Morgan cars get by fine with a five year waiting list. It takes six years to get into the Pickwick Club and nobody complains (after all, youre wishing for somebody to peg it). Good things come to those who wait.
But bike shop customers who have ordered Whytes may not be so forgiving.
An anonymous bike shop staffer posted a complaint about the production delays to our bulletin board but this was removed when it was subsequently found out that the staffer who didnt hide his shops identity very well posted the comment without authorisation from the shops owner. Whilst the comment was removed, the feelings remain and the Whyte delay is a regular topic of concern in chats BikeBiz has with dealers.
In a letter Peter Holton of ATB Sales sent to Whyte stockists (see below) he makes it clear the company is doing everything in its power to speed up delivery but that true innovations cant always be hurried along. A rush to market would be rash, said Holton.
However, he told BikeBiz today that some frames would be airfreighted into the country in the first week of June. These would be spot on because ATB Sales has been through the hoops to make sure the frames are marketable.
Of the 500 frames ordered most will be put on the water for delivery at the end of June but the airfreighted frames will be built up and go straight out to dealers as demo bikes.
Its been a very frustrating time for everybody, said Holton. But were so close now. Most of the frame parts are made, were just waiting for swing arm modifications because they werent built to drawing.
Time is a great healer and Holton is hoping the delays will be understood by the early adoptor customers, who are probably used to first-to-market, innovative and desirable products not always being produced on time.
Once they gets their legs over a Whyte bike, theyll soon forget the wait, said Holton.
Once weve made one, we could make a million but making that first one has been an absolute nightmare.
The Whyte preying mantis front fork with a four bar link and four inches of travel its called Plus Fours will be available as an aftermarket item.
Heres the letter ATB Sales sent to their signed-up Whyte stockists
Dear Whyte retailer
You will be well aware that there have been a series of delays with the
magnesium SL-4.5 and PRST-1's. This letter is to explain those delays and
clarify what will be happening with the supply of bikes in the future. I
know that we have been a little unforthcoming with information recently, but I wanted to wait until we had something definitive to tell you before we gave you information that you would be passing on to your customers.
On the Preston front we are working towards delivery at the end of this
month (May). Jon Whyte and our new Production Engineer, Andy Jeffries, are
in Taiwan at the moment ensuring that production is going according to plan.
Preston is, for the foreseeable future, going to be available only in
aluminium. The task of redesigning and manufacturing the bike in magnesium
is still progressing, but is a huge job given the radical nature of the bike and the number of new features incorporated into the design. The alloy
Preston will be in the 25lb range. The frames will sell for £1195, the
XT bike £1995, and the Superbike £2595
We have been testing the magnesium prototype SL-4.5's right through the
development process but the final testing must always be done on production bikes. We released a handful of production SL-4.5's into the market for
"real world" testing and at the same time, production bikes were sent to one of Germany's premier testing institutes. These tests have highlighted a
problem that was not apparent on pre-production bikes. I am sure that you
will agree that it is essential that when the bikes get to market they are
totally reliable and that there are no issues regarding their strength or
longevity. To launch a new product into the market without these guarantees
would be negligent and extremely damaging to the brand in the long term.
I am confident that we can solve the problem that we have encountered, but
exactly how long we will need is difficult to say. It might be a matter of
weeks, but it might be longer. What I am trying to do with this latest
information is to be totally honest with you regarding the time scale, and
deliberately not to give you a date, that might come and go, with all the
frustration this causes you and your customers. As soon as we have a totally proven product we will let you know and we will give you a revised delivery date.
I realise that this will be extremely disappointing to many of you, as it is to us. But it is far better to bite the bullet at this stage prior to
release, than to expose a product to the market that may cause problems into the future.
I would like to finish this letter by making the point that as a (small)
company we are trying hard to develop innovative new ideas, technologies =
and materials that will generate healthy sales into the future. We are doing more development than most of the industry's 'big hitters' and it is true to say that if we were not trying to work with such radical ideas and materials I wouidn't be writing this letter to you now. I firmly believe that in the longer term you will reap the rewards of our efforts and I hope that you appreciate we are doing our best to move forward with ground breaking products which will be to your benefit.