TURNING your favourite hobby into a viable business is something most people only dream of getting right. But Nelson Mandela Bay entrepreneur Victor Momsen has done just that – transforming his love of cycling into a national business that makes high tech, high quality mountain bikes which sell for up to R65000 each.
Since opening his own business, Two Wheels Trading, two years ago, the 37-year-old businessman has increased production from three models of bicycles to 15, and has recently started exporting frames to the US. The company designs and manufactures bikes under the brand name Momsen Bikes.
“My love for bicycles started in the 1980s when, like all guys my age, we raced and played on BMX bikes. Seeing a “big-wheeled BMX”, now known as a mountain bike, in 1989, ultimately changed my life, ” said Momsen.
While studying mechanical engineering at the PE Technikon in the mid-1990s, Momsen applied to do a 10-month internship at Wheeler Industrial Co Ltd in Taiwan.
This internship opened up career doors in the Taiwan bicycle industry which led to his returning to Taiwan for two years to work for the company after graduating from PE Technikon.
He remained in Taiwan for a further two years. “Taiwan was known as the mecca of bicycling at the time. I learnt a lot and the company was a big player in the cycling industry,” he said.
“You must remember, cycling wasn’t as big as it is today. It is the fastest growing sport in the world and companies like FNB and Vodacom are throwing huge amounts of money into the sport.”
On his return to South Africa, Momsen worked for Peter Miller’s company Pro Bike in North End (now Scott Sports).
“I was given an entry level position in 2000 and was the product director by the time I left in 2007. We sold Raleigh and other brands to stores like Pick n Pay. You could buy that brand for as little as R599 or as much as R39999.”
Momsen said he left Pro Bike when the fun went out of the job. “Creatively I was a bit drained and looking for a new challenge.”
The new challenge came in the form of his own business.
“We opened in 2011 and started producing three different bicycle ranges. We increased to nine last year and now we have 15 ranges, he said.
Two Wheel Trading is based in Newton Park and has a dealer network of 25 independent bicycle shops across nine provinces. They offer “the first SA bicycle brand to develop a full carbon, full suspension bicycle”, he said.
“We have already gained a reputation as the best in the industry because of our bike specifications and overall value that we offer.”
The price of a bike is determined by how a client is willing to spend, he said.
“If a client wants a R10000 bike, our job is to design and create the best bike to cater to that need.”
Prices can go up to R65000 per bicycle.
Momsen has been married for seven years to Andrea and they have two children, four-year-old daughter Mia, and six-week-old son Ethan.
“It wasn’t easy to start the company, but through the support of family, friends and companies who believed in me, it was made possible.
“My wife and I are both directors in the company and while I handle the product side, she takes care of the finances.”
TWT has 11 employees, including two sales representatives and directors.
“I wouldn’t want to disclose how many bikes we sell per year because that information is confidential. However, I can tell you that we have doubled our sales over the last two years,” said Momsen.
The company has also recently exported the Momsen bike frames to the US.
“The international market is opening up, but I want to ensure that the company is well established in South Africa before playing in the international market,” he said.
“We must crawl first before we walk.”