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Thread: why is the bike industry so small?

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    Default why is the bike industry so small?

    here's a big fat target market ---> Obesity to worsen, weigh heavily on healthcare costs | Reuters

    is the bicycle industry going to enlarge over time?
    will the industry benefit from the swelling demographics?
    shouldn't the value of cycling support bulging profitability?

    what direction will the bicycle industry take?
    what are the factors driving it?
    who here knows the future?

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    Default Re: why is the bike industry so small?

    If anyone's going to benefit substantially it's the Dorels of the world and whoever picks up large scale orders for increased bike fleets, sharing, etc. Even if this country somehow gets exercise religion, bicycling is not going to be the next jogging and Trek not the next Nike.
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    Default Re: why is the bike industry so small?

    Time Magazine did a little story on the economic winners and losers between 2007 and 2011. Luxury goods were way down. Bicycles, if I remember correctly, were up 9%.

    I think I also remember hearing that running shoe sales are way up over the past few years.

    Whether this is a product of lifestyle improvement or simply a response to the recession I think we'll only know in time.

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    Default Re: why is the bike industry so small?

    Cycling is the new golf. - Garro.
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    Default Re: why is the bike industry so small?

    I see various problems. Your typical LBS employee is a racer. Most of the potential growth is not in racer wanna bes, it is in transportation and casual riders. I don't find a 21 or 24 speed hybrid a good choice for local bike paths and bike lanes. They are loaded with complications not needed - suspension, too many gears, brakes needing frequent adjustment - and missing more practical needs - fenders, kick stand, tube repair kit.

    Even when a manufacturer seems to have bike models for this growth segment, the LBS does not have them. Recently I visited two shops that carry Trek. Between them they had a total of 1 Trek bike of interest to me. And that was a Sawyer that only loses the front suspension. Even an LBS carrying Specialized and Globe don't seem to have much motivation or rapport with customers for the Globe line.

    It is interesting that a transportation (and woman) oriented shop like Adeline, Adeline seems to be thriving when traditional LBSs are not.

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    Default Re: why is the bike industry so small?

    Quote Originally Posted by TriangleBicycleCommuter View Post
    I see various problems. Your typical LBS employee is a racer. Most of the potential growth is not in racer wanna bes, it is in transportation and casual riders. I don't find a 21 or 24 speed hybrid a good choice for local bike paths and bike lanes. They are loaded with complications not needed - suspension, too many gears, brakes needing frequent adjustment - and missing more practical needs - fenders, kick stand, tube repair kit.

    Even when a manufacturer seems to have bike models for this growth segment, the LBS does not have them. Recently I visited two shops that carry Trek. Between them they had a total of 1 Trek bike of interest to me. And that was a Sawyer that only loses the front suspension. Even an LBS carrying Specialized and Globe don't seem to have much motivation or rapport with customers for the Globe line.

    It is interesting that a transportation (and woman) oriented shop like Adeline, Adeline seems to be thriving when traditional LBSs are not.
    Shops sell what they can make money selling. Right now that's road racing bicycles.

    There might be a market for pretty singlespeeds in the $1000-2000 range, but I would guess it's limited in places outside of New York. Seems that most of the people I run into who say, "I want a simple bike," are also saying, "I want a cheap bike." Cheap and simple don't keep the lights on over the long haul.

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    Default Re: why is the bike industry so small?

    Quote Originally Posted by caleb View Post
    Time Magazine did a little story on the economic winners and losers between 2007 and 2011. Luxury goods were way down. Bicycles, if I remember correctly, were up 9%.

    I think I also remember hearing that running shoe sales are way up over the past few years.

    Whether this is a product of lifestyle improvement or simply a response to the recession I think we'll only know in time.
    You should not believe what you read in Time Magazine. If you look at the numbers, both top line sales and earnings per share of luxury companies (burberry, Ralph Lauren, Tiffany, Richemont, LVMH, Hermes) have been growing anywhere from mid single digits to high teens/low twenties since 2004. This has been the strongest area of retail.

    I bet if you looked at bike sales, you'll find high end sales are rising and low-end bikes are declining. Americans are getting fatter, not exercising more. This forum is a case in point: should I wear my Rolex with my custom bike with carbon wheels. . .

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    Default Re: why is the bike industry so small?

    Quote Originally Posted by vertical_doug View Post
    You should not believe what you read in Time Magazine. If you look at the numbers, both top line sales and earnings per share of luxury companies (burberry, Ralph Lauren, Tiffany, Richemont, LVMH, Hermes) have been growing anywhere from mid single digits to high teens/low twenties since 2004. This has been the strongest area of retail.

    I bet if you looked at bike sales, you'll find high end sales are rising and low-end bikes are declining. Americans are getting fatter, not exercising more. This forum is a case in point: should I wear my Rolex with my custom bike with carbon wheels. . .
    I don't disagree with you, but I don't think you can really look at the participants of this forum and correlate anything about the industry. A vast majority of the participants here are at the extreme end of the spectrum esoterically speaking. Most of the stuff that gets discussed here the vast majority of average bike riders don't even know exists. What do you suppose the percentage is of people who actually know what tubular tires are? However, this being said it would be interesting to see the percentage increase/decrease of say Trek Madone's vs. something like a Parlee Z4 for instance. You don't have to know anything about the industry to walk into a bike shop and buy the most expensive thing available, unlike the other option.

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    Default Re: why is the bike industry so small?

    Quote Originally Posted by TriangleBicycleCommuter View Post
    I see various problems. Your typical LBS employee is a racer. Most of the potential growth is not in racer wanna bes, it is in transportation and casual riders. I don't find a 21 or 24 speed hybrid a good choice for local bike paths and bike lanes. They are loaded with complications not needed - suspension, too many gears, brakes needing frequent adjustment - and missing more practical needs - fenders, kick stand, tube repair kit.

    Even when a manufacturer seems to have bike models for this growth segment, the LBS does not have them. Recently I visited two shops that carry Trek. Between them they had a total of 1 Trek bike of interest to me. And that was a Sawyer that only loses the front suspension. Even an LBS carrying Specialized and Globe don't seem to have much motivation or rapport with customers for the Globe line.

    It is interesting that a transportation (and woman) oriented shop like Adeline, Adeline seems to be thriving when traditional LBSs are not.
    american culture and infrastructure takes the bicycle for at worst a toy and at best a a sporting good. expensive transportation bikes aren't stocked by most bikes because they don't sell. selling an expensive (ie anything other than a pacific or a huffy) commuter bike in most american markets is like trying to sell downhill bikes in amsterdam. it's a niche within a niche that isn't really conducive to its environment.

    most people with diposable income live in stupid superbs where the roads were designed and built recently and solely to service automobiles...with few exceoptions it fucking sucks for the average middle class american to ride a bike to get somewhere they need to get to. work, shops and even the fucking dentist are for the most part off highways, busy roads and in strip malls. you have to be a weird-o to use a bike in lieu of a bus pass in most of this country and you need to be a weird-o to use a bus pass in lieu of a car in most of this country.

    most of america ain't portland- it ain't even fucking boston.
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    Default Re: why is the bike industry so small?

    Craig pretty much nailed that. I have the pleasure of my primary residence being in a 'burb on the outer edge of Minneapolis. I have great country riding at my finger tips as long as I ride away from town. It is a total PITA if I want to go riding with buddies in the city. Load the bike in a car and deal with traffic. It just isn't practical to even try to ride in from the suburbs. Besides, if I tell anyone (neighbors for instance) that I went for a 40 mile spin (which is pretty much what I consider a minimum worthwhile ride) they look at me like I'm a freak. It makes sense to us that the bike industry should be huge because it is one of our primary focuses. We are in the minority on this one.

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    Default Re: why is the bike industry so small?

    So anytime I go home to Ohio, I've noticed a lot more folks riding bikes around now than I did back in 2004 when I got into cycling. Granted, many of the kids are on matchy-matchy $600 fixed-gears or conversions, but they're a potential growth segment.

    In Chicago, where I am now, most of the fixed-gear kids discovered lycra and got into track or for the rough-and-tumble crowd, cyclocross. I think many of the 15 year old kids riding around on converted Schwinn Worlds will discover that going fast is fun and that they have some talent or lacking talent they continue riding to work and around. Others will get a driver's license and sell the bike. I think the latter is the more likely scenario, though. There's always an attrition rate.

    Chicago's a bit ahead of the game -- the riding sucks if you like to go for the riding that VS'ers like to do. But if you're looking to ride your bike to get somewhere, it's pretty decent, as the infrastructure and governmental support is there. For cycling to succeed in other places, the infrastructure and support has to be there. People have to feel safe while out riding and as jerk mentioned above, that's a tough sell in suburban America.

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    Default Re: why is the bike industry so small?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dorman View Post
    What do you suppose the percentage is of people who actually know what tubular tires are?
    Small, to be sure -- but still a lot larger than the percentage of people who actually still use tubulars.

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    Default Re: why is the bike industry so small?

    Quote Originally Posted by palincss View Post
    Small, to be sure -- but still a lot larger than the percentage of people who actually still use tubulars.
    Now you are just trying to make me feel special... No extra wide rims needed here.

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    Default Re: why is the bike industry so small?

    Quote Originally Posted by ThomasRZ View Post
    People have to feel safe while out riding and as jerk mentioned above, that's a tough sell in suburban America.
    I feel less safe on MUP's than on the street. I'll take my chances with the cars rather than joggers or kids on trikes.

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    Default Re: why is the bike industry so small?

    Quote Originally Posted by Uncle Jam's Army View Post
    I feel less safe on MUP's than on the street. I'll take my chances with the cars rather than joggers or kids on trikes.
    Dogs with ropes attached to people on wheels have to be the worst.

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    Default Re: why is the bike industry so small?

    Quote Originally Posted by Uncle Jam's Army View Post
    I feel less safe on MUP's than on the street. I'll take my chances with the cars rather than joggers or kids on trikes.
    I don't disagree, but for many people, the only way they'll ride a bike is on a MUP.

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    Default Re: why is the bike industry so small?

    Quote Originally Posted by TriangleBicycleCommuter View Post
    It is interesting that a transportation (and woman) oriented shop like Adeline, Adeline seems to be thriving when traditional LBSs are not.
    Try taking your girl in there without dropping two weeks salary. Try it. but they're selling cute more than they are selling bikes.

    Quote Originally Posted by jerk View Post
    american culture and infrastructure takes the bicycle for at worst a toy and at best a a sporting good. expensive transportation bikes aren't stocked by most bikes because they don't sell. selling an expensive (ie anything other than a pacific or a huffy) commuter bike in most american markets is like trying to sell downhill bikes in amsterdam. it's a niche within a niche that isn't really conducive to its environment.

    most people with diposable income live in stupid superbs where the roads were designed and built recently and solely to service automobiles...with few exceoptions it fucking sucks for the average middle class american to ride a bike to get somewhere they need to get to. work, shops and even the fucking dentist are for the most part off highways, busy roads and in strip malls. you have to be a weird-o to use a bike in lieu of a bus pass in most of this country and you need to be a weird-o to use a bus pass in lieu of a car in most of this country.

    most of america ain't portland- it ain't even fucking boston.
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    Default Re: why is the bike industry so small?

    Here in SF CA we are crawling wth porteur bikes, cargo bikes, long bikes, dandyish rivendelly bikes, fixies, race bikes - it is truly renaissance like. Unless the shop is really enthusiast oriented the shops are universally well stocked with a huge variety of practical bikes. We aren't exactly like the rest of the country but it just seems like a matter of time before mainstreet USA drinks the kool aid.

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    Default Re: why is the bike industry so small?

    Spend some time in a LBS. Deal with the industry vendors. You'll quickly understand why the market is small. Everything in the bike industry is a** backwards compared to the rest of the retail/business world. There are a few bright spots such as QBP. They get it.

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    Default Re: why is the bike industry so small?

    In terms of getting people on bikes, in some cities people will figure out that getting around by bike is the best way to go.
    But some cities are too far gone- their whole infrastructure has been laid out only accommodates cars.

    There won't be any meaningful "national" movement in North America for cycling. It's up to each city to make their planning
    for transportation include bicycles. The problem in many cities is congestion, and the bike lane controversy of whether or
    not bikes should just be recognize as "traffic" or should they segmented into off street paths and bike lanes.

    -g

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