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from the editor
Mark Sutton Cycling Industry Chat @CyclingIndustry @MarkSuttonBike email@example.com
ME, ME, ME TOO ONE OF the great privileges and challenges of sitting in the editor’s chair is both the quality and quantity of conversation I am invited to partake in. Choosing which to prioritise is, for me, a no brainer, but it’s finding that needle in the haystack that often proves most time consuming. In a roundabout way, this is an apology to all those whose emails I’ve overlooked during this busy trade show period. At the same time it’s a reality check – truly, it takes something standout to rise above the noise in today’s always-on world. Between each Journal I strive to pick out trends and innovations that won’t go out of date by the time we hit the printers. So, without further ado, allow me to join the dots that have appeared since the bike industry arrived home from Friedrichshafen. I’ve just penned a story detailing DeFeet’s $5,000 Orb Spider Silk socks. You read that right; it’s an industry first and for good reason, a true “because we can” product and a headline grabbing one at that. While this innovation will commercially come to nothing, for founder Shane Cooper it was an experiment in what could be achieved and an educational process that better sets the company up for future innovations. There’s something to be said for being a renegade. Like Cooper, early in this issue we check in with Dassi founder Stuart Abbott, another to gamble on an idea. Should the British bikemaker’s vision come to fruition, the ramifications for cycle sport globally stand to be truly game-changing. Based on solid, but as yet untested science (at least in the bike market) there’s every possibility that Abbott and his partners’ six-figure investments in exploring the untapped potential of Graphene could backfire spectacularly; but as they say “you’ve got to be in it to win it”. One thing’s for certain, Abbott hits the nail on the head in saying “claiming a little weight here, a little aero gain there,” is no longer going to stand out with the increasingly educated consumer (Nor will it in the inboxes of editors). Similarly, on page 31, Ditchling’s i-Ride builds upon the Orro story. When the brand broke cover in 2014 column inches spoke of competitive prices as the tide of direct to consumer brands began to swell. Fast forward four years and laurels have not been rested upon. Like Abbott, Orro’s team have identified that ‘me too’ products are losing momentum and that further USPs are required. For those sinking thousands into their hobby, customisation beyond componentry has gained popularity and so an ambition to bring custom paintwork in-house is now not far off. On page 19 we’ve a feel-good story from Ghana that taps into an eco-conscious mindset that commentators suggest holds great appeal, in particular to millennial consumers. Booomers is a social enterprise that, utilising sustainably-farmed bamboo, has grown from four to 40 staff members since 2009. Lighter than aluminium, claimed to be stronger than many carbon frames and at a fraction of the price of the heavily polluting ‘black gold’, I wouldn’t bet against such businesses gaining traction alongside those retailers keeping an open mind to new ideas. With dots joined, the evident theme is the danger attached to the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality. Might that be the greatest gamble of them all?
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the professionals INDUSTRY IMAGE PROBLEMS? Both inside and outside of our industry disproportionate representation in imagery, sponsorship, recruitment and plenty more exists. Is it time to actively redress the balance? Our panel discusses a pressing issue for industry marketers… Adele Mitchell Freelance journalist
Irene McAleese Founder of SeeSense.cc
HOW CAN WE CREATE THE NEW CUSTOMERS SO DIRELY NEEDED BY THE BIKE INDUSTRY? Jenni Gwiazdowski, London Bike Kitchen You get new customers by reaching out to people who were not typically marketed to in the past. Make them visible in your marketing, use them in your photos and videos, get them onto your advisory board or even as staff members. Get involved with and sponsor advocacy and campaign groups. Adele Mitchell Recently I have been discussing ways of making older women more visible, so I’ll refer to that. There are of course many other groups of people who are currently invisible in cycling. So, why bother to reach out to older women who ride? Well, there has been some excellent research that shows they have a lot more disposable income to spend than millennials, more free time and a great
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Chris Garrison former Trek UK communications lead
interest in keeping fit, being active and new experiences. The truth is, it’s quite normal for older women to ride, and ride as well as anyone else - it just isn’t normal to see any of them represented in marketing campaigns. If we make older women visible in cycling then we are not just reaching out to them, we are also showing younger women that cycling is ‘for life’ and not just something that you do to drop a dress size. This is an empowering story about the longterm benefits of cycling in terms of mental health, friendships, challenge and achievement, the opportunity to get out of your comfort zone - the list goes on. So step away from the stereotypes. Not everyone over 45 wants an e-Bike. Find out what each potential group of customers is looking for, and what they want to achieve from the experience of buying, riding and owning a bike. And be friendly and interested.
Jenni Gwiazdowski London Bike Kitchen
Ceri Dipple Twenty3c
Irene McAleese We see potential for growth in the commuter market as cities try to encourage people to make the transition from commuting by car to commuting by bike. This will include more women, a larger range of ages etc. People are only going to travel by bike if they find it easy, pleasant and safe. One step is to build better infrastructure for cycling rather than rely on roads designed for cars. That's why at See. Sense we're focused on making cycling safer, more convenient and more enjoyable, and why we are really excited about our up-coming product ACE. ACE is a connected bike light that makes cyclists more visible, and provides cities with information on the roads so planners can use these insights to create better infrastructure and policies to promote cycling.
Chris Garrison The industry doesn’t need to ‘create’ those customers, they already exist, the trade just needs to start talking to them. This isn’t limited to the big players themselves. This includes the stores that sit within local communities. Stores need to represent the communities they are in and the notion that those communities are simply made up of middle-aged, non-LGBT white men who want superbikes is ridiculous. There is an argument to be made that the stores are a reflection of what the big companies in the industry do and if we use that logic you can see why a lack of diversity in the industry at large plays out in every operational cog. Ceri Dipple, Twenty3c We all need to play our part in our local communities to encourage as many people to get on bikes, to make sure it to feel like an inclusive environment whether that's within cycling clubs, bike shops, or simply encouraging friends and family to get involved. You can’t buy participation, you need the right environment. WHAT DOES THE BIKE INDUSTRY GET RIGHT & WRONG IN ITS MARKETING? Jenni Gwiazdowski, London Bike Kitchen I'm really tired of the 'sufferfest'. Bike
riding is fun, useful, environmentally friendly, healthy, money-saving and all these things are skipped out on in most marketing. I enjoyed the latest Specialized video featuring Peter Sagan vs the Grannie on an e-Bike. That was funny and emphasised just that. There's zero people of colour and people with disabilities in media; that needs to change as well. If you can't see it, you can't be it. People need to be able to see themselves in marketing to identify with a product. Adele Mitchell Campaigns that are ‘pale, male and stale’. For instance, we’ve all seen too many MTB videos that follow the same formula: (‘bloke arrives at trail in van, unloads bike, puts helmet on, shreds some singletrack, shreds in slow mo, high fives, gets back in van’). Being innovative and inclusive is the best way to get attention for your brand, and I think it’s worth thinking about the more deep-rooted reasons why people ride beyond the. The Trarharn Chidley #iamendurance film for Sealskinz is a definitely worth a watch as it explores the benefits of MTB for mental health, for instance. Irene McAleese Imagery is often targeted toward the ultra-enthusiastic, lycra-clad cyclist
and it doesn't necessarily speak to a larger group of cyclists that aren't as interested in their outright performance, they ride because they enjoy it or it's healthy or convenient. Chris Garrison This isn’t just about how the industry is ignoring women, it’s ignoring every marginalised group. The industry has done a great job of playing to the aesthetic appeal of cycling: you can ride a bike in amazing places and see things that are difficult to access by foot. The creativity being displayed by photographers, journalists, and designers within the trade is astonishing. However, that creativity is also a reflection of the people doing the creating, largely white, male, and non-LGBT people. They are essentially talking to themselves and being directed by marketing bods, who are being directed by executives, who are all deeply homogenous in both the way they look and cognitively. Before we go hailing the ‘progress’ (which is a false prophecy anyway) that the industry has made around women, let’s not forget that even the women we see are very much cut from the same cloth as the people running the show. This isn’t just bad from a visual standpoint. It also means that any women who are trying to influence marketing direction have
WWW.CYCLINGINDUSTRY.NEWS // 005
the professionals INDUSTRY IMAGE PROBLEMS? to push against the dominance of the people to whom they report. Another element of this is the constant appeal to the high-end of the market. This ‘appeal to aspiration’ perpetuates the idea that cycling is the reserve for wealthy thrill seekers does nothing to draw in those who view bikes as toys, rather than a means of transportation and health maintenance for children. WHEN IT COMES TO PRODUCT DESIGN HOW FAR PAST THE ‘SHRINK IT AND PINK IT’ MENTALITY IS THE TRADE? Jenni Gwiazdowski, London Bike Kitchen I think the brands that are genuinely targeting women are doing well. Giro, Specialized, Assos and Cafe du Cycliste all offer a variety of colours and fits available for bikes and apparel. However, the businesses that don't target women are the ones that I feel like are boxing themselves in. They feel like some sort of old fashioned boys club, and using this exclusivity to sell. It will be harmful in the long-term. I was just looking at the Le Col website and their women's jersey feels like an afterthought to me. It reminds me of Jens Voigt's Army's website Jahvahaah Internationale with the slide that says: "Women: our marketing team told us about them". Adele Mitchell I think we are moving on from this,
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which is good to see. There is some great kit out there now, and a much better choice than a few years ago. Irene McAleese The whole industry is moving past this. We have nicer kit available for women, with less needless differentiation. Chris Garrison This is one area where I think there have been improvements in recent years, with a caveat. The more we learn about the science of bike fit, the more we understand its value for both performance and comfort. However, there are still plenty of narratives, particularly in stores, that suggest women have shorter legs and longer torsos than men. There is no evidence of this morphology being even remotely true, but it is still being used as a sales tactic. Ceri Dipple, Twenty3c For established brands in the industry the ‘shrink it and pink it’ mentality is a thing of the past. It was driven by bigger brands when the female market was a category touted for huge. It was purely seen as a business opportunity. They weren’t wrong, but now it’s established as a category, the larger brands have attracted more people, both men and women, who have developed product that is a far cry from product of 15 years ago. Brands that don’t invest in product development and just want to buy market share shouldn’t be supported for many different reasons.
WHAT SHOULD PRODUCT DESIGNERS BEAR IN MIND AND WHAT PRODUCT CATEGORIES ARE WOMEN UNDER-SERVED WITHIN? Jenni Gwiazdowski, London Bike Kitchen There is no one woman. Within the female ranks, there are all types of bodies requiring different saddles, frames, jerseys and shorts. Time needs to be taken and research done to find out what these different needs are. Again, I think the big names are doing okay, but I guess smaller brands don't think they have the money to expand their range. Thing is, they started somewhere with nothing, they can do it again. Adele Mitchell We need more kit that will appeal to young girls who ride. Women don’t all like the same thing, so don’t try and please everyone because you risk ending up with something bland that no one wants. Research your target audience carefully. Findra is a brand that does this well. It’s often tricky - and a bit awkward - for women to go through the process of finding a saddle that fits comfortably. I’m sure there are lots of great saddles out there, but I do think we need some empathetic marketing (and more female shop staff) to help make finding the right one easier. Chris Garrison Women are not simply smaller versions of men. We have different
the professionals INDUSTRY IMAGE PROBLEMS? anatomy that has its own diversity. Not all fit women are super skinny and boobless. Comfort is paramount and isn’t a contradiction to performing at a high level. Product categories are improving, but we still see examples of the most high-end version of a given product doesn’t exist for women, instead stopping short at two levels down in a range. Size runs are also problematic. HOW FAR OFF PARITY IN INVESTMENT ARE WE FOR MEN’S/ WOMEN’S BIKE DESIGN AND DEPTH? Jenni Gwiazdowski, London Bike Kitchen I don't know much about bike design, how much is spent where, but I think this is where the custom frame builder trade fares well with tailored goods. Perhaps this is down to corporate bike folks having an unconscious bias about women and bikes. If you're male, you're never going to encounter the same issues as a woman, or have ideas for targeting women. That's why it's important to get a variety of people on staff, to get different outlooks. Tapping into female frame builder knowledge on a consultancy basis would be a good move. Adele Mitchell The most common complaint I am aware of about women’s bikes is that
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the choice of spec is limited compared to the ranges that target men. This can make for a frustrating shopping experience, particularly if you have a specific build in mind. Often you’ll have to persuade the shop staff for special requests. Often it may not be available in the right size. I know not everyone agrees, but I actually wish we could do away with ‘women’s bikes’ altogether in MTB. As far as I am aware, the only part of a ‘men’s’ bike that is gender specific is the saddle. Bikes were never designed specifically for men, they are designed for the job they are intended for (Enduro, Downhill, and XC etc.). The women’s bikes that many brands produce are often the existing frame with different contact points, a more ‘lady-like’ colour and a more limited choice of spec. I am told, they’ve a worse resale value when compared to the men’s too! Why not just make each model suitable for everyone? A wide range of sizes (inc XS), two or three great colours and then tailor the contact points - bar width, grips, saddle - to fit the person who buys it? Then put the money you save into winning over more female customers, and employing more staff, especially in the marketing department. Chris Garrison I’d like to emphasise again that this
isn’t just about the industry ignoring women, but my observation is that there are companies who are proactively and demonstrably making the investment into women’s product ranges and others who are reactive and doing it in order to keep pace with those leading the charge. The trade is missing a trick here because of the evidence that shows the spending power of the very groups the industry is ignoring. A simple internet search of ‘spending power of women’, ‘spending power of LGBT’, ‘spending power of black/African American’, ‘spending power of Latinx’, ‘spending power of disabled’, etc. reveals the business case for why the bike industry should be looking at marginalised groups. Ceri Dipple, Twenty3c I believe a lot of this comes down to bike fit and customer experience on a retail level. Does a woman need to buy a women’s specific bike, or does a women need to buy a bike that fits her? There are so many different geometries available in the market, so everyone has access to a bike that will fit them with the correct setup. It is how that setup is achieved and whether the retailer - online or instore - can communicate that to a customer in line with a brand story. There are obvious differences like saddles, but just because a saddle is women’s specific, doesn’t mean that
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the professionals INDUSTRY IMAGE PROBLEMS? it's comfortable. That would be like saying to a man, that’s a men’s saddle so it will be comfortable. A bike manufacturer can only spec one saddle with a bike, so does it really matter what it is if it can be changed at point of purchase. Therefore, does there need to be a mechanism for customisation of product to actually reduce the need for so many SKUs? WHAT CAN BICYCLE BUSINESSES AT ALL LEVELS OF THE CHAIN DO TO ATTRACT MORE TALENT TO THE RANKS? Irene McAleese It's proven that diverse leadership and teams perform better. With growing customer bases it’s critical to have different representation on our teams so you understand differing needs and perspectives. At See.Sense we have a very diverse range of roles in our team, from marketing and design through to hardware and software engineers and data scientists. We would love to get more women into our tech roles, which is something we're working on. At all levels, businesses can help to attract female talent by showing that there is interesting work, and structuring roles with flexibility to work around childcare or other commitments where possible. Critically, it is also important to see other women role
models in the cycling industry that they can aspire to. Chris Garrison For one thing, it can stop referring to us as females. Language matters and a start would simply be to pay more attention to using language that strips away the human element of our existence and is often used pejoratively. We are not ‘female’ riders. We are riders. There are simply better ways to denote demographic differences than saying ‘male/female’ in the majority of contexts. It’s also a term that doesn’t account for those who are gender non-conforming or nonbinary. The industry could start with a very energy-inexpensive inclusion initiative by simply cleaning up the way it describes people. Also, stop saying things like ‘Marianne Vos is the women’s version of…’ We aren’t the women’s version of men. Any recruitment and retention efforts need to closely examine the practices used in hiring. People need to understand implicit bias and the deviant definition of the word ‘fit’ when hiring, which simply means that if the choice is between two equally qualified people, those doing the hiring will often choose the person that most closely resembles them, both physically and cognitively. This means if men are hiring they are likely to hire other men.
We can accept that meritocracy is the best way to hire and promote, but we can’t do so without understanding the things that make a true meritocracy a pie-in-the-sky notion. The industry needs to take a hard look at itself and realise that it could be leading the charge in diversity and inclusion simply by looking outside the traditional hiring box to find minorities who are passionate about cycling but who might not currently be working in it.
“STOP SAYING MARIANNE VOS IS THE WOMEN’S VERSION OF...” Ceri Dipple, Twenty3c I’d ask the question more generally, what can the bike industry do to attract more talent to the ranks. So many talented individuals leave the industry for other opportunities because they see much more potential for them to develop elsewhere. The question a business owner would ask themselves when an employee leaves for an opportunity that will help them develop, is why can’t their own business adapt in order to allow that individual to grow within. Surely the bike industry needs ask itself the same questions in order to retain talent and evolve?
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(( OPINION SMART BIKES ))
THE RISE OF SMART BIKES! There will be bicycles in the future, they just won’t be the same as the Schwinn Black Phantom I got as my first bicycle, writes Jay Townley, who assesses a period of design reinvention…
ur whole world is rapidly changing, including the bicycle as we have known it for three-quarters of a century. For the purist there will still be singlespeed freewheel and fixed-gear track, street and messenger bicycles, multispeed road and racing, single speed cruiser, kid’s bikes, off-road of all types and all the variety of traditional bicycles, tandems and recumbents that the enthusiasts have embraced – but more of them will be “Smart” with electronics hidden away and only obvious because of the LED or LCD screens. Electric bicycles of all types come with a CPU, a computer “brain” that can control functionality and communicate with other systems internally and externally. However, the bicycle business has basically overlooked and ignored the slow but steady Smartification by way of electric and electric assist bicycles. Almost 25-years ago I worked for Browning Component Company, a start-up that had designed a unique automatic shifting system for bicycles. To take the Browning shifting system beyond a two-speed, actuated by a hand-lever, the developers
invented and patented an electronic shifting system, including all the firm-ware and the software. They called the resulting four and twelvespeed automatic shifting systems “Smart” and the bicycles equipped with them “Smart Bikes.”
“ELECTRIC BICYCLES WERE INTRODUCED TO MARKETS OF THE WORLD IN THE LATE 1990s AND EARLY 2000s.” At the same time, in the mid-1990s Shimano introduced complete component groups for internal and external automatic shifting of bicycle gears under the Smoover brand name. The Shimano automatic shifting systems also had CPU’s firmware and software. Back in the mid-1990s the European and American markets were not yet ready for either automatic shifting or Smart bicycles. The Shimano Smoover system and bicycles never were introduced in
North America and after several years were quietly withdrawn from the European market. Shimano waited, watched, refined and, when the market was ready, introduced Di2. Browning Components was a far smaller enterprise, but it found manufacturers, component suppliers and software companies in Taiwan that tooled up and manufactured a pilot run - one 20-foot container, each of four and twelve speed automatic shifting systems – but the company was shut down before the products and “Smart” technology were introduced to the commercial markets of the world. Electric bicycles also were introduced to the markets of the world in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but the combination of battery, service, range and reliability issues overcame the attractiveness of low-cost electric mobility and basic transportation. They faded into obscurity. Electric bicycles, featuring more environmentally friendly and reliable battery technology with quick recharge times and smaller, lighter drive systems overall came back after the great recession, around 2010 to surge in Europe and Asia and make inroads in North America. WWW.CYCLINGINDUSTRY.NEWS // 013
(( OPINION SMART BIKES ))
With this new generation of electric bicycles came new, smaller CPUs with much more powerful software with more functionality and features, including enhanced communication. However, this new wave of electric bicycle brands, while becoming popular, particularly in Europe, didn’t fully capitalise on the enhanced power of the computers on board. Separately, a new generation of “Smart” bicycles were emerging. This new generation includes the SpeedX Leopard, a non-electric assist high-end aero-road bike that 1,250 backers on Kickstarter pledged $2.3 million to launch. This smart bike has photo sensitive automatic lighting, collects and displays 12 types of data. It also just added radar to its array of real-time data and information feedback to the rider. PON brand Gazelle is working with a university in Denmark on a selfstabilising bicycle, that will not fall something several motorcycle brands already offer. Motor maker Bosch has recently filed patents of its own version of a system for selfstabilising bicycles. Bosch has also introduced an automatic braking system for bicycle disc brakes and has announced it is working on an automatic ABS that will actuate if the bicycle rider is too slow in applying the brakes. 014 // WWW.CYCLINGINDUSTRY.NEWS
Automatic and electronic shifting have already been introduced to the bicycle market and voice activated shifting has been developed and will not be far behind. Compressors built into wheel hubs have led to automatic tyre inflation/deflation systems for both road and off road, while tubeless or airless bicycle tyres have quickly found their way to market following dockless bicycle ride share; along with adjustable seat posts and saddles.
“THIS YEAR’S TOUR DE FRANCE SAW VIRTUALLY EVERY TEAM UTILISING WIRELESS GPS TECHNOLOGY.” Although real time GPS tracking has been available as an accessory for bicycles for several years, a recent wave of dockless bicycle ride share has introduced locking and unlocking bicycles via a Smart-Phone Apps. Real time GPS tracking and location indemnification are also built into the self-service rental bike. Dockless bicycle ride share, or selfservice bicycle rental that doesn’t require a fixed docking station, has been one of the primary catalysts for the rapid rise of Smart bicycles.
This year’s Tour de France saw virtually every team utilising wireless GPS technology to track bicycles and monitor the physiology of riders, all while communicating with every rider. Smart bicycles are also being complimented by new generations of smart helmets, clothing and accessories. All of which are making bicycling of all types safer and more enjoyable. There has been concern lately about tariffs being a threat to the North American bicycle business and the spread of Smart technology to a broader range of bicycles. While there is no question that the threat is very real to both the import dependent markets and the earlystage development of re-shoring bicycle manufacturing, Smart technology is still at the upper end of the market where the threatened tariffs will substantially slow, but not entirely stop the sale of higher priced e-Bikes and bicycles equipped with ‘Smart’ technology. Despite the threats, the list of OEM ‘Smart’ bike features is growing, and I am looking forward to purchasing my next smarter bicycle. That may also be a three-wheel adult recumbent, personalised for my bicycling lifestyle, from my local bike shop showroom, delivered by my bike shop’s mobile service van…that defiantly won’t be anything like the Schwinn Black Phantom I got as a kid!
(( FOCUS ON GRAPHENE TECHNOLOGY ))
A GAME CHANGER FOR CYCLE SPORT? A lot has been said about the ‘wonder material’ of graphene, but our full understanding of its potential for innovation remains in its infancy. Two years into its own experiments, Dassi Bikes’ founder Stuart Abbott explains how his firm, alongside Dimension Data, could be on the cusp of a big breakthrough for cycle sport…
hus far the cycling industry’s relationship with graphene is, like many other sectors, still in its early days. Headlines have come from the likes of Exposure Lights, Vittoria, Rolo – each of which has had a slightly differing application for the atomic level material. For Rolo it was the revelation of a claimed 618 gram road cycling frame. Meanwhile, Vittoria’s collaboration with specialist Directa Plus yielded some very positive reviews from consumer press, each hailing the graphene impregnated rubber as some of the fastest on test. These are, like many of the bike industry’s annual product announcements, marginal improvements in a sea where it is often difficult to pick apart the marketing jargon from the genuinely ride improving. It’s for that reason that the term ‘game changer’ isn’t thrown around too lightly, but if you’ll bear with us, we think the ‘age of the i-Bike’ make have begun to hit its stride. Dassi too was an early pioneer in the use of graphene as part of a carbon composite blend. Initially the gains were claimed to be weight and vibration dampening properties; two existing holy grails for which
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competition is fierce in pro cycling circles. But it’s what we’ve learned about graphene since then that’s truly interesting. You’ll undoubtedly have seen the word ‘data’ crop up with increasing regularity on CI.N and that’s for good reason; it’s the industry’s next battleground. “The conductivity properties of graphene hold immense potential,” starts Dassi Founder Stuart Abbott. “Now patented by Dassi is an antenna technology of sorts that, in its prototype form, is already capable of delivering the kind of ‘big data’ that cycle sport has long sought, but in many instances might not quite have known what to do with.” Partnering with Dimension Data, among others, Dassi’s future strategy now hinges less on the product itself, but more on the data a product can provide the rider in real time, the Yellow Jersey challenger just ten seconds off the pace and even the live broadcaster of the race. “With electrical conductivity, bicycles and smart clothing become highly capable data transmitters,” explains Abbott. “Despite representing just 3% of our prototype by weight, we have been able, at an atomic level, to
coat every fibre with Graphene. This ultimately means we are able to generate metrics on rider performance beyond that of any powermeter. That data comes in real time too, so you flip on its head the ‘what could have beens’ instantly into real time competitive advantages, much like you’d see in Formula One. This gives an immense new strategic tool kit to riders and race directors, but also to broadcasters trying to illustrate to the viewing fan why strategic decisions are being taken in races.” That, believes Abbott, puts this technological advance in a whole different ballpark and one that the industry has yet to fully understand the benefits of. One hypothesised future offshoot of this technology is helping the UCI detect abnormalities in rider performance. With a new, intricate and personal understanding of rider data, anything outside of normal parameters would be instantly red flagged. Data doesn’t lie, we’re told. Another advantage of this impregnation of the frame as a whole is the removal of the need for wiring spanning the mold or any other abnormalities leading to weak points or aerodynamic drawbacks. Utilising
the conductive properties, metrics such as stresses and strains, vibration’s effects on the muscles, humidity, rider output and averages are all collected. Even metrics on the wind directions effect per rider could be calculated, as could whether a 3mm shift in saddle position could increase output in the climbs. The intricacy of the data gets ludicrous. Crucially, this is all done in real time, meaning it can have influence in the present. “What this means in a Tour de France stage is that, if Cavendish is ten seconds off the pace we have the data to hand to make an accurate call on how to make up that time, potentially by one or a combination of gains that can be picked up by the team’s director,” explains Abbott. Needless to say, the advantages here are clear. Race winnings, live data broadcasting rights, brand association with successful athletes – the implications are much more than just selling lighter bikes. Trickledown, too, is an inevitable conclusion for such tech. Today’s consumers are no stranger to data, in fact they want it all, whether they understand it or not. Though enormous gains can, in
theory, be had over the duration of a tour, the weekend warrior or aspiring athlete can fine tune their goals. Big data might well be beyond the efficient use of most of us, but in the digital age, with the availability of smart devices and apps it could be possible to attack a long-sought Strava KOM equipped with the ammo to tell you just how to succeed. It goes further than road cycling and even our bubble altogether, says Abbott: “Our passion is obviously cycling, but this is exactly the kind of technology that could make a difference in much wider applications. For example, it could work within a Zimmerframe, crucially detecting everything from vital signs, GPS movements and rapid acceleration that may indicate a fall. That could be the difference between life and death in that particular scenario. ” Having this as a UK designed, developed and patented tech is, needless to say, a big advantaged in the current political and business climate. Dassi has the ball in its court, but what is the next play? “At this stage, this isn’t a licensable or export product. Our investment is a six-digit one and one that we’re
protecting until we have everything in place to go commercial. We have partners in this project too, so we want to have an iPhone 10 level product before we licence a Five; this is Dassi’s USP now. We have a lot of brands claiming a little weight here, a little aero gain there; this is a different realm of advantage.” Needless to say, embedding electronics at an atomic level, or next to our skin in our clothing is something many would consider futuristic. In reality, it’s actually quite modern day, such has been the rate of material advance in recent years. “I think in the next two to three years we are going to see a huge surge in this kind of innovation,” says Abbott. “The technology exists, it’s just taking it from concept to prototype. In our case we have two years’ development under our belt with graphene and so we are ahead of the curve. Our next stage is to get riders on prototypes and start generating data to prove the concept and iron out inevitable anomalies. Our goal is to have something ready for next year’s Tour de France.” There’s a strong chance that you won’t be able to spot it, mind.
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(( BRAND PROFILE BOOOMERS ))
SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS The bicycle business business, while producing products for a green lifestyle, doesn’t always practice what it preaches in manufacture. Hailing from Ghana, we meet Kwabena Danso, the founder of social enterprise Booomers, to discover why he believes the time has come to give customers a genuinely eco-conscious option…
he true sustainability of business has never gained more column inches and generated so much social debate than in the past few years. Seemingly a turning point in the minds of many, the graphic scenes of pollution broadcast as part of David Attenborough’s Blue Planet 2 series sparked a public conversation on product and packaging lifestyle never before seen. Like the wave of waste lashing at shorelines around the world, the momentum behind the dialogue has built and branched off into numerous new debates, ranging from the sourcing of raw materials right through to the over enthusiasm for packaging coming from industry warehouses. If consumers are not at least aware of the damage that’s being done to the environment, then their shopping decisions are at least being encouraged toward a more sustainable approach with trends like charges for carrier bags and the sale of reusables. It was a welcome addition to the Ride -London exhibition mix, then, to see a Ghanaian social enterprise bringing to the table a bike frame portfolio that will not only stand out among those who demand something unique, but also to those happy to embrace a non-traditional way of thinking about product design.
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(( BRAND PROFILE BOOOMERS ))
Creating jobs in rural Africa, Booomers has mobilised entire communities with its social enterprise.
Booomers began life under the tutelage of a well-known name in the bikes and bamboo business, Craig Calfee. Calfee is of course better known for taking Greg Lemond to the pinnacle of road cycling and by the early 90s innovating with carbon fibre. He is also a renowned pioneer with naturally grown bamboo, a knowledge he has gone on to share as part of a programme to assist African entrepreneurs. One such ambitious student was Kwabena Danso, the founder of social enterprise Booomers. In 2009, having taken on board the frame building know how of Calfee, four builders set to work to harvest and convert locally and sustainably grown bamboo to be turned into bicycles. Fast forward to today and 40 house staff and 20 indirect contributors make up an enterprise that supports the local farming economy and job prospects in a region where opportunity is limited. That makes the Booomers project a game changer locally. Danso explains: “It takes about 40 hours to complete one of our frames, so you can imagine the skill and attention to detail that goes into producing our bikes. Each worker trains for six months before going into production. Even before we begin, harvesting and identifying the prime cuts suitable for bike building is an art in itself. That means that it’s been crucial to invest in local skills and indeed we run a bike to school programme to get the kids involved in
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both cycling and our product.” Though there are pipeline plans for the creation of furniture and a project to replace plastic straws with the more sustainable bamboo type, it was decided that bicycles could create the most meaningful contribution to the world at a time when an appetite exists among consumers to go green. At £385, adult frames are competitively priced as far as unique frames go.
“THE BALANCE BIKE FRAME IS FLIPPABLE, SO IT WILL GROW WITH THE CHILD, OR BE PASSED ON.” Curiosity is easy to come by, explains Danso, who recently took the brand to RideLondon’s packed exhibition halls, but this is very often followed by an education process. “Is the material up to the job, people ask,” says Danso. “It’s a conversation starter, but certainly that education is often required. Of course, not only is it strong enough, in many instances it actually outperforms metals and carbon, without the environmental consequence. We’ve had all of our frames independently tested in Germany at the same labs as most others in the industry use and have come away certified to international
standards. It comes as a surprise to most, but bamboo is naturally incredibly strong, stronger even than some carbon builds and with excellent vibration dampening qualities too.” Booomers isn’t just talking the talk, each frame is backed by a three year warranty. Should something go wrong, it is intended that frames will be able to be repaired at bike shop service centres, with bike shop staff trained up in the art of framebuilding with bamboo. There are many instances where it’s highly likely the bamboo bikes will be a lifetime product, says Danso. Kid’s frames in particular offer a unique opportunity for the bike dealer, we’re told. Featuring balance bikes with reversible frames, the first bike offering is a compelling one for a plethora of reasons ranging environmental through to what is often the customer’s main concern, price. “The balance frame will cost just £139 at retail and its flippable meaning that it will grow with the child. With a generally shorter lifespan for kid’s bikes, this is a sensible product for parents and one that can be passed on for future generations to use. If there is no second use, it’s not the end of the world.” Booomers is pioneering elsewhere too. Bang on trend, the firm was the first to create an electric bike specific frame, of which over 200 have already sold in Germany. One of Europe’s most demanding markets, Booomers has thrived in this territory. Column inches are begin to stack up among journalists who have tried to build their own. All of this, paired with a sustained presence at shows like Bespoke and the NEC Cycle Show, is seeing consumer curiosity growing steadily. “We’re now beginning to put on demo sessions with partners to further get bamboo bikes in front of curious consumers. I’m looking for partners around the UK, ideally about 10 doors in London, as well as international distributors looking for something different to the norm,” says Danso of the social enterprises’ ambition. “The margin for bike shops is high and we’ve the opportunity to build truly custom and bespoke products for clients, all shipped inside one month. I’d love to hear from partners sharing our vision for the future of bicycle manufacturing.” booomers.com
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(( INDEPENDENT RETAIL CHANNEL STUDY 2018 ))
WHAT ARE YOUR STORE’S TOP SELLING THREE BIKE BRANDS BY VOLUME? This time last year, staff at CI.N towers were puzzled to see Specialized fall out of what many deem to be the ‘big three’. The findings, it seems, were no anomaly; of our pool of 184 retail stores the big S is present on just 14 of those show room floors and listed only six times as the largest selling brand in store by volume. As far as our research goes, that places Specialized in joint seventh place in representation terms, on par with Orbea who scored eight ‘top seller’ marks. That remains the largest surprise in a study that otherwise re-affirms the dominance of Giant and Trek, with the latter edging into top spot by show floor presence and second in terms of being touted as a store’s ‘primary’ seller by volume. There are notable entries into the top ten worth drawing attention to, most notably the relatively youthful and Welsh-assembled Frog kids’ brand, by far and away the most popular in the market among independents. Frog shared fourth spot with Raleigh. Accell-owned Raleigh’s ‘Superbrand’ status still holds sway with the British consumer, though just three of the 16 doors held said the brand was it’s top-selling bike label. Likewise, a Britain-centric design ethos has paid dividends for Whyte, as designed in Hastings by Ian Alexander. Whyte slips in at eighth place, marginally behind two much larger manufacturing powerhouses, Orbea and Cannondale. Orbea’s progress is both noteworthy and, going by last year’s findings, consistent. Booking a 26% sales growth year-on-year based on Q1 of 2018, the Spanish bike maker turned out €28 million in value during Q1 alone, putting it on course for its ambition to become a €150 million business in
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The UK’s top 10 bike brands by retailer count 1 Trek 2 Giant 4 Raleigh & Frog 7 Orbea & Specialized
3 Cannondale & Merida
5 Ridgeback 8 Whyte
6 Cube & Scott 9 Dawes
the coming years. In our study it ranks joint seventh with Specialized by number of doors and marginally ahead in terms of times retailers badged the brand a ‘top seller’. Another European giant, in fact Europe’s largest bike maker, Cube placed sixth in our study. Astonishingly, Cube has plot a course to assembly 200,000 electric bikes on its production lines this year, giving it enormous sway with bike shops as demand for electric bikes surges. To give some sense of the investment Cube has placed in its ability to meet demand, in 2011 the firm produced only 1,500 electric bikes. For the second year running, Merida, which has a significant stake in Specialized, has cemented its place as the UK’s third largest bike brand by volume. It does, however, share that position with Dorel-owned competitor Cannondale, which made the most significant gains likefor-like between our 2017 and 2018 studies. Six sellers badged Merida the store’s top seller by volume over Cannondale’s four. Rounding out the top ten are Ridgeback in fifth, as well as Dawes and Genesis in ninth and tenth, respectively.
In association with The NEC Cycle Show
WHICH TRADE SHOWS HAVE YOU ATTENDED IN THE PAST YEAR AND WHICH DO YOU PLAN TO ATTEND GOING FORWARDS?
ARE YOU INVOLVED IN ONLINE TRADE VIA YOUR WEBSITE? Of 173 who opted to answer, it’s an incredibly fine margin between those who do actively chase online sales and those who, for whatever reason, have decided these sales are not worthwhile to their business. To some, this almost 50/50 split will be alarming at a time when the digital world is evolving day by day. While it’s true that some battles are not worth fighting, experts in digital will advocate, at the very least, a regularly updated homepage that generates footfall for the store. Modern workshops and those who hire bikes are increasingly utilising online booking tools to add ease-of-use for customers and staff. With the onward march of omni-channel, retailers are now often able to forge a better than ever connection between supplier stocks and thus live availability for their own sites, without the need for physical stock in store. A general trend among suppliers to offer later next day delivery guarantees, in theory at least, makes fast stock sourcing less of a headache for impatient customers going forwards.
Interestingly, about a quarter of our pool of 201 retailers opted to avoid this question, suggesting there are still many businesses who don’t attend any trade shows. That said, there’s clearly immense value to be taken from those exhibitions that go to great lengths to engage the retailer and make the time investment worthwhile. By far the best attended show, Madison/Sportline’s IceBike gathering, has traditionally supplemented its product debuts with educational content designed to help business owners develop their skillsets and take home new ideas. Anecdotally, introductions such as 2018’s director Q&A were well attended by customers of the distributor and seemingly the opportunity to talk to the directors was appreciated. Likewise, speakers such as HighStreetMentor’s Mark O’Dolan and ATG Training’s Julian Thrasher drew strong interest from visitors proving it’s far from just product luring shop staff. The separation of CoreBike and the Bike Place Shows seems to have had little effect on the popularity of each, with many brands actively declaring that quality is preferred over quantity. That said, we expect changes to the recipes of these winter exhibitions in due course in a bid to draw greater numbers. Finally, it’s worth noting that The Cycle Show has vowed to place renewed emphasis on its trade element from this year, so if you’ve yet to register for the opening Thursday (September 27th), you can do so free of charge at ttfexpo.com/cycleshow2018/.
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(( ANALYSIS INFRASTRUCTURE ))
EQUALITY STREET? We’re sadly used to seeing cycling left out of transport strategy, but with slow progress being made in some UK cities are we now in danger of overlooking disabled cyclists in proposals. Leading transport researcher Rachel Aldred makes a case for street design that is inclusive for all.
ast year, I published a co-authored piece on disabled people and cycling. It focused on the (lack of) inclusion of disabled people as cyclists or potential cyclists within London transport and cycling strategies. We found that most transport strategies didn’t consider that disabled people might cycle. But disabled Londoners do cycle, albeit at a lower rate than non-disabled Londoners: partly because, we argue in the paper, their cycling needs are not considered when developing infrastructure and facilities. As is normal, this paper went through academic peer review. One reviewer complained about us not stating in the paper that cyclists pose a ‘threat’ (their words) to disabled people. Responding to the reviewer, I searched the academic literature for research on that point that I could discuss – but didn’t find it.
“MORE RESEARCH IS NEEDED ON INJURY RISKS EXPERIENCED BY DISABLED PEDESTRIANS (INCLUDING FALLS), AND ON THE EXPERIENCES OF DISABLED CYCLISTS.” While a bit frustrating, the exchange made me want to dig deeper into road injury risk for disabled people. This is something you can’t look at in Stats19 police injury data: no doubt one reason for the lack of academic evidence. However, the National Travel Survey data offers an alternative. This provides self-report data on experiences of road injuries – with a range of demographic data, including (unlike Stats19) whether someone is disabled. Seven years of available data was enough for me to compare self-report injury risks for different groups (recently published as an academic article and report).
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What I found was interesting and counter to the narrative about cyclists-being-a-particular-threat-todisabled-people. There are vehicles on the road posing a heightened threat to disabled people: motor vehicles. Disabled pedestrians, per mile walked, have nearly five times higher risk of being injured by a motor vehicle than non-disabled pedestrians. Substantially elevated risk persists even controlling for factors such as age. This suggests that measures to reduce the number of motor vehicle-pedestrian interactions and/or to mitigate the impacts of any interactions should particularly benefit disabled pedestrians. What about the risk posed to disabled people by cyclists? There’s no evidence of elevated risk, because the data contains so few reports of pedestrians injured by cyclists that it isn’t possible to do any subgroup analysis. By contrast, many more pedestrians were injured by motor vehicles, or in falls. More research is needed on injury risks experienced by disabled pedestrians (including falls), and on the experiences of disabled cyclists. But this analysis does suggest that if we reduce motor traffic volumes, all pedestrians benefit (motor traffic volumes are strongly associated with pedestrian injury risk); but disabled pedestrians will benefit most. Currently some authorities are implementing ‘school streets’ policies, which reduce motor traffic volumes and speeds around schools. Such policies aim to protect child pedestrians and cyclists and increase active travel. Perhaps we should consider similar measures focused on disabled pedestrians, who experience such disproportionately high risks of being injured by drivers. This could mean extending ‘school streets’ type interventions to destinations frequently accessed by disabled and/or older people (older people are more likely to be disabled). As with school streets, interventions could maintain access by motor vehicle for those that need it, while reducing motor traffic volumes and speeds to improve safety for disabled and older pedestrians.
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(( FOCUS ON TRADE SHOWS ))
TRADE UP With a renewed energy placed behind the 2018 trade day, the Cycle Show’s organisers are making a fresh bid for your attention and attendance. Show director Stephan Morgan talks us through the reasons to sign up for your free pass.
You’ve suggested the Cycle Show’s trade day will take on new importance – are you shooting to be the UK’s Eurobike of sorts? Eurobike is pretty big and, despite its location, still attracts one of the largest trade gatherings our industry has to offer. Is there a similar opportunity to have a significant trade holding in the UK? Yes, I believe there is. We want to give our visitors what they want; the trade want a show that they can go to and it be as comprehensive as possible. Surely, if that is held in your country that is a good thing? We also have to provide support to the industry, we want to use the show as a conduit to do so. How has the visitor trajectory been in recent years for both trade and consumer attendance? The show, despite some industry turbulence, let’s say, has been performing at a consistent rate of growth from both a visitor and exhibitor point of view. We were privileged to undergo massive growth due to the amazing performance of Team GB at the 2012 Olympics and since then we have maintained a high level. We are lucky that we operate in a passion-led sector meaning, when times are tough, we still save a bit of cash to spend on our hobbies. Cycling offers the ultimate escapism and our visitors keep adding The Cycle Show to their calendar. At the moment we have nearly 300 exhibitors, occupying nearly 8,000sqm
SIGN UP FOR YOUR TRADE PASS AT: www.ttfexpo.com/cycleshow2018
of stands, across four halls of the NEC. This equates to 22,000sqm of space. What’s remarkable is that it all gets built, from empty hall to the hall you see on show open day, in just four days. What opportunities remain to slot in to this year’s show? The success of the show enables us to rebook many exhibitors on site, so we’re close to sell out. We always get questions like; “what do you do for the other 11 months of the year!” There are, however, very few slots left, so if you are quick we can see what we can make happen. Are there test track opportunities and what are the benefits on offer here? Is customer data easy to record? We have all felt the GDPR shake-up, so not only is there a need to drive consumer demand from onsite/at show activations, but there is also a massive drive for data collection. You have to be careful how you do this (just one of the value-added items that we can help our exhibitors with), but the show is a great way of encouraging visitors to be a part of your community. We currently have six test tracks at the show. These include Cube’s Kid’s Test Track, Islabikes’ Kid’s Test Track, the Bosch e-MTB Test Track, the eBike Test Track brought to you by Bafang, the MTB Bunker (with 1.7km woodland single track) and the Road Bike Test Track. The Road Bike Test Track is still up for grabs meaning that
it doesn’t have a sole sponsor yet. I feel that the test tracks serve as a “try before you buy” kind of scenario. It is an amazing opportunity to have your bike brands actually tested by new potential customers. We are looking into ways that we can work with IBDs to encourage them to participate with the tracks thereby increasing conversions and sales. Any ideas or suggestions are more than welcome. What draws are on offer from a dealer point of view? Good you should ask. We are investing more into the trade day (27 September), this year to provide a more enjoyable and educational day out for our trade visitors. Lord Alan Sugar will open the trade day before addressing the crowds. We also have, for the first time, a trade breakfast, hosted by our sponsor the ACT. They will be offering complimentary tea, coffee and bacon butties for the first 200 trade members at the show. The ACT will be announcing a new launch, so what better way to achieve a captive audience? The Trade Day will also be sponsored by V12. They are a retail finance provider and making it even easier for the consumer to purchase their bike by offering payment plans. They will be onsite with a stand in the Trade Zone to give advice and help on this. We keep the e-MTB and e-Bike test tracks open for the trade as we understand that this is a key sector for them moving forward.
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(( FOCUS ON TRADE SHOWS ))
“WE WILL HAVE TRADE DAY TALKS THAT WILL DELIVER GENUINELY USEFUL BUSINESS INSIGHTS.”
We also have a schedule of talks curated to deliver information and resource that the trade should genuinely find useful. From a retailer’s point of view, which brands are promising to bring something exciting to the show? There are product debuts, but if I told you I would have to shoot you. There will be some true show and UK exclusives; a particular launch of a new bike produced in the UK is one that comes to mind. We also have the likes of Vielo launching a new models, Limar with their new range and Namedsport will be at the show for the first time. Another really exciting addition this year is Free 2 Cycle who are sponsoring the New 2 Cycling Hub. This is an amazing new concept with big potential to bolster bike sales, so should be on the radar of all IBDs. Many trade shows now place equal emphasis on interactive events, seminars and training – has the Cycle Show anything of this nature on offer? This is definitely something that we are working on. We understand that the trade element of the event needs to be looked after just as much as the consumer side. It is the experience while at the event that is important. You may come to see the brands and new products, but how can we make the whole experience more engaging and generally fun to be at? That’s a
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crucial question for us to answer. This is also a task for the exhibitors, though. They should be devising ways of building an experience around their brands and products at the show, the same way that brands try to do with consumers. Has the show any big future ambitions? The show has aspirations to deliver the brands that you may not have heard of, the brands that spark interest and thought. We feel that the show needs to also facilitate the growth of these unfamiliar brands into the market. There are so many great labels out there, but if you don’t know them you can’t work with them. The show has the power and opportunity to engage and encourage more people to take-up cycling, The challenge is getting non-cyclists motivated enough for them to buy a ticket to the show. Again, this is an industry challenge. I believe that the UK bike business has been asking for brands that engage both cyclists and non-cyclists alike. We seek brands that make the industry more accessible and attractive to all. This way we can motivate current cyclists to do more, and acquire brand new cyclists into the market. We’re working on this and welcome suggestions. It is a difficult one as you are then trying to serve two kinds of visitors; the engaged cyclist and the new to cycling. Both have very different agendas and needs to satisfy.
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(( PROFILE i-RIDE ))
Pitched as a specialist for the specialists, Ditchling Beacon’s i-Ride has ridden the wave with shops that enjoyed the road boom. With road cycling sales now considerably flatter we catch up with CEO Ian Wilson to hear how the business is re-investing ahead of the next ascent…
Ian Wilson (left) and Adam Glew (right) welcome dealers to the showroom
estled in prime cycling country, not far from where one of the Tour de France’s first ever British stages took place, i-Ride is proud of its heritage and place within the community. Ian Wilson, i-Ride’s boss since a 2004 management buyout from the then owner and namesake Jim Walker, enthuses strongly about the local iconography and colourschemes present on local flags. It’s unsurprising, then, to quickly spot many nods in design featuring on the house bike label Orro’s framesets. Wilson remains one of two shareholders in a privately-owned business that, when they took it on, generated around £1.5 million in turnover. The i-Ride of today generates ten-fold that figure annually. Wilson says that re-investment remains substantial; in fact at the time of writing the business has just sunk £250,000 into a new state of the art and futureproofed B2B portal. “We’ve kept a close eye on the evolution of the world to ensure our business and indeed our partners’ businesses don’t go the way of Woolworths. The modern
customer is more discerning and expects certain efficiencies and experiences from their shopping. The B2B, along with the investments we’ve made here in Ditchling, help us meet new standards,” enthuses Wilson. “We could make more money for ourselves by not investing in these things, but times change and we must adapt to meet the needs of a changing retail landscape.” Investing in the business has been a constant for iRide. One of the UK’s Campagnolo distributors, the distributor invested early in becoming a verified service centre for the label, a process that has seen four staff now head off to Vicenza for the brand-specific training. Housing one of the more impressive in-house workshops we’ve seen in the UK distribution business, seven Cytech trained staff juggle the work of assembling Orro’s bikes and handling any warranty claims that may arrive. For those buying into the British designed and finished label the skillset on site seems well-versed and well-equipped in making sure bikes arrive in tip top condition.
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(( PROFILE i-RIDE ))
Both Orro and Fulcrum have unique stockist offers and demo schemes available
On the same day as our visit the announcement goes out “We looked carefully at the market and considered that that three familiar faces within the bike industry – Ben there is actually a gap for the typical 40-something sportive Chamberlaine, Andrea Vassallo and Ed Marshall - have rider. Our geometry on selected builds considers the needs bolstered the now 40 plus workforce. of this extensive clientele,” says Wilson, himself a cyclist of “We bring through a lot of local, enthusiast and industry this demographic. talent” outlines Wilson. “It gives me a bit of a kick to work Mimicking what’s possible in store, i-Ride’s Orro showwith local educational centres and so we have an intern room is indicative of what’s on offer to those committing to programme with Sussex University. We get a lot of product the brand, with customised merchandising adorned to the design and assembly talent coming through the ranks as a walls and Bkool turbo trainers inviting customers to sling a result. The plan is to try to build and sustain our own little leg over. The showroom is an interactive centrepiece of an community here at i-Ride, so I’m big on bringing skills up ambition for what Wilson hopes will in time become a signifthrough the ranks.” icant brand on the international With staff said to be sticking stage. Certainly there is more around and in many instances than meets the eye with much of “IT GIVES ME A KICK TO WORK CLOSELY Orro’s product. Holding a bike bringing prior industry experience to their roles, Wilson industry exclusive on British WITH LOCAL EDUCATION CENTRES TO believes i-Ride is stood in good carbon maker Sigmatex’s matestead to best understand the DEVELOP OUR INTERNAL TALENT BASE.” rial, also the choice of plane challenges faced by customers maker Airbus, customers are and build long-lasting relationbuying into an expertly crafted ships with stores. product. Sigmatex themselves regularly head to Orro’s In speaking to specialist shops in recent years i-Ride opted factory supplier to do their own quality control, says Wilson. to invest in developing its bike fitting resources, in the The investment by the distributor is furthered with the process linking with the BikeFit brand, as run by pioneer news that there is a pipeline ambition to bring Orro’s paint Paul Swift. Running two annual workshops for its customers shop in-house down the line, further enhancing the brand’s alongside Swift, Wilson says this is just one of many reasons custom capability. At present the firm uses a specialist he wants shops to make the trip to East Sussex. Sussex based Paint artist, using the same high quality paints “I’d love for our customers to drop by more often to see as supercar brands like Aston Martin and motorcycle brands what we’re building here. Whether it’s the training we put like Triumph where the depth of the paint is very premium. on, or that a customer wants to see the entire Orro range in Joined by Argon 18, a brand that has become a mainstay our showroom, we’re more than happy to set aside time to of the triathlon world, i-Ride’s partners are offered three help accounts develop their offering,” says Wilson, adding tiers of commitment. For a six bike sign up partners are able that, as an aside from the incoming Venturi, Orro has an to gain a Gallum CS frame at half price. Double the stock electric bike on the drawing board. in and the same frame comes free. For those dedicating
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The Ditchling assembly sees bikes given a thorough PDI by trained mechanics
serious showroom floor space i-Ride ups the stakes, delivAll logged on the B2B, a shop can keep track of their ering a free Gallium Pro Disc frame, enabling stores to add expenditure and benefits in real time. significantly to overall profitability. With stage wins under Pitching in on the new functionality, Adam Glew, ithis bike in the Tour de France demand for Argon 18s goods Ride’s marketing head explains: “We’ve designed the remain strong, we’re told. platform to do as much of the work as possible for the This is a point that’s often overlooked, believes Wilson. shop. It’s simple to track back orders, ETA on goods, “Our goal is to become the largest specialist distributor for invoices, stock feeds and plenty more. There’s also a big high-end tarmac goods. What few will realise on first glance benefit in our click and collect strategy that will be built is that a chunk of our brand portfolio is competing at the topinto the B2B, allowing our partner stores to take advanend of World Tours. We’ve Speedplay, Northwave, Argon 18, tage of sales via our website. These can be collected in De Rosa and plenty more. These are seriously aspirational store, thus removing the need to hold that stock. Our and innovative brands.” investment in warehousing effiLikewise, Fulcrum provides ciencies has enabled us to shops with another opportunity provide Elite Dealers with a 4pm “IN 2019 WE EXPECT TO BE ABLE TO to become one of around only next day delivery cut off 20 destinations nationwide. and of course that’s free for ANNOUNCE A MOVE TO BRING THE Crucially, for their trouble, shops those customers.” will be provided a higher margin Offline, an impression we get BUSINESS ALL UNDER ONE ROOF.” on the initial order and subseupon leaving the Ditchling quent top ups, as well as gaining headquarters is the sheer a full POS inventory spanning shop merchandising to staff scale of i-Ride’s business. Our meet had taken place in aprons. Adding to the appeal, a sale or return add on will see just one of around half a dozen nearly consecutive shops gain a set of Red Zone 7 MTB wheels, as well as a set industrial units. of Racing Speed 40c wheels, furthering enhancing a shop’s “At the moment the business is expanding in such a way ability to sell. Furthermore, a demo wheel scheme operates, that we expect during 2019 to announce a move of all of with free loans offered where customers seek a demo ride. these units under one roof,” concludes Wilson. “Of course For those doing more than £10,000 in business over the we’ll stay tied to our Ditchling identity. We’ve plans to prior season, or committing to five or more stock in packcreate a much larger showroom for our dealers to visit, ages, the firm’s Elite Dealer Programme becomes a reality. as well as add significant investment on our training Benefits of this are wide-ranging, delivering free carriage, provision. I look forward to welcoming customers old and better pricing and margin structures, advantageous 60-day new once that transition has taken place.” payment terms, some free stock benefits, click and collect benefits, specific in store POS and marketing, demo and i-ride.co.uk wheel programmes and plenty more. 01444 243 000
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(( TRAINING RETAIL FINANCE ))
RIDE IT AWAY WORKSHOP #5:
Making finance available 24/7 With around 850 cycle shops now part of the ACT’s Ride it away scheme, it’s clear that more and more dealers are recognising the benefits of having a retail finance option available to help customers spread the cost. However, simply just being part of the scheme is not enough. There are still hundreds of retailers who are failing to make the most of finance, using it solely as a tool to clinch a sale or offering it only to customers who ask.
s a regular feature in CyclingIndustry.News, the Ride To make the most of finance you should be telling It Away finance workshop series is designed to give customers you offer it as soon as they land on your website, businesses and their staff the knowledge and tools giving them the option to then think carefully about what they they need to maximise the potential of finance, ultimately can afford (and what they really want). You can make this growing sales. obvious with the ACT’s range of Ride It Away finance web In the fifth workshop of the series, we bring you the banners, available in different shapes and sizes to suit your benefits of making your products available to purchase on site - available to download from actsmart.biz/downloads. finance 24/7 by integrating it into your e-commerce store. On the product pages you should be showing the finance While finance as a whole has seen huge growth in recent payments alongside the standard price – if a bike costs times, analysis shows that 60% of all finance applications £2,000 and you show the customer it can be theirs for just are now made online, and this £37.50 a month instead, they are percentage is likely to grow. much more likely to consider “A LACK OF CREDIT OPTIONS IS If your business is not yet offerbuying there and then. They’re ing finance online, you could be also more likely to add additional STOPPING CONSUMERS ACTUALLY missing out on thousands of clothes or accessories to their pounds worth of sales. when they can see that it COMPLETING THE PAYMENT PROCESS.” basket The Ride it away scheme is will only increase their monthly delivered to the cycle market payment by a couple of pounds. through V12 retail finance, who provide point of sale finance Having the finance calculator on your site also helps to over 2,500 UK retailers, making them the largest UK customers work out how much they can afford. If they know provider of online retail finance. they can spare £50 a month this gives them freedom to decide whether to go for a £500 bike over 10 months, a Overcoming abandoned baskets £1,000 over 18 months or even a £2,000 bike over 48 months Increasing the range of payment and financing options is – all for the same monthly amount. The calculator is availthe key to ensuring more consumers make it through the able to download for free from actsmart.biz/downloads. checkout process, and lowering the rate of basket abandonment. The solution According to a 2017 report, 39% of online retailers say Integrating finance into your website doesn’t need to be that a lack of lending or credit options is stopping difficult. The ACT has teamed up with iMegaMedia to offer consumers actually completing the payment process, while a V12 integration solution. They have over 20 years’ expe98% of merchants agreed that consumers want new and rience working for the some of the world's largest IT easier ways to pay online. Companies providing end-to-end industry leading eThe research also found that 56% of consumers would commerce Solutions. buy more from retailers if there were varied payment With a view to increasing sales on retailer’s e-commerce options available online. sites, iMegaMedia have developed a series of modules for the leading EPOS providers offering quick and effective V12 Introducing finance online integration. The Module enables retailers to offer point of If you do offer finance online you need to make sure your sale finance to their customers online, as well as the tradicustomers are aware of this every step of the way – from tional in-store and mail-order options. browsing through to buying. In the same way that you As an exclusive offer for ACT members, iMegaMedia are should be introducing finance in-store, don’t wait until the offering a 50% set-up fee discount to any Ride it away retail customer is at the checkout to give them finance options. finance user - usually £299. By this point they’ll have already decided on what they’re buying so you’re unlikely to be able to use finance as a sales For more information about integrating finance into your tool to upsell more or pricier products. e-commerce store, contact the ACT on 01273 427 700.
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(( MARKET RESEARCH ELECTRIC BIKES ))
MOTORING ON Love them or loathe them, there is no ignoring e-Bikes. Duncan Moore speaks to the market’s major brands on the subject of sales, regulations, training and trajectory to ﬁnd out what the future holds…
n September 2017 The Guardian reported that “e-Bike sales rose from 5% of the UK bike market in 2015 to 12% in 2016 (by value). While Halfords dubbed 2017 the “year of the e-Bike” after a 220% sales increase.” These figures are backed up by those from one of the dominant players in the e-Bike motor market – Bosch – which predicts that e-Bike sales will treble by 2023. However, before you run off to buy a container full of electric motors to create your own range of e-Bikes there are a few things you need to know. Firstly, what is an e-Bike? According to the ACT, “e-Bikes that meet the current regulations (The Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles (Amendment) Regulations 2015), minus a few exceptions, are classified as Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles (EAPCs).” So, what are those regulations? In simplistic terms, it is a powerassisted restricted top speed of 15.5mph (25kph) and the motor must not exceed a maximum continuous rated power of 250W. If you want to get intimate with the nitty gritty legal requirements then head over to Legislation.gov.uk and find the section on The Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles Regulations 1983 // (Amendment) Regulations 2015. But what about the options that are
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available to manufacturers looking to incorporate electric power into a bicycle? There can be little doubt that one of the main players is Bosch, which has in place a comprehensive product portfolio for e-Bikes. “Everything from highly-efficient drive units containing the motor and gear set to premium-quality batteries and
“BAFANG’S TURNOVER GREW 270% BETWEEN 2014 AND 2017 AND IT'S CURRENT PRODUCTION IS MAXED OUT AT 1 MILLION ENGINES A YEAR.” intuitively operated, smart onboard and bicycle computers,” says Tamara Winograd, director marketing and communications Bosch e-Bike Systems. That wide selection is matched by the other significant driver of e-Bike technology – Shimano. “At a highlevel, Shimano currently has three ebike groupsets under its Shimano Steps umbrella,” says Ben Hillsdon, of Shimano Europe. “The E8000 for extreme MTB riding, the E7000 series for off-road adventures and the E6100 series for city/trekking riding, with a
fourth city comfort series (E5000) announced in September.” Shimano’s e-Bike groupsets borrow technology from the company’s regular cycling range, offering not the choice of mechanical or electronic shifting option, but also the further option of Di2 automatic shifting for hub gear set-ups. Hillsdon notes: “All of these series now use the same platform technologies and system parameters so manufacturers can use the same frame shapes to accommodate the different compact and lightweight drive unit models. As well as the actual hardware, the software to setup the system is delivered via our E-Tube platform, which is the same platform that dealers use to set up Shimano's electronic shifting system (Di2) on regular bikes.” While these two manufacturers are the most high-profile there are plenty of others ready to challenge their market dominance; Continental, the same Continental best known for its line of tyres; Polini, better known for its range of tuning parts for motor scooters; Zhejiang Star Union with a 30-year plus history of is making components for light electric vehicles; Sachs Micro Mobility, whose shareholders are ZF, Magura and BrakeForceOne; and Fazua which is providing the motor and battery pack
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(( MARKET RESEARCH ELECTRIC BIKES ))
New customer creation has been a key driver for many manufacturers, yet enthusiasts too are buying
for the electric adventure bike from Cairn Cycles, part of the TheRiderFirm.CC collective. In addition to these, there is also Bafang Electric Motor Science Technology. The company’s European general manager, Jack Brandsen, outlines the company’s range. “Mid, rear, or front drive systems go mainly to OEMs. As a flexible partner, we also can follow customers’ requests if they want to combine Bafang applications with applications of other brands, like batteries and/or displays. Some distributors also buy direct or indirect from Bafang to sell our applications for the aftermarket.” On the subject of how widespread the uptake of its technology is and how much market share it gives Bosch Winograd notes that “over 70 renowned bike brands worldwide trust ‘e-powered by Bosch” components, all of whom are providing e-Bike riding enjoyment across the globe.” “Almost every major bike brand now has an e-Bike in its line-up so, without doubt, Shimano's e-Bike components are an obvious point of conversation during the discussion of Shimano components,” says Hillsdon. This is backed up by the fact that 20 MTB brands use Steps and nearly 70 road/hybrid brands employ Steps technology.
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Brandsen points out that Bafang works with many OEM companies but that people might not realise as the product is often supplied on a white label basis. However, he then notes that Bafang’s turnover grew 270% between 2014 and 2017 and that its current production is one million engines per year, which is the maxi-
“WE TRY HARD TO COUNTER ILLEGAL HACKING, BUT IT IS A CONSTANT BATTLE BETWEEN US AND THEM.” mum level the current production unit is capable of working at. The company has now planned a new factory in Suzhou, China, as well as a second factory in Europe due to the provisional anti-dumping measures introduced by the European Commission on Chinese imports. With electric motor technology now becoming so prevalent, IBD workshops will have to adapt and understand the new technology, too. Fortunately, however, the producers are ready to address this situation. “We can do dealer training in
cooperation with the brands [which use the company’s products],” says Brandsen. However, he then goes on to explain that, “spare inventory and warranty arrangements are always through the brand, no dealer direct service, but service through the brand. We do not offer dealer (or service agent) direct services because many OEMs have mixed set-up of applications with parts from our competitors which we cannot service.” The training package in place from Bosch includes a complete service to Bosch e-Bike Systems dealers. “Full training is provided by our dedicated UK technical representative,” says Winograd. “Once a dealer is trained, they will gain full access to our online portal and Bosch e-Bike Systems diagnostics tool. Any Bosch e-Bike issues can then be resolved directly by the dealer, with the assistance of Magura UK if required. Point of sale (much of which is free) can also be ordered by the dealer.” Of course, dealers do not have to rely on each individual supplier for training as a dedicated Cytech e-Bike training course is available. Launched in 2016, it’s currently available in any ATG Training centre in the UK – Oxford, Stafford and London. More details on that course and a wide variety of advice relating to the law around e-Bikes and more
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(( MARKET RESEARCH ELECTRIC BIKES ))
Belt driven internals reduce system noise on many modern motors
can be found on the dedicated section of the ACT website – www.cycleassociation.uk/e-bikes. Potentially the greatest concern for those working on e-Bikes and also the retailers of them are customers who hack or ask a shop’s mechanic to hack the bike’s control system to illegally increase top speed. This is an issue recognised by Winograd, who explains: “Bosch e-Bike Systems is committed to responsible eBiking. More than anything else, this is about defending the status of pedelecs up to 25kph as ‘bicycles’, along with the rights and obligations this entails. The negligent and irresponsible behaviour of tuning providers must not be allowed to put this status at risk. This is why we’re persistently fighting the practice of tuning and are continuing to develop our technology further. “The revision of the pedelec standard EN15194:2017 states: ‘Predictable manipulations must be prevented or compensated by suitable countermeasures’. This standard becomes valid in May 2019 and Bosch e-Bike Systems is driving forward the development of measures against tuning. Our first measure from MY2019 on is that Bosch
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e-Bike dealers can use the Bosch DiagnosticTool to determine whether and how often Bosch e-Bike systems have been tuned. This is only a first step towards avoiding manipulation further steps will follow. We as manufacturers are aware of our responsibility and see the need to develop solutions that make tuning significantly more difficult or even impossible.”
“IN THE NETHERLANDS, IT IS OFTEN MORE CONVENIENT BY BIKE. THIS IS DUE TO THE LAW AND PROTECTION OF CYCLISTS.” On the subject of illegal hacking, Brandsen simply says of Bafang’s efforts to counter the issue: “We try hard but it always an interesting competition between 'us' and the hackers.” He also notes that there is another battle taking place – one to get e-Bikes more widely accepted.
“In The Netherlands, it is often more convenient to travel by e-Bike than by car. This is due to the law. Cyclists are very well protected and The Netherlands has a very good infrastructure for cyclists. The UK has to catch up there...” This sentiment is echoed by Winograd, who says: “Given the size of the population and the number of conventional bikes that are sold in the UK each year, the UK’s market potential for e-Bikes is significant. However, the UK’s infrastructure appears to be the limiting factor. The relatively low number of segregated cycle lanes means that the majority of small journeys are still made using a car or on public transport – with the majority of bicycles (and therefore e-Bikes) being reserved for leisure rather than being used as a transport solution.” Yet, despite this reluctance to change, the great British public slowly appears to be accepting e-Bikes. More and more are appearing on the streets and sales figures from the manufacturers (and the investments they are making in developing new e-Bike models) suggest an optimism that the cycle industry as a whole needs if it is to not only to survive, but also prosper.
Eurobike is over, media launches are done: It is time to decide what brands you want to sell this season. We have the EWS conquering Nukeproof Mega, the innovative Rondo Ruut, the award winning Wilier NDR and E-bikes galore from Ghost. This only scratches the surface… No crazy signup demands or sales targets, just strong products with good margin. And if you don’t sell it? We will credit against a MY20 bike when next summer comes around*. Call and discuss your options, MY19 is here! *Ask about our stock refresh scheme for more details – it’s good…
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(( TRAINING BIKE FITTING ))
10 BIKE FIT MYTHS Persistent bike fit myths are repeated at all levels of the cycling industry, from shop staff to coaches, to bike ﬁtters themselves. These are damaging to the performance and enjoyment of cyclists everywhere. Phil Burt Innovations calls out the worst offenders.
ike fitting is often described as an art as well as a science, but good, solid scientific research should inform everything our eye and our instinct sees in a rider. Some myths about bike fitting have been around so long no one can tell you or how or why they started, their strength is increased every time they are repeated, and they continue to prevent riders from achieving their most comfortable position or best possible performance. Phil Burt Innovations is about using a tried, tested and scientific process to identify bike fit issues as quickly and efficiently as possible and to solve them effectively. Unhelpful outdated myths are a hindrance in this process, it’s time to put them behind us.
Pedalling Technique can be taught Attempts to teach people to pedal actually decreases overall pedalling efficiency. Studies have proven that asking someone to pull up to decrease the negative torque seen on the returning pedalling leg are counterproductive, and result in an overall loss in efficiency. It’s not to say there isn’t a better or worse way to pedal - just that merely coaching from the outside with instruction in technique - push harder or pull up, makes no difference. You can, however, manipulate bike fit parameters such as saddle height and set back to help certain key muscle groups, such as your glutes, contribute more to your pedalling and this may be over all more beneficial.
“ATTEMPTS TO TEACH PEOPLE TO PEDAL ACTUALLY DECREASES OVERALL PEDALLING EFFICIENCY.”
Cyclist’s hip flexors are short because of pulling up on the pedals On a road bike, as you press down on one pedal the other pedal is pushed up. There is negative torque in the upstroke. The hip flexor muscle group is tiny compared to the glutes and the quads, their work is merely to try and get the limb out of the way as quickly as possible. The bulk of the power is coming from the quads and glutes on the opposing leg. EMG and inverse dynamic studies have proven having active hip flexion to pedal is not necessary for road cycling and only really relevant to the very first revolution in a standing team sprint track start. The only reason cyclist’s hip flexors become tight is due to the relatively closed hip position cycling requires you to sustain. In merely standing up off a bike your hip angle opens up and the hip flexor muscle may extend up to a third in length. It’s easy to see why after a two-hour ride the hip flexor may complain a little when it has to lengthen again.
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Crank length is important for torque and power production Research has been around for some time - see Jim Martins body of work - to firmly establish that crank length makes no difference to your power output. It merely changes your gearing. You would have to go to a crank as small as 80mm or as large as 320mm to see your crank length adversely affect your power output. This is great news as crank length is an important fit parameter for considerations other than pedalling efficiency (for example, hip closure) and riding smaller cranks can open your hip angle up slightly without changing any other fit coordinate.
Cycling is bad for your knees
Numb hands are normal
In some ways you could say cycling is bad for knees, this is certainly amongst the most common of cycling injuries, but in the context of other sports or lifestyle cycling is great for your knees! Cycling is the first thing anyone with knee injury does in rehab because there are less eccentric contractions. Cycling places far less destructive loading on your joints. Consider the knee in cycling versus running, for example. Huge forces have to be controlled every time we land and propel off to run. Cycling is a closed system of relatively much lower and predictable forces in two rather than three planes. If you think cycling is bad for your knees pitch up to your local running club and ask them how their knees are or how many of them are carrying injuries, you might find many of them are already cycling due to persistent knee problems.
This is the sort of ‘myth’ you might hear from other riders, not coaches or bike fitters; the idea that having numb hands is part of being a cyclist. Numb hands are not normal. You may occasionally have hand numbness on longer than usual rides but it should be transient and quickly alleviated by stopping cycling. If you have constant hand pain, there is something wrong. Its normally a sign that the bike position that has been adopted has too much weight on the riders upper body through a low handlebar/high seat height set up for example. Believing it to be normal is perpetuating the myth that cycling is uncomfortable and that riders should be willing to ‘suffer’. Bike fitting to address position and equipment choice is the first step in solving this.
“CYCLING IS THE FIRST THING ANYONE WITH KNEE INJURY DOES IN REHAB.”
“IF YOU HAVE CONSTANT HAND PAIN, THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG.”
A numb penis is normal
If you are not aero you are wasting your power
Again, another one you might hear from riders. A numb Penis is not normal; it may be normal for you but you don’t have to put up with it. Saddles and position knowledge can change that. Gap saddles have been designed to relieve pressure on the pudendal nerve, which runs through the middle of the base of the penis and perineum. Pressure here can lead to numbness and erectile dysfunction. Saddle choice, therefore, is very individual as all our of our bodies are unique. Subtle improvements can put an end to these problems. This point is a persistent myth often used to denigrate or embarrass male cyclists. It is an emotive topic and a persistently numb penis is enough for some riders to give up the sport. So it is really important that we shout about solutions and keep riders happy and comfortable on their bikes.
This myth is motivated by fashion as much as anything. Aero has been the buzzword of the cycling industry for the last couple of years with a broad range of aero bikes hitting the market. Riders love to slam their stems and a quick perusal of social media will tell you how much stick a rider can get for an excess of spacer stack beneath their stem. When it comes to finding your own personal aero position there is a sweet spot, you have to weigh up your comfort versus your aerodynamics. You will lose more power from being uncomfortable than you are losing from not having an aero position. The one caveat on this is that your body is adaptable, over time with the right work and training it may be possible for you to shift the balance more towards aero as you become more comfortable in that position.
“SADDLE CHOICE IS VERY INDIVIDUAL AS ALL OUR BODIES ARE UNIQUE.”
“YOU HAVE TO WEIGH UP YOUR COMFORT VERSUS YOUR AERODYNAMICS.”
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(( TRAINING BIKE FITTING ))
Cadences above 100rpm are more efficient Popularised by Lance Armstrong, pedalling on the road at cadences above 100rpm became widely accepted as the most efficient way to pedal. If only it was this simple. It may well have been for Lance, but to suggest this works for everyone is to ignore the many components that make up pedalling efficiency. Cadence is affected by crank length and gear selection, for example. Research shows that scientifically the optimal cadence metabolically (in terms of energy expended for work done) is 60rpm. Yet studies show that most people’s preferred cadence is around 90rpm. This is probably a trade-off between metabolic efficiency and force production, and where the balance of those two lies is different for every individual. Interestingly, as power increases, so does your optimal cadence for holding it. Elite cyclists can hold 100rpm relatively easily, because they are well-trained. When it comes to the most metabolically efficient cadence for you, research has shown that it is your preferred cadence. Forcing a rider to pedal slower, or faster, than feels natural to them is actually detrimental.
Saddle sores are caused by badly fitting saddles Saddle choice plays a role in saddle sores, undoubtedly, but it is not the only factor. Saddle sores can be caused by position, how and where you sit on the saddle and where your weight is. They can also be caused by excessive movement in the saddle from poor core control, sensitive or irritable skin, poor personal hygiene, lack of or the wrong choice of chamois cream, badly fitting shorts, an inadequate chamois, or changes to duration and intensity of training. It’s a long list and every factor needs addressing, not just saddles. Spending a lot of money on trying different saddles may never bring a rider close to the solution if that is the only aspect they focus on. Riders need to identify what normal is for them, regular saddle sore sufferers would be wise to add a daily note into their training diary on the condition of their skin and saddle soreness as this can help identify and manage the many factors.
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Decreasing saddle height increases glute activation This is another classic piece of off-the-cuff advice, frequently offered rider to rider. Dropping your saddle height does not increase your glute activation or allow you to produce more power, unless your saddle position is currently set too high. Saddle height cannot be addressed in isolation without looking at saddle setback. Finding the optimal sweet-spot between activating the glutes, quadriceps and hamstrings is the objective when setting saddle height. Simply dropping or raising the saddle isn’t enough.
Phil Burt, former head physiotherapist at British Cycling, has launched Phil Burt Innovation - offering his elite level expertise and bike fitting services to riders of all abilities. For more information visit, www.philburtinnovation.co.uk
(( TRAINING FABRICS ))
THINK YOU KNOW MERINO?
As founder of the performance sports brand ashmei and a sportswear designer of over 25 years, Stuart Brooke has witnessed some pretty strange views on fabrics within the cycle industry. Here he myth busts on Merino Wool, the wonder fabric put to use by so many manufacturers in the cycling world...
t’s incredible really, but I still meet retailers who don’t realise that Merino wool will keep their customers cooler in hot conditions than synthetics. I think it’s because they relate Merino wool to the jumper they wear in winter. Ashmei has long been a champion of Merino wool. But this summer, we have teamed up with The Woolmark Company to roll out a campaign that celebrates the fibre as the ultimate performance option in warm summer temperatures. The public have been brainwashed to believe synthetics are a higher performing fibre. I think that this is down to major players in the sportswear market promoting its benefits of wicking and drying. However, what they don’t tell you is the fact that synthetics warm you up and actually make you sweat more! So why is the fabric such a good option all year round for cycling stores? Let’s break it down. MOISTURE MANAGEMENT: Merino wool fibres are able to transfer large quantities of moisture vapour - which the body creates when exercising – dissipating it into the surrounding air. The microclimate above the skin in turn becomes less clammy with moisture vapour, which subsequently reduces the amount of sweat droplets. 046 // WWW.CYCLINGINDUSTRY.NEWS
TEMPERATURE REGULATING: Based on the properties outlined above, Merino wool has been proven to be the ideal heat-regulating material: toasty when it is cold and thanks to its natural feel and superior wicking properties, cool when it is warm. ANTI-BACTERIAL: Did you know that sweat contains not just water and salt, but also oils, fat and other organic compounds? Actually, it also contains anything that was on our skin, such as lotions. As the water in our sweat wicks through synthetic fabrics, its constituent parts get stuck in the pores of the material's fibres. The trapped materials create an irresistible feast for bacteria. Bacteria then gets to work to create the smell that is synonymous with synthetic cycle kit. The fibres within Merino wool are different to their man-made counterparts for two simple reasons: the surface does not provide a matrix that the bacteria-loving sweat compounds like to cling to; and unlike synthetic materials, Merino fibres do not hold a
“MERINO WOOL FIBRES ARE ABLE TO TRANSFER LARGE QUANTITIES OF MOISTURE VAPOUR.”
static charge, which makes them even less attractive to bacteria. NON-ITCHY: There is a misconception that Merino is itchy. This is based on the fact that normal wool is not so smooth. However, Merino wool is smooth, soft and strong – in fact superfine Merino fibre is a fifth of the size of a human hair. BETTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT: Because of the petrochemicals used in the manufacturing process, and the aggressive chemicals required to clean them, synthetic materials end up being environmentally-unfriendly. Add to that the fact that once the stink gets too bad, they are not easily recycled and usually end up in landfill. Not so, Merino wool. The source could not be any more natural. There are no requirements for chemicals to keep the nasty smells at bay. And after years of use, when you do want to eventually replace your Merino apparel, it can simply be recycled or left to biodegrade. Still not convinced? Earlier in the year, I visited Australia to shoot a short film with The Woolmark Company’s in-house production team. The film we made focuses specifically on how well cycling apparel performs in the heat versus synthetic alternatives. It is called Be Cool In Wool and if you get chance, check it out online at: www.ashmei.com/becoolinwool
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(( ANALYSIS SADDLE SCIENCE ))
COMFORTABLY NUMB? THE SCIENCE BEHIND SADDLE DESIGN
There’s a lot of noise around the science of saddle ﬁt, indeed prior columns in these very pages have sparked deep debate on what makes the perfect perch. Here saddle design veterans Piet Vandervelde and SQ Lab’s Sarah Bosch tackle the need-to-knows for bike businesses…
any readers will have a perch they swear by. Whether it was found by pure luck, perseverance in the saddle until ‘bedded in’, or via a professional bike fit, it’s perhaps one of the most crucial component choices. Quite simply, a saddle can put you off riding altogether, so from a retail point of view, it’s the most lucrative component from a longterm custom standpoint. To explain the phenomenon better and put into context just the level of damage poor saddle choice can do to a rider, Piet Vandervelde, perhaps the bike industry’s leading perch designer, talks over what’s happening. “Some people say ‘this rider has won this race with this saddle, so it’s good.’ That’s probably the most dangerous advice to follow. When people are not properly measured and sit on soft tissue too long they can develop scar tissue and this can close off vains or nerves. This process, once established, cannot be reversed and can cause erectile dysfunction or other problems such as numbness or pain.”
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(( ANALYSIS SADDLE SCIENCE ))
Piet Vandervelde has built saddles for numerous industry brands, ranging Specialized, right through to his own label Ere Research
Vandervelde knows the Gluteus Maximus (that’s your bum) well; so well in fact that his studies have seen him examine human bodies in the Anatomy Lab of the University of San Francisco. It was here that he learned that the shape and volume of soft tissue can vary a lot from person to person and it really comes down to the right supportive fit and clearance available in a saddle. “I’ve fitted Pro tour athletes on what some brands call women’s saddles,” starts Vandervelde,” but the shape and clearance is exactly what this person needed and for the first time this Pro Tour rider was capable of transferring his power properly. The fact of the matter is this was a wider size saddle with a larger cut out, just what this particular rider needed.” With so much movement over a long ride the answer is rarely as clear cut as checking static measurements. For this reason, fitting becomes a valuable sales tool to the bike shop and one for which shops should charge for their expertise. “Showing a measuring bench is the
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first step to helping a customer understand there’s more to saddles than padding,” says SQ Lab’s Sarah Bosch. “Asking customers if they are satisfied with the current saddle and if they are interested in a free measuring opens doors and you will definitely increase sales. Pretty much everyone has problems that can be fixed in store with the right knowledge.”
“OEM BIKE MAKERS HAVE STOPPED INVESTING SO MUCH IN SADDLES, KNOWING THAT THEY STAND TO BE CHANGED.” Vandervelde concurs, adding that all bike fits should begin with the saddle, but why? “The saddle is the key factor in establishing the balance of the rider on the bike and their knee tracking, as well as
the reach of the upper body towards the handlebar, but that starts with setting the rider on the correct saddle first.” Interestingly, we’re told that, at the higher-end of the market, OEM makers may be seeing the saddle as they do the pedal; a very personalized choice and one that will be immediately changed by the enthusiast. Could we then see a point when high-end bikes are supplied without saddles? “The OEM bike manufacturers have stopped spending money on saddles that they put on bikes,” says Vandervelde. “This stands to raise the fortunes of the aftermarket saddle business and we have seen an increase certainly over the past ten years already.” The market for high-end has a newcomer that draws mixed feelings from the industry and from our experts when we ask, is an “e-Bike specific” saddle all marketing jargon and snake oil? SQ Lab believes such a thing has a place and as such saddles badged this way feature in the portfolio. Bosch says of the firm’s research here: “Especially with E-MTBs the user is able to climb way steeper uphill. The result of this is quite different demands to the seat. The proven SQlab Active technology has been adjusted for EMTB and Gravity applications and is now firmer. These saddles come in three densities: soft, medium and hard. Pelvis movement of up to 7° is made possible by the SQlab Active technology, which from a biomechanical point of view simulates the natural movement of walking and increases the efficiency of the pedaling motion. At the same time, the spinal discs are relieved and the pressure to the sit bones is reduced. For E-MTB use this means more movement in the saddle.” With nearing 20 years designing for the likes of Prologo, Specialized, Selle San Marco and Selle Italia, among many others, Vandervelde is unconvinced on the idea. “Other than the fact that you may see more inexperienced riders on performance bikes, the bike fit remains the same and saddles have to pass certain test standards whether the bike is a push bike or and e-Bike,” he says. One thing the duo agree on is that padded saddle covers certainly fall under the snake oil bracket and both discourage bike shops from continuing to recommend these.
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(( ANALYSIS SADDLE SCIENCE ))
Pressure mapping techniques vary from brand to brand, but have generally brought customer's new-found saddle satisfaction
“They effect the comfort a lot, but it’s a turn for the worse,” says SQ Lab’s Bosch. “Gel covers do not stay in place and often they go right to those areas you do not want pressure at all and make your riding experience even worse.” Vandervelde goes further, saying that the movement on the saddle and compression of the gel directed inwards will often put pressure on soft tissue, exactly what saddle brands are trying to avoid. So, what exactly should bike shop staff be prioritising when a customer simply asks for comfort? Bosch says: “A saddle should fit like a pair of shoes. If a saddle is too narrow it creates pressure precisely where there shouldn’t be any. Your customer’s sit bones should lie completely flat on the saddle. This is the only way in which pressure is relieved on the sensitive perineal area in men and on the pubic arch in women, which is generally lower than in men.” Needless to say then, this isn’t a process that can be completed by eye. In 2002, SQlab became the first saddle manufacturer to introduce a system to measure the distance between the sit bones and to calculate the optimal saddle width. Since then the concept has grown immeasurably, sparking many brand specific tools. In order to check the width of a saddle, draw a projection line across the widest point of the saddle. The useable width is from those two points from which the saddle curvature drops off by
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more than 1cm on either side. Such is the momentum behind proper fit, many consumer magazine review staff now use this measurement advice in order to ensure the writer can deliver honest and fair feedback in line with the recommended purchase experience.
“TALK TO THE CUSTOMER FROM A NEEDS AND SOLUTIONS POINT OF VIEW AND ONLY SERVE UP THE SADDLES THEY SPECIFICALLY NEED.” “What I can say is that saddles with a larger cutout (supposed Woman’s saddles) work for men and woman, but men’s saddles (supposed smaller cut outs) do not always work for women. On that experience and assumption we can say that designing saddles with larger cut outs can work for men and woman (exceptions taken into account),” explains Vandervelde “After many of these cases I am comfortable saying that we saddle makers need to supply maximum clearance in the saddle for soft tissue space, but from person to person that can change a lot. We cannot claim that there is a difference between soft tissue clearance needed from male to female,
because that would mean we should be able to measure that and determine what it is. However, this we cannot do due to variance in gender, race, body type and the aging process.” Training to fit is a key skill for the bike shop, but ultimately this is an opportunity to, at worst, monetise your knowledge and at best sell a saddle. Some may opt to offer the fit free with a saddle sale, but at the very least this is the bike shop’s defense against internet discounting on sales. It is highly recommended by both of our experts to hold an appropriate stock of SKUs ready to close the deal, but more important is merchandising the service as part of any sale. Too large a range post fit actually dilutes the ability to close a deal, concludes Vandervelde. “Break down your saddle wall like the Berlin wall! Talk to the consumer from a needs and solutions point of view and offer them only the saddles that serve their specific needs. Imagine that car salesmen that sees you standing next to the Ferrari. You say, ‘we’re going on a family camping trip to the Rockies, we’ll bring bikes and tents’. A good salesperson will direct you to the SUV behind and gain a happy, returning customer. A bad sales manager will sell the Ferrari and never see them again.” Both SQ Lab and Ere Research are available to shops via One Way Distribution, contactable on: +31 10 3403510. ereresearch.com sq-lab.com
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(( TRADE OPINION STUDYING DEMOGRAPHICS ))
PEAK BIKE, PART TWO Three (More) Change Agents About To Turn The Bike Business Upside Down. By Rick Vosper, bike industry annoyance since 1993
n our previous installment, I unpacked the largest change agent in the cycling industry, and the biggest one we are ignoring: the simple fact that our populations are shrinking. Except they aren’t. Trouble is, by basing my estimates solely on declining birth rates, I came to a completely wrong conclusion about declining customer bases and rampant market disruption. Truth is that birth rates are plummeting in the UK and USA, but not in another of Cycling Industry News’ primary readerships, Australia. In fact, the UK and USA predict modest population growth in the next 20 to 30 years, of 5 and 3 percent respectively; Australia stands to gain population by nearly 20%. According to all three government sources, the majority of that population growth will come from immigration. For purposes of specialty retail cycling, let’s subtract out people under 18 (or 15 in the UK) or over 65 (60 in the UK) for the following charts. We further note the different start/end dates for our sample duration (2014-2030 for the USA; 2016-2045 for the UK, and 2018-2030 for Australia). This gives us the following estimates for the bicycle industry’s
“IF WE DEFINE THE MARKET AS CONSUMERS AGED 19 TO 65, AND E-BIKES CAN EXTEND THAT BASE BY 10 YEARS, THAT’S POTENTIALLY AN 18% EXPANSION OF OUR POTENTIAL MARKET AND CUSTOMER BASE.”
“available market” and correctly reflects anticipated population shifts by age group. Based on this we can predict a very modest increase in the potential cycling population for the United States through 2030 (1.5%); a modest decline for the UK through 2041 (-5.4%), and a significant boost for Australia through 2030 (26.4%). I further note the caveat from last time is still valid: the alarming decline in cycling for Americans aged 7-18 years olds (and possibly in other markets as well) still has the potential to become an alarming decline in 22-33 year olds over the next dozen years. Currently it’s 43% for kids aged 7-18 since 2000 in the USA. As far as I’ve been able to determine, there are no similar studies available in the UK or Australia. And that’s what I would have said last time, if I’d done my homework. In terms of what’s going to happen to the industry over the next decade-plus, here is the first of three emerging trends with the power to (potentially) move markets. I know I originally said three for this installment, but this first one is important (and long) enough, we’ll cover the other two in our next installment, sort of a Part Three of Two.
Electric Bikes... Yes, I’m talking about e-Bikes. The reason I think e-Bikes are so important in the next 20 years is less about how many products get sold as it is where and how and under what brands. E-Bikes can potentially throw a big old Chater-Lea spanner into the entire bike industry dynamic. There’s been a tremendous amount of discussion about the e-Bike category, and as usual much of it misses the point. In true bike industry fashion, we sternly grab ourselves by the scruff of the neck and drag
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(( TRADE OPINION STUDYING DEMOGRAPHICS )) ourselves off into the weeds with secondary concerns about access to remote mountain bike trails, speed limits and similar minor bits of impedimenta. These are all worthy topics, but they distract from the primary objective: let’s sell some e-Bikes. Conversely, if we don’t sell enough e-Bikes, all those other discussions are moot. It’s all a question of priorities and resources. Any number of commentators have pointed out the potential of selling e-Bikes to older folks, but few (including e-Bike manufacturers themselves) seem to grasp the potential’s actual value. Even in the UK, with a much higher acceptance of e-Bikes than the USA or Australia, I don’t hear this as a large part of the industry conversation. To appreciate this potential, we need to start with some fancypants marketing terms the bike industry doesn’t like to hear, much less talk about. The first is CLV, or Customer Lifetime Value. That’s exactly what it sounds like, the total net profit realised over the whole term of a relationship with an individual customer. Obviously, all kinds of costs are included to arrive at CLV, but the one I want to focus on is COCA, Cost of Customer Acquisition, which includes everything we do to win the customer and get them in the door and buying stuff from us. So what do CLV and COCA have to do with e-Bikes and growing markets? Everything. If we define our existing cycling market as consumers aged 19 through 65, and e-Bikes can extend that 46-year base by an admittedly optimistic ten years, to 19 through 75, that’s potentially an 18% expansion of not just our potential market, but of our existing customer base. That distinction is huge. By definition, existing customers are customers we don’t have to recruit. We’ve already paid the COCA for them, which means (almost) every pound or dollar they spend with us goes directly to our bottom line, directly to CLV. So, what percentage of existing cyclists will actually extend their CLV by an additional five or ten years? Nobody knows. But it’s a no-brainer that it’s a lot more profitable to sell more stuff to the customers we already have than try to get new ones. That’s COCA savings at work. And the greater the user base is for e-Bikes among existing cyclists, the more popular e-Bikes will become for everyone. Speaking of COCA, what about all the potential cyclists who aren’t riders now, but would be if they had the benefits of an e-Bike? There’s a couple of ways to look at them, and at eBike marketing as a whole. The first way is a two-phase strategy. Spend a modest amount of marketing funds on our existing base (that’s the “almost” part of “almost 100%” I talked about a couple of paragraphs ago). The strategy is to get as many existing cyclists as possible to buy e-Bikes and extend their CLV. So primary focus is active cyclists who may be unaware, skeptical or even actively hostile regarding the benefits of e-Bikes. Simultaneously, we go after the low-hanging fruit (relatively low COCA) from the much larger demographic who aren’t cyclists already. As ROI from this strategy tapers off (less available low-hanging fruit in either market segment), we switch tactics and focus more on the nonendemic (not already cyclists) segment, while continuing to allow the endemics to grow incrementally. In effect, you use the profits from phase one to subsidise the higher COCA of phase two. Overall, this strategy is the most economical.
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NET POPULATION CHANGE BY MARKET SEGMENT
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 2014 2030 %<18 23.1% 22.8% Available 62.4% 60.3% Market #≤65 14.5% 16.9% Net Change 1.5% Notes: 2014 - 2020. Age brackets are <18 and ≥65. Source: US Census Burean
UNITED KINGDOM 2016 %<15 18.9% Available 62.2% Market #≤60 18.9% Net Change
2045 18.8% 57.1% 24.1% -5.4%
Notes: 2016 - 2041. Age brackets are <15 and ≥67. Source: Office for National Statistics
AUSTRALIA 2018 %<18 6.0% Available 39.7% Market #≤65 24.9% Net Change
2030 24.4% 42.0% 17.6% 26.4%
Notes: 2018 - 2030. Age brackets are <18 and ≥65. Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics
“THE RETAIL LANDSCAPE IS CHANGING SO FAST WITH E-BIKES, NOBODY KNOWS WHO WILL WIN. WHICH ULTIMATELY MEANS THAT RETAILERS HOLD MORE POWER NOW THAN AT ANY TIME IN THE LAST 40 YEARS...”
The second way is to put a big bet on both markets and go full-throttle at both at the same time. Obviously this is a lot more expensive, especially because the two groups have different goals and will require significantly different campaigns. There are ways to solve this, but let’s leave it at that for now. Like everything in this world, this high-wattage approach has upsides and downside. The most obvious downside is it’s expensive, and the bike industry is not noted for having bags of money stowed away in the back room like Scrooge McDuck. But there are some less-obvious upsides, too. Despite significantly higher COCA, the customer lifetime is longer with the heavy initial investment approach, so CLV may end up close to parity with the low-hanging fruit method (although it almost certainly won’t be lower). But the biggest upside depends on your ultimate goal as an e-Bike brand, and it potentially overshadows every other consideration. And this is where it gets interesting. In all three markets, e-Bikes are in their infancy, albeit less so in the UK. As a result, A-List brands have significantly less relative market share here than in more developed e-bike markets like the EU. Which means that the potential benefits of becoming the market leader are huge, that it’s much more difficult to gain market dominance, and that—most interesting of all—it’s currently a wide open game. At this point, anyone can win. Traditionally the most effective path to becoming the market leader is not through making good products and pricing them well (although that certainly doesn’t hurt), but via the military practice of interdiction; severing or disrupting lines of communication and supply. In the case of specialty retail bicycle business, those lines of supply run almost exclusively through the retail channel. Best of all for retailers, it’s more true for e-Bikes than for any other kind of cycling product, simply because an e-Bike is so large, heavy, complex and relatively expensive; making it poorly suited to online sales. The interdiction approach is to get in early and lock down as much floor space - and therefore as much “open to buy” budget - as possible, with as many retailers as possible. So that while you’re locking floor space, inventory and retailer commitment down, you’re locking your competitors out. Then you market the entire category (in this case, e-Bikes) rather than just your brand, and the majority of those sales will go to you. Except for one thing. Many of the places e-Bikes are being sold most successfully are not places controlled by the A-list brands. In fact, those are places the A-List guys can’t go without imperiling commitments they already have with non eBike retailers in the same area. It’s somewhat like the road-only/mountain-only stores in the early 1980s. So, given those two strategies (low-hanging fruit/twophase market development versus interdiction/massive upfront spending) it’s pretty easy to see the biggest brands are likely to look to the latter, while smaller brands will be more comfortable with the former. Who will win? The answer, surprisingly, is that it’s not up the bike brands. Not the established players, not the smaller brands, not the upstarts. The retail landscape is changing so fast with e-Bikes, nobody knows. Which means that, when it comes to moving the market, retailers collectively hold more power right now than at any time in the last forty years. And that’s why e-Bikes are such a big deal.
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THE BRUNT By Julian Thrasher, ATG Training
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subject we cover on the Cytech Technical Two course is the removal and installation of sealed cartridge bearings and, after being contacted by a mechanic who was unsure of which way round a sealed bearing should be installed, I felt that this was something I’d like to delve deeper into to offer clarification when it comes to dealing with sealed cartridge bearings. So, let’s start with the basics. What’s inside a sealed cartridge bearing? More specifically how is it constructed? A sealed bearing consists of an outer race (the visible external shell of the SCB) and an inner race which sandwich between ball bearings, which can be either loose or held in cage retainers, depending on the SCB type. Protecting the bearings from the environment and sometimes acting as grease retainers are the seals themselves, which again can come in a variety of different materials and types. The ball bearings are graded as to how far from perfectly round they are. The grading marks are 5, 10 or 25, with 5 the roundest and five times away from being measured as a perfect sphere (measured as 5/1.000.000”) and 25 being 25 times
away from the perfect sphere. In reality, a 25 bearing would be more than capable in a bicycle, but maybe not so in a high RPM application such as a jet engine. The cycling industry uses different types and grades of SCB depending on the placement of the bearing. As a basic example, a hub SCB will need to rotate 360-degrees and be subjected to side loading during cornering, so will require different attributes to say a swingarm SCB that may only rotate around 45-degrees or so, but under a higher and more focused load. The materials that the SCB is constructed from also play a role in the bearings’ performance. Another good example of a cycle Industry specific SCB is the headset bearing which has specifically machined inner and outer chamfers to its outer raceway. The bearings will be lubricated by a grease determined suitable for the application. Marine Grease will be used in Stainless Steel bearings, whereas the high pressures encountered by an angular contact bearing will require grease able to tolerate this. In the case of full ceramic bearings, sometimes no grease, or a light oil is used.
bearing due to the radial forces it is likely to encounter. I Angular Contact Bearings In an Angular Contact Bearing all of the bearings are loaded to take the force and spread it over a larger area. This makes them much more suited to take all forms of loading, radial, axial and lateral. A hub bearing would be a good example of where an Angular Contact Bearing would be found as it is going to encounter twisting forces whilst cornering. It is important to note that an Angular Contact Bearing needs to be pressed in a specific way round to allow the bearing cage to be pre-loaded correctly (Enduro list this as the black seal facing inwards). Failure to do so could damage the bearing. I MAX type bearings A bearing where maximum support is required. The cages are omitted and this allows more bearings to be packed inside. They have up to a 40% more load capacity than standard radial bearings. They also have deeper machined grooves in the raceways to cope better with lateral forces.
TYPES OF BEARING There are three main types of SCB: Radial, Angular Contact and MAX
GRADES OF BEARING There are ABEC, Stainless Steel, Hybrid Ceramic and Full Ceramic grades of SCB
I Radial Bearings In a Radial type SCB only three or four of the bearings make contact with the race under load, which whilst perfectly acceptable in certain applications, would be less desirable in others. A swingarm bearing would typically be the best place for a Radial type
I ABEC ABEC (Annular Bearing Engineers Committee) bearings have long been considered as the Gold standard in SCBs, but it’s worthwhile noting that it shouldn’t be the only criteria used to select bearings meant for specialist use.
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ABEC rating only determines dimensions, tolerances, geometry and noise standards – it doesn’t take into account things like side loading, impact resistance, materials used, lubrication, ball bearing and retainer grade and type, clearances between balls and races and installation and maintenance requirements. These are important considerations when it comes to design an SCB for specialist applications. Just because a bearing can spin really fast, really quietly, with really fine tolerances, it doesn’t make it the best for the task at hand. That said, an ABEC rating does at least show that the bearing has been designed with these tolerances in mind and will be of good quality compared to a non-rated bearing. ABEC bearings are graded as 1, 3, 5, 7 or 9, with an ABEC 9 meeting the most stringent of tests and tolerances. An ABEC grading of 1 is the lowest grading and 9 the highest. Typically, a grading of 3 or 5 is picked for bicycle SCBs. Material wise, an ABEC 3 graded bearing will typically have Grade 10 ball bearings in a steel ball retainer with 52100 High Carbon Chromium raceways. An ABEC 5 rated bearing will have the better rated Grade 5 ball bearings in a graphite nylon ball retainer with 52100 HCC raceways. When it comes to the speed of the bearing (RPM) both ABEC 3 and 5 bearings are capable of spinning at a much higher speed than is required for a bicycle. A quick calculation on Endless Sphere’s website shows the bearings inside a SCB of a 29” wheel would rotate at 11.6 rpm for every 1 mph, so if you were travelling at 50 mph the bearings would be rotating at 580 rpm. Bear in mind that a 6201 SCB will be able to rotate up to a speed of 13,636 rpm - dependent on lubricant (source: Micropoly.com) and you can see that the speed needs of the bicycle are more than met by that of the SCB.
Hybrid Ceramic 6001 Front & Back
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I Stainless Steel The trump card of a Stainless Steel SCB is corrosion resistance. The Stainless Steel raceways offer increased durability over the Chromium Steel used in most regular SCBs. Enduro bearings manufacture their Stainless Steel bearings to either ABEC 3 or 5 grades. I Hybrid Ceramic This is the most common form of Ceramic SCB. It is constructed with Ceramic ball bearings, typically made using silicone nitride in either steel or HCC alloy races. The performance advantages of these Hybrid Ceramic SCBs over regular SCBs are that they are lighter, smoother, stiffer, harder, with longer life, with good tolerances and speed ability. This obviously comes at a cost and this is reflected in the price of the bearing. A Hybrid Ceramic bearing is the best bearing all round for speed, load and accuracy. I Full Ceramic The lightest (and most expensive) SCB. Airevelobearings.com list their bearings as being constructed using Zirconia Oxide Ceramic Balls with a cage constructed from PTFE, machined to the same accuracy as a precision steel bearing. This is the best SCB if your metric is weight (and money is no object). SEALS AND SIZES Bearings have a size code and a seal code on the seal of the bearing. The size code is determined by the inner and outer diameter and the bearings thickness. Most bearing traders’ websites will have the option of inputting these dimensions when selecting the bearing if you cannot find the code (if, for example, the bearing is unshielded). The next pre-fix is the seal code. Listed here are the most common seal codes you are likely to encounter: I 2RS: Literally stands for 2 Rubber Seals. I LLU: This is a medium to high contact seal, which has great sealing properties, but more drag than an LLB type seal. I LLB: A low contact seal, doesn’t have as good a seal as an LLU, but will be less draggy, so suited to applications where speed is a factor, such as hubs or jockey wheels.
I MS: Metal Shield. One or more of the sides of the bearings is covered with a Metal Shield. Highly durable, but heavier than a 2RS.
Steel 7806 Back
CONCLUSION As you can see there is more than first meets the eye when it comes to selecting the correct SCB. This does leave us with one burning question – Why does Shimano continue to use the traditional cup and cone bearing? It seems that Shimano is not a big fan of the radial nature of SCBs and they make a good case that the humble cup and cone type bearing is in fact a very good Angular/MAX construct. The design of a cup and cone bearing means that the bearings are supported as an Angular SCB, possibly more so. The bearings used are (mostly) noncaged and this means a greater number of bearings can be used in many ways like a MAX type SCB. Although the removal and refitting of an SCB is not too complicated, if it is to be done properly, it requires expensive tooling, whereas the tooling required to service a cup and cone bearing is much cheaper. As long as it is adjusted correctly it will run almost as smoothly as a SCB. You can even use your own choice of grease, so don’t write off the cup and cone yet. As a final note, it is possible to buy Ceramic ball bearings separately, but we’d advise against using them in traditional cup and cone assembly due to the fact that the raceways may not be rated to take the extra hard bearings. This could lead to premature wear or failure of the raceway.
(( PROFILE CRANKALICIOUS ))
SO FRESH & SO CLEAN Lik mostt journeys Like j y in i the th bicycle bi y l business, b i Crankalicious C k li i was borne b off a frustration f t ti and a notion that there was room for improvement on existing products. Here brand manager Tony Hetherington talks making cycle care goods in the UK and growing exports…
ixed in the very same space where 11 year cleaning and lubrication business Dodo Juice makes a plethora of car care solutions, Crankalicious came to fruition thanks to much of the same knowledge of chemicals and the physics of keeping moving parts moving. Tony Hetherington, brand manager for Crankalicious since the label burst on to the scene in 2016, joined with three passions: “cars, bikes and cleaning”. A cyclist himself, Hetherington said that there’s few things more fun than starting a business that centres on dirtying bikes. “The first six to eight months was all riding, dirtying, testing and cleaning different bikes. It was important to us to come to market with a full range of products in order that we quickly attract distributors. That also gave us more development time to perfect our recipes. Gladly i-Ride saw something in our brand and has since run with it getting us into bike shops, Wiggle and Evans Cycles, so the market’s really taken to our brand.” With UK progress gathering pace, the recruitment drive will continue overseas, we’re told. “We’re now in six countries having
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tied up some new partnerships at Eurobike. So you’ll now find Crankalicious in Belgium, Poland and Holland, among others, but we would be keen to develop our western European presence and, when the time’s right, make progress in the United States,” says Hetherington. “That’s not to say our work is done in the UK. We’re proud to produce right here in Elsenham and have plenty more shops locally we’d love to supply.” Producing 100 to 200-litre batches at its Essex headquarters, the production line stays fluid, adapting quickly to demand with all raw materials held on site. This short lead time advantage is a big perk for stockists, but it’d be wrong to assume quick turnaround doesn’t mean a high focus on quality control. The on-site scientists tell us that small errors can prove costly in this business. “If you’re making 500 litres of a product that’s 80% water then small errors aren’t often costly. That said, we measure things like dyes on threepoint scales to get our measurements below a single gram in many cases. Consistency and precision is key, get the recipe wrong and side effects on the end product can happen,” explains one of Crankalicious’ lab technicians.
It’s this attention to detail that has caught the eye of Team Wiggins, whom the firm supplies with product since signing the prestigious deal in March. This will become a central pillar of the firm’s marketing drive going forwards, supporting bike shops just as the winter begins to take its toll on bikes. With the Team Wiggins deal in place the firm says that it’s more than happy to pitch its products and pricepoints at the premium end of the market. As such, the packaging is smart, informative and won’t look at all out of place in high-end boutique bike shops. Point of sale material has been carefully developed to show off the vivid colour palate against a matte black backdrop with ‘handmade cycle care’ displayed prominently on each display unit. For the countertop a five tier freestanding unit is offered from i-Ride, as is a much larger square shelved display capable of hosting the entire cycle care range. Further supporting shops, Crankalicious has developed a clever sample system under the ‘Kwipe’ (Quick wipe) banner. These sachets, delivered in a countertop display box, enable customers to sample any one of five
products in the wipe on format. Pairing both the firm’s knack for marketing and the Kwipe product, Crankalicious bolstered its fanbase with a clever April Fools’ joke earlier this year. Tapping into the ‘weight weenie’ mindset, a Kwipe sachet featuring coarse sandpaper was created, with Hetherington pretending to sand pret down a carbon dow frame in a short fra flick promising fli weight savings. we Dubbed the Du ‘weight wipe’, ‘w Hetherington tells He us, with a smile, us that customers th actually added the ac product to pr baskets before the ba penny dropped, pe
thanks to the promise of ‘marginal grains’ in the product notes. Despite the good humour, there are some seriously well considered products creeping into the range. Particular highlights that perhaps aren’t commonly found within other ranges include specific Merino garment wash, lycra specific care products and matte finishing spray specific to carbon fibre frames. The latter, we’re told is no easy product to manufacture and one which many get wrong as a result. “Matte finishes are, at a microscopic level, quite abrasive, while glossy finishes are flatter and without the same gaps. As such it’s quite difficult to make a product that doesn’t just ‘fill in the gaps’ and turn the frame to gloss. Our Carboniferous cleaner manages it though, so while specialist, it’s a great product to have in your shop’s artillery in order to impress customers,” says Hetherington. If a theme runs throughout, it’s that
attention to detail is something Crankalicious takes great pride in. The aforementioned Aqua Merino care product is lightly scented, as are many more of the products. In this instance, it’s with a Mint and Cedar fragrance that is shown to repel moths and thus associated damage; a subtle, but very clever detail. In total there are 18 different cycle and clothing care lines in varying volumes. Furthering the workshop supply, experience from the car care side trickles through to around 15 different accessories, ranging cloths through to cycle-specific sponges. Made available in very special cases is a branded mechanic’s bag, as sported by the i-Ride reps as they introduce the brand in store. If you are interested in carrying Crankalicious in store the main contact is distributor i-Ride, contactable on 01444 243000. For international distribution enquiries, contact Hetherington on: email@example.com.
ask the boss
STEPHEN CAUNT, MOORE LARGE
With a reshufﬂe of sorts now taking good shape and investment in the business shining through we talk to managing director Stephen Caunt about fine tuning Moore Large’s Forme...
Moore Large underwent a restructuring recently, how has this helped get the business working harder for dealers? In recent years we’ve actually been through a process of both brand consolidation and brand expansion. Our approach may sound strange, but we’ve consolidated our house branded accessories all into our key brand ETC (‘Everything to Cycling’). This one focus has additional benefits to our customers with larger marketing budgets, more competitive margins, and in-store merchandising available to all stockists. As intended in our long-term strategy, both Adam Biggs and Adam Garner have integrated seamlessly to their new roles, contributing to board meetings. As full time members of the board they have gained a “top down” perspective of the company, consolidating their skills and experience. Adam Garner has reviewed our product manager’s roles and developed them into brand managers. This expanded role allows the team a greater level of responsibility over brand and product selection and, most importantly, valuable interaction time with the brand owners. This ensures that we are focused on the product, and offering for the UK market and our committed dealers.
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Adam Biggs has always had great ambitions for the brand. Fostering these ambitions for Forme, we’ve shifted our attention from Barracuda for the IBD and the key models in this range have been put into our house brand Forme and FreeSpirit, respectively. We’ve committed ourselves to the IBD market, and dealers with premises, because we firmly believe in the value of a dealer selling the right product to the consumer. This is also why we are so fully behind the Forme tailor build. We want the consumer to have the best experience of riding any of our bikes, whether it be Cuda, Forme, Polygon or Tern. The dealers’ knowledge and advice is vital to the consumer enjoying and wanting to ride our bikes. Our portfolio is made up of a selection of house brands and globally recognised brands that we distribute. Most recently we’ve added O’Neal, GUEE, Tern, SIXS, WeThePeople, Radio and Salt. We’re still on the lookout for new stuff too, so any brands looking to improve their UK business - please get in touch. How’s progress on Forme’s ambition to be a top-selling bike label? It’s going really well. As a quick summary of progress, we’ve recently launched new ranges of bikes across
our Calver Cyclo Cross, Hartington Vintage, Monyash Road adventure and Longcliffe Aluminium Road series. We’ve announced a partnership with several ambassador riders, including a new Pro Cyclo-Cross Team offering us World Cup level representation. At the close of 2017 we rebuilt our dealer network from scratch to ensure that we were partnering the right retailers with the best range assortment. Although we have over 100 dealers nationwide we are building the dealer base with patience and careful consideration. The brand is growing quickly and we are now at a point where we can be considered as a genuine alternative to global mainstream brands. Product is available to order across the majority of categories from £300 to £5,000+. On the horizon we’ve developed a new online bike build configurator to assist with the purchase of any of our UK built models. To support this, we are poised to launch a strong digital media campaign across our road, cross and e-bike categories. This marketing activity will be supported by demo events running almost every weekend from the first weekend of September. Between now and this time next year we expect to launch 20 new models over MTB, e-bike and carbon road too, so there is plenty to look forward to.
ARE YOU READY FOR THE FUTURE? THE FIRST SCIENTIFIC AUTO-SCAN & SELF-ADJUSTING BIKE FITTING SYSTEM IN THE WORLD We are looking for UK idmatch BIKE LAB partners. To ﬁnd out more and arrange a demo session, please contact Sales Manager Neil Davidson on neil.davidson@zyroﬁsher.co.uk or 07891 545773 • Auto adjusting scientiﬁc bike ﬁtting system • 3D motion capture technology • Markerless data acquisition • Dynamic analysis of the rider • User friendly software • Fully integrated software and hardware package • A highly accurate, safe and efﬁcient bike ﬁt
BENEFIT FROM • UNIQUE TECHNOLOGY • CONSUMER ENGAGEMENT • SERVICE LED SALES APPROACH
ask the boss
Can you give us any indication as to the health of the BMX market? We’ve been part of the BMX market for many years, having distributed Haro for 24 years and Diamondback prior to that. As in all categories of our industry BMX has had its highs and lows, but we’ve persevered consistently following the ‘rollercoaster’. We’ve continued to invest steadfastly in the sport, events and athletes throughout the journey. It’s perhaps one of the reasons why we find ourselves the UK distributor of leading brands WeThePeople, Radio and Salt. With BMX Freestyle joining BMX Racing as an Olympic Sport in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, opportunities to raise the profile of the sport are numerous. Media build up and coverage will be strong for BMX, and we would say to dealers that now’s the perfect time to be involved. How has Moore Large enhanced the dealer experience in the past year? Dealer experience has been very positive so far this year, predominantly due to us not following the omni-channel route to market, as introduced by many of our competitors. Competitors are introducing this to maintain as much control over their brand as possible, whilst also making it as easy as possible for the consumer to buy their brand. We understand the advantages of this approach, but
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STEPHEN CAUNT, MOORE LARGE
believe that the process forces the hand of a retailer into particular buying requirements, removing dealer ownership from the sale. Instead, we carefully select our retailers across a clearly defined route to market, and provide them with all the tools and support required to sell. Our offering appears to be very well appreciated, and we’ve seen a resurgence of interest and increased investment from many of the UK’s best independents. What’s your projection for the UK bike market in 2018 in terms of likely winners and losers? What can dealers do to ensure they’re in the former category? We continue to see fewer bikes sold in the UK bike market although the average retail price is drastically increasing. Moore Large distributes brands across almost every discipline and price point and we haven’t really identified any losers from our own sales performance. We believe that this may be because Moore Large strives continuously to improve our own business by maintaining or cultivating our market share across as many categories as possible. Moore Large also identified opportunities from competitor brands that are dropping the perceived “losers”, so our numbers are not necessarily an accurate reflection of the current market conditions.
Other than a clear boom in e-bike and cargo type sales every business is different in terms of star performing categories, so it is challenging to provide any specific advice. For dealers to ensure their products are winners they need to make well informed financial decisions and support brands that offer them the control required to run their own business. This will enable dealers to maximise their margin throughout peak season. A smash hit in your portfolio of late has been Tern’s GSD, which we hear has sold out over and over. What’s your view on the potential for city users and business usage? We have been studying, researching, and watching the Cargo bike market for a few years in anticipation that the UK would follow European uptake. With this in mind, from the first moment we got to ride the GSD we expected success, but we just didn’t realise quite how much. Tern have developed a product that is so carefully designed and well-considered that the competition have been left standing. The GSD caters for both business and family life alike. With its wide range of accessories, the rider can either carry a load of cargo, or the whole family. We are in discussion with businesses for commercial use and those who attended the Eurobike show will have seen the Deliveroo option about to hit the London streets.
M800 MINI MID MOTOR SYSTEM FOR E-ROAD RACING STYLE BIKES, INCLUDING GRAVEL AND CYCLOCROSS: 200 W output and a max torque of 55 Nm, system weight: less than 4.4 kg, double chainring compatibility, InTube battery with 200Wh, quiet and low resistance operation.
Test the new M800 at the Cycle Show test track. bafang-e.com MASERATI MC TROFEO
NEW M800 | 55 Nm
Visit us at the test track.