Car companies that also love bikes

Like most adults who ride bikes, I also own and drive a car.

Cars are useful. They’re good for getting to places that are too far away to ride to. They’re good for carrying things.

Sadly, this week my beloved 1997 Subaru reached that point where the repairs required to keep it on the road will cost more than the value of the car. Now that the sobbing fits have passed (we had some great times, me and the Suby) I’m shopping for a new motor.

Now, apart from all of the usual factors that go into choosing a car (small matters of aesthetics, driveability, fuel economy, value, safety, practicality, space for a bike in the back), it’s worth noting that many car companies also sponsor cycling in various forms.

Lots of car manufacturers are actively marketing to cyclists through sponsorship of teams, races, TV programmes or by producing bikes themselves.

Let’s have a look. Maybe being a cyclist-friendly brand could be the edge that tips me into choosing one make over another.

If I’ve missed any, let me know on the Twitter!

Manufacturers that currently sponsor teams or races

Subaru

Subaru is one brand that has cultivated an outdoorsy image, particularly with its off-road vehicles like the Forester and Outback. The company clearly sees a lot of overlap between its customers and people who ride bikes, and it spends a lot of money sponsoring Australian cycling.

Apart from being the naming-rights sponsor for Australia’s top domestic road race series, the Subaru National Road Series (NRS), Subaru also sponsors the SBS TV show ‘Subaru World of Cycling’ and hosts a web page featuring race reports and videos featuring the likes of BMX champion Caroline Buchanan.

Subaru was the vehicle sponsor for Orica-GreenEdge for the first two years of the team’s life (but not for this year).

It also sponsors two NRS teams: Subaru Albion, and the Subaru NSWIS development team.

UPDATE 24/6/2014: Subaru is now a major sponsor of the Tour Down Under, in a deal that will run from 2015-2017. According to the press release:

“Subaru Australia has entered into a three-year agreement commencing [2015], and will supply vehicles for use during the event. It will also become naming rights sponsor of the Subaru King of the Mountain.”

The press release also reveals that Subaru also sponsors the Australian Mountain Bike Season, so add that to the list.

Skoda

The Czech brand is owned by VW, and has been a hugely visible cycling sponsor over the last few years. Skoda is a major sponsor of the Tour De France, including naming rights for the white jersey for best young rider.

Skoda is a sponsor of Australia’s biggest tour, the Tour Down Under, too.

Skoda also advertises heavily during cycling TV coverage, is a major advertiser on several major cycling websites and magazines including The Roar (which I write for) and RIDE magazine.

They’ve produced videos with Aussie cycling legend Phil Anderson.

Locally, Essendon Skoda sponsors the Kelly Cycling NRS team.

Jaguar

Jaguar is famously a major sponsor of Team Sky, providing vehicles to the team and top riders.

RideExperienceDay3-0697
That’s Richie Porte and Jaguar Australia brand manager Mark Eedle having a chat in front of yours truly. Photo by Beardy McBeard (http://beardymcbeard.com/)
Jaguar sponsors rides with local boutique cycle tourism firm Soigneur. Photo by Beardy McBeard (http://beardymcbeard.com/)
Jaguar sponsors rides with local boutique cycle tourism firm Soigneur. Photo by Beardy McBeard (http://beardymcbeard.com/)
RideExperienceDay3-0404
These were definitely the best sag-wagons I’ve seen. Photo by Beardy McBeard (http://beardymcbeard.com/)

The local Australian arm of the company is also keen to promote itself to cyclists, by engaging in events with local partners like Soigneur.cc. I was lucky enough to be invited on a Soigneur ride paid for by Jaguar last year, with Richie Porte in attendance (read about it here).

Jaguar Australia’s local management counts a few cyclists amongst their ranks, not least Brand Manager Mark Eedle, who certainly convinced me that the company is serious about attracting the kind of energetic people who cycle to their brand.

The company also sponsors a monthly photo competition on CyclingTips.

Volvo

Volvo, through Melbourne dealer Altitude Volvo, is the 2014 vehicle sponsor for Orica-GreenEdge in general, and Simon Gerrans in particular.

Holden

Perhaps surprising given Holden’s V8-powered macho image and the frequency with which I seem to get buzzed or abused by some dickhead driving one of their cars, Holden sponsors a women’s NRS team.

Holden may be better known for hoons, but its women's NRS team is pretty powerful.
Holden may be better known for hoons, but its women’s NRS team is pretty powerful.

Maybe they’re trying to make it up to us.

Suzuki

Suzuki is a sponsor of the Suzuki-Brumby’s women’s NRS team, and has been since the team began in 2010. It’s one of the top women’s NRS teams, and counts the likes of Rebecca Wiasak and Emily Roper among its riders.

Fiat

The Italian marque is a partner of and official supplier of vehicles to British Cycling.

Car manufacturers with an older affinity

Sadly, these brands seem to have drifted away from cycling, but they have a storied history with bikes that deserves a mention.

Renault

Renault was a team sponsor of one of cycling’s greatest teams in the late 1970’s to mid-1980’s, winning multiple Tours de France, world championships and classics with three greats, Bernard Hinault, Laurent Fignon and Greg Lemond.

Their jersey is still a classic.

Renault’s team jersey is an absolute classic

Peugeot

Few car makers have such a long history with cycling as Peugeot, which of course also makes bikes (although these no longer seem to be sold in Australia).

In fact, the first proper road bike I ever owned was a Peugeot Tourmalet steel-framed 12-speed, which my dad bought second-hand for $180 and is still sitting in the garage at home.

The company sponsored one of cycling’s all-time great teams, right from its inception in 1892. The first official Peugeot team started in 1901, and continued until 1986 (picking up ten Tour de France wins, and numerous classics, world championships and others along the way).

Hennie Kuiper rides for Peugeot at the 1980 Tour de France.
Hennie Kuiper rides for Peugeot at the 1980 Tour de France.

After 1986, DS Roger Legeay took over, leading it through various incarnations but probably best remembered by younger fans as Gan and Credit-Agricole.

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