Just before Christmas we ran a survey to get an idea of where the cycling market is in Ireland at present and to see what it is you as a cyclist want when spending your hard earned money on a sport that is more of a way of life than a hobby.
The results are in with some interesting findings :
What type of cyclist are you?
This shows that the vast majority of you are serious about your cycling. Getting out on your bike at least twice per week and more if possible, pretty much all year round. You have a good level of cycling fitness and enjoy the social aspect of being members of cycling clubs or groups.
How many bicycles do you currently own?
They say that the correct number of bikes is N plus 1, where N = however many bikes you currently own and many of you would seem to agree with this. Only 14% rely on a single bicycle whilst most fall into the category of owning two or three bikes at a time. These are most likely made of up of a good road bike and a winter bike or a mountain bike or both. Many of you when upgrading from the €800 – €1000 entry level up to a €3000 – €4000 bike will have retained your initial bike to use in winter in order to save the good bike.
How often do you purchase a new bicycle ?
The frequency that you buy a new bike ties in closely with the 5 year period between cycle to work scheme purchases. This can be reduced to four years and one month if you buy in December first time around and then January the next time. Three to five years also tends to be the model lifespan of components such as groupsets. A well maintained bike can also retain that new feeling for three to five years. 25% of you buy a new bike every two years. This might be an upgrade or a desire to have the latest technology available or it might also be a need to treat yourself after working hard all year.
What is the cost of your Bicycle?
With the vast majority of you spending from €1000 to €5000 it suggests that most are on at least their second bike after the initial bike to work purchase. Bikes from €2000 to €5000 tend to offer the best bang for your buck with performance very similar to those with double the price tag. 9% of you want the best bikes available with the latest technology and gadgetry that can offer the pinnacle of performance levels.
Do you think bicycle finance would make thing s easier when purchasing a new bike?
The answer here is pretty conclusive and matches very closely to the figures of those who purchase their cars on finance. Most people nowadays work to a budget. A certain amount of money comes in each week or month and a certain amount goes out. The headline figures on car adverts are the per month price and if bicycle finance were to become as easy to avail of a large section of the market would most likely avail of it. Many bikes purchased on the cycle to work scheme are paid for weekly or monthly directly out of your wages so this pattern has already been set.
If bicycle finance was available how much do you think you would spend?
What is interesting here is that whilst some would move their budget up slightly most tend to stay in the same general bracket as the bikes that you currently own. Much like the car market this would suggest changing your bikes for a similar level of make or model. This would offer predictable servicing costs with just items like cables, chains, cassettes, tyres and brake pads needing replacement during that period.
When purchasing a new bike where would you look first?
Even with the instant ease of internet access, being able to go and see and touch a bike in a bike store still holds a very strong place in the market. A picture online, no matter how well taken will ever replace that feeling of lifting a bike with your own two hands knowing instantly if it is light or heavy, bouncing it gently on the floor to feel the stiffness of the frame and wheels. All of the figures, stats and dimensions will be online but cycling is a sport of feelings and passion and we all want the help of all of our senses when making the big purchase.
When purchasing a new bicycle what matters most to you?
The spec of the bike, what the frame is made of, what groupset it has and what wheels are beneath it are the key factors that help you choose when making a purchase. The groupset being the primary factor here as it is the simplest way of comparing bikes across different ranges and brands. At times this may be taking an easy way out. Frame material and characteristics make a huge difference to how a bike will ride and handle. Wheels can offer the most noticeable immediate difference to any bike. This is where being able to trust local store knowledge is vital. A knowledgable sales person could point towards a bike with 105 but with a better frame and wheelset instead of a similar looking bike with Ultegra at a similar price.
If prices were the same would you prefer to shop online or in your local store?
This was a bit inconclusive. The convenance of online shopping is appealing but there is also that loyalty factor to the local store who can help you out when you are stuck. Time is the key here. If a shop is easy to get in and out of on your way home from work you would probably go there but if not you would probably just order online.
Why would you choose to shop online rather than in a local store?
Price is a big attraction online but stock availability and ease of use are huge too. Lack of knowledge in a local store is not a deciding factor suggesting that most are staffed by people who tend to know what they are speaking about, or that the other issues are more important. Staff product knowledge and the practical advice this can offer is a huge selling point of local stores but with so much info and advice now available online this is being diluted.
Which brand of bicycle do you feel offers the best value for money?
Canyon with their direct to consumer model set the value for money bar a number of years ago. Giant saw what was happening and restructured their pricing to compete whilst also offering the confidence of being able to buy from a local dealer where the bike would be correctly assembled and where any issues could be resolved in a face to face manner. This seems to have worked with Giant slightly ahead of Canyon in the value for money stakes here. Trek and Cube are next in line both of which can be purchased from local bike stores. Boardman which is mainly a Halfords brand is next showing that local bike stores can offer value for money when compared to the large multiples.
How often do you service your bicycle?
Of those of you who do service your bike or get it serviced in a shop most do it quiet frequently. Getting your bike serviced is not just about having your gears running smoothly or your brakes tightened up. The key element of servicing a bike is the safety check. Even if you can live with jumping gears it is important to have your bike serviced and checked at least once per year.
What would you like to see more of in your local shop?
Better choice and a larger range to choose from are what you are looking for but a bigger range of services is more important than a better price range. In the US 6% of bike shops have live music and sell beer. Over 44% have a coffee shop as part of the store. Bike shops are destinations not just shops. This is what you are looking for in Ireland too. Bike fitting, Nutrition information evenings, bike maintenance classes are all appealing along with spinning classes and even yoga or pilates classes specific for cyclists. These are all things that you have to be physically present to avail of and will be the lifeline of local bike shops in years to come.
Does seeing your local shop sponsoring an event or helping out change how you are likely to shop?
This one pleasantly surprised me. I expected a large amount to say that they had good intentions but would have forgotten the shops name when they got home. It also shows how important it is for bike shops to be involved in their local cycling community and beyond. Cycling sponsorship and advertising is seen as being very good value to those outside of cycling so imagine how much it can be worth to cycling shops dialling right into their own target market.
Which do you prefer?
What really stands out here is the importance of feeling part of a community. Bike shops have always been a place to hang out and talk cycling to like minded souls. You want to know who you are dealing with and you want them to know you. The more that shops can build that relationship with their customers and friends the more that they will survive and thrive.
Where did you last see a bicycle store advert?
Really there was no surprise here. Facebook and social media now dominate the advertising marketplace and shops need to embrace this and use it as a way to build relationships with their customers.
Overall there are a number of ways that bike shops in Ireland and beyond can improve their offering and the experience that they offer to customers. Bicycle finance is one that stands out. In todays society a good value finance option to purchase bikes is something that the market is crying out for. Extra services that call for people to be physically present are a must if they are to replace the market that is being lost to online purchasers. These services must be full on and not just token efforts. A nespresso machine in a corner is not a coffee shop. The coffee shop should draw new customers in who are coming specifically for the coffee and when they are there they might just see a bike that they like. For shops to survive they must become destinations where your partner and kids want to accompany you, or maybe even drag you to. Imagine that for a role reversal.
Thanks to all who took part in the survey and congratulations to John Murphy winner of a set of Conti GP4000S tyres who was one of the many who shared the survey which helped to get such a huge response.