Disrupting the bike

Press Clippings: The Tour De France bicycle race (arguably the most famous bicycle race in the world) is now in progress and, with the Tour comes an amazing bump in interest in bicycles and bicycle racing.

Maybe it has something to do with the wall-to-wall coverage the event is receiving from NBCSN (NBCSportsNetwork) or maybe it’s just because it’s summer and everyone likes to ride bikes during the summer. The Tour is approximately 2200 miles long and alternatives each year running clockwise one year and then  counter-clockwise the next, in France over a 21 to 23 day period. Each Tour consists of a series of “stages” that include mountain climbs, time trials, the final sprint down the Champs Elysee in Paris and rides over many miles of French roads. It is to road racing what the British Open is to golf–the oldest and arguably the most prestigious of all bicycle races.
With increased interest in bicycling comes increased bicycle sales, but in America, the business model for bicycle sales has been very static since…forever. Bikes are sold through small retail outlets that carry and service specific brands of bicycles. But that model is about to change. The new way to buy bikes is online and Canyon, the company that’s bringing this disruptive business model to the American market is not American, but German. Canyon is already a big hit in Europe and throughout the world, but now they are coming to The Market: the United States. The irony is rich and deep: America is the country that has disrupted retail commerce throughout the world with its emphasis on no-stores/internet-only distribution. But the bike business didn’t get the word that they were vulnerable.
Exactly how vulnerable the U.S. distribution chain for bicycles will be is yet to be seen(the current business model is strikingly like the one used by automobile manufacturers: dealers commit to an order of bikes for the year, must promote and advertise and hustle to sell them, sell and make money on not just bikes but parts, service, and accessories and then…repeat…it’s not very efficient for anyone but the manufacturers). Canyon is making their move and with their own brand, available only through their online presence (do you see the similarities between Canyon and Tesla?) and a highly efficient production and distribution chain, yet another industry–and to be fair, group of knowledgeable sports specialists–may be in trouble.
The Fine Print: Photo courtesy of Getty Images, all rights reserved, used by permission. If you’ve got a small blog and are non-commercial (and no one is more non-commercial than this site), then check out Getty Images. Thanks guys, for sharing. 

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