The current online poll on asks whether an industry-wide effort to launch bikes in February/March would make sense. Most voters have said yes...

Should all bike launches take place in February?

Kids bikes can be sensibly launched in the Autumn, ready for the Christmas market, say pundits, but whats the logic for bringing out mid- to top-end bikes in the run-up to Christmas when the time these kind of bikes sell is when enthusiasts are looking for new mounts, and thats in the run up to Spring?

To date there have been 121 votes on the poll. 85.95 percent of voters said they wanted Feb/March bike launches, 10.74 percent said they were happy with the current situation and 3.31 percent were undecided.

Talking to suppliers at the recent Cycle & Leisure Show there didnt seem to be too much divergence from the poll results.

Alan Smith, sales director at Universal, said: We would love one big launch in the spring. Dealers would not be able to afford to miss it.

Chris Berry of Alpinestars importer Ripping Motos thinks that in theory one big bike launch show each year would be wonderful. But he has his doubts such a show could be pulled off:

All the big names will always race to get their bikes out first.

Russell Merry of Hot Wheels dispairs of the bike trades aptitude for pulling in different directions, but has a model of how the industry should be run. In his ideal world the trade would benefit from being kick-started in February with one big show at which all the major manufacturers launch their new ranges.

This generates orders and sales at an otherwise slow time of year, he says. As the season moves into March, sales pick up further, along with the better riding conditions and continues this way through spring and into summer.

In September the focus switches to Christmas buying and the market continues on to Christmas with strong seasonal sales.

On the day after Boxing Day IBDs would look at what bikes are left and put on a huge sale to clear out all their remaining stock in readiness for the new product launches in a few weeks time.

Bikes can be sold full retail in July and there would be fewer cash flow problems for dealers at Christmas, therefore distributor cashflows would improve.

However Merry did concede that this model would not work below a certain price point.

The mid to high end market sets the tone for the industry so its madness to have the situation we have now.

What other industry do you see the same things going on that you see here?

The clothing industry knows what season it is. They sell winter clothes in the winter; summer clothes in summer.

Merry believes change could be brought about by a unilateral move by Shimano.

If they restricted their new range launch to February then all the bike manufacturers would have to follow suit.

He reckons by doing this Shimano wouuld make it impossible for manufacturers to cheat and launch their range early.

Its restricting the market but it would still end up benefitting the whole industry.

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