First Rides | Customer 38 Eric Gasser. San Diego Mountain Bike Coach & Early Stage Investor.
May 19, 2021
Eric chats to us about riding in the San Diego sunshine, investing for success and the awesome sensation of riding an Atherton Bike.
I ride seven days a week. We have less than 40 days of rain every year so you can do that in San Diego. I’ve been here 12 years now and I’m not leaving any time soon!
San Diego is made up of diverse terrain with 3 distinct riding areas. Ocean coastal sandstone, an inland area with a mix of rock & sand, and woodland trails also with a mix of rock & sand. I ride mostly in and around the Black Mountain Open Space area and I ride a lot of different bikes.
At the moment I have 5 bikes to choose from (including a DH bike and a couple of e-bikes) from Specialized, Santa Cruz and Yeti. The Atherton Bike is not only the least expensive bike in my garage it’s absolutely my favourite. I was between frame sizes so I went for the custom option.
It takes me a while to get comfortable on a new bike. For my first few outings on the Atherton I was coaching. It was like having a sports car confined to the slow lane. But I demonstrated a cones drill and I could really see its strengths. My overall riding style is pretty controlled even when descending. Faster than most, but in control. The Atherton 150 fits that well because it’s super responsive.
I do have bikes that climb better but you’d expect that since it’s an Enduro bike. For downhill it’s nuts though. I’ve posted some of my fastest DH runs on it. It instills confidence in the corners and in the high-speed chatter. It’s very unique and hard to explain but the suspension platform is a big part of it. With your feet on the pedals there is a sense of security, a feeling that you’re connected, that I’ve never had before. When the terrain changes and gets rough it doesn’t compromise the control. I can let go earlier and brake later. And those Trickstuff Maximas are unreal. On a bike this fast you need something to stop you!
The Atherton Bike is not only the least expensive bike in my garage...it’s absolutely my favourite.
The back end of the bike is more upright than I expected, but with the seat down you can pedal which is really cool. The linkage on the bike is intense. The energy from the pedal goes straight into the drivetrain.
In terms of set up I particularly like the Continental/Stans wheel configuration. The weight is almost identical to my much more expensive Hydra 270s. I did actually try AXS for the rear derailleur when I got it but changed back because it didn’t work so well with the frame’s hanger offset. I made some other small changes but it was all really personal preference. The saddle looked great but wasn’t as comfortable for me so I changed it out. I also added Ergon grips because I’m used to them, and then XTR trail pedals. I found the suspension set up super-easy. I added 5lbs of air to the front fork but, other than that, haven’t needed to touch it. The rear suspension has been great.
I started mountain-biking in 1993 on a GT Timberline. In 1995 I entered my first race in Lodi, California. The experience was amazing. Muddy but amazing. That weekend kick started my love for mountain biking.
I went on to win 4 state Downhill Championships (Expert Class) in California, Idaho, Montana and Washington in the same year in the late 90s. I’m proud of that one but my “glory” days are behind me when it comes to racing – these days I focus on enjoying myself on the trails and passing on what I know to others including through my investing, which I do when I’m not riding.
For downhill it’s nuts though. I’ve posted some of my fastest DH runs on it. It instills confidence in the corners and in the high-speed chatter. It’s very unique and hard to explain but the suspension platform is a big part of it.
I founded SEED San Diego with 3 other partners in 2015 and we’ve invested in about 46 companies. Today, 11 of those 46 companies have been sold for a return, which is pretty good considering the average “investment success rate “is less than 2%.
People don’t always understand the whole business of investing. A lot of the time the reaction is just “that’s cool”, but it takes patience and a passion for building businesses.
I did actually call Crowdcube, during your recent raise. I was keen to invest in Atherton Bikes but wasn’t eligible because I’m US based. I like the combination of legacy experience that comes with your team, together with a new twist on the manufacturing process. That was really attractive. Having been in and around mountain biking for more than half my life, I am intrigued by the technology innovations you are making and the impact it can have on the industry.
The whole experience around riding an Atherton Bike versus all the others is like how it felt to get one of the early mountain bikes in the 90s. You know that you’re riding something new, something special. I’ve had people walk up to me when I’m unloading the van - some are still surprised that you can actually buy one. Most want to touch the titanium and all of them are pleasantly surprised that it isn’t super expensive. I let people take a spin around the lot and they are always blown away.
Technology has come so far now that it’s about your comfort on the bike and the confidence it instills. For me it was a no-brainer that I would get that with an Atherton Bike. I knew I would be getting cutting edge innovation based on real world experience. It’s like when I’m working with my companies in the early stages I ask them to consider “What would the World Class experience look like? From what I bought to what I received, you guys exceeded all my expectations.