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“Simple cycling” trend at Interbike

by Richard Masoner
Carey and the Boston Globe

The Boston Globe sent reporter Ross Kerber (shown here interviewing Raleigh marketing maven Carey Schleicher-Haselhorst) to Interbike to cover the growth in sales of commuter bikes. He writes in “Simple cycling” that orders and sales of commuter bikes are up 20% in the Boston area. He mentions the Surly Big Dummy, Shimano’s Coasting group, Masi, Dahon, Raleigh, Bikes Belong, the Giant Tran Send, and Specialized’s Centrum. Read the article for the quick overview of Interbike commute bike stuff.

 
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17 Responses to ““Simple cycling” trend at Interbike”

  1. Mike Myers says:

    This is a quote from Carey in the article: “Industry veterans regard the trend as a way to rekindle sales in an industry that worries interest in its more expensive racing bikes will tail off, due to the doping scandals that have wracked the sports’ highest levels. “When Lance was winning the Tour de France, suddenly road bikes were very hot,” said Carey Schleicher-Haselhorst, marketing coordinator for Raleigh America Inc., in Kent, Wash. “Then he stopped, and there were the drugs, and the super high-end went in reverse.”

    I don’t think that’s exactly what happened. I believe that lots of people went down to their local bike shop and asked for “a race bike just like Lance rode”, and they got exactly that, and were fitted like pro racers, too. But those people weighed a lot more than Lance, were less flexible than Lance, and ended up with numb hands, sore backs, sore butts, sore backs, and put the bikes in the garage. I’d be interested in how sales of the Trek Pilot and the Specialized Roubaix did. It wasn’t long ago that the manufacturers introduced their sport road type bikes—road bikes less heavy duty than touring bikes, but less twitchy and hardcore than race bikes.

  2. Quinn says:

    I have seen this Simple Cycling thing, and due to the typical Lazy American that the US has produced, no one wants to take the time or put forth the effort it takes to learn how to shift a modern 2×9, 3×8, etc. drivetrain, and Honestly I think typical John Q. Public, couldn’t physically handle pushing, even a moderately high gear.

    On the other hand, there aren’t that many ppl that can handle a SS like the Raleigh One Way, either.

  3. Fritz says:

    Something that might be interesting: the margin on these less expensive “city bikes” isn’t all that different in absolute dollars as on a high end road bike. In other words, a bike shop makes almost as much money on a $700 bike as on a $2000 bike, and I’d guess for much less effort since fit isn’t nearly as much an issue. Plus, people buying a commuter bike will want to accessorize with commuter doodads like lights and bags and so forth, which also have a decent margin.

  4. Quinn says:

    Fritz-

    you are correct, and (I don’t know about else where, but) the bikes that are $1200 and below are the main sellers. my LBS is open about 50 weeks a yr and the only way they stay open that long Is buy selling the other stuff and and repairing any and All bikes that come in the door.

    I think we are to the point now that, yes bicycle commuting and in general, is getting more popular, BUT ppl are still willing to pay $3/gal, in-turn taking away from the money that they could spend on a better bike.

  5. Mike Myers says:

    My LBS is a Waterford/Gunnar/Litespeed/Co-Motion/Trek/Raleigh/Giant dealer. Their biggest seller? The cheapest Trek hybrid. That’s what keeps them in business. I believe it retails for less than three fifty.

  6. Jeff says:

    It would be nice to be able to find bikes like the Raleigh One Way at a local bike shop. I’ve been all over the place and contacted the supposed dealers and no one has one. I can find all kinds of things that will probably never move off the rack though. It’s always ” I can order that for you and it’ll be here in a gazillion weeks ” …. Maybe I’d like to see it first?

  7. Quinn says:

    Jeff-

    As long as the LBS is a Brand Dealer of the bike you want, they can order it for you, especially Now, the companies are coming out with the ’08s in the next 2 weeks!

  8. Cafn8 says:

    As a guy who’s currently looking into buying this type of bike, here’s why it appeals to me.

    1. Simplicity- Less moving parts means less parts to lube and less parts to potentially break. Eight miles (the length of my commute) is not a long ride, but it IS a long walk if something breaks.

    2. Simplicity- Less parts to spec means that for the price of a starter bike (replace/ upgrade parts as things start breaking) I could get a fairly snazzy frame and wheelset (because, really, what else is there?) That also makes for a lighter bike.

    3. Simplicity- The elegance of this type of machine really appeals to me on a really basic level. Sure, my intention is to commute with this, but strip off the racks, fenders (even the brakes) and it just becomes closer to its original design intent.

    Oh, and yes, I know how to work a 3×9 drivetrain.

  9. Steve says:

    One more 3×9 pro here. I’ll be brief. The simpicity trend is great. I know several hard-working, back-breaking people who are simply tired of derailleur trouble and disc brake trouble. A friend of mine who works an impossible schedule, has four beautiful (and demanding) children, and races on top of that, recently bought a single-speed Niner to train and ride to work. I know, I know, he’s the exception, but I guarantee that 5 of his friends will follow suit. Please, Quinn, don’t take cheap stabs at people who have no choice but to burn gas to put food on the table. Focus on making it easier for them to do so in a positive way. As someone who interacts with these folks on a daily basis in a bike shop in Houston, I can tell you that most really light up when they see the possibility to get healthy and save money, even those in the oil and gas industry! Simple and cheap will keep the bike biz booming and make us a healthier nation.

  10. Quinn says:

    Steve-

    WTF? how am I taking a “cheap stab” ?

  11. Mike Myers says:

    Quinn— I don’t see how you’re taking a cheap stab, either. We would all LIKE for more people to bike to work, but there are lots of people who just can’t. Those people are going to be stuck buying gas and driving—-but nothing says they have to continue to make the same automotive choices. People drive SUVs(the most obvious target, sorry) because the price of gas doesn’t really affect their quality of life–NOW. When gasoline gets more expensive(not if, when) they will be forced to make better automotive choices. I drive a Honda Element. Good mileage, not great mileage. I get 25 city and 29-30 highway, BUT my vehicle has all the interior room almost anyone would need. Room for 4 people and a bunch of cargo, three people and even more, or two people and a TON or stuff. People with kids could likely do well with a smaller station wagon, too.

    But SUVs are cool and make people FEEL safe, so folks will keep driving vehicles that get horrible mileage. I think gas would have to hit astronomical prices, like $10/gallon, to make serious impact on a sizeable portion of the populace. I know that lots of people would drive less at $5/gallon, but lots of people would just economize in other areas.

    $10/gallon? Lots of carpoolers. But everything in the store would be ridiculously expensive so even those of us on bikes would pay more too.

  12. Quinn says:

    Thank you Mike! for the right words.

    Soooo many people economize in other areas already. Let me ask this question:

    How many people have you seen, fillup their 15 mpg SUV @ $3/gal. and then go buy a “mart” bike ??

    Answer:
    1. they may not be educated the the subject of Modern Bicycles
    2. they don’t care
    3. They don’t have the money to buy a good quality bike because they are shoving it into the SUVs gas tank at $3/gal.

  13. Mike Myers says:

    The shame of it is, even the cheapest entry level bike shop bike is far superior to anything at the ‘mart(although some of the ‘mart Schwinns are getting pretty decent). So many people are afraid to go to the bike shop. They think it’s only for lycra-wearing roadies or GNARLY mountain bikers.

    My LBS does a booming business in Trek, Raleigh, and Giant hybrids. Such a booming business, in fact, that it takes forever for anything besides building those bikes to get done. That includes high end builds. Sucks.

    My LBS is located right on the Withlacoochee State Trail, which is considered one of the best Rails-to-Trails in the country. Most of the bikes actually ON the trail are driven there. This area is not exactly bike friendly. It was a rural farming/agriculture area which doubled as a retirement area. Now it’s a retirement area which is being pushed as a bedroom community of Tampa/St. Pete/Clearwater. Traffic has necessitated infrastructure improvement, with some bike facilities included. There’s a trail which follows a parkway from my county all the way to Tampa, and there will be a trail from a main state road which connects to the WST. BUT, those are all aimed at recreational cyclists. Bike lanes or bike parking are still pretty limited. Until people feel safe on the roads, they aren’t going to ride. Bike commuting will remain the activity of athetes, bike enthusiasts, or guys with no licenses.

  14. Mike Myers says:

    Quinn—

    Let’s not forget that the savings rate in the US is at its lowest level since just before the Great Depression. Plenty of people are not just broke, but deeply in debt. Spending a lot of money on a bike just isn’t going to happen—-unless they put it on their credit card at 15%. Supporting the American Dream Lifestyle(TM) is expensive. Mortgage, car payments, credit card bills, health insurance, orthodontia, vacations, meals out, electronics—all cost a lot of money.

    Mike

  15. Quinn says:

    Mike-

    you are correct about the savings and debt, and Still ppl shove $3/gal gas in there suv! NUTS if you ask me!

  16. Mike Myers says:

    Quinn—and how many of them are using credit cards to pay for gasoline? Just wait until gas gets even more expensive—and it WILL if we go to war with Iran. Watch food prices go up 25% and see how badly people freak out. I believe that most households in the US, even affluent ones, live very close to the bone.

    I think people just don’t pay attention to what’s going on w/the economy. The dollar is at record lows against the Euro, the Pound, and just reached parity with the Loonie(Canadian dollar). That’s UNHEARD of. Gold is at record prices, oil is climbing toward $90/bbl, foreclosures are rapidly increasing—-but people are watching TV and worrying about OJ and Britney. Sigh.

  17. justfrank says:

    A reaction from an LBS: “simple cycling”, auto-shifters, one-size-fits-all, bikes that ride themselves, blah, blah, blah… The cycling industry always seems to have some yummy offering that will on the one hand turn the finicky American consumers into cyclists overnight, and on the other, solve all the problems for the small, independent bicycle dealer.
    Despite your earlier talk about high margins, it seems to me that most of you understand the general value that an LBS provides, beyond just more stuff. I don’t know what parts of the country most of you are writing from, but let me tell you that here in the midwest, those margins get eaten up pretty fast in the winter months.
    The reason we get bogged down with builds and repairs in season, is that few people have the foresight to visit a bike shop in February, when we could give them our undivided attention, and build/special order/modify/overhaul any number of bikes for them all in one day. Many come in in May, and wonder why they have to wait a week for a tune up. It’s not that different that trying to get a table at a popular restaurant on w Friday night. In May, we are the life of the party.
    But what sustains us throughout those dreary days of winter is not the silver bullets that the manufacturers unveil at the show. It’s also not the folks in their SUV’s. It’s people, maybe like some of you here, who believe in riding, and autonomy, and quality, and in building a relationship with a local business who has earned your trust.

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