Much has been written and said on the subject of how to get the nation’s women cycling. And to the cycle trade’s credit, it’s a topic that the industry is getting to grips with. And really, no wonder: it’s a whole customer base that is potentially being missed out on.
From initiatives from British Cycling, Sustrans and Bike Hub, to more profit driven methods like brands increasing product ranges to include gear that appeals to and is designed for women, there is a concerted effort to engage a broader bike market.
Last month two British brands came together to launch a new range of fashion-conscious bikes and accessories primarily for the young women market.
Two worlds collide
British fashion brand Red or Dead was launched in the ‘80s by cycle nut Wayne Hemingway and his wife Geraldine. From modest roots as a market stall in Camden, Red or Dead grew to release its first collection in 1989, boost the Doc Martin name as a fashion brand, open stores around the world, establish production in Lancashire and win numerous awards. Throughout its three decades Red or Dead has marked itself out from others in a number of ways – not least in being a ‘brand for everyone’ with an emphasis on affordability and fun.
Those are brand values that have been brought to its first range of bikes, that have been designed to ‘knock your socks off’.
Featuring frames emblazoned with Red or Dead prints, the initial range includes the Seaspray, Bikeland and Ruscia Rose – the former retailing at £399.99 and the latter at £299.99. The bikes all come with Red or Dead-designed matching bike covers, comfort saddle, comfort grips and retro styled bicycle bells.
There’s also an accessory line in the works, with Red or Dead printed cycle helmets now available.
History in the making
“It's been a long journey," Red or Dead brand president Julia Massey tells BikeBiz. "We've taken the best of what Raleigh does and have made it more beautiful."
And who is Red or Dead hoping will respond to the range? Massey explains: “The target consumer is the recreational cyclist who wants an affordable and beautiful bike with great design. The consumer who buys into Red or Dead wants great design at an affordable price. We saw a gap in the market for a ‘fashionable bicycle’.”
Fashion and bikes haven’t always been the most likely of bedfellows. Lycra has largely been frowned on by the High Street, and fears of helmet hair have been cited as off putting. With that in mind, you could argue that Red or Dead is forging a path into new territory, a charge BikeBiz puts to Massey. “I hadn’t really thought about it this way, but I guess we are trendsetters in the bicycle world.”
The strength of the Raleigh brand, particularly in the world outside cycling, was a crucial factor in the team up, as Massey reveals: “Raleigh is an iconic British bicycle brand. They also make bikes that are good quality, yet affordable. We are very proud to be working with such a known and trusted British bicycle manufacturer.”
Red or Dead wouldn’t be drawn on how long the partnership with Raleigh has been designed to last, but if the level of interest converts into sales, there could be a wider range to follow.
“Initial reaction has been most positive,” says Massey. “We expect them to be a big success and we have more ideas and designs to follow.”
Evans Cycles currently has exclusivity on the bike range, but at the launch evening, situated just off London’s famous Carnaby Street last month, BikeBiz was told many other retailers were in attendance, giving the range the thumbs up, with hints of a broader retail distribution some time in the future.