This period marked considerable growth in the company from all sides.
The closing of the Schwinn relationship in 1994 marked the start of real growth for Waterford. Bike shops loyal to Schwinn no longer felt confused about which brand they should order. Bike shops who didn’t like Schwinn felt more comfortable knowing that the weren’t selling something that competed directly with a shop selling Paramounts.
In addition, Waterford’s own reputation was finally spreading enough that shops felt comfortable stocking models. People would call up, saying they had a Waterford, even if it was a Waterford-built Paramount.
Waterford began to introduce two new models in this period:
- 1250 Sport Tourer: This was designed for century riders, a group lost since the racing rage of the late 1980’s.
- 1900 Adventure Cycle: This was the first modern touring bike which included the first sloped top tube design.
Both enjoyed excellent growth during this period. Early 1996, the new air-hardening steels – principally Reynolds 853 – started to hit the market. These new alloys offer several advantages over Reynolds 753:
- It was modestly stronger than 753
- It could be TIG welded as well as lug-brazed.
The first air-hardening steel product was the 2200, which had the same design as the 1200 but with the new alloy. A resounding success, these alloys filtered in throughout the line.
Waterford continued to introduce new models and changed the model numbering system to reflect it. For example, the new cyclocross bike was called the X-11 in Reynolds 531, X-12 in 753 and X-22 in 853. Here are some more of the models added:
- RS-Series – Road Sport
- X-Series – Cyclocross
- Diva series – Mixte design.
- Road Sport Extended – the Road Sport with cantilever brakes
In addition to the Waterford bikes, the company began to supply Rivendell their bikes. This started in late 1994. The Standard BMX bike sales took off, becoming a major user of production resources. Waterford had built a significant skill in TIG-welding over this period.
As the air-hardening steels became more readily available, the company saw the opportunity to build adult TIG-welded bikes with the new air-hardening steels. In 1998, Waterford developed the Gunnar line of bikes (named after the late Gunnar the dog, denizen of the factory). The Gunnars were a huge hit, and that year, the company decided to purchase the building next door. Production in the new factory started in 1999, mostly to accommodate the exploding BMX business.
Unfortunately, the explosion was not to continue. Recession hit in late 2000, aggravated by the 911 attacks, triggering a new era for Waterford.