In March 2000, bikebiz.co.uk carried a pre-launch story about madformountainbiking.com (it wasn’t fully launched until September 2000). Despite the talk of big editorial budgets this is what bikebiz.co.uk asked:
“How many portals will still be around in two years? The low-budget, non-enthusiast ones will survive, what about the big spenders?...Only time will tell whether the big bucks going into these sort of cross-over projects will ever come out the other end as multiplied up profits.”
Time has now confirmed that, for madformountainbiking at least, the dotcom revolution is over.
There’s now only one major catholic cycling site left and that’s bikemagic.com.
Both singletrackworld.com and velovision.co.uk are run on shoestrings by small teams with print mags as marketing vehicles. Madformountainbiking.com was an online venture only and spent precious little of the £4m start-up capital on media campaigns to drive visitors to its sites.
It was a title sponsor of two grass roots MTB events - the Southern Area Mountain Bike Series (SAMS) and the Northern Area Mountain Bike Series (NAMBS) – but with just 30 000 unique visitors a month at its peak, madformountainbiking.com never got anywhere near its advertising revenue targets.
And linking in with just one e-tail supplier – Leisure Lakes, the five store IBD chain – could also now be seen as a mistake: other IBDs baulked at advertising on a site partnered so closely with a competitor.
Editor Malcolm Fawcett worked for Ultrasport for four years in the early 1990s and was the brand manager for Girvin and ProFlex. He later became a teacher for four years before becoming a journalist on Maximum Mountain Bike. He had also freelanced for MBR, Cycling Today and the CTC magazine.
At madformountainbiking.com he, John Mullineaux, Danny Milner and the freelance contributors uploaded tons of information, many excellent photographs, loads of ride-guides and many downloadable tech sheets. The site was very strong on race results although after the freelance contributors were relieved of their duties in August, content updates were not as frequent or as indepth.
Fawcett and the other staffers were handed their madfor redundancy notices in September.
In an email to industry folks, Fawcett said:
"Thanks to everyone who supported us and especially my colleagues John Mullineaux and Danny Milner, as well as the key contributors Geoff Waugh, Andy Dickson, Matt Hart, Alan Muldoon and Tim Woodcock who helped make the site what it was."
MadforSport.com was launched in 2000 by CEO Tony Harris, the former divisional managing director of Emap Fashion and Media, who was joined by four other former EMAP employees.
Managing director Jane Duggan today told bikebiz.co.uk that madforsport.com was not in the business of losing money so the decision to close madformountainbiking.com was made.
"It's a case of simple housekeeping. The site didn't pay its way. Poor us.
"[The site] had the best content going, both online and offline. But the [bike] market didn't want to invest in the product.
"There are lots of inferior products on the market, but they don't have the costs we had.
"We had high quality editorial from an exceptional team. We were very proud of what we achieved. People in the industry told us [the sites] was fantastic but that'll still spend their money on print ads."
Duggan said no decision had yet been made on whether the site will be wiped from the ether or left static with no updates.
"There's so much on there we could easily leave it online for people to continue using. Gear reviews may become dated in time but much of the rest of the content will stay fresh. Unless somebody builds a motorway on the Isle of Wight, our ride guide for there will stay current for a long time."
The site may be sold.
"We're open to serious offers," said Duggan.
"We're very busy with the sailing side of the business and wish to focus there. We're not going to sell for pennies so any offers for the site should not be insulting."
Tel: 020 7501 4848
Malcolm Fawcett is now looking for work:
020 7733 6012
24/08/00 - Leisure Lakes beds Madforsport.com
25/04/00 - Portal Power #3: Madforsport.com
21/08/01 - Bike trade’s dotcom bubbles burst
9feet.com is set to close in September, and kjerag.com has closed already. Not all is well in the land of the bicycle website...