Tennessee-based American Bicycle Group Announces Intent to Change Name of Its Gravel, Mountain Bike Brand
June 26, 2020
Ocoee name will be changed out of respect for the African American lives lost in the 1920 Ocoee (FL) Election Day lynching and burning of the community
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (June 26, 2020) – American Bicycle Group (ABG) today announced that it will change the name of its high-performance gravel and mountain bike, currently branded Ocoee. The adventure brand was named based on an area close to the company in the mountains of eastern Tennessee where outdoor adventure abounds.
However, on June 24, when ABG CEO/President Peter Hurley was made aware that the name “Ocoee” is also associated with the 1920 lynching of an African American on election day in Ocoee, Florida and the burning of that African American community, he felt the immediate need to erase any unknowing or accidental connotation by the brand of racial inequality. The 1920 Ocoee Election Day Riots are relatively unknown and were highlighted as an example of African American history that needs to be elevated through education. On June 23, Florida governor Ron DeSantis signed the new law requiring that Florida education include events like the election day riots and other lynchings and acts of racial violence that are currently not part of regular African American curriculum.
“All of our brands are about providing equal access to everyone, in sports and in life,” said Hurley. “In originally naming the bike “Ocoee,” our focus was on enjoying and exploring the outdoors and adventure. We had no understanding or knowledge of any other potential meaning or historical reference to the word. Now that we are aware of what Ocoee can also mean, it will be changed. Our entire team supports racial equality and stands ready to create a new name that reflects our beliefs.”
ABG is in the process of exploring a new name for the bike, including researching the historical background of potential names and doing a legal check of previous name registrations. ABG customers who currently own an Ocoee bike will be notified at a later date of the plan to switch out decals at no-cost. Bikes that are currently in production will be decaled with the new name.
About American Bicycle Group
Based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, American Bicycle Group (ABG) manufactures three brands of high-performance bikes – Quintana Roo (QR) triathlon bikes; Ocoee (name change coming) carbon gravel and mountain bikes; and Litespeed (LS) titanium road, gravel and mountain bikes – as well as the HYDRO series of wetsuits and swimskins under the QR brand. In 2017, ABG invested in an expanded manufacturing facility with a paint and assembly line for its bikes, allowing athletes to custom build a bike. Demand was high and the line was expanded in 2018. In 2019, LS was invited to the White House for the 3rd annual “Made in America” Showcase, representing the state of Tennessee as an American-made product. More information: quintanarootri.com/, ocoeebikes.com/ and litespeed.com.
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A Letter from ABG CEO Peter Hurley to Current and Future Ocoee Customers:
For those of you who don’t know me or who haven’t had the chance to meet me at an event, a bit of background: I grew up in New England a generation ago, but I see so many parallels in the world of late 1960s and today. For my generation, we dealt with the strife and divisiveness of the Vietnam War and were also witness to the advances and courage of the civil rights movement.
Over the past few days, I’ve become aware of a horrible event associated with our brand name. With fair warning, I invite you to read about it here.
As our team here in Tennessee grows, it’s simply not tenable to set a path forward that builds on the legacy of this event, so we’re going to do what we always do: lead with integrity.
This means a new brand name, of course, but also new decals available for those who have already purchased an Ocoee, a review of our internal statement on diversity and inclusion, and the opportunity to set a precedent of goodwill.
This is not about politics. We’re building for the future. That means an engaging and honest conversation with our consumers at all levels. And, we’re asking everyone along for the ride.
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