Dr Bike events often get local media coverage, with bike experts dressed up in white coats and carrying stethoscopes and spanners. Consumer take-up of these events is never huge (not without extensive local media coverage, self-generated by the IBD, that is) but some footfall is generated and it’s often consumers new to cycling and new to the IBDs putting on the events.
YHA Adventure Shops are running Dr Bike events as are upscale IBDs Mud Dock of Bristol and Mosquito Cycles of London.
But Bike Week co-ordinator Nick Harvey is puzzled at the lack of take up from other IBDs.
"It has been suggested to me that because some dealers offer free cycle safety checks all year round they see no reason to register their ‘service’ as a Bike Week event. All I can say in response is that it costs nothing to register for Bike Week. And all events get promoted on the Bike Week website, currently attracting 10K page impressions every day."
However, the low take-up could be due to the ‘free’ element of the Dr Bike concept. Rod Turner of Freewheel said: "Not only does Dr Bike sound utterly and totally naff but it has thoroughly unprofessional associations which we would not want to lend our name to. We are professional and we don’t do stuff for free if we can avoid it. I feel strongly about this because I think our natural desire to be popular can easily lead us to be seen as unprofessional. How many of us would drop in at a Dr Car clinic we spotted at the roadside? Basically, what Dr Bike says to me is that any git can be a cycle mechanic!"
Ben Cooper of Kinetics in Glasgow agreed: "We normally charge £15 for a similar check, so why do it for free? We won’t get any more long-term customers out of it – just stingy people who want their bikes fixed for free. I think that Dr Bike is not one of the better cycle promotion ideas."
For other views on the Dr Bike concept go to a lively debate on the topic on the BikeBiz bulletin board: