…surely not as good an example to kids as Chris Hoy, suggests Spokesman, as he also ponders Halfords’ new bike strategy…

Spokesman: Ronaldo a role model…?

The week Chris Hoy was knighted, Ronaldo changed hands for millions – how crazy is that? Ronaldo is not the best example for the younger generation, while Chris has to be the perfect example of a top sportsman. He needs to be advertising more than a breakfast cereal so teenagers get to know who he is.

What’s worse, cycling is still in the back waters of sport in schools, unlike football. So many teenagers who are not that good at sport can cycle. Show me a boy who does not have a bike. The girls, well, that still needs to be worked on.

It’s amazing that Halfords has decided to go for the high-end of the market. I have to ponder why it has taken so long in the carpeted offices to come to this

Paul McClenaghan states: "Our approach has always been to provide good service and make sure we have the right bikes for our customers”. I can see Guy Rowland of Corridor Cycles (see BikeBiz July) and my own son in his store laughing. The days of sitting the consumer on a bike and telling them to put the heel on the pedal and the elbow on the point of the saddle with fingers outstretched to reach the bars seem to be long gone. Will they have a bike-fit in every store, required for the sale of high-end bikes?

I do not wish to slate Halfords completely, just to get across that if your shop is on the ball, this move to high end, ‘no name cycles’ should have no effect on the independent cycle store. Remember, you cannot sell a bike standing behind the counter. Mystery Shopper’s words in the last BikeBiz emphasised the fact that a customer will leave the store if given little or no assistance.

When the consumer is going to spend in excess of £600 to £3,000 on a high-end road or full ‘downhill bike’, they will shop around. The first call will be surfing the web, then their local shops looking for a deal; it’s possible that Halfords won’t be considered at the moment. The web does not always win if the call is handled correctly by an experienced sales person, who knows the techniques to get the caller into the shop and on the shop floor to decifer exactly what the person really requires. This very often is a totally different bike to the one he has been looking at on the web. Without proper one-on-one advice, the customer may be oblivious to whether the model on the screen is suitable for the proposed use.

There are still miles to go before the independent has fully trained staff, but if ever there has been an incentive, now is the time. Young school leavers with opinionated views, yet scant knowledge of product, do not make sensible staffers, particularly when dealing with the fairer sex.

Among the hard-hat, steel toe, wellie boot, Brussels directives jargon, why are there still no rules against a child riding off on a bike that dad has built from a flat pack? We all know that the modern dad just does not have a clue about V-brakes and gears.

At the time of writing, the Tour De France has this year given our sport good mainstream coverage, with the Union Jack showing up in the top ten every day. It cannot get any better for us and with talk of a UK team in 2010 (how good would that be?) Halfords will surely have to pay for a new TV commercial for 2010. But I thought that the Bike Hut concept was over?

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