A Conversation with 3T’s Gérard Vroomen We talk life inside Italy during the coronavirus pandemic, and new bikes from 3T

Pensiamo positivo, andrà tutto bene.”

We’ve just had a chance to reach out to 3T co-owner Gérard Vroomen to get an update on how his Bergamo, Italy, company is coping with the novel coronavirus lockdown in his country.

PELOTON

Interview by Brad Roe

Peloton Magazine: Gérard, we wanted to check in and see how everyone at 3T is doing. We know you are experiencing very challenging times in Italy.

Gérard Vroomen: Thanks for checking in. All staff is doing reasonably well. Two are in quarantine, the rest is at home, trying to do some work and taking care of their kids. René [Wiertz, the other 3T owner] and Edi [Jareci], our sales guy, are the only two going into the office every day and they do everything that can’t be done remotely, mostly shipping. Then we have offices in North America and Asia, too, so it feels we’re into some sort of rolling corona drill from one office to the next. I just hope that the situation in Italy is a wake-up call for countries that are a little behind in the curve and can still take the appropriate measures on time because the situation here is hard to describe.

Peloton: Tell us about your 9:00 a.m. call to keep everyone’s spirits up?

GV: Normally there is a stand-up meeting at the office where we see who is stuck with what, who needs help, what the priorities are, etcetera. This is the same, but remotely. And of course we check in how everybody is doing physically and emotionally. Several staff members have already lost loved ones to corona this past week, which of course is hard, and not being allowed to attend funerals and grieve with family together makes it worse.

Peloton: We saw on your blog that one of your ambassadors, Nicolo, is also a doctor on the front lines of care in Italy.

GV: Yes, Nicolo always makes all the routes for the crazy Jeroboam gravel event, but he’s been making 20-hour days nonstop for the past weeks. It’s a good way to keep in perspective that in the end we’re just making bicycles.

Peloton: Tell us a bit about the new Strada Concept 3 and also your partnership with BMW.

GV: The Strada Concept 3 is a limited-edition aero road bike with some very stylish parts and a striking design. So our Discus 45 | 32 LTD carbon rims are laced around beautiful Chris King hubs and the frame paint matches that really nicely. It’s finished with our superlight and aero Torno crank and our new Aeroflux handlebars. These bars aren’t even launched yet, so it’s sort of a stealth launch as part of this bike.

The 3T for BMW bike is quite different. René contacted them three years ago about doing something together as a way to introduce more people to gravel riding, which we think is the most fun and freedom you can have on a bike. I’m actually not a big fan of car-plus-bike-company collaborations; I’d prefer if everybody was just on bikes both for health and safety reasons. But I think they can help in one way: Cars are a reality on the road, so I want car companies to “normalize” cyclists in their communication, for car drivers to see cyclists as one of them—fellow human beings—and not some sort of enemy (the antics of clowns like Jeremy Clarkson and some talk radio isn’t helping). Putting bikes in car dealerships is nice for that.

Eventually, René convinced BMW to put Exploros in BMW flagship stores around the world, equipped with a special design, Brooks saddle, Torno crank and GRX groupset. They are really quite striking, so I think it will be difficult for people walking in there not to notice them. And then BMW allowed us to make a few more, and we’re selling those to our customers worldwide.

Peloton: René and one other employee are boxing and shipping out of the 3T offices, correct?

GV: René and Edi are, yes. It’s a big office and warehouse, so they have no trouble keeping their distance to each other. Those are the rules right now: If you work in production and shipping you can still come to work. And then upstairs from our office our carbon factory is still running, so we ship out product every day to our customers in Europe and also to our U.S. warehouse. It feels weird because we also know there are more important things, but at the same time René and I are responsible to keep our employees not only safe but also employed. So we try to keep the business going as best we can. And of course in the carbon factory wearing complete protective gear is standard, so it’s probably the safest environment to be during this corona crisis.

Peloton: Explain the children’s drawing project that includes the quote: “Pensiamo positivo, àndra tutto bene.” [“Think positive, everything will be fine.”]

GV: Well, a lockdown can bring the best out in people. You may have seen the videos of whole streets and cities singing at night, and these drawings are another nice manifestation. All these kids have been home from school for a while, so they started hanging drawings outside with that quote. Not too many people walking by, but there are still people outside to go to the supermarket and pharmacy.

Peloton: How can fans and supporters of your brand help you the most right now?

GV: Well, I think first and foremost people should just stay safe. Some of our customers have been really generous; just today we had somebody wire the money for a Strada Concept 3 Chris King Edition with the message: “I want to help your cash flow, send it whenever.” It’s strange how the sale of a single bicycle can lift the spirit of everybody in the company because of the message it sent. But again, there are bigger causes out there, so we decided to pay it forward and send the margin from that sale to the local hospital. So the bottom line: Help each other. And if you want to help us, go ahead, we’re still shipping!

Learn more about the 3T Strada Concept 3 at 3T.bike