Spokesman this month welcomes the flurry of media coverage cycling is currently attracting...

SPOKESMAN: These are our salad days

WE HAD an early Easter with mixed March weather: snow, rain, winds and low temperatures. Just what our cycle business needs. Shops overstocked, overdrafts climbing, suppliers chasing, footfall short through the door. Do not despair – it would be just the same if you were selling clothes, cars, and most other items. B&Q and other chain DIY stores all suffered, especially with a poor bank holiday trade slowdown. The only good or bad news is the big banks sub- lending has caught them out. This tells me that even the so-called, professionals make mistakes, and they are big ones. This of course will mean that those who have overdrafts that never move up and down will soon feel the squeeze from the banks. Will this bring more shop closures to our industry?

I believe as these unprofitable shops close, it will leave more for the switched-on cycle retailers. There is no question that cycling is still very much in the news. Take any weekend supplement, quality magazine and there are articles on cycling. Many companies are using cycles to enhance their brochures. There is some really good television advertising using cycles, especially the young lady riding off in the evening dusk. A quality advert from a catalogue company named ‘Toast’ selling, of all things, a woven basket, £18 mounted on a cycle, taken in a beautiful country garden. One takes some time to actually fathom exactly what the advert is selling – the bike, the garden, or the basket. Yet, how often do we see any cycle company, nationally advertising except to the converted in the cycling magazines?

Having said that in the March/April ‘Live’ magazine supplement from the Sunday Mail, Kettler had the full back page, advertising the City Cruiser direct to the consumer. A testimonial from a customer compared the bike to his BMW parked in his drive. I wonder how BMW would review that comment, as they also have cycles to complement their range of cars. I hope Kettler send the bike out with the brake cables connected to the correct side, not as shown in the advert. On page nine of the same magazine, another full page offers ‘Puma Night Riders’, a cycle frame that lights up in the dark, at £800.

The British Cycling team deserve congrats. Gold medals all round, a sport with more world champions than athletics. Cycling on News at Ten and the front page of Sunday papers. It cannot get much better than that. It would be good to know the viewing figures for the coverage.
Is there not a UK cycle company that could supply the team’s clothing? The answer seems to be ‘no’, there is not. The question remains, exactly how will the Bicycle Association use the monies made from the sale of Starley House? They cannot take it with them as they retire, or die away. I am not saying spend it all on British Cycling, but how about some promotion on the Olympic clothing relating to the British Cycle Industry.

Ah! Just forgot, we only have an import business, how sad.
So roll on the Olympics, if the athletes do not choke with the pollution in Beijing we will see the medal table boosted by our cyclists. I can be proud of that. Good luck to all the riders. I am sure all the switched on cycle retailers will be behind them.
The Tour De France this year, hopefully will be clean of drug use. We do not need any negative press stories to kill all the good news. As we know, the press believes bad news sells better.

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