COMMENT: Is pitching your business at fair weather cyclists more risky than aiming at hardcore cyclists? If so, is it any wonder most businesses opt for the latter?

Cycle enthusiasts vs fair weather riders

As noted on BikeBiz’s trade only forum (ask us for a log-in if you haven’t got one), bikes had a lot to compete with last Christmas. While Froome’s Le Tour exploits and London 2012 are still fresh in the memory of cycle fans, wavering riders and fair-weather cycle fans have seen fierce competition for their attention and wallets.

Not even the economic slowdown has managed to curb PlayStation 4 from having a ‘record-setting’ games console launch. Maybe those credit cards are being maxed out again, eh? Or maybe it’s time to invest in Wonga? Beyond that initial PS4 launch hit, consumer demand for the machines – that sell for at least £399.00 – will remain high as punter clamour continues despite the inevitable stock shortages. 

And the launch of the Xbox One may not have have quite hit the PR heights of the PS4, it still managed to sell one million consoles in under 24 hours, which ‘ain’t too shabby. Let’s hope there was some margin for retailers. Meanwhile the iPhone 5S was the second most popular online searches in the UK in 2013 (according to The Independent). So, in a nutshell, bicycle retailers had a lot of competition for attention and purchases over December.

But then that’s every Christmas, right? It’s hardly the least competitive period in the retail calendar, so it’s perhaps daft to blame games consoles and the latest gadgetry for impacting on bike sales – and they really were impacted on at the tail end of last year if the forum is anything to go by. One shop claimed it was their worst December (at time of press) in 25 years in the bicycle business.

So is it any wonder that retailers tend to concentrate their efforts on parting cycle enthusiasts with their money? Alternatively, you are competing for the pounds of the type of consumer that will be happy to hold off their next bike upgrade so they can play the latest version of Grand Theft Auto (but with better graphics).

So it’s all very well commentators like myself banging on about how the industry should attract non-cyclists into the market, which is an altogether riskier affair than preaching to the converted and concentrating on selling to cycle enthusiasts. But then, how is the market going to grow? Can we simply rely on British Cycling producing more top notch performances to inspire the masses?

It’s a conundrum that is hardly unique to 2014, but if you do manage to crack it in between selling to the existing cycle enthusiasts, feel free to give us a percentage.

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