MountainFLOW wants eco-friendly bike care products to go mainstream

Who are you and what is mountainFLOW?

My name is Peter Arlein and I am the founder and CEO of mountainFLOW. mountainFLOW is a leading manufacturer of plant-based, high performance bicycle care products.

Peter Arlein wants his products to be clean and his face to be dirty.

How did the idea for mountainFLOW come about? What is the origin story of the company?

In 2016, mountainFLOW started as an eco-friendly ski waxing company. We realized that almost all ski wax on the market was made from petroleum and all of that wax was poured directly into the snowpack and then into the watershed. mountainFLOW has developed a patented wax formula that is biodegradable, non-toxic and made entirely from plants. Our wax is now used by some of the best skiers and snowboarders in the world, including World Cup champions and Olympic medalists.

In 2020, mountainFLOW recognized a similar opportunity in the bicycle industry. The vast majority of bicycle lubricants come from the automotive industry and are made from petroleum. Similar to ski wax, bicycle lubricant, whether during application, riding or cleaning, is introduced directly into the environment. mountainFLOW has developed a complete line of high performance bike care products featuring biodegradable, non-toxic, plant-based lubricant, cleaner and grease.

Why did you see the need in the outdoor industry for environmentally friendly products like the ones you make?

The use of petroleum-based bicycle lubricant is a classic micro-pollution problem. Individually, each rider puts a very small amount of lubricant into the environment. Overall, however, there are literally tons of petroleum oils introduced into our favorite mountain playgrounds every year. Additionally, some of the popular additives, such as PTFE, are toxic and bioaccumulative, which means that once in the environment, they stay there forever and will never break down.

We saw an opportunity to create a product line that offered the same level of performance without any negative impact on the environment. As consumers, we should demand more from our brands in the outdoor industry. Technology is now available for performance and durability and we should demand both.

What about the company you are most proud of?

I’m really proud of our determination/obstinacy to only release products that meet our performance and durability standards. Our team is made up of passionate bikers and skiers and we must be able to guarantee 110% of all our products. It’s now fashionable for every brand, whether it’s bicycle lube or ski wax, to offer at least one token eco-friendly product, when 99% of the product range is still made from petroleum and/or PTFE. mountainFLOW does the opposite – 100% of our products are sustainable and non-toxic. As such, we have become experts in developing environmentally friendly products and believe that our products can rival the performance of any other product on the market.

I noticed that you focus a lot on developing sustainable packaging, not just the products themselves. Could you tell me a bit more about that?

We strive to offer the most sustainable packaging on the market. It’s dishonest to create bicycle lube without petroleum and then dump it in a regular plastic bottle. All of our bicycle lubricant bottles are made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic.

Additionally, our Bike Wash + Degreaser is packaged in a cardboard bottle with a thin plastic liner. This packaging uses 70% less plastic than a traditional plastic bottle.

Sourcing sustainable packaging is easier than you might think and often results in an interesting new look that can really help the product stand out on the shelf.

The Bike Wash + Degreaser comes in a cardboard bottle thinly lined with plastic.

It seems like one of the most effective ways to carve out a niche in the bike world would be to collaborate with other companies, and I think you’ve done a bit of that. Is it correct? Could you tell me a bit more about that?

We have just launched our Bike Private Label program and already work with a handful of established bike brands. These partnerships have a wide range of cooperation…some brands use our products on their demo bikes so that their staff are not exposed to the toxins found in traditional bike lubricants and other brands have opted for a full line of white label products. Seeing the trust that other bike brands have in our products is really awesome. We’re excited for the early traction of this program and have some big partnerships coming up, so stay tuned.

Private Label collaborations on the ski side of the business have been quite robust. We have partnered with The North Face, Nordica, POW (Protect Our Winters), Winter Wildlands Alliances, National Ski Patrol, WNDR Alpine and many more. Private labeling is quite a unique offering in the ski and bike worlds and we are delighted to be able to offer it.

Why aren’t more companies focusing on eco-friendly bike care products?

Well, it’s not easy to create a high-performance, environmentally friendly product. Petroleum-based lubricants are readily available and relatively inexpensive. These products have been around for decades and have had a lot of success, so it’s often easier to stay the course. While these products still dominate the market, we are witnessing the beginnings of a radical change. Consumers demand more from their favorite bike brands. In the future, I think we will see a greater selection of eco-friendly bike care products on the market.

What are the challenges of starting a small commodity brand in the bike (and ski) industry?

You said it in the question – “commodity”. We build a brand around a product that is generally considered a commodity. We have a unique brand story and do something different from the mainstream. This type of effort takes time. There is also an educational component that comes with our product – how is mountainFLOW different? Why is it important to use an eco-friendly bicycle lubricant? Does it even work?

We’ve been on the road all spring and summer. Talking to people at mountainFLOW and more importantly lubricating their chains so they can experience the product for themselves. Once people learn more about traditional lubes and realize that there are now more sustainable alternatives, they buy into the product pretty quickly.

What changes would you like to see in terms of sustainability in the bicycle industry in the future?

We’ve proven that durability and high performance don’t have to be mutually exclusive. We would like to see more brands join this philosophy.

What would you like to see mountainFLOW achieve in the future?

mountainFLOW is just getting started. In just a few years, we’ve built a loyal following of riders who swear by our products. It is both extremely motivating and humiliating. We are excited to continue to drive petroleum-based products away from the outdoor industry.

Is there anything else you would like us to know?

Just try our products, we know you’ll love them. And, if you have any questions, call us – (970) 340 – 8604 or visit us at www.mountainflow.com. We are always happy to talk shop.

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