This month, BikeBiz catches up with Insync Bikes’ head of IBD sales Wayne Clarke
Can you give us a little background on Insync?
We design and manufacture high-end bikes at affordable prices for all the family. The brand is owned by India-based Hero Cycles, the world’s largest bike manufacturer by volume, which bought Avocet Sports in 2015, in doing so reviving the iconic Viking brand.
Since then, we’ve brought to market the first new Viking models in 40 years and unveiled several new ranges, including our Lectro range of e-bikes and our exclusive Insync and Coyote bikes. Today, we have a team of bike designers who are usually based at our £2 million Hero Global Design Centre in Manchester but are currently working from home, with our bikes manufactured in India.
What area(s) of the market does Insync target?
We aim to be the market leader in European bicycle distribution, providing a complete range of branded cycling products including Viking, Viking Pro, Concept, Coyote, Insync, Ryedale, De Novo and Lectro.
Insync’s ethos has always been on cycling as a force for good. We encourage people to develop a love of cycling whatever their age, background or ability and we design products that aim to nurture a passion for two wheels. This is why we offer value-for-money bikes aimed at everyone from young children, right the way up to e-bikes that could enable an older or less able rider to continue cycling.
What makes Insync unique? What does it offer that its competitors perhaps do not?
We are backed by the world’s largest manufacturer, Hero Cycles, which means we’re able to offer competitively priced products and access to manufacturing capability, which will increase with the establishment of the Cycle Valley in India, which will have the capacity to build four million bikes a year. We also have the historic Viking brand, which is more than 100 years old and which we’re looking to expand in 2021.
In a rather bizarre twist of fate, the COVID-19 pandemic has provided a significant boost to the cycling industry. What impact has it had on Insync?
Right from the beginning, we have been delighted to see the positive impact such a challenging situation has had on cycling. In April, we experienced demand usually only seen at Christmas time and that pace has continued throughout the pandemic, with many models selling out as soon as we get them in stock and sales driven up by a significant percentage.
The nationwide appetite for cycling, and the backing from the Government in terms of cycle safety and other schemes, has been good news for the industry as a whole but we now need to make sure we keep up with that enthusiasm.
How are Insync products distributed, and how important is that relationship to the brand’s success?
Insync works through a network of independent bike retailers across the country, but we’re always looking to add to that number. This is vital to our success, with many of our brands wholly geared up for independent retailers.
We’re looking to step up our relationships with certain retailers so they can start to help us influence the range. We’ll be looking to establish a small focus group of retailers to help us identify and develop new ideas this year.
What are some of Insync’s more recent product developments?
In March, we launched our Lectro range of e-bikes based on the way we saw electric vehicles capturing the public’s imagination. E-bikes have transformed the commute to work for many people, allowing them the extra boost to make their journeys without arriving at work too tired to face the day ahead. Equally, it’s been great to see older riders jumping on e-bikes to allow them to continue cycling where, physically, they would have struggled to on a traditional bike.
When moving into this market, it was important for us to offer a product that was more affordable than the usual £3,000-£5,000 price bracket to allow even more people to benefit, which was why we priced Lectro at £999-£1,299.
Last year also saw us launch mountain bikes under the Coyote and Insync brands, and relaunch our De Novo range for children (pictured right), so it was certainly a busy year for Insync.
What sort of feedback have you received from your customers?
Feedback has been great, particularly on the design elements of the bikes. Coyote is a historic brand and people have welcomed a new approach to these bikes in the sub-£300 category. We’ve created strong designs for this value-for-money range of bikes, which people have welcomed. It’s too early to say what feedback is like for De Novo as the relaunch was only recently, but we’re expecting positive comments.
What industry innovations are exciting you at the moment?
For me, it’s e-bikes, because their development is so fast-paced. We launched our Lectro range in 2020 and we’re looking to take a significant share of the e-bike market in 2021.
As we head into 2021, what are your plans for the year and beyond?
Going into 2021, and looking further ahead to 2023, we’re going to be strengthening the exposure of all of our brands with the independent bike retailers. We’re also looking to increase our e-bike offering by working with HNF Nicolai in Germany, which will be working with the Hero factories.
Last year showed us the potential of the business and we want to build on this going forward.