Flat sales of puncture-proof inner tubes leads inventor to complain that British IBDs are missing out on a valuable additional source of revenue

Down the Toobz

Likening himself to Trevor Baylis, the inventor of the Wind Up radio, and Dyson, inventor of the Dyson vacuum cleaner, two products which were shunned by their respective trades but went on to sell in their millions, Jens Sunde of Flatfree Ltd. of Nuneaton has informed BikeBiz that the negative attitude of the British bicycle trade may force him to take his invention overseas.

Flatfree will join many other products driven out of the country. Maybe it will sell when a Not made in England label appears on it?

Flatfree Ltd produces a puncture-free inner tube for bicycles called Stop-a-flat Toobz. Its made out of dense but spongy EVA foam which mimics the feel of a pneumatic tube. It is much softer to ride than a Green Tyre, claims Sunde, easier to fit and, because the consumer uses his own tyre, there are no problems with traction. Whereas the Green Tyre Company has concentrated heavily on the export of their solid tyres (made from polyurethane), Flatfree Ltd. had wanted to make a success of the technology in the UK.

So far, this success has eluded Jens Sunde orginally from South Africa and hes bitter that at a time when many lapsed cyclists could be brought back in the fold, and new cyclists attracted, if bicycles could be freed from punctures, the UK cycle trade is doing its level best to ignore his product.

Communication with the likes of Pashley is impossibe as one cannot get beyond the switchboard operator. Overtures to the ACTs chairman provokes not even the courtesy of an acknowledgement of receipt.

Stop-a-flat Toobz are made in Warwickshire by Flatfree Ltd although the rights to their manufacture are owned by Jonspeed Racing, a Mini motorcar upgrade specialist. Flatfree rep Mike Owen has approached 150 IBDs so far but only four have stocked the Toobz.

Bicycle dealers complain of the lack of business and innovation out there but will not even look at the product, much less hear the benefits of an added line, says Sunde.

He has approached the corporates as well as IBDs. Asda says its not quite ready to stock bikes although its now owned by Walmart, Americas biggest retailer of bicycles. Halfords will take the product but only for £2.00 a shot (it has a trade price of £6.50 and a RRP of £10.00).

We turned Halfords down flat, weve got to make some money too.

So why does Sunde think the take-up from the bike trade has been so poor?

I suppose its a resistance coming from a fear that sales of pneumatic tubes and pumps will go down. But thats such a huge market, were not going to dent that. This is a new product line not one that will eat into an existing one.

Dealers say theres no demand, but how do they know if they dont even try the product out?

Tel: 01203 351495.

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