1993 - David meets Richie; a tumultuous relationship begins
It all started about 16 years ago, right here in Philadelphia. Our chief technician, Richie Cortez, was working at a local shop called Bicycle Therapy. An obsessive young triathlete named David Greenfield was working with Bicycle Therapy and began getting his tech work done by Richie. This meeting would prove to be integral to getting Elite off the ground a few years later.
1995 – David breaks bikes
David and Richie continue their lovely partnership. David is having a hard time keeping a bike together that won’t break underneath him. As David is coming up in the world of triathlon, he is facing a couple of different offers from various bike manufacturers, and is faced with some choices. Bearing in mind that he keeps breaking bikes, and has yet to find something that he considers to be at a level necessary to take competition to the next level, he is stumped. After a long discussion with a close friend, Lance Adam, David is urged to run his own name. A decision is made that since there is no satisfactory option, a new bike must be made.
1996 – Steve’s Multisport
David gets a new title sponsor; Steve’s Multisport. Steve’s Multisport is a local multisport retail store owned by none other than Steve Harad, now brand manager at Kestrel.
David and Steve begin a friendship that will last up to the present day. The idea for a new bike company starts to flourish and gain a bit more steam. As the year goes on the talks continue, and David and Steve start to search around for OE builders and materials. As more and more progress is made on the building front, fit becomes a major field of study for the guys.
Research and development continue, and at the end of 1996 the first is Elite is built for David.
At the onset, all of the Elite bikes are being tested in race situations by David. After the races are through David and Steve meet up to discuss the pros and cons of various design changes that are being made.
1997 – Elite Grows
As the guys make some headway and begin to see positive results from the knowledge they have picked up along the way, the time nears to begin building bikes for others.
Richie continues working with David after he finishes up at Bicycle Therapy, and things are starting to come along.
David and Steve want to keep the company local and grassroots for a bit, and have started to gain a following in the community and with some of David’s fellow pros.
Growth continues, and David and Steve begin building bikes locally and fitting everyone they can.
1999 – And it continues
A young female athlete is killing herself to make it to the line at St. Anthony’s triathlon, and she collapses just short. David runs out to hoist her up and make sure she is okay. It turns that this young woman is Olympic gold medalist Sheila Taormina.
David and Sheila become fast friends, and Sheila is in the market for a new bike. A partnership is worked out, and Elite makes its Olympic debut in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, finishing sixth place overall, with Sheila only 2 minutes out of another gold medal.
David and Steve start traveling around the country to various races promoting Steve’s Multisport and Elite Racing. The time has come to bring the brand to the masses.
2000 - Expansion
Elite has now been working hard on building a quality product for four years, and has found the builder than we continue to employ to this day.
Based on the data gleaned over four years of building full custom bikes and fitting every single Elite rider, it is determined that sufficient research has been done to establish what we hold as the most workable stock sizes available. The stock series of bikes becomes known as the T-Class, and the custom line becomes the Razor.
Towards the end of the year Steve’s Multisport is sold to Enduro Sports, and the future of Elite Racing is up in the air. Are you on the edge of your chair yet? Well, I guess it’s clear that we didn’t fold, but still, I’d like to keep your attention.
2001 – We didn’t fold!
So some things happened, but long story short Elite Racing didn’t die. Sole ownership of the company was transferred, and on January 17, 2001, David Greenfield reincorporated as Elite Bicycles, Inc. We live on!
While we are still chugging along, we are not the biggest cycling company in the world yet. Yet. David begins working on a rebranding of the company with his close mate, McDavid Henderson, who is responsible for the branding we still use today. David is working as a concierge at a local (very upscale) hotel with a stellar reputation, and being that the goal of Elite is provide the most excellence product and service possible, the 5 stars are born.
Being that David and Richie both have full time jobs, it isn’t exactly easy to expand the company, since there is almost no time to work. Elite’s “headquarters” is in David’s dining room, and “storage” is in the basement at Bicycle Therapy. When they are able to make their schedules work together, Richie and Dave are meeting up in the evening and working well into the night in order to meet client expectations and deadlines.
Richie begins traveling and doing tech work at races both here and abroad, learning all along the way.
2002 – Growing from tri – specific
Up until now, Elite’s attention has primarily been on triathlon and TT bikes. Of course, over the years the company had at one time or another made at least one-offs of practically every kind of bike imaginable, but we knew that our specialty was making the best tri and TT bikes around. Fortunately for the growth of our company, our loyal riders wouldn’t stand for this. Our road line was born.
Being that our initial focus was offering full custom builds for everyone who wanted or needed one, we felt that these same clients should be have a custom road option as well. Thus, the Joule (stock) and Joule Pro (custom) were both released in 2002. We have since expanded this line, but more on that later.
2003 – Moving out of the house
This is a big year for Elite. The demand for our bikes outgrows the space and time we have been using until now. We are (at least) doubling sales every year, and are given an award from as one the fastest growing private business in all of Philadelphia. Richie and David finally have the opportunity to take on Elite full time, and leave their other jobs.
The company moves from David’s dining room and Bicycle Therapy’s basement into our current location at 2124 South Street, in the Graduate Hospital section of Philadelphia. The initial set up is a showroom style space, with an area for Richie to continue the tech work, and a designated fit studio for David to continue his passion. With the new space we begin taking on everyone we can, and David is becoming more and more knowledgeable as a fitter every day. The company that Elite will eventually became is borne out of this move. As I said, a big year for Elite.
2004 – Taking it international
In 2003, as Elite began to expand and require more manpower, we began taking on interns from all over to help us out. One such intern was an enterprising young man named Martin.
Martin headed back to his native Germany in 2004, and saw an opportunity to take our company to the European market. After some legwork on both ends, Martin began distributing Elite in Germany, bringing Elite Bicycles to the global marketplace. This partnership would eventually end, but we remain close to Martin and his brother Andy, both of whom helped expand Elite and bring us one step closer to our goal: world domination. (kidding).
Also this year we began research and development on a new breed of road bike to bring to the family, which would be our first foray into a new kind of material – carbon.
2005 - Custom carbon is comin’
These customers will not leave us be – now they want carbon. After more than a year of R&D, the Joule Pro Carbon is introduced. This bikes utilizes carbon where we feel it is needed most, and retains the high end Easton aluminum that transfers power so smoothly. The president of our company rides one, so I mean, what more can we really say about it? It’s pretty awesome.
It seems only fair that since we offer a carbon version of our custom road bike that we should do the same for the triathletes out there (who have been clamoring for it, by the way).
2006 – Custom carbon tri & wheelz
Arguably our most innovative build to date, the Razor Carbon is released. The Razor Carbon is similar to the existing Razor in that it is a complete custom build, but differs in that it utilizes a carbon top tube and an Elite proprietary carbon down tube.
Also in 2006 we begin to move forward with our Elite brand race wheels and disc. Through partnerships with Zipp, White Industries, and Chris King we are able to offer custom built race wheelsets with color matched decals to your bike.
2007 – Year of the Pig
We keep on keepin’ on.
Then we begin R&D on what is arguably our raddest bike yet.
2008 – Northern Lights
Technically, any aero road bike from us can be considered an Aurora. However, the Aurora as we know it today is (in loose terms) an amalgamation of our Razor Carbon and our Joule Pro Carbon. This is an aero road bike with an Edge Composites carbon top tube and our Elite proprietary wind tunnel test downtube. This bike is crazy fast. We are pleased.
Some other developments in 2008 include the advent of a creative department within the company. Almost every single bike we offer comes with a custom paint job, and it just seemed right to put some efforts toward rounding out the experience with Elite to include a dedicated group to help our clients make their bike’s paint job as personal as the builds themselves.
But the biggest development for Elite in 2008 was the beginning of a partnership with Cintron Beverage Group. Cintron is a locally based beverage company comprised of a helluva good group of people. Led by Wes Wyatt and Joe Roberts, Cintron is a sponsor of the Children's Crisis Treatment Center (in addition to various other charities in the the area and beyond), which provides direct financial aid to over 800 families in need.
2009 – Keep on truckin’
We don’t necessarily believe in change for the sake of change. Sure, we never want to get stagnant or feel complacent, but we are primarily in the camp of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. That being said, we were given the opportunity to take advantage of an offer to move our paint from its existing location to an industry renowned, top tier paint house that historically has only worked on their own projects. We are thrilled at this development, because it only lends to make a product that we believe is already amazing, even better.
We want to get better at everything we do. Be it design, aerodynamics, customer service, personalization, fitting, or anything else that makes up our little niche in cycling. We want to learn. We work with Retül now.
Retül is state of the art, motion detection bike fitting. Retül’s goal is to provide the most realistic and accurate data for the fitter to make the best decisions with regard to adjustments of a cyclist’s position. They state that “In essence, whatever your fit philosophy may be, you can still use Retül to your benefit.” We believe in our fit philosophy. No problems there.
Elite Bicycles is a company built on service and karma. We have never claimed to be the most brilliant businessmen. We are generous to a fault. But without these attributes, where would we be? Maybe we’d all be rich! But if means we can sleep soundly at night and make a quality product right here in the United States of America, well then we’d take that over wealth any day.
Please don’t feel sorry for us! Karma can bring some pretty awesome things. As of this writing, we are working on a TV pilot with a very, very big station in an effort to bring more attention to small companies like ours who strive for perfection day in and day out. Keep an eye out and you should be seeing our ugly mugs on primetime this time next year!
Onward and upward…