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Nov. 8, 2010 – A return to North America

November 8, 2010
Filed under Features

ALISO VIEJO, Calif. — A high-end helmet brand has returned to the North American market, but with a different distribution model.

Schuberth, a German engineered brand, is once again being retailed in North America after disappearing with the 2006 bankruptcy of its then-U.S. distributor.

This time, the helmet company known throughout Europe will distribute through its own small but growing North American subsidiary.

Initial plans call for the dealer-direct company to service about 25 dealers, with the bulk of those coming in BMW dealerships, said Randy Northrup, general manager for Schuberth’s North American subsidiary, which is located in Orange County, Calif.

“Of course we’re going to get more,” Northrup said of the company’s expected dealer network growth in coming years. “But in our initial set up, that’s what we’re looking for so we can send as many consumers back into the brick-and-mortar stores.”

Besides bringing new technology and product back to North American consumers, Schuberth also is seeking to service its former customers. Northrup noted the company saw a number of Schuberth consumers — still wearing their helmets today — at a recent BMW motorcycle rally.

To accommodate those existing consumers, Schuberth North America is setting up its charter dealers with service tools and training to deal with the wear and tear the current users have — something that was apparent to Northrup during the recent rally.

“The face shield is all scratched up and it doesn’t stay up because they’ve putting on a couple hundred thousand miles in those last 10 years,” he said.

While Schuberth certainly is not advocating to consumers to keep helmets for that long a period, Northrup says it’s not uncommon for the brand’s former customers to retain their helmets. The service tools should help spruce up the old helmets as well as install nonsafety-related items, like internal sun visors or new liners. Dealers also will be able to install Schuberth’s Rider Communication System (RCS) on previous models. The RCS features intercom conferencing for up to three riders, cellular phone functions, GPS navigation voice instructions and built-in FM radio.

Of course, consumers also will have a chance to see Schuberth’s updated models, the C3 and C3w, the latter of which is designed specifically for women. Both models, with a MSRP of more than $600, hit the upper end of the market, something that has not been an obstacle for BMW dealers, Northrup said.

“They feel pretty comfortable once we put the helmet in their hands and they start to make comparisons to the other helmets they have on their wall,” he said. “There really isn’t a whole lot of competition.

“It’s more expensive, but when you start looking at the performance, the features and all of it, there’s really not a lot of competition.”

The C3 is a flip-up helmet that Schuberth calls “extremely quiet” because of its integrated acoustic collar. The model also is guaranteed fog-free because of its double lense technology and comes with the communication system. The C3w for women is designed based on research of women’s facial structure and features a different Micro-fiber material that is anti-allergenic and is easy to clean. PSB

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