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Brief Published: 2 Sep 2020

Santa Cruz Bicycles’ In-Store VR Thrill Ride

Tapping the immersive powers of VR to engage audiences, US bike brand Santa Cruz Bicycles, which specialises in mountain bikes, has developed an in-store experience in which users can test their mettle while occupying the perspective of pioneering Scottish mountain biker and Santa Cruz brand ambassador, Danny MacAskill.

Launched at the newly opened Amsterdam branch of Ride Out Bicycles, in which Santa Cruz is stocked, the ‘Danny MacAskill VR Ride Out’ features a custom-made bike rig and VR headset. Users are able to choose from two rides: the steep, mountainous Collies Ledge on the Isle of Skye, Scotland and the Landwasser Viaduct in Switzerland, each of which has only ever been completed on bicycle by MacAskill.

The experience both challenges the user to balance at vertiginous heights and, thanks to the rig, gives real-time haptic ‘feedback’ on the terrain, allowing the lumps and bumps of the ground to be felt while in the saddle.

Santa Cruz Bicycles worked with content studio Cut Media and VR specialists Rewind (both British) to create the experience, which uses headcam footage from MacAskill’s 2014 short film with Cut Media, The Ridge, filmed on Collies Ledge, Scotland.

The experience spotlights how sports brands are using extended reality (XR) technologies to allow fans to feel closer to brand ambassadors. Last year, German sports brand Puma launched its VR Skill Cube concept within its Fifth Avenue flagship in New York. Motion and depth sensors allowed Puma to track participants as they moved, enabling the athletes to train visitors. For more, see The Brief.

Japanese sports brand Asics is also investigating how to use VR in its physical brand spaces to boost consumer engagement, having used VR to promote its new range of trainers to press in March after its initial press launch was scuppered by lockdown. For more, see Virtual Lockdown Launch Activations: Brand Lessons.