Behind the brand: Michael Wilkens, International PR manager
Creating and producing some of the best bikes in the market is a tough job for our R&D, engineers and production teams, but to let our customers know about the latest innovations in the MERIDA range, we also have a team of individuals whose job it is to ‘shout it from the rooftops’.
One of these team members is Michael Wilkens, our International PR manager. While German by origin, Michael has been calling the UK his home for almost 30 years. With most of the key international cycling press being based in the UK, being closer to his main contacts is a huge advantage and helps make sure our products are tested and reviewed in some of the best-known cycling websites and magazines, like Bikeradar, Pinkbike, road.cc and many more.
Michael has been in the cycling industry for a rather long time; he has also been on the back of a mountain bike since the late eighties and has seen many trends come and go. Working closely with the R&D team and the rest of the Germany-based marketing team, Michael gets involved in the design and product development process early on, giving him access to some of the early production samples of upcoming bikes. Being able to experience the new products first-hand helps to communicate the details to the press, create informative and engaging texts for our websites and catalogues and, once launched, share them with our growing social media following.
His latest pre-production bike, and a strong favourite of his, has been the recently launched ONE-TWENTY. Michael has been riding the bike for almost a year before it got launched in the UK, and he has been able to take it through its paces. Over the last few months, he experienced first-hand the impressive climbing ability, playful ‘singletrack munching’ nature and outstanding descending capability of our short travel trail bike. And while it has been super helpful in creating some informative and engaging content about the bike, it also has been a trusted companion in Michael’s ‘other job’.
Besides getting stuck in his marketing work, Michael has also been involved in organising some of the biggest and best-known mountain bike events in the UK. While mountain bike marathons and stage races were the focus in the early 2000s, for the last few years, he has been turning his attention to boutique enduro events on some of the greatest trails the South West of the UK has to offer. When out scouting out the latest trails for the upcoming event season, Michael has been accompanied by his ONE-TWENTY prototype. While very much put together with parts on components either found at the bottom of the spare parts box or ‘borrowed’ from other bikes in his stable, one of the key additions Michael has added to the bike are the Shimano Saint pedals. Perhaps a bit ‘overkill’ for a short travel trail bike, the perfect combination of clipless pedal and large platform make them perfect for pedal efficiency and control when clipped in, but also give a real sense of security when constantly being in and out the pedal on super steep technical trail finding sessions.
“I love the fact that I don’t just see the bikes develop from an early stage and flourish into beautiful production pieces and that I can help bring them to life by working with key media contacts, our web and graphics team and my colleagues in the marketing department, but also see them raced and enjoyed at some of the events I am involved in. And to close the circle, we often get inspirations and ideas from those events that make their way back into our product line-up and into our communication”.