RETAIL COMMENT: A concept too far? - BikeBiz

RETAIL COMMENT: A concept too far?

Call me old fashioned, but what’s with all these ‘futuristic’ concept bikes that keep appearing all over the web?
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Mark Sutton - web.jpg

I can’t grasp, in an age where we’re striving to make the bicycle a mainstream transport choice, why there’s a need to make two wheels and a frame any more complicated or, worst of all, plain bizarre.

Many are never intended for production, though a few wacky ideas have slipped through the net. I may well end up eating my words here, but will hubless bikes ever really work? If a bike were to be driven by a mechanism on the rim, how would it be sealed against dust and road grime? There’s no dodging the fact that the traditional bicycle is prone to wear and tear, perhaps even more so in the quagmire that is the UK. I feel the trade should be focusing on improving the quality of budget bikes, as opposed to designing bikes reminiscent of spacecraft from The Jetsons.

Progression is fantastic, provided it actually is progression. Who would dare define an advance in today’s world though? The weight issue, for me, has reached and in many instances surpassed its peak. There comes a point where you have to draw a line and conclude that the only way to make a bike go faster or air higher, is to have the rider work harder on their technique. A gram shaved here and there is generally negligible in a bike’s overall performance, no matter how much the manufacturers try to convince otherwise.

So, where is progression needed for cycling to be taken seriously by the masses? In terms of design, bikes need to be aesthetically pleasing, but to prevent a return they must also be robust, even at the very bottom of the range.

Supermarkets are the industry’s biggest rival here. While introducing many to cycling, I’ve heard rumours of 80 per cent return rates on some cheaply sold models. That does irreparable damage to the future of pedal power in this country, with many associating their shortlived and negative experiences with cycling in general.

What can retail do about this then? The answer has to lie in quality stock and upselling the advantages of investing a little more in a bike purchase to ensure longevity. Your service, of course, has to be a direct parallel to that offered in supermarkets. Go the extra mile, offer a service after a few weeks and follow up on purchases to ensure all is well.

As for concept bikes, it would be nice just to see something traditional with a modern twist. Is that so much to ask?

Mark.Sutton@intentmedia.co.uk

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