01.19 ISSUE 156 THIS MONTH
As this year’s show draws near, BikeBiz chats to Chris Holman to gauge his thoughts on 2019’s curtain raiser
The COREbike Issue
Catching up with IBDs
As we kick off the new year, Laura Laker speaks to three IBDs about their most recent experiences and challenges
EBCO Endura CORRATEC CATALUNYA
Exposure Lights Ultimate USE
Terning the tide
VelobrandsAlexander Michael chats to Tern Bicycles Magura
founding member Mark Bickerton as he outlines his vision for the future
Moore Large REGULARS
6 Opinion 23 Features 47 IBD Focus 51CHEQUERS Sector Guides 67 Data and Analysis COURT
Finding your partners By Stefan Buxton, Trigger Bell creator
tâ€™s been a few months (see BikeBiz August) since we wrote about just one way of getting the back of a beer mat bike idea to within a hairâ€™s breadth from a tangible product. To continue our journey, we need to find manufacturing partners to produce the product. You should have some computer-aided design (CAD) drawings and a handful of 3D-printed prototypes to wave in front of anyone who will listen.
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As mentioned previously, this is a great time to hatch the idea that has been playing on your mind onto the shop floor with the power of freelancers, 3D printing, international manufacturing and crowdfunding. This part of the process was compiled from our experience of developing Trigger Bell, a safer bike bell, and the lessons learnt throughout (of which there were many!). Do get in touch if you would like the names of specific sites and companies referenced in this article or any other information. We will be covering how to find companies to manufacture and assemble your product. We will leave sales and funding activity, as well as the protection of your precious intellectual capital, to another day. There is lots of material online to help in these areas, while manufacturing still remains remarkably opaque. We have to first set expectations. This process (finding your manufacturing partners) is a few months of work. After this, actually getting to the point of having a physical product ready for sale is not a short process. It may take a further six to 18 months to iron out all of the manufacturing kinks and unveil a finished product. Manufacturing is not cheap. While finding partners is very low cost, be prepared for a five-figure investment to get the product made. Finally, things will not go to plan. Brace yourself to have to count to ten and rethink your options numerous times! It would be boring if it was easy. In a nutshell: 1. I can learn – soak up as much as you can about manufacturing terms and processes 2. Three lions – start your search on your doorstep 3. International love – look at options for international manufacture 4. Money, money, money – get your costs crystal clear I can learn Immerse yourself in manufacturing terminology as it is a completely different language. Imagine landing in Almaty and then riding 500 miles into the sticks. Without a way of conversing, you will be reduced to wild gesticulations and will repeat (perhaps costly) blunders. Your prototype designer may be able to get you started before you venture out on your own. Google and YouTube are your friends. Manufacturing is a fascinating and awe-inspiring place when you see what actually goes into making even simple products. You will never look at a spork in the same way again. If you are yet to pick a material now is the time to get to grips with the options, their properties and uses.
There are dozens of different types of plastics and metals and hundreds of variants of each. Most plastic products have material marks on them to help recycling (those numbers in the triangles). There are online resources that will help you identify ranges of suitable materials to use. Understand the different processes that are performed to manufacture components from these materials. Processes for plastics include injection moulding, extrusion and vacuum forming and for metal fabrication include machining, stamping and extrusion. Remember those samples you bought while designing your product? It is time to dust those off and take a closer look at them. Are the materials hard, tough, ductile or elastic? Yes, you guessed it, these have very specific engineering definitions and will again help you to identify the right material or at least describe the right material. Other areas to look at are fasteners (are you going to fasten the components together using rivets, screws, bolts or go for adhesive, fusion bonding or ultrasonic welding) and material finishes (techniques may sound similar but are distinctly different – “electroplating” versus “e-coating” anyone?). Do keep in mind the need to do the same for packaging (design, prototype and manufacture). The more time spent understanding and investigating these terms, the more valuable the conversations you can have with manufacturers which may in turn dramatically reduce your production costs and time. A bug in software may take a few hours or days to fix. Changing an injection moulding tool or stamping die can take months and cost thousands. Believe me, we have been there. Finally, just like with the prototype, keep that customer benefit in mind. If what is achievable with a process will negatively affect the benefit then it is worth looking at different processes and materials. Delivering the benefit is not just the icing on the product cake but is the essential ingredient of a successful product. Three lions Now it’s time to get the professionals involved. There is no better place to start finding manufacturers than the excellent manufacturers on your very own doorstep, so it is back to Google to put the new knowledge into practice. You will find a huge array of companies from specialists in a specific process or material to those that are able to manufacture and assemble the components of entire products. Get in touch with as many as possible and if you are worried about sharing your idea, a simple NonDisclosure Agreement will help to ease your concerns.
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OPINION Do ask if your manufacturer can perform the assembly and packaging (rather than requiring a third party) and if they have relationships with anyone who can supply other required components as this will make your life easier. Finally, it is good to get the different companies talking directly with each other, especially when confirming part tolerances and assembly options. International love Sourcing from our own shores is great, but it may be worth dipping a toe into the waters of international sourcing such as from Asia or Europe. There are a number of free websites that can help. Often all you will have to do is post a request and some diagrams and within 48 hours you could have dozens of quotes available to you from a range of companies and countries. Will you get your parts cheaper than the UK? Very likely. But the costs quickly start to mount up. Remember to take into account language barriers, time zones, quality assurance, shipping (cost and duration) and import taxes. Source standard components obviously carry significantly less risk than something bespoke. Given how easy it is to get quotes from abroad, it is definitely worth giving it a go if there is a low risk of losing any intellectual property.
In return for clear requests, in manufacturing language, everyone will want to help. Sending ambiguous questions with imprecise drawings and asking for a quote may, however, lead to ghosting. Using a set a 2D diagrams, CAD files, 3D prints and an indication of material choice and volumes, you will be able to get quotes for tooling, unit costs and lead times. Even better, many people will help to refine your idea further or make it more cost effective to manufacture. You may be able to convert bespoke parts into standard, off-the-shelf components which can be sourced more quickly and cheaply or use a more appropriate material or fastening method. This is the difference between the visionary architect (the product designer) and the practical builder (the manufacturer). One thing that may be surprising is how many different parties may need to get involved to supply all the components. For a bike bell, this includes the bell stamper, coater, screw supplier, spring maker, injection-moulder and assembler.
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Money, money, money So within a couple of months, you should have all of the partnerships needed to manufacture your product, and perhaps more importantly, to calculate accurate costs. You are at a critical milestone as you can now work on your business plan. All being well, the price that customers will pay for the benefit of your product will cover the costs that you now have a clear idea of and leave a reasonable profit margin for your efforts. Congratulations. If you have made it this far, you should have a product that makes commercial sense and partnerships with manufacturers that will get your product manufactured and assembled. During this stage, you may have started protecting your idea and working on funding the tooling and the first production run. It is a very exciting time indeed. n
â€˜Manufacturing is a fascinating and awe-inspiring place when you see what actually goes into making even simple productsâ€™
An unfolding story LID Helmets founder Sam Terry tells the story, from idea to launch, of his folding helmet
will always remember the first time I saw someone wearing a LID,” says founder Sam Terry. “There are good and bad days in any job, and especially in a start-up, and this was a particularly low day. And then I saw someone cycle by in an orange LID helmet on an orange Brompton bike and it brightened my day in every sense. That was really cool, a real moment.” The synchronicity extended beyond the colour coordination. Like a Brompton, LID’s folding helmets are designed to save space, helping more people to enjoy cycling in safety. Terry’s first sight of his product on the street had captured his original vision perfectly. And understanding the challenges he faced along the way, it’s no wonder the moment meant so much.
“I first had the idea in 2011,” Terry says. “I used to commute ten miles across London by bike. At that time, the Boris Bikes had just been launched and no one was wearing helmets on them. One day I saw a guy come off and crack his head. It prompted me to start doing some research, including simply talking to people at traffic lights. I found out that the average journey time on a Boris Bike is 18 minutes, and for that people just don’t want to carry a helmet around with them all day. Plus, lots of people think sporty cycle helmets look silly, which they do! “It clicked with me that we could make something that looked cool and folded, so it’s more space efficient and compact. In 2011 there were no other folding helmets available. So that’s where the idea came from.” At this point you’d be forgiven for assuming Terry was a serial inventor or perhaps a cycle industry vet choosing to go it alone, but you’d be way off. “I was a banker,” he explains, “about as far from starting a bike helmet company as could be.” The learning curve ahead would be near vertical and riddled with pitfalls for someone new to the industry and its quirks.
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The first step, at least, was simple: “I cut up a helmet at home and glued the pieces onto a beanie hat.” Prototype one complete. Reality bites “In those early stages, I was in no massive hurry with it,” Terry continues, “but I did file a patent. Then in 2015 I got serious about it, had some 3D renders done of how it would look, and got some press coverage.” It wasn’t exactly his local paper, though. The LID prototype had in fact been lauded by The Times and the Evening Standard. “That gave me the confidence to pursue this, so in the summer of 2015 I decided to leave banking and bring this to life.” Terry was now fully committed, but reality bit almost immediately. “Rather naively, I didn’t appreciate then how long the development process would take. The design team I previously worked with in London had never done helmets before and were basing their knowledge on other projects, so they thought it would be six to nine months lead time after finding a manufacturer, which I had just done thanks to the Imperial College London Sports Engineering team. “I flew out to Las Vegas in September of 2015 to meet this manufacturer at the Interbike show, thinking we’d see product by the following summer at the latest. They told me it was going to be a two-year project. “That was a big moment,” says Terry, understating his feelings just weeks after giving up a well-paid job and having invested heavily in CAD work and prototypes.
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‘The scope is endless, especially with this new category of electric scooters which have exploded in the US and are now coming to Europe’ He admits there were plenty of times along the way when he thought he’d have to give it all up, but that none were worse than this one. Concept to production The manufacturer wasn’t playing for time. A stylish, safe, folding helmet, it turned out, is a tricky thing to engineer. “The biggest challenge was how to connect the sections,” says Terry. “We went through a whole series of iterations and prototypes for that before we came up with what works. Then we had to put it through its paces in an in-house test lab to get the assurance it would pass official tests. It was a long process.” There was another concern, too. “By this time, a couple of other folding helmets had come out and I started thinking that I might end up late to the party, but they had lots of clips and hinges and didn’t look great.” There’s a fine line that a compacting helmet has to tread. It’s no use a helmet folding down a bit smaller if it takes too long to do so, nor if it’s ugly. For Terry, it was all about striking a balance: “You’re trying to find the best blend of style and folding, knowing that you’re never going to have something that fits in
FEATURE someone’s back pocket, but that it will compact enough to make a difference when it goes in their bag.” The first sample of the final design was delivered to Terry in July 2017, at which point he was still working from cafés, showing raw prototypes to potential investors and asking them to picture the finished helmet as he’d had in his mind for six years. At last, it was now in his hands. “It was another special moment,” he says. “I was really happy with it. I still am.” Four months later, on 10th November 2017, LID launched a crowdfunding campaign through Indiegogo and by the New Year had smashed its target. Now, a year on from the launch, hundreds of helmets have been sold and the buzz continues to grow. What’s next? More sizes, including a children’s range, are coming early 2019, and there is no shortage of ideas for what will follow. A range of helmet accessories, such as rain covers and winter liners, is set to follow too. Most of all, though, Terry sees LID as an enabler of mobility: “The scope is endless, especially with this new category of electric scooters which have exploded in the US and are now coming to Europe. When I started on this in 2015 that wasn’t on anyone’s radar; it all happened in the last year. So, the future is exciting.”n
‘Lots of people think sporty cycle helmets look silly, which they do!’
WORKSHOP BRAKE MAGURAORIGINAL SPAREPARTS
“To offer my customers fast support in case of defects I always have MAGURAs MT Sport on stock.” Hardys Bikeshop
Reliable brake performance for 51,34 £. The new MT Sport has all technical features German engineering has to offer. With the stiff Disctube brake hose it is the perfect choice for Cross-Country and the city. The low price, a 5-year leak proof warranty and its simple installation make it the perfect workshop brake for your store!
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EDGE By Brooke Tully, CEO of BikeExchange UK and Ireland
e deal with thousands of IBDs from around the world including the UK and Ireland, and we see first-hand how and what the stand-out leaders do to remain ahead of the pack. Weâ€™ve cherry-picked these insights from some of the best in the business. So if youâ€™re heading into winter with a little more time on your hands and space in your head, here are some ideas, in no particular order, that might not only help through the cold, but hopefully lay additional foundations for a strong spring and boom summer.
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If you can’t beat them, join them I support the #buyonlinefitlocal concept. Reassure the public that you’re not going to look down on them if they come in with a part purchased elsewhere, especially online. Provide the service, and you have started a relationship. You’ve probably also been able to upsell them whilst they’ve been in-store. See the revenue your maintenance, fitting, repairs and hire can offer and break down barriers. Furthermore, if you can’t beat on price, then beat on value adding. Provide free service for X months, throw in some store kit socks as a courtesy gift, invite them along to the store bunch ride, and follow up the invite with an email or call. Wow them in other ways and win their loyalty. ...But still get online • Buyers research before they purchase Assuming your market is predominantly local and that you therefore don’t need a presence online is laying the foundations to fail in this new buyer’s world. Depending on your source, anywhere from 76 per cent to upwards of 90 per cent of UK consumers research or get inspiration online before they buy. Unless these same people are literally walking past your shopfront on a regular basis, then that research will expose them to any of your competitors who are making an investment online. You won’t be part of the buyer’s plans. Once-upon-atime presence online cost a small fortune and seemed like entering a maze, it’s been simplified and streamlined so this is no longer a daunting step forward. • Don’t hide your products from the online audience Online is a virtual representation, not a shadow, of your store. Strong retailers don’t just put up hero items online, nor dead stock. It’s no different to the real world - if only your hero items sit in the window and everything else is in the storeroom, then how does that passerby know you’ve got what they want? Take Nick for example: “I bought about £200 of tools from one store over another because the one store had a Shimano XT M8000 shifter cover (maybe £2), which was the part I actually needed, and it made sense to just order all at once.” True story and yes, probably not one that happens every day. But it does happen. In our roles here we have over time been fortunate enough to see millions of pounds of product sell online through our marketplaces, and sometimes even we are baffled by the types of purchases made. Take for example a very popular brand of road helmet, current year, in black and size medium. It sold for the RRP 2,000 plus miles from the buyer. It could have been easily purchased in-store but clearly that customer was after the convenience that comes with clicking.
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• Join the online marketplace At the risk of this sounding like a plug, I can’t omit referencing online marketplaces here. For IBDs in particular strength in numbers is not a cliche, it’s a reality. If you’re niche, get scale A bespoke offering doesn’t have to speak to a small, select geographical audience. If you stock a brand that is not readily available elsewhere, grow awareness further afield online. We have anecdotal evidence of consumers driving from literally one side of the country to another to get the product they’re after.
‘If you can’t beat on price, then beat on value adding. Provide free service for X months, throw in some store kit socks as a courtesy gift, invite them along to the store bunch ride’
These were formerly manual builds. EPOS is helping us all get our lives back! Partnerships as opposed to just sponsorships Partnering with like-minded initiatives, community groups or organisations can have some great spin-offs. I know a store that opens up at night so select community groups can gather. The owner derives personal fulfilment from helping his community and his local guests become passive store ambassadors. Invite a local yogi to conduct stretch classes for cyclists in your store after hours. Bring in a sports dietitian to provide a free night of information. Get the local micro-brewer in to make a shop brew that becomes a gift for VIPs. Stage a cycling/outdoor adventure film night, or a Tour de France warm-up party. It’s a win-win. Activate Some stand-out retailers get their edge not from their store alone, but because they’ve become the hub of their cycling community and culture. Are shop rides a weekly part of your work culture? Align with a club or start your own. Provide the branded gear, offer discounts to all members, set up a membersonly social media page/Strava group, take a pic of every happy customer with their brand new purchase and post it online, provided they agree. Give customers a reason to want to come into your store whenever they can. Coffees, a chill-out area, a monthly themed event, think Belgie Ride, Night Ride, Pancake Tuesday Spin. It’s all working towards making you a destination for what money can’t buy. It’s not what you sell it for, but what you buy it for Your store alone may not have the muscle to cut the best possible deal with a distributor, but who else is stocking what you have, and doesn’t cross over into your primary market? Buying syndicates can be a powerful way to strengthen relationships, save on costs and maximise your return.
Connect A quality EPOS doesn’t just improve POS, it can amplify efficiencies, streamline resourcing, enhance existing processes and basically help create a better version of a business. Moreover, EPOS’ have the ability to plug into APIs that can, in turn, expose new revenue resources at next-to-no effort and, depending on the provider, at no extra cost. A major portion of our work now provides no-cost, in most cases, APIs with EPOS’ so that our IBDs can flush their retail accounts with adverts that reflect real-time stock levels. It’s not uncommon to turn an account live and see it filled with 600+ adverts within 24 hours, and continue to build in days and weeks coming.
Respond as soon as you can This is a world whereby I can jump online and immediately be greeted by a virtual customer service assistant willing to help me instantly. That is evidently not viable for most brick and mortar retailers, and consumers understand this. But they don’t tolerate tardiness. Even if you don’t have the answer, or don’t have the time to provide the full answer, just respond: “Hi, thanks for your email, great to hear from you. I am pretty much in grease-monkey mode servicing a bike right now, but I am onto your enquiry and am going to get back to you ASAP. I look forward to helping you out with this.” Personable ‘template’ responses can be created around inquiries that fall into similar themes, so in most cases it’s just a quick cut, paste and send.
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‘We have anecdotal evidence of consumers driving from literally one side of the country to another to get the product they’re after’
The customer hears from a real-life person, knows they’re going to get a response, and suddenly they’re OK to wait a little longer. This extends to post-purchase as well. Get that product ordered online or purchased over the phone dispatched ASAP after a sale. Don’t transact and then leave a customer waiting. It’s unlikely you’ll hear from them again. Moreover, free shipping and/or delivery within X days is a key selling point for many businesses these days. Were they happy with the service? Then encourage them to respond – get them to post their thoughts on your social media page, or provide a review. The data game Understanding the customer journey is key to business decisions. Strong retailers ask questions. How did they find you? Online, word-of-mouth, at an event? Answers to these questions show strengths but equally expose opportunities to grow. How are they coming into contact with you? Are they purchasing online and coming into the store? Calling over the phone with a credit card? Finding you online but transacting instore? Customer data insights will help make calculated decisions. But you won’t find out unless you do the research and ask customers the questions.
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This data research extends to stock. Dead stock is a killer, so why not report on it, drive a monthly sale and reinvest it into something that will sell at a better margin? Don’t leave it sitting there waiting for someone to convert, it’s taking up valuable space, and making the place look dated. The youth hold the future This isn’t much of an innovation, but its an idea that can provide a competitive edge in myriad ways. Find a young gun looking for casual work. They can get your online and social campaign underway and for a reasonable cost outlay, you can broaden their skills base and experience, and help them to become a valued and hopefully long-term member of the team. Make sure the basics and fundamentals are on-point A retail space that is clean, organised, well-lit, has products clearly labelled with prices, this is the low-hanging fruit that can be easily executed. And no matter what, customer service should always be paramount. Make their life convenient - help them easily and quickly find what they’re after. Give them a quality product delivered with a positive temperament – that old adage of service with a smile will never go stale. n
CHICKEN FEATURE TIFOSI
2019 As this year’s COREbike draws near, BikeBiz caught up with Rouleur’s Chris Holman, who forms part of the event’s organisation team, to gauge his thoughts on 2019’s curtain raiser
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How are preparations going ahead of COREBike 2019? Plans are shaping up nicely. The rooms are all sold, which is an excellent start, and I’m pleased to say that the next COREbike will have its biggestever footprint and number of companies taking part.
What will be different this year, and how will this improve the 2019 show? Regular CORE visitors will recall that a marquee was added to the Courtyard area behind reception a few years ago to
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create additional exhibiting space, and for the next CORE the other large courtyard space (Chequers) will get the same treatment and be home to Moore Large in 2019. The new marquee shows real intent to keep growing the show where possible to meet the demands of distributors and this means that Moore Large will now have over 200m to display more of its brand line-up. The space vacated alongside Silverfish UK in the Courtyard marquee will now be taken by Bergamont and Syncros who are at Whittlebury for the first time. They are two great brands to have on-board and another draw for dealers looking to make the trip. CSG has moved to one of the larger rooms and so are now able to bring Cannondale as well as Fabric to the show.
“It’s very important that exhibitions carve out their own clear identities if they are to have long-term success” Cannondale probably has the broadest appeal of all the bike brands at Whittlebury and I’m sure many of its dealers will want to catch up on what the US giant has in store for later in the year. EBC will return after missing the show last year and as well as its own e-bike brand EBCO, it will also showcase one of the German market-leader’s Corratec. Paul and Rick have a wealth of knowledge of the bike market and the
e-bike sector in particular and any dealers considering adding electric models to their bike line up should definitely find some time to spend with them. Velobrands and Lyon Equipment are the final two additions to the 2019 line up. They have both taken syndicate rooms and, as well as bringing some quality brands to the show for the first time, their presence keeps the show fresh and helps tick some more boxes for dealers. How do you feel about The Bike Place and its date change? How will this will affect both events? I think it’s very important that exhibitions carve out their own clear identities if they are to have long-term success.
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Exposure Lights Ultimate USE
CHEQUERS COURT YARD
ISON Distribution INDIANAPOLIS
GRAND PRIX SUITE
ZyroFisher ASSOS GORE
ISON Distribution HUNGARORING
Upgrade Bikes REGISTRATION
ENTRANCE CAR PARK RECEPTION
With Eurobike switching its dates twice after the 2018 show, there’s obviously even less consensus on when is the best time for a trade show. Eurobike’s move to September could well mean there will now be a void in that early summer slot that needs filling. Clearly, it suited some dealers for logistical reasons that both shows shared the same dateline in 2015, but from CORE’s perspective, the number and quality of companies taking part now means that dealers have a lot to see at Whittlebury. Having to leave early to get to Silverstone probably did both shows a bit of a disservice.
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EBCO Endura CORRATEC CATALUNYA
CORE had its best-ever attendance last time around, which is a powerful indicator that it’s in very good health and providing dealers with an important service. There aren’t that many opportunities in the year for dealers to meet up and share their thoughts about each other’s businesses and the industry. Despite the current tricky trading conditions, there are dealers doing very well, and it’s always fascinating to hear about what they do and how they’ve been successful. While some very important business gets done at Whittlebury, CORE does also offer a pretty unique opportunity for distributors/brands/dealers to relax and catch up informally. n
CATCHING UP WITH LOCAL BIKE SHOPS As we kick off the new year, Laura Laker speaks to three independent bike dealers to uncover to what extent their experiences have changed throughout the past 12 months www.bikebiz.com
Victoria Hood, www.cycle-space.co.uk What are the challenges for you as a bike shop? We are always asked to price match, but sometimes we cannot even buy the products at Wiggle’s selling price. Customers sometimes come into the shop, ask for all the advice they need and then buy online. Some come back and say they’ve bought it online as it was £10 cheaper and act like this is a good thing for us!
My friend – who owns a bike shop – told me he responds: ‘Yes, as long as I service match also’, which means advising on size, and assembling the bike. The customer discovers the bike assembly charge is basically the online discount and they start to see the picture; and that they get free buying advice, the first service, etcetera, on top. January 2019 | 29
I think for me, it is the fact we have evolved and have lots of different strings to our bow: we have lease bikes, private hire bikes for large local businesses, we supply the university, the local council and the Met office with fleets of bikes for staff to get to meetings. We do lots of doctor bikes with local businesses; we get paid to do that, but it also means we get exposure to their staff and we take products along to sell. That’s why I’m still here when other shops have closed down. I go every year to local markets with my branded gazebo and gifts and accessories and it’s a good opportunity to sell.
What are you doing, and what can the industry do, to help? We have the knowledge and experience, we pride ourselves on our work and customer service and we are always looking at new ways of bringing business in but it is still very hard in the current climate. One of the best things we did was a Sunday demo day, in a big gazebo outside the shop with about 20 Cinelli bikes, and in the next week we had loads of people coming in saying: ‘I didn’t even know you were here’. Distributors could do more to help local bike shops survive. Shops could try and work together a bit as well. We got together pictures of all the bike shops within a 20-mile radius for Black Friday to remind people to at least look in your local bike shop, even if it’s not us. n
What is the secret to LBS survival, in your opinion? For us, improving this business in the first couple of years was easy, by smartening the place up, offering better service and longer opening times. We are a small shop and we don’t get a huge amount of footfall because we aren’t on the high street, but we get ourselves out there. I think independent bike shops can also play on a growing support for local businesses over chain shops. We get really positive reports from customers on social media and Tripadvisor, and that word of mouth is brilliant at bringing people in. The best way to beat the competition online is to offer that customer service and quality bike repairs.
SADDLES AND PADDLES, EXETER Heather Baker, www.sadpad.com What are the challenges and how are you overcoming them? The shop has been trading for 30 years. When I took over about six years ago, I wanted to be friendlier for women, more accessible, and change the industry from the inside in a very small way. I know it was very male-dominated.
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Above: Saddles and Paddles has been trading for 30 years
Tell us more about being female friendly. It’s fascinating when people come in and ask me: ‘Is the boss in?’ Women have been so patronised and it’s great to be able to change that. There’s a minimum requirement working here that you have to be friendly and helpful. I’m not going to only employ someone who can strip a bike. We won’t use jargon, we wouldn’t tolerate anyone being discriminatory, or rude. If you have an old Raleigh Pioneer you really want to keep riding, we will repair it. Often, bike shops make people feel pressured into buying something they don’t want. We are family-friendly, too. It’s great to get customers coming to us spending significant amounts of money because they are buying for the whole family. They say: ‘We did stick our heads in another bike shop but we didn’t get a good feel.’ n
COLIN LEWIS CYCLES, PAIGNTON Simon Aske, www.colin-lewis.co.uk What are the challenges and how are you overcoming them? It’s challenging times I’m sure, for the whole of the high street, not just for the cycle industry. We have been in business 45 years, we have had to tighten our belts quite a bit; we had to lay off some staff because there isn’t the footfall. I build my own frames now, Aske Bikes, that’s something we have added onto the business. People know me as a good mechanic. If they bring parts in that’s fine, I’m not going to send them away. The repair sector is still quite buoyant. We sponsor the local cycling club, which is 500 members, so we have our name on their jerseys. We do it because we love the sport, though if those 500 members all came through the shop it would be great. What can the industry do to help? We are part of Madison, we pay once we sell its stock, which helps. Madison just set up Freewheel, where customers can order online then collect from designated shops, and we take a margin. We had three people come in to pick up items in the past week. Madison are trying to drive people in the shops rather than drive them away. n
We asked some cyclists about their experiences of IBDs THE GOOD Alex White There is a really good bike shop near me in East Greenwich, run by a father and son team. Despite being on a particularly hostile bit of road they are always very busy fixing bikes, seven days a week. I really like them because they know my bikes personally, are trustworthy, don’t talk down to you and won’t rip you off. They are really first class mechanics too (I challenge you to find a bike shop with more five-star Google reviews!) They are a great community asset now. A good bike shop is somewhere that you trust and can repair and service your bikes – which is something you could never get online. THE BAD Andy Matthews, architect and photographer All bike shops muck something up at some point; it depends on how they sort it. One bike shop didn’t fit the retaining pin when they fitted my brake pads and they fell out 20km into a 300km ride. The shop staff were mortified and apologised profusely, and I always get a discount since and priority on lots of stuff, none of which I asked for. I still use that shop. Building trust with a mechanic takes time; it’s very easy to lose those though. Bikes mean the world to me and don’t want to see them damaged or not sorted properly. Meg Willett, part-time librarian and yoga teacher I’m 5ft 2; I was shopping for a road bike and I wanted to try one to see what fits. I probably went to at least four to five bike shops, none of which had my size in stock despite having lots and lots of men’s bikes. Some of them wanted a deposit to order one for me. It was a female sales assistant in a shop that said: ‘We’ve got one in the basement, and we can build it up.’ I went in the next day and they had built it for me, I think because it was a woman and she understood. They didn’t have any shoes in my size, though. THE UGLY Tiffany Lam, urbanist I went in around 5pm on a Tuesday and the shop was empty. I said hello twice, the two guys working there didn’t acknowledge me. One eventually said: ‘Yes, what do you want?’ He kind of tossed the gloves I’d ordered at me, even though I was standing next to him. I said: ‘Do you mind if I try them on?’, and he said: ‘Don’t you know your size?’ He was huffing so I quickly tried them on. He said: ‘Are you going to pay for them?’ I was so shocked, and just paid and left. The next day, I went back as they were too small. The same guy said: ‘Don’t help her, she has already been here’. He said: ‘You tried them on already.’ It just made me feel that I didn’t belong there. It made me feel stupid. I will never go there again. n
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FROM THE GROUND UP ibble is a premium British bike brand that has a new vision and business proposition under CEO Andy Smallwood. It is exiting the parts, accessories and clothing (PAC) part of the business to focus on bikes that are designed and built in the UK. In doing this, it is returning to its bicycle-focused heritage. The brand has spent 120 years trading with an established cycling heritage, with most British cycling champions riding a Ribble in
Rebecca Morley heads to Ribble’s store at the Mailbox in Birmingham, to catch up with CEO Andy Smallwood about the premium British bike brand’s new vision
their career, including Chris Boardman, Bradley Wiggins and Geraint Thomas. Smallwood himself even started his racing on a Ribble and has had a deep-rooted affinity with the brand ever since. He explains: “We’re in this transition period, so we have been exiting a lot of parts, accessories and clothing stock quite aggressively to get us into the place where we need to be moving forward.
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Ribble is exiting the parts, accessories and clothing (PAC) part of the business “From a bike perspective, what we’re concentrating on is the good growth we’ve seen this year, which is a result of our specific focus on it. We’ve only just released the new range, so it’s still early days in terms of growth, but early indicators on the new products are very good. It’s seen a real shift in a positive direction in terms of bike sales in the new range compared to where we were before. What we’re focusing on from a strategic perspective is working and accelerating our bike business seems to be paying off for us. By being a bit more focused on the brand as well, as opposed to selling other people’s brands, that seems to be the right thing for us to do for the future.” He says that the successful IBDs are the ones that are focusing on what they can do well, for example providing service and fit, something that fully-online retailers aren’t able to do. Ribble has the advantage of a brick and mortar offering as well as an online business, as Smallwood explains: “That’s why we’ve got a store here, which is why we’re investing in our Preston facility as well to make sure we can offer the same. The bike fit, the touch and feel, those elements that you don’t normally get with a B2C. We try to make these stores a destination as well, so the customer wants to come in. They can see the whole range and can talk to our expert team as well.”
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“One thing that the PAC business showed us is that there isn’t a lot of customer loyalty anymore” Andy Smallwood Ribble One thing that is key for Ribble is the design and innovation that helps the brand to differentiate itself in the marketplace. There has been a heavy investment in research, development and design innovation. The bikes are designed in the UK under head of product Jamie Burrow, who is a former pro racer and U23 world champion. Smallwood says: “It’s why would a customer buy Ribble versus another brand, it’s got to come down to the fact that the product is designed specifically for a purpose, from the ground up. The new CGR range is very UK focused, for UK conditions on and off road. “A really important aspect of our range is that it’s designed for the intended user. We’ve got a team of people at Ribble, most people in the business actually, who are cyclists. They know the bikes that they want to ride. That’s the key thing, it’s bikes they’re proud of and that’s definitely come through in the range.”
Historically, Ribble always used to just release one bike at a time. Now, it has adopted the premise of a ‘proper’ bike brand where a whole range change will happen. But it won’t do this every year, it will do it when it feels like it’s got the research and development lined up for when it needs to change, when the marketplace requires it or when Ribble thinks it’s an area it should be going into. Smallwood says: “Because we’re in control of the range, the product and the brand, it means we’re not in the IBD and big brands’ cycle of having to change every year. It’s a constant process of bringing new product in, trying to sell it at full price for as long as they can, then discounting it because a new range is coming. We’re out of that cycle completely, which gives us a bit of an advantage because we’re in control of that.”
Ribble has identified an opportunity in e-bikes, and Smallwood says it was one he had noticed before he even came to Ribble. He explains: “You could see that that was going to emerge as an opportunity. It needed to be a product which was designed from the ground up, it couldn’t just be a road bike with a battery bolted onto it. It had to be 100 per cent specifically designed for that intended user in that market, as it’s a different market to urban or mountain biking. The battery had to be completely concealed, it had to look and feel like a normal road bike. That market is quite traditional as it’s performance orientated, so we wanted the customer who was on it not to feel like they’re on something different to everybody else. But we also wanted to try and make it accessible as well. It’s at an accessible price point for the bike with our technology in it.” So what has the industry’s reaction to Ribble been? Smallwood says: “I think one thing that the parts, accessories and clothing business showed us is that there isn’t a lot of customer loyalty anymore, and it takes a lot to build that. I think customers are very savvy and switched on, and the internet has changed the way people research and buy. It’s a different marketplace now to where it was. I worked in IBDs in the early part of my career, and looking at the market now it is very different to where it was. “Before you’d walk down to your local bike shop and you wouldn’t really think about online, you’d maybe do a bit of online comparison. The barriers to entry now for online retailers are relatively low. As long as you’ve got a website and an account with the core distributors, then you can essentially set up an online retail operation. What it comes down to is two things: where you rank on Google, and the price point. There is no real loyalty unfortunately, you’ve got to earn that by offering a different service or a different product.” The brand attended last year’s Cycle Show, where it launched a 23-model range. This marked a new brand departure and a ‘statement of intent’ of Ribble’s new vision and proposition - as Ribble has never launched a range of bikes before. Smallwood explains: “We had a big message for the show, as it would have been the first time that the consumer would have seen what we’ve been working on for the past 12 months.” Given the innovation that has been happening at Ribble, it is pleased that customers are finally able to experience the new range and products that have been developed. Smallwood explains: “We do value the fact that a customer can touch and feel and see a bike and talk to our experts as well, talk to us. It’s good for us to talk to the customer as well to understand what the customer thinks of the range and thinks of the product.” All bikes are individually hand built in the UK at the brand’s Preston headquarters, and that again is something that is key to Ribble, as Smallwood says: “We’re a British brand that’s doing this level of research and development and this technology, and we’ve got this product range that is competing at this sort of level, from a British brand that’s based in Preston.
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“Customers are very savvy and switched on, and the internet has changed the way people research and buy” Andy Smallwood Ribble
“At the moment we’re not this big global brand that’s got all these research and development facilities, we’re a British brand that’s doing what we love to do and what we’re passionate about, which is designing and developing great bikes.” He adds that despite certain bikes looking so different to each other, due to them being designed for different purposes, they still have the same amount of research and development put into them, to make it sure each one performs in the best way for its intended user. There is a great attention to detail in every genre and product that the brand values, to make sure the bike is the best it can be for the customer buying it. Smallwood says: “Customisation is a big thing for us, that’s another differentiator versus other online retailers. “Through our bike-builder, you can customise your product specification right down to fit, other people can do that, but it’s quite complex. Our bikes are built from the ground up, bespoke, which means we can offer that customisation.” Smallwood believes because Ribble focuses on its own 100 per cent unique brand, and IBDs have their own brands that they work with, it is less of a competitor to the independents. “It’s up to the customer then, what brand do they want to buy. We’ll do our best in terms of giving them the best experience and the best product for a price point, but we’re offering a different brand and a different product to what the IBDs are offering.” Store manager Ashley Brough adds: “It’s a different service as well almost, I think there’s always going to be a presence for retailers on the high street, it’s just how they do it and how they approach it. Look at what the high street retailers can do and not necessarily look what they can’t do, like compete on price. They can offer a physical service to customers, whether it be sizing or being shown examples of specification. You can’t hold something in your hand online.”
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It’s about diversification too, as he explains: “I think that’s one thing we’ve managed to do here, is get ahead and buck the trend, and look at what other retailers have done that hasn’t worked, and build from it. Another thing we’ve done here is integrate the customer service as a bit of a hub here as well, so it serves many purposes.” Smallwood adds: “Expert advice is critical, the guys here are all experts in cycling, and choosing the right bike and bike fit. That advice, it doesn’t matter where it is across the business, it’s still within the business.” Brough agrees: “That particular customer’s needs are met with the best agent, whether it be a return issue, or whether it be something very specific and technical based, it gets handed to the right person and dealt with by the best people in the business for it. “We’ve got those people on hand who can speak from experience, and that’s vital. People feel so comfortable in your hands when they know that you’ve done that thing they’re trying to achieve, you’ve been there and experienced it, so they install confidence in you. It’s good having a diverse team that covers different areas and is really important in any kind of retail environment.” He adds: “There is a real team emphasis in how we micromanage each department but they all work together. We work a lot with the digital team here, just because we use the website a lot with customers, so we pick out little bits and holes in the website where we found that customers are struggling and they’ll pick it up straight away, so it’s like micro teams working together to make the best customer journey.” Smallwood concludes: “This is a long-term sustainable business and we’re building the foundations now in terms of brand and product development, to set us in the right place for the future.” n
REMOVING BARRIERS TO CYCLING
A survey of disabled cyclists highlights some of the ways the industry could boost cycling numbers and potentially reach a new market. Laura Laker reports
survey, carried out by disabled cycling charity Wheels for Wellbeing, found inaccessible cycle infrastructure, cost of non-standard cycles and not being allowed to cycle in places a mobility scooter would be permitted, are three major issues disabled cyclists face. While the survey found cycling was easier than walking for 75 per cent of disabled cyclists, many disabled people don’t realise they can cycle, and Wheels for Wellbeing sees the industry playing a role in, and benefiting from, growing a new market. There are 11.5 million disabled people in England, according to one estimate, a number that is set to grow as the population ages. Isabelle Clement, director of Wheels for Wellbeing, tells BikeBiz: “There is definitely a segment of the market the industry isn’t reaching. The industry, in general, could really help by adding variety to how they represent cyclists in imagery. If you only have pictures in your marketing material of young, fit males with a racing feel, then you’re part of the problem, because you’re putting off a whole load of people.” www.bikebiz.com
The second survey of its kind done by the charity, it found that out of 202 disabled cyclists, 84 per cent rode for fun, 81 per cent for exercise and 24 per cent to commute. Nearly three quarters – 72 per cent – of disabled cyclists use their cycles as mobility aids. The most common type of bike is the standard two-wheeler, with one in five disabled cyclists owning a cycle with electrical assist. Clement, who uses a wheelchair herself, didn’t realise until her early 30s she could convert it to a hand cycle. The adaptation enables her to be more independent and less reliant on expensive taxis. She says bike shops could help promote disabled cycling by having information about local disabled cycling groups, as well as adaptations that can help more people cycle. She says: “People tell me they went into a cycle shop and they just said they couldn’t help. Sometimes it’s as easy as knowing about simple adaptations, such as single-handed double brakes, toe straps or different cranks. January 2019 | 39
FEATURE “It’s knowing people can cycle with impairments, training their staff and pointing people to use our website or cycling projects. It just requires a bit of knowledge, a retailer who isn’t looking at them with square eyes but knows where to look or will do a bit of Googling.” The survey found 36 per cent of disabled cyclists were unable to afford a non-standard cycle, which can cost significantly more than standard cycles. The Green Commute Initiative is a cycle to work scheme equivalent, only without the £1,000 upper limit, that employers can sign up to, free of charge. Customers can buy any kind of bike, electric or otherwise, or specialised or cargo cycles, under the scheme, with registered bike shops. The survey also found almost half of disabled cyclists feared benefits sanctions for being seen as ‘too active’, meaning people are missing out on being physically active because people think cyclists are necessarily able-bodied. Wheels for Wellbeing states that several respondents reported negative views from the public, including being challenged that ‘anyone fit enough to cycle can’t be disabled’. 37 per cent of disabled cyclists had encountered abuse or disability hate crime while cycling, while many cyclists were asked to dismount in pedestrianised areas and even parks, because people didn’t understand they were using their cycle as a mobility aid. Barriers on cycle infrastructure, such as gates and antimotorbike chicanes, can stop disabled cyclists getting through on non-standard cycles, or if they are unable to lift their cycles or dismount. Inadequate parking was also found to be an issue for disabled people cycling. Beyond the bicycle Clement says the industry could see benefits by looking beyond the bicycle, whether to the trike and recumbent trike market, to cargo bikes for families and businesses. “We want the industry, in general, to open up their minds to more than just the standard two wheeler; there’s a much broader market for them to engage with,” says Clement. The Beyond the Bicycle coalition is made up of disabled cyclists, families and traders who use non-standard cycles, like cargo bikes. Its aim is to highlight the needs of those groups which, when combined, represent a significant market, says Clement. “We all have very similar issues in terms of the need for infrastructure which works for our types of cycles, twowheelers included,” she says. “We all have cycles which are bigger, more expensive and harder to park, which makes it much more important to park them securely because they are more likely to be stolen. “People who say it’s a tiny segment of the market, any of them are small certainly, but if you put all the disabled and
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older people together, the families and the small and large traders using cargo bikes too, it’s huge. With Government providing subsidies for e-cargo bikes, that market’s going to start growing.” She says bike shops can help encourage people having families to consider buying cargo bikes, to use instead of cars for some trips, and knowing about how to repair those non-standard cycles. Case studies John, 59, has cerebral palsy which means he struggles to walk. Learning to ride a bike aged six changed his life, allowing him to be independent. For John, as with around 72 per cent of the disabled cyclists Wheels for Wellbeing surveyed, cycling is easier than walking. It is a non-weight bearing activity that he can do with his condition. He says: “I can’t put into words how it feels to get onto your bike, on a cold crisp November morning, you know when there’s a sheen on the road and the sun is just breaking through? You can see your breath, and you feel your body, and you just cycle and it’s like meditation, all the cares in you go away, and the whole world opens up in front of you, and you feel you’re alive.” However, his neighbour started taking photos of him, and he worried he would lose his benefits if he was seen as ‘too active’, so he stopped cycling. John was devastated: “Cycling to me is just as important as the day I fell in love. It has been such a big part of my life, and it has been wrenched away from me.” Wolf Simpson lives in Colchester and is building himself a ‘cruiser style’ e-bike to reduce pressure on his knees.
FEATURE He has a condition that causes leg pain, and cycling helped him walk again after using walking sticks for 20 years. He says: “It was a physio that worked it out. I was doing rehabilitation, using those pedal machines and every time I was on them I managed to walk better off them.” Since then, he cycles regularly: “Cycling has helped me keep walking; if I haven’t cycled for a couple of weeks my legs hurt me, I find it harder to walk and quite often I’m back on my sticks.” He agrees there is a lack of understanding about who can cycle: “People say ‘if you can cycle you can walk’, but no, they are two different things.” He hopes, once he has built his e-bike, he can cycle the 22-mile trip to work four days per week, in part because it’s quicker than the bus. Natalie Wilson has a rare condition called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which affects her connective tissue. Five years ago she couldn’t walk to the shops, then she started using a recumbent trike. She says: “Everything in my body is affected, brain, heart, lungs, stomach. My shoulders used to dislocate just rolling over in bed. I first started using my trike in a neck brace. It was an amazing feeling being outdoors, getting around under my own steam. It has built up my muscles, which support the connective tissue, I have still got everything underlying that, still take 20 tablets a day, but because my muscles are so strong I’m not having so many underlying issues.”
ACCESS TO NON-STANDARD CYCLES Non-standard cycles can be expensive, with tricycles costing up to £3,000. Wheels for Wellbeing offers advice for people looking to fundraise for an inclusive cycle online (wheelsforwellbeing.org.uk/getting-your-own-wheels/) or via wheelsforwellbeing.org.uk/contact, 020 7346 8482 or email@example.com. As does Get Cycling: www.getcycling.org.uk/bike-shopyork/disability-cycling-funding For general advice on disabled cycling visit www. getcycling.org.uk, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01904 636 812. The Green Commute Initiative is a social enterprise providing a similar service to the cycle to work scheme, but without the £1,000 upper limit: greencommuteinitiative.uk. Cycling has changed Natalie’s life and in 2018 she cycled the entire coast of the UK on her recumbent tricycle in 14 weeks. Now she works full time at the Ehlers-Danlos syndrome charity, encouraging people with her condition to cycle, and helping them access relevant services. Natalie would like to see more sportives permit disabled riders and for non-standard cycles to be more readily available. n
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How the tides are Terning towards
Sustainable cycling Alexander Michael chats to Tern Bicycles founding member Mark Bickerton as he outlines his vision of the future
t is important to us that society, in general, benefits from our bikes” – that is the message from Mark Bickerton, founding member of Tern Bicycles. Tern, established in 2011, is a brand that has its focus set firmly on the sustainable side of cycling. With an array of stylish, distinctive and above all functional bikes on the market, the company is striving to be part of a cycling revolution. Bickerton, a figure who has truly immersed himself in cycling culture since his youth, tells BikeBiz exactly what the brand is about. “Simply put, we aim to make great bikes that people want and need,” he explains. “We try to build in a fair combination of usefulness, functionality,
design (both materials and aesthetics), while trying to keep costs to a sensible level, but without compromising on quality. Before we make bikes, we are bike purchasers and owners, so we know what our customers need and want.” Anyone visiting the Tern website is likely to be struck by two details – the emphasis on you, and the importance of sustainability. Adorned with pictures of parents riding with kids, while transporting guitars and commuters on the move with folding bikes in hand, the company’s front page really highlights the philosophy. Bickerton says: “We can’t comment about other brands, but we’re not driven by pure profit (although that helps!).
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“More than that, the whole team is absolutely passionate about making bikes that help the riders. We want purchasers of Tern to want to use the bikes in preference over other forms of transport and, where that may not be possible, in conjunction with other forms of transport – it’s called multi-modal travel, something folding bikes are rather good for.” The company was founded eight years ago by a small group of friends who had worked for another brand. Faces have changed, some have returned, but Tern now consists of a 15-person international team, while parent company Mobility Holdings has around 80 staff worldwide. Bickerton says: “We have discovered that adding electric power to some of our bikes has raised the game. We still all go for rides after our regular product development meetings, sometimes on bikes that may never make it to market and sometimes on old favourites. In short, we haven’t changed very much, we’ve just got much better at what we do.” However, Tern was hit by turmoil early in its life when folding bikes brand Dahon filed a lawsuit against Joshua and Florence Hon, who head up Tern and were former officers at Dahon. In 2011, Dahon alleged that the Hons had wrongfully seized Dahon’s Taiwan subsidiary and used assets to compete unfairly. Then two years later, an agreement was reached between the two parties, settling the legal dispute. When asked how the company was founded, Bickerton says: “It’s a long story and it was quite a painful birth. I don’t want to go into it here, but I could write a book about it. The brand was forged out of the experiences of committed, passionate people who knew what they wanted to do and how to do it.” The team’s focus on everyday use is clear in the bikes themselves, combining folding mechanisms with electric assistance and a growing focus on cargo bikes. The global sale of electric cargo bikes has seen a major surge in recent years, with best guesses suggesting that will only continue. A study published in November predicted the market is expected to double in the next eight years, a trend Bickerton is well aware of: “Folding, electric and cargo are the biggest opportunities that we see. Maybe a wider customer base, business is a key focus. Next steps…it may sound hackneyed, but more of the same, but better. We know and understand our strengths (and weaknesses). We concentrate on quality, performance and service.” But of course there are challenges – we are talking about the bike industry after all. Bickerton sets down the trials he sees for Tern in the future: “Oh, where to start. Firstly supply chain - some key components are on extremely long lead times. This means that on top of the product development timeline, we have to build in up 18 month order-to-delivery time on some key, and often very costly component parts.
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“Secondly, product safety. We work very hard to ensure our bikes not only pass, but exceed by a significant margin, the legal safety requirement. As an example of this our PD team and the factory work closely with one of the world’s best test houses. We work to the latest and highest standards, and on occasion are testing to standards that haven’t even been written into law yet. I, for one, don’t know any other bike company doing this. “Thirdly, we value service and support, so we work very hard with our distributors and retailers around the world to ensure that parts and service instructions are available to trained professional staff. We make sure our distributors understand the importance of this, and provide guides, templates and online support so that the consumer gets the best possible experience, not just at the point of sale, but the after sale experience is key as well.” He adds: “You thought I was going to say competition, well we don’t think so. We love to be challenged by good quality high service competitors. What we hate is low grade cheap, corner cutters. Those guys may look like they offer a less expensive product, but as my dad used to say ‘buy cheap, buy twice.’ My advice is to look for quality in product and service.”
“The brand was forged out of the experiences of committed, passionate people who knew what they wanted to do and how to do it” Mark Bickerton Tern Bicycles
Tern has just launched a initiative that perfectly sets out its commitment to sustainable cycling. The #BikesforBusiness programme is aimed at helping organisations integrate e-bikes into their daily business operations. Bickerton says: “This is so important for Tern, but also for all urban environments. With environmental and congestion issues very much at the forefront of everyone’s minds, we are rather comforted that the rest of the world seems to be in tune with our goals and objectives for products that will facilitate less traffic and less pollution. Our recent focus on cargo bikes and more recently electric cargo bikes is right on the button to help. “The #BikesforBusiness initiative is our way of helping our dealer network access this huge commercial market. All we are doing is providing a toolkit for the dealer to use when talking to local businesses. We think that with a little bit of cajoling from our dealers there will be businesses falling over themselves to be part of this new direction in transport. Whether it be last-mile delivery, local tradesmen needing access to city centres, parents on the school run, or just not having space to park a motor vehicle, we have products that will mean that the scooter, white van, taxi or family car can be dispensed with for a lot of occasions.” The project will give IBDs the products and materials they need to approach local businesses and organisations, and the programme will include pitch decks for IBDs to approach hotels and food delivery businesses. Many of you reading this may recognise the name Mark Bickerton as he has been at the centre of both cycling industry and culture for decades. Having been selling folding bikes for almost 50 years, making them in a stable at one time, he has gone onto run bike manufacturing factories, appearing in TV ad campaigners, worked for a motor company running its bike division, and telesold bikes to dealers. Along with the business side, Bickerton has been a member of the Bicycle Association since the 1980s (even being president at one time), and has attended the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group for many years. Along with his work at Tern, he and colleagues also re-started the Bickerton Portables brand in 2011. But on his current work with Tern, Bickerton says: “My title is probably irrelevant as I work from a shed in the garden, make my own coffee, fettle my own bikes and try to keep Tern at the forefront of everyone’s minds. I, like all the Tern team, am a shareholder in the company. We like to feel part of the company, not just working for it. “I am the proud owner of a smart shirt that says ‘Tern Bicycles – founding member’. They are quite rare and special, so I only wear it on special occasions. Suffice to say, I make it part of my business to be part of the industry and enjoy advocating for the extended use of the bicycle in any way that I can.” In an age when we are facing existential threats from every direction, Bickerton and his team are part of a growing movement proving that the tides can Tern. n
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Banging the IBD drum
Small Business Saturday UK took place on 1st December. Gary Conway, senior product and marketing manager at Tandem Group Cycles, speaks to BikeBiz about the importance of independent bike shops How valuable are IBDs to brands like yourself? Tandem Group Cycles focuses solely on the IBD market, so IBDs are invaluable to us and our brands. We’ve been banging that same IBD-centric drum for years in the hope that small businesses will listen and show support in return. We’re a small team, so we like to think we’re ideally suited for all retailers who appreciate a more personal touch. When you deal with us, you’ll get to know who you need to talk to, to get different jobs done – the same can’t be said for many other bike distributors I’m aware of. Those IBDs who work with us tend to do so for many years, which I’d say speaks for itself. I can’t deny it’s frustrating to see IBDs support brands that clearly undercut them, or push their way in front of consumers directly to take business away from them, but at the same time I can appreciate it’s tough times out there, so all options are having to be considered. www.bikebiz.com
Recent ‘Black Friday’ deals from some brands were shocking in my opinion, bikes being sold directly to consumers below trade prices is madness, unless you want to alienate your complete IBD network. Are you optimistic about their future, or do you feel the threat of the internet is too significant? Yes, I’m a naturally optimistic person, so to any dealer that sees me after reading this – I expect my beer to be at least half full please! In all seriousness, though, it has been a very tough year for us all, not just for the bike trade, but for everyone. Media headlines about our impending doom over Brexit don’t help boost people’s confidence or morale, and that of course has a ripple on effect with how people spend their money. But I’m quietly confident that things will improve for those who last the test of time through this ‘rough patch’. Online retailers are of course a threat to any traditional retailer, but they’re here to stay. January 2019 | 47
“Black Friday deals from some brands were shocking” Gary Conway
Luckily for us, bikes still need servicing, consumers still want their new bike assembling for them, and in most cases, they want to physically see the bike before buying. Yes, IBDs see a lot of tyre kickers who annoyingly leave the store to buy online, but the proactive dealers out there can at least convert a percentage of them into sales by promoting the advantages of buying in-store rather than having a box delivered to their house. Wherever we can we promote the merits of IBDs and those who actively use social media will already know that we’ll push your stores whenever we can to help promote our brands and your business for mutual benefit. I’m sure that between us, even the smallest technophobic dealers out there can start to use the internet to their advantage. Of course, this is just my personal opinion, and I can appreciate a lot of IBDs will feel downtrodden after a disappointing year, but hopefully there’s still enough optimism out there to work on solving the problem. It won’t happen overnight, but we’ll do all we can to help. How significant do you believe Small Business Saturday could be for the IBD? I personally think there are a few too many ‘special’ selling days to make them that special. Kind of like your local sofa 48 | January 2019
superstore that has a limited time only special offer – until the next one starts the day after. Yes, it’s great when there’s a large focus on smaller businesses, and it’s great when incentives such as banks offering cashback on high street purchases are announced, but this won’t generate enough business to pay the mortgage all year round. More needs to be done to maintain regular business and workable margins for the long-term – exactly what that is is difficult to answer in one statement for everyone. All I’ll say is that we’ll adapt as much as possible to support our IBD network and will continue to push our consumer database in their direction. We continually strive to improve our products and make them as competitive as possible so that ‘special’ offers aren’t so important. Our lightweight junior brand, Squish, pays perfect testament to this. Since its launch in January 2017, sales have been fantastic and with its continued growth, it’s clear there is a huge appetite for this type of product in-store. IBDs should focus on brands and products like this, rather than stocking brands that are sold everywhere, to everyone and that are always discounted. Partnering the right brands with good in-store service would be more significant than any ‘Black Friday’, ‘Bank Holiday Special’ or ‘Small Business Saturday’ promotions. n www.bikebiz.com
Bike Security 1
K-Traz U11 U-Lock
QR 4 Pack
Distributor: Bob Elliot & Co Ltd
Distributor: Chicken CycleKit
Distributor: Ison Distribution
Distributor: Oxford Products
This U-lock provides enhanced locking using two levels of security. Fitting to the bike is quick and easy using the mount frame (included) that can be used on any tube of 25mm in diameter. Features: security level 11 (out of 20) for use in high-risk areas. Z Safe: powerful double locking system. High resistance against impacts and twists. Tensile and torsion strength. Anti-theft and anti-drilling. Three keys included in case of loss. Quick mounting using mounting clip.
Pinhead provides a unique locking system to lock wheels, seat posts, saddles, handlebars and stems to your ride. There is no comparable product in the market that gives the level of security that the Pinhead system offers. There are multiple systems to choose from, so we recommend visitchickenb2b. co.uk to see what is available. Buy-in packages are available and give year-long discounts offering a fantastic GP.
Thereâ€™s nothing to make stealing an unlocked wheel easier than conventional quick release skewers. Even hex bolt skewers have a downfall when it comes to security, as all that stands between thieves and your wheels is an Allen key. Our Anti-Theft Skewers add an extra level of protection from any thief looking to steal your wheels, as they will need a hex pin tool to accept the additional security pin. Included with the skewers are a hex pin tool for your tool box, and a hex pin tool on a handy key ring fob.
The Sold Secure Gold, Shackle 14, is a bike lock packed full of features to keep your pride and joy secure when you leave your bike on its lonesome. The lock has a hardened steel 14mm shackle, with a unique carry bracket, that allows for the lock to be attached to your bike in multiple positions such as on the frame or seat post. The Shackle 14 is also available in a version that comes with a 1.2 metre cable hoop which is 12mm thick and is great for locking the wheels and frame to immoveable objects.
Contact: 01353 662 662
Contact: 01993 862 300 email@example.com
Contact: alex.rowling@ chickencyclekit.co.uk
January 2019 | 51
Heavy Duty Mini Shackle
Brute D Lock
Distributor: Moore Large
Distributor: Raleigh UK
The OnGuard Brute is a massive 16.8mm hardened steel shackle U-lock, giving you maximum resistance against cutting. The Quattro bolt locking system locks the cross bar to the shackle on four sides, providing maximum pull resistance with unequaled strength. The vinyl coating protects against scratches and the integrated dust cover protects the lock. Supplied with five laser-cut keys, including a Microlight key that projects a focused beam onto your lock.
The XLC Security Seatpost is a combination of a sleek, lightweight 6061 T6 aluminium seatpost featuring a fully retractable (7 x 450mm) coated steel cable with integrated lock. The post is available in both 27.2 and 31.6mm diameters and has an overall length of 300mm. Supplied with two keys.
Distributor: Direct to retailer The Foldylock Clipster is the first wearable folding lock in the world. It features an integrated, built-in belt clip that makes it easy to attach to the rider’s belt, trousers or bag. Weighing only 1kg and rated Sold Secure Silver, it is the lightest lock of its category – that fact and its compact configuration makes the Foldylock Clipster the perfect lock to carry wherever you go. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Distributor: Oxford Products It may be small, and it may have mini in the title, but in terms of strength it’s anything but, as the Oxford Heavy Duty Mini Shackle is made of hardened steel with an anti-pick Oxford key design. The 14mm shackle provides ample strength, giving it its Sold Secure Gold rating. The lock’s longevity is secured with a keyway dust cover that protects the mechanism from dirt, keeping the lock functional and providing maximum security for longer. Contact: 01993 862 300 email@example.com
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Contact: 01773 532 694 firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact: 01332 274 252 email@example.com
Defender ring lock
Distributor: Oxford Products
Distributor: Raleigh UK
Distributor: Silverfish UK
The Magnum U-lock, just like its firearm namesake is many times stronger than it initially appears. With a 16mm shackle, a mighty double locking mechanism and a supremely high tech pickresistant lock system, this bike lock surpasses the Sold Secure Gold standard with ease. Passing the recognised five-minute attack test without difficulty, truly makes this a lock you can trust when locking your bike up in a busy city centre.
The AXA Defender is a high quality frame lock with an innovative design and the option to link a plug in cable or chain to the lock so you can lock your bike to a fixed object. The Defender ring lock offers optimal safety with its anti-drilling cylinder and hardened steel bracket. The ergonomic design of the push button and the luxurious foldable key with online key service offer you maximum comfort.
The Frankie is the new sausage on the block – a colourful 700mm silicone coated cable lock that’s as versatile and robust as it is stylish. The body features a patented seamless over mould using industrial grade UV stable silicone that will not mark or scratch your ride. Other features: lock housing 8mm stainless steel locking shackle. No leverage points to ensure extra security against unwanted attacks. Blade style lock barrel, with 1000 unique combinations.
The ABUS Bordo Lite features 5mm bars with a core of light steel and synthetic coating to prevent damage to the bicycle’s paintwork. The bars are made of particularly light materials and ferrous alloy and are linked with special rivets for security. The Bordo Lite Mini features the same security with the additional benefit of fitting perfectly into a jersey pocket.
Contact: 01993 862 300 firstname.lastname@example.org
54 | January 2019
Contact: 01773 532 694 email@example.com
Contact: 01752 843882 firstname.lastname@example.org
Inigma BL1 Distributor: Squire
Gold and Gold Wearable
Distributor: Direct BikeRegister is the UK’s national cycle database and the leading online bicycle identification and registration initiative aiming to reduce cycle theft, identify stolen bikes and assist in owner recovery. BikeRegister also provides protection for buyers and sellers of second-hand bikes, who can check a frame number to confirm it hasn’t been reported stolen.
Squire Inigma BL1 is the world’s first Bluetooth D-lock to achieve a Sold Secure Gold rating, the highest level of bicycle attack testing. This clever keyless bike lock lets you lock and unlock your bike via the Inigma smartphone app, there are no keys to lose or combinations to forget. Its ultra-secure electronic security features AES-256-bit encryption for the highest level of security.
Contact: 0800 587 4739 email@example.com
Contact: 01902 308050 firstname.lastname@example.org
Distributor: Direct to retailer Litelok produces a range of Sold Secure Gold standard bicycle locks – including a wearable version – that uniquely combine high security with lightness and flexibility. Founded by Professor Neil Barron, an ex-aeronautical engineer, the Swansea-based firm recently ran a highly successful crowd-funder for its new ‘Silver’ lock.
Distributor: ZyroFisher Airlok is the first secure, wall-mounted bicycle storage hanger. Elegant design meets maximum Gold Sold Secure rating with an integrated hardened steel lock. Designed for both indoor and outdoor use and suitable for a wide variety of bike frames. Contact: www.zyrofisherb2b.co.uk
Contact: 01792 485539 email@example.com
January 2019 | 55
Energy and nutrition 1
Clif Nut Butter Filled
Distributor: Silverfish UK
Distributor: Extra UK
Skratch energy bars are made with real ingredients like oats, nut butter, sea salt, brown rice crisps and quinoa crisps. We don’t like putting junk in our bodies and we don’t want you to either, so these are free from anything artificial or unnecessary such as artificial sweeteners, colouring or flavouring agents. Features: plant-based ingredients for easier digestion, fast absorption and sustained energy. NonGMO, vegan, dairy free, kosher and gluten-free.
The Clif Nut Butter Filled energy bar is a new kind of energy bar that is organic and brings together two great foods – a delicious, creamy nut butter filling inside an organic energy bar. Kitchen-crafted with wholesome, high-quality ingredients. Filled with delicious, creamy peanut or hazelnut butter. Great source of protein and healthy fats. Certified Organic. No partially hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup or artificial flavours. 7g of plant-based protein.
For 2019, Torq is introducing a wholesome menu to cater for the recreational rider and outdoor enthusiast. Its three new organic, vegan-friendly Torq Explore Flapjacks are the first in a growing range of products that are being developed to fuel this market. Renowned for its cutting-edge, research-driven performance nutrition products, this is a new direction for the Torq brand.
Contact: 01752 843882 firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact: 07827 971 146 Michael.Braybrook@extrauk.co.uk
Fruit Pulp Distributor: 2pure 100 per cent vegan and fruit pulp pouches: the most natural recipe on the market! Fresh juicy fruits and incredible vegetables, that’s the combination of innovative sport nutrition product. An instant energy supply in a convenient pouch: consume periodically thanks to its reclosable cap and place it in the back pocket of a cycling jersey or trail running vest. Contact: 0131 449 4147 email@example.com
January 2019 | 57
Energy Bar Distributor: 2pure
Carbohydrate Gel Drink
Drink Mix 320
Distributor: Extra UK Packed with electrolytes, light flavour, clean ingredients, nuun active hydration is the perfect sports drink. The electrolytes found in nuun will help alleviate cramps, help muscles function, communicate and burn energy efficiently. It has the same great electrolyte profile that has kept athletes hydrated for years but now also includes the addition of non-GMO-sourced dextrose, which helps the body to absorb fluids more efficiently while still containing 1g of sugar or less.
Newly reformulated to create a better texture and taste, Honey Stinger energy bars truly stand out from the rest. Its energy bars are made with over 30 per cent honey, 5g non-GMO soy protein, 23 vitamins and minerals, whole grains, calcium, antioxidants, natural flavours and all the benefits of our energy gel. These delicious bars are great for a healthy snack. Available flavours: Rocket Chocolate and Peanut Butter n’ Honey.
Contact: 07827 971146, Michael.Braybrook@extrauk.co.uk
58 | January 2019
Contact: 0131 449 4147 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Distributor: Oneway Distribution The quick Xenofit carbohydrate gel is packed with all the supplements you’ll need. It’s fast to consume without having to drink more water afterwards. The combination of maltodextrin, glucose and fructose provides long- and short-chain carbohydrates. This perfect composition with Zinc and Vitamin C helps reduce fatigue and maintain a normal metabolism. Contact: 0031 1034 03504 email@example.com
Distributor: Avalanche Sports Marketing/Sigma Sports The world’s most carb-rich energy drink. It contains only five natural ingredients but delivers 80g of carbs per 500ml of water. Using Hydrogel Technology, the large amount of carbs pass through your stomach with no GI stress whatsoever. Maurten Drink Mix fuels the E/F Drapac p/b Cannondale Pro Cycle Team, Sir Mo Farah and the Marathon World Record holder Eliud Kipchoge. Contact: 07974 331 741 tim@avalanchesportsmarketing. co.uk
Energy and nutrition
Original Ginger Sports Drink
Distributor: ZyroFisher Available in Chocolate Mint, Milk Chocolate Peanut and Orange Chocolate, each 45g protein bar can be used during the day in between meals to increase daily protein intake, as a pre-workout snack or within 20-30 minutes of finish exercise as a high quality source of protein to aid muscle repair. Contact: www.zyrofisherb2b.co.uk
Distributor: Active Root Active Root balances the body and avoids and alleviates nausea through natural ginger, delivers fuel through sucrose, not maltodextrin, and provides effective electrolyte hydration through sea salt. Weâ€™ve rebooted the classic flavour of ginger beer and turned it into a new delicious sports drink. Not too sweet or spicy, the natural blend of ginger and citrus creates a refreshing and unique flavour.
Distributor: Wildoo Limited The VeloPac BottleBag is the perfect team, club and brand nutrition support bag. Designed with six separated bottle compartments and two side pockets for gels, bars etc and a long double carry handle. Wildoo can supply printed with your own branding in quantities from just 5pcs per design usually in just a few days. Contact: 01908 374 555 firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact: 07711 080 388 email@example.com
January 2019 | 59
Distributor: Extra UK
Distributor: Multisport Distribution
A streamlined approach to performance nutrition. Clif Blok Energy Chews are the latest nutrition option for endurance athletes. An easily chewable source of carbohydrates. The perfect way to energise during long outings and races. Formulated for athletic performance. Two flavours with caffeine (Tropical Punch, Black Cherry). Contact: 07827 971146 Michael.Braybrook@extrauk.co.uk
SaltStick Caps have been formulated to provide electrolytes to help minimise heat stress and muscle cramping due to perspiration, in a quantity and form which your body can absorb. It is ideal for athletes, outdoor workers or for use in hot conditions. Two SaltStick Caps in an hour equate to 430mg sodium, 126mg potassium, 44mg calcium, and 22mg magnesium per hour – the ideal ratio to keep you moving.
Distributor: Avalanche Sports Marketing/Sigma Sports Energy capsulated in a natural hydrogel so there is no GI stress. Built with six ingredients – no added colourants, preservatives or flavours, it contains 25g of carbohydrates per serving. Can’t stomach other ‘gels’, then this gel is for you. Contact: 07974 331 741 tim@avalanchesportsmarketing. co.uk
Contact: 01908 611077 firstname.lastname@example.org
60 | January 2019
Diversification is not a dirty word
By Keith Jepson, managing director of Max Bikes PR
he modern retailer has a huge number of sales and promotional tools at its disposal. In addition to the accepted ‘must haves’, such as great premises, an attractive website, interesting stock, knowledgeable and friendly staff, and engaging social media, there is so much more that can be done to grab a customer’s attention. Sell the sizzle, not the sausage. This was something I was told in sales training some years ago, and while the analogy still makes me laugh today, the message certainly stuck. In the current economic climate, is it important for retailers and brands to stay focused on their key message, or is it necessary to diversify? Perhaps a balance of both old and new ideas is the best way to go, to stay fluid as a business and to tap into potential new revenue streams. I would always advise businesses to stay loyal to their USPs. There’s enough uncertainty in the consumer already, so it’s essential to identify your strengths… and weaknesses! Maximising your strengths can be done by undertaking many activities.
For an IBD, I would recommend offering some of the following added value experiences in order to maximise customer relationships. Purely online retailers can be more aggressive on price, which means that the traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ IBDs need to offer something different in order to be competitive. Making the shopping experience alluring and memorable is the challenge. So what to do? Remember: sell the sizzle, not the sausage! Events are a great way of engaging with new and existing customers. Guest speakers, cycling film nights, wine and food tasting, ‘buddying up’ with local suppliers, maintenance workshops, guided rides out and demos all offer the consumer more than just the sale. Work with local riders, the nearest trail centre, venue, craft brewery or coffee shop to deliver a unique experience. You may even share the event costs and generate revenue from the day, as the event and the potential promotional activity from it are mutually beneficial. For demos, invest in demo stock and encourage the brands that you work with to support you with product, personnel, time, materials and promotion. January 2019 | 67
“Change is good as long as you listen and act accordingly” Keith Jepson Guided rides out are a fantastic way of engaging with local riders. Coaches and instructors sell the cycling lifestyle. Starting and finishing at the store if possible and offering beginner, intermediary and advanced ride options with a coffee and cake is an excellent way of engaging with cyclists from novice to advanced. Become advocates for cycling in your area by supporting the local scene, with trail and cycle path maintenance days, sponsored athletes, teams, a shop club or supply bikes and product to cycling ambassadors. Supplying bikes, product or support to racers, teams, clubs, journalists and bloggers in your area exposes the store to the core enthusiast, non-cyclists and local press. Branded clothing and bikes are a great way of getting your store seen on the scene, at the track, in the chain gang or out on the trails. Branded clothing stands out, builds brand loyalty and connects with the grassroots. It helps to create and sustain your own community of riders who endorse you on social media and spread the word with their friends. I once saw a store with branded/sandwich board bikes which looked very effective and worked well as a moving advertisement. Perhaps even look to make deliveries by bike within your town or city, it would make for a great news piece and would help promote the store, the cycling carbon footprint and health benefits. Mobile or call-out maintenance is on the increase and this could be something to offer when your customers have increasingly busy lives. Offering discount with local businesses, schools and public sector workers grows the cycling commuter market and opens up your services to the surrounding environment. Stores can be in danger of feeling isolated particularly when economic conditions are tight and this type of community outreach activity is an effective way of generating new business and inviting/encouraging repeat business.
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If you have a large physical space, don’t just overfill it with stock, fill it with cycling art, furniture for customers to use, and music. Don’t be afraid to fill “space with space”, sometimes as John Ruskin said: “less is more”. Give careful consideration to the retail experience you are offering. Crowded and cluttered stores do not create an environment conducive to buying, while at the same time empty retail spaces do not inspire the consumer. Find a balance between the quiet and noisy spaces in your store. If your store has large wall space for art, invite a local artist or arts school to create a cycling mural or offer the opportunity as a competition prize, which would certainly create some column inches in the local rag! I often get asked: “Will all of the above distract me and spread my resources too thin?” It is true to say that many of the activities need investment, certainly investment in time, personnel and some money, but many of these can be done on a shoestring, or with co-sponsorship. Many of the activities should run as best practices alongside your day-to-day promotional activity and will help to fill any voids in your marketing strategy. We all have peaks and troughs both personally and professionally, but it’s variety that keeps us moving forward! All of the above makes great content for your social media, website, blog and any marketing materials you have, it perfectly accompanies conventional advertising, SEO, ad words, newsletters, mail outs and competitions. It brings the store out into the community and promotes your services! Be creative with it, have fun and remember there isn’t a one solution fits all, bespoke marketing solutions work the best! So, sell the lifestyle: “The proverbial sizzle and the sausage will take care of itself.” n
Have a question for Keith? Get involved by contacting email@example.com or via Twitter @MaxBikesPR
DATA AND ANALYSIS
A grim read
nalysis by Brake, the road safety charity, has found that, on average, those on bikes face a 63 times higher risk of being killed or seriously injured on roads, per mile travelled, than car drivers. Cyclists and motorcyclists account for nearly four in ten of all deaths and serious
injuries on British roads, a total of 9,740 in 2017 or an average of one bike death or serious injury every hour. The areas throughout the UK with the highest proportion of cyclist and motorcyclist deaths and serious injuries, in comparison with the area totals, are
London, with 46 per cent, and the South East, with 42 per cent. Looking solely at cyclist and motorcyclist deaths, in comparison with the area totals, London and the East Midlands had the highest proportions, with 31 per cent and 27 per cent respectively. n
Statistics BIKE KSIS* AND DEATHS AS A PROPORTION OF TOTAL KSIS AND DEATHS, BY AREA: KSIs, total bikes: Highest - London: 46 per cent, South East: 42 per cent Lowest - Northern Ireland: 18 per cent, Scotland: 28 per cent
Deaths, total bikes: Highest - London: 31 per cent, East Midlands: 27 per cent Lowest - Northern Ireland: 17 per cent, East of England: 21 per cent
KSIs, cyclists: Highest - London: 18 per cent, South East: 17 per cent Lowest - Northern Ireland: six per cent, Scotland: ten per cent
Deaths, cyclists: Highest - North East: ten per cent Lowest - South West: three per cent
KSIs, motorcyclists: Highest - London: 28 per cent, South East: 25 per cent Lowest - Northern Ireland: 12 per cent, Scotland: 18 per cent
Deaths, motorcyclists: Highest - London: 24 per cent, South West: 23 per cent Lowest - North East: 12 per cent *KSIs refers to killed or seriously injured
70 | January 2019