Bike Matrix is a new venture that aims to simplify component compatibility for mechanics and consumers. Co-founder Adam Townsend explains the inspiration behind the idea
This piece first appeared in the March edition of BikeBiz magazine – get your free subscription here
Can you give us a little background on Bike Matrix?
Bike Matrix was born from a desire to remove confusion and help people understand which parts fit their bike. After working in the bike industry for many years, as mechanics, shop owners and workshop managers we found ourselves working from home for an e-commerce retailer during the Covid pandemic. This gave us a unique insight into the number of customers that were struggling with finding the right parts for their bikes and how that affected business.
We decided to put our years of experience into providing a solution and set about mapping the thousands of fitment standards and developing a set of compatibility algorithms. We created a working prototype in a spreadsheet, with about a million formulas, that allowed us to swap components on a chosen bike and it would tell us if the chosen part was compatible or not. Once we proved that our 14 years as a bike mechanic could be replicated by a computer, we decided this was a product the industry needed, so we’re building it.
What area of the market do you target?
Our primary customer will be online bike and parts retailers. The idea being that a customer shops online with their favourite store (subscribed to Bike Matrix of course) and selects their bike using year, make, model and spec. When they browse product categories, they are only shown the parts that will fit their bikes. By removing the unnecessary noise, we increase confidence and, as a result, improve conversion rates.
Our product is a database and compatibility algorithms with an API that allows it to be integrated into any SKU-driven front end. Be that a website, POS system, fleet management, service or workshop systems, customer service AI chatbot, custom bike builder, marketplace, wholesaler, manufacturer, whatever. It’s a backend that provides bike-specific parts compatibility for the entire industry.
We have some plans to investigate developing integrations to popular platforms such as Shopify, Lightspeed, Hubtiger, BikeRentManager, Vend or Citrus-Lime and we’ll likely develop a stand-alone web-based interface, but we’ll see where the market pulls us and how many resources we have to throw at projects as we move forward.
What makes your product unique?
There are currently no resources out there that tie parts compatibility back to any bike. Ours will be the only product or service that provides accurate, trustworthy compatibility and allows customers to see which parts fit their bike. From stock wear parts to replacement components or component upgrades, to fork and shock service kits, spare parts for the various components, or upgrade kits.
Even further to this, there will be the option for a customer to modify their bike or build a custom bike, in our consumer app, and receive a unique Bike ID that they can take with them wherever they choose to shop. Once entered, the compatibility algorithms will match components to the custom bike. Modifying your bike could be as simple as scanning the barcode on the packaging for the product you just fitted. This also means that we may be able to perform ‘in-cart’ component swaps, allowing you to go shopping for the correct bottom bracket after you ‘swap-in’ a crankset that would not have otherwise been compatible. These features are a little way down the list, but we’re building with them in mind.
What sort of feedback have you received from the industry?
We’ve had some great support from the wider bike industry already, including interest from industry media, manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, both new and used bike marketplaces, POS, servicing and rental platforms as well as a whole bunch of unexpected interest from the growing micromobility market. Our intention was always for this product to be ‘by the bike industry, for the bike industry’ because we wanted the support of the industry in providing accurate and up to date product information to our customers, and to their customers.
We’ve received product data from PNW, DT Swiss, Chris King, MRP, Enve Composites, North Shore Billet, TRP/Tektro, ODI, Fizik, Wolftooth, Acros, Funn and Goodyear, and we’re progressing in our discussions with Sram, Shimano, FSA, FOX, e*Thirteen, Stan’s, OneUp, Box Components, Cane Creek, Continental, Crank Brothers, Bike Yoke, Hayes Group, Brooks, Gates, KMC, Praxis, Redshift, Soma, QBP and others.
We’re just about to start calling out to the bike manufacturers to get those bike build lists, so we’ll see how that goes.
What are your plans for 2023 and beyond?
Well, we’ve just taken on a tech co-founder to help build the tech behind our product. We’ll work hard at defining and building the database while we simultaneously continue to reach out to the product manufacturers and get their product information into the database. We’re actively pitching for capital investment now (March/April 2023) with some early investor interest already, and hopefully we get accepted into the Cycling Innovation Accelerator, which will give us some capital and some incredibly valuable industry connections.
Our plan is to beta test our product with a retail partner by the end of 2023 or early 2024 and then it will be all systems go for a wider rollout. Sometime around the middle of 2024 we’ll be looking to raise another round of capital to scale globally and start developing the array of features and integrations we have in mind.
Read more: Five minutes with e-bike safety and security platform PowUnity
It’s our goal to connect the bike industry through product data and to be the most trusted and widely used bike parts compatibility solution in the global bike industry.