BikeBiz catches up with Gary Ewing of Inspiral Cycles, winner of IBD of the Year at the BikeBiz Awards 2022 in association with ArmaUrto
This piece first appeared in the January edition of BikeBiz magazine – get your free subscription here
How has the past year been for Inspiral Cycles?
On the whole it has been a good year for our team because we’ve got the new five-star deluxe workshop into operation, right in the shop window, so our mechanics aren’t distanced from the customer, there’s no interrupted workflow or communication, and it really feels like every employee is an equal member of the team.
We can’t compare business performance to anything that happened in 2020 or 2021, but compared to 2019 we’re doing better – but then we should be because we’ve got more staff and a bigger shop! It’s so easy to draw comparisons, but I feel it’s really of limited use.
We’re a small fish in a big pond and there’s so much that we have absolutely zero influence over. What matters is that we’re focused on doing our best with the cards we’ve been dealt, and if we’re genuinely doing our best as a team, then I’ve got to be happy with that.
I deliberately don’t chase the £££s and don’t sweat the figures, which has been really hard this year. By stocking product that we think does the right thing for the customer, I believe that we’re making the best long-term decisions for the business.
How do you think retail has changed in recent months and what trends have you observed?
I genuinely have no idea. 2022 has been the most weird year ever – anyone drawing conclusions from anything that happened this year is clearly over-enamoured with the powers of their crystal ball.
What did it mean to win IBD of the Year at the BikeBiz Awards?
A massive vote from all our customers is the absolute best thing. The response we’ve had from our customers has really truly been amazing. I’m super proud of our team and everything we’ve achieved.
Why is it so important to celebrate businesses within the cycling industry, especially during this time?
Because the cycling industry is an ace place to work. Anything that creates a splash, reaches out and generates interest outside of our own little bubble is definitely worthwhile.
You recently launched your own bike brand with a very unique design. Tell us about Auckland Cycle Works and how that came about.
During lockdown I was inspired to do a bit of experimenting. I had some unanswered questions about the way that mountain bike suspension had evolved, so set about making some weird bikes to test these ideas.
I wasn’t really convinced that I’d come out of this process with something that was any good, but my KOLARP [Kind of Like a Rearward Pivot] suspension concept and the most recent prototype bikes I’ve made are surprisingly good, so I’m now exploring ways of manufacturing in the UK and getting them out into the hills!
What are your expectations for the year ahead, both for the business and the industry?
That it’ll be different to 2022, I hope! Inspiral Cycles will be moving into manufacturing with some very different and innovative technology.