
MRP does both the manufacturing and design in their Grand Junction facility. “We are a tiny company, but this gives us an advantage in product development,” Tim says. “We can go from the design table to testing in a few days.”
“Our employees are passionate about riding, and about the products we make,” Tim adds. “We have had no trouble attracting the right talent. Being in Grand Junction is a little harder to travel from, but as we sell all over the world, it also adds credibility to the company that we are located here.” The design and sales team at MRP is a mixture of Grand Junction natives and out-of-town hires. They recently had a CMU engineering student as an intern who they hired full-time upon graduation.
There is also a company culture of promoting mountain biking as a sport. “We sponsor riders to help them move their career forward,” Tim says, “but it’s a two way street. Podium wins are great, but we want to sponsor riders who interact with the fans and help the sport grow.” To do this, they look for ambassadors, not just fast riders. Character counts. They also offer a grassroots sponsorship program through key bike shops around the country. These shops can sponsor young local riders, high school teams, and collegiate athletes. “We don’t know the local riding scenes, so we do this through the local bike shops,” Tim explains.
With passion for the sport, quality parts for bike enthusiasts, and panache in their approach to innovation and design, Mountain Racing Products is a local company making a splash on a global scale.