Posted by Steve on 01/31/22
Last modified: 01/31/22
45NRTH just celebrated its tenth year of keeping riders warm. It’s been a long journey and we’re grateful for everyone who’s joined us along the way. We didn’t know whether or not this would catch on in the beginning, but the huge number of people who have found a passion for winter riding stokes our fire to continue innovating.
David Gabrys has been with 45NRTH since day one. He shared a bit of the brand story with us on a frigid day down by the Minnesota River, not far from 45NRTH HQ. Watch the video, then read on below for a more in-depth story behind the brand’s early days.
What was the early reception for the brand?
DG: Lots of excitement and curiosity. Our first product was the Hüsker Dü fat bike tire. Our naming convention for that product line was Minneapolis music. So, that tire got a lot of local attention; we had our gear junkies and we had people in punk rock asking about the name and where the brand was coming from.
There were a lot of people early on who just loved what we were doing and were curious to see the next steps of this new, cutting-edge brand with a bold mission. Some of our successes early on included the awards that we won for our footwear designs, which was really an incredible moment for the brand.
What does it feel like to witness the evolution of winter riding from where it was ten years ago?
DG: It is really incredible to see that it’s actually something that people seek out. It feels like we’re overcoming such an obstacle. It’s almost like you’re defying something.
Here in Minnesota, the winters are long and harsh, and it can be really hard for people who move here from outside the area to get through a winter. But now they’re able to thrive. It feels like just this fantastic evolution of technology and sports and our ability to recreate outside. And I am very, very grateful for all that we’ve been able to do to help more people get out on the bike in the winter.
Was there a moment when it seemed like everything just “clicked” for the brand?
DG: Yeah, I would say 2015 was a pivotal year. We were developing and refining innovative products for this growing sport of fat biking. At the same time, people at the local level were developing the technology for groomed singletrack; learning to pack down the snow so it remains rideable all winter long.
That convergence of the fan club for fat biking, developing ways to groom singletrack, and us developing tires specifically for groomed singletrack was huge.
What were some other highlights from the early days of 45NRTH?
DG: We put together a women’s racing team and we’d go to all these fat bike events around the country. It was always this really fun, cultural experience of all these people, enjoying fat biking, defying the odds of being outside on bikes in the winter, and just pulling together a community of people who every weekend we were celebrating with at these events. I think it really helped advance the sport and build our brand.
Looking back at the brand today, what are you most proud of?
DG: The community that we’ve developed and seeing so many people get out on their bikes and riding and enjoying the outdoors in the winter. We’ve delivered this experience that didn’t exist before 2010.
How do you think 45NRTH has changed winter cycling?
DG: I think it’s changed winter cycling in that it has helped people overcome the obstacle of the fear of being cold. We’ve helped people break through that mental barrier when they go into a bike shop or they go online and they read about our products, they see the photography and the videos of people riding in the cold weather. I think it’s really changed how people can imagine their cycling experience. There’s no longer that winter gap in riding — it’s now fat bike season.
What does the future look like for 45NRTH?
DG: I’m really excited to see how we can further develop new technologies and innovations to help commuters more. People are working from home more now, but I still think that there’s an opportunity for them to go out and experience their social life on bikes, in an urban setting, and we’d like to build out the commuter side of things with what we’ve been doing for fat biking.
Anything else you’d like to add?
DG: One of the things on my mind is how we, as a winter brand, can drive more awareness about climate change and lessen our footprint. We want to keep the north cold and continue to have ice and snow so that this sport can continue into the future.
It’s been ten years since 45NRTH gear first hit the icy streets and trails. We’ve evolved a lot since then and we can’t wait to show you what’s next. We hope you’ll continue to ride with us. Stay warm out there.