LBS revs, up or down, with mtn decline, road up- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1

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    LBS revs, up or down, with mtn decline, road up

    I was just wondering how local bike shops are doing over the last couple years.
    Around NorCal it seems there has been a large drop in mountain biking but perhaps a increase in road sales/riding. Added to that, the average ticket price for a road bike and mtn bike may have increased even after adjusting for inflation. And I assume that service correlates to the number of bikes but, that perhaps, road bikes need less service per hour of riding than do mtn bikes.

    So, does anyone know how the revenues of local bike shops has gone over the last 2 or 3 years.....(adjusted for inflation)? If there has been a decrease in revenue over 3 years is it due mostly to lower mtn bike sales/service/riding or have the online sales competition been more of a factor.

    I gather that mtn bike usage is down significantly but that no one seems to have a answer on how to reverse that trend and they are just hopeful that it will magically reverse or that an increase in road biking will make up for it.

    Any thoughts from people who are aware of actual numbers rather than just vague guesses like "lots of people around here still ride"

  2. #2
    Inbred Homebrewer
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chester
    I gather that mtn bike usage is down significantly but that no one seems to have a answer on how to reverse that trend and they are just hopeful that it will magically reverse or that an increase in road biking will make up for it.

    Any thoughts from people who are aware of actual numbers rather than just vague guesses like "lots of people around here still ride"
    Well, lots of people around here still ride!!

    Not what you wanted to hear? Then do your own research. The numbers are out there, if you look in the right places.

    like here, for example. A quick search for 'sales figures' will turn up some numbers from one of the most reliable sources of bike retail info on the web.
    "mmmm....Beeeeeeer." - Homer J. Simpson

  3. #3

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    Fat people are a bigger market than the race crowd

    Quote Originally Posted by Stick
    Well, lots of people around here still ride!!

    Not what you wanted to hear? Then do your own research. The numbers are out there, if you look in the right places.

    like here, for example. A quick search for 'sales figures' will turn up some numbers from one of the most reliable sources of bike retail info on the web.

    Well, thanks......kind of.........
    That link was useful, but even they "Bicycle Industry and Retailer News" say the following in one of their articles titles..
    "MAY 01, 2002 -- If there is one thing everyone in the industry agrees on it's that our statistics are virtually useless."

    Most of the data they have is old, vague, and unreliable.....

    Anyway another article has some various data on various ways to look at the market.

    http://www.bicycleretailer.com/bicyc...ent_id=1485222

    "Well lot of people around here DON"T still ride" :-)

    The non-casual mtn segment seems to be in steep decline. Meaning that segment that isn't into racing and isn't just the one weekend per month. Those in the middle who used to ride a couple times a week seem to have gone away in large numbers.
    Hard core race types are still there and the once a month or less crowd still shows up on weekends, but the heart of the crowd in the middle has taken a large decline over just 2-3 years. 2002 to 2004 really noticeable.... IF this continues and a uptick in road biking does not offset it then its gonna hurt sales big time.

    There is no active area plan instituted by local bike shops to counteract this decline.
    Still lots of folks out there who could be excellent customers....with all the weight issues...but instead of biking they are sweating away in the 24 Hour Fitness Centers.....and remaining just as fat 2 years down the line.
    I'm guessing if women, for example, really knew they could become slender via biking they would be flocking to the roads and fire trails on bikes.
    Those who were in their 30's and 40's in the eighties and nineties and who are now entering their 50's seem to be dropping out of mtn biking and there isn't a new group filling in their places.
    If local bike shops promote the sport by supporting racers etc, but if the available supply of customers.....doesn't care about racing, then what good does it do for overall biking sales.
    A hundred times more potential bikers are interested in weight loss, lower blood pressure, healthy hearts, relaxation, etc, than are interested in racing.
    Wouldn't it make for sense to sponser local weight-loss stars rather than local racing stars if you had to choose between the two.......Or do both equally.
    And by bringing in more folks, you would eventually get some who would go into the performance end, racing etc, in the long run.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chester
    I gather that mtn bike usage is down significantly but that no one seems to have a answer on how to reverse that trend and they are just hopeful that it will magically reverse or that an increase in road biking will make up for it.

    Any thoughts from people who are aware of actual numbers rather than just vague guesses like "lots of people around here still ride"
    lots of people around here still ride

    Here is a vague guess.

    Everyone bought a mountainbike in the mid-90's when it was EXXXTREME to own one. It hasn't been cool to own a road bike since the mid 80's (in your cutoff shorts and sleeveless van halen t-shirt) so now everyone has to run down and get a Lance-mobile.

    I think it is due to a more educated buyer base. The people who want to buy mountain bikes more likely know what they want, and what they want is not affordable to keep in stock. Most of the fat has been cut from the mountain biker population (no pun intended)

    On a road bike, no one knows what they want, they just want a road bike.

    I've definitely noticed the trend. Of the 4 bike shops in town, 10 years ago one was specifically high end road bike, and the other 3 only had mountain bikes. They had everything from bottom to top end. Now 3 carry roadies (middle of the line only) and they all carry low to middle end mountain bikes. Only one shop still has more than one top-end MTB in stock. If you ask about them, they say "No, but we can order it"

  5. #5

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    Local bike shops not doing the job

    Quote Originally Posted by forkboy
    lots of people around here still ride

    Here is a vague guess.

    Everyone bought a mountainbike in the mid-90's when it was EXXXTREME to own one. It hasn't been cool to own a road bike since the mid 80's (in your cutoff shorts and sleeveless van halen t-shirt) so now everyone has to run down and get a Lance-mobile.

    I think it is due to a more educated buyer base. The people who want to buy mountain bikes more likely know what they want, and what they want is not affordable to keep in stock. Most of the fat has been cut from the mountain biker population (no pun intended)

    On a road bike, no one knows what they want, they just want a road bike.

    I've definitely noticed the trend. Of the 4 bike shops in town, "
    I think the local bike shops are dropping the ball.....
    They've got to begin developing their market rather than just waiting for people "out there" to decide they want a bike. They can't depend on the "Lance" effect keeping them in business.
    The mtn bike end of the business is not going to turn around any time soon without some intervention on the local scale. I suspect that the decline has not run its course and will end up a fair bit lower than it is now. And I imagine with Lance winning his 6th TDF that road bike sales are now at their peak.....Thus with mtn bikes in decline and road bikes at their peak, there is only one direction left unless other steps are taken.

    Very very few people bike on a regular basis, so there is still a huge market available.
    I live next to a large park surrounded by about 250,000 folks in the ajacent market served by about 4 nearby bike stores in a general way...
    That park is a hundreds of million dollar asset utilized by so very few folks compared to the population. So these 4 bike shops have a asset that ties into their business that is totally under-utilized and they need to find a way to exploit it for their and their potential customer's needs.
    Example....There are no organized womens bike clubs riding in the park....whereas when you look to SoCal there are some great examples of clubs such as the Trail Angels....
    Women out on bikes....having fun and getting fit and SLENDER...... Sell that angle and you have women flooding the bike shops......
    But do I ever see the local bike shops promoting this angle........almost never.
    It might be that the bike shops have to form local cooperative promotions so that they can all benefit from increased interest in biking.
    One shop can't be expected to pay all the costs and then have half the customers go by their bikes at the other shops...
    Lots of business groups do this kind of thing....

    The bike store emphasis on sponsering racers etc. is not building the business among the true potential market. If the present 20, and 30 something generation is not brought into biking in the same numbers that they were in the past then biking, especially mtn biking will fade. Got to get them interested in it for some reason then continue to promomte the heck out of it. Not easy, but worth doing.
    Otherwise everyone is going to be carving up slices of a smaller and smaller pie.

    Women are a huge untapped market, but they have to sold on something that to them is rather foreign. I'm guessing that 90% of bike shop sales and service is to men.

  6. #6

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    What are people doing

    I have been out of the cycling loop for about two year and have just started riding again (new wife, new son, new job and new house took me out of action for a while). I have somewhat noticed a drop in people racing and XC riding. Did XC riding/racing lose those people to DH, "freeriding", endurance events, road, all of the above? I also saw that Norba membership was down to about 13,000 compared to close to 30K about 5 years back. I still split my time between road and mountain and have noticed what seems to be a lot of people road riding. I guess it doesn't matter as long as cycling in general stays strongs.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chester
    Very very few people bike on a regular basis, so there is still a huge market available.
    This assumption is flawed. If it's true that very few people bike on a regular basis, then there is a very LIMITED market available. While I agree that more people should ride on a regular basis, not everyone has a desire or the means to do so. People who don't ride neither need nor want to buy a bike, so the market is limited to a relatively small group. Namely, those who consider themselves 'cyclists'.

    That aside, I still don't understand the point you are trying to make. You started the thread by asking whether bike shops were seeing a decline in MTB sales and, if so, is the decline offset by a proportional increase in road bike sales. Your subsequent posts have been rather lengthy and somewhat meandering. I get the impression you're trying to imply that shop owners must do something to 'save' mountain biking and increase revenues generated by MTB sales, but to what end? More importantly, how 'real' is the need for retailers to bring about mountain biking's 'salvation'?

    No one can give you a simple answer as to why sales of one type of bike increase or decrease, because there's a combination of forces at work behind any changes in the market.

    For example, around the time when I started biking 'seriously' (c. 1991-'92), the popularity of mountain biking was just barely starting to catch on. At the time, I was 16. A few years later, while I was in college there was a definite 'boom' in the popularity of the sport. Many people my age were buying bikes and hitting the trails. In the years that followed, mountain biking became my passion (bordering on obsession). All of my spare time was spent on the trails, while all of my spare cash (including student loan refunds) was spent on upgrades. And, my god! The upgrades. Newer, lighter, stronger, longer-travel, more precise! The upgrades never stopped coming. Better tires, Aheadsets, metal matrix, carbon fiber, titanium, beryllium, disc wheels, suspension forks, full-suspension, disc brakes. . .technology was making leaps and bounds every month! A young and somewhat fiscally irresponsible college student, I was eating this stuff up! (and I was hardly alone in my zeal re: all things MTB.) I rode my heart out. Spent a few years entering amateur races. Did well. Then, one day...BAM!

    Graduation.

    Job.

    Apartment.

    Bills.

    Serious relationship.

    Family.

    Basically, a change in priorities. Now, instead of buying a new bike every year, I've learned what works for me and what doesn't. I've built a steel hardtail that suits my needs to a T, and don't see any need to run out and grab the latest and "greatest".

    Perhaps I'm wrong, but I think there's probably a huge number of mountain bikers out there who are in the same boat. Now 25 - 35 yrs old. Recently married or contemplating same. New parents. These are the same people who helped buoy the sport to peak popularity 6 or 7 years ago. Personally, I still love the sport as much as I ever have. . .and I still ride as often as possible. I just don't drop as much cash at the LBS as I used to. In fact, I spend very little locally. I do all of my own builds and maintenance, and I get most of my components through mail-order because to buy the same parts at the LBS would require twice as much cash. MSRP is for suckers. (Sorry to any and all shop owners reading this, but it's true!)

    So, perhaps the 'decline' in mountain biking's popularity you're speaking of, from a retail point of view, is an illusion. As evidenced by this site, there's certainly no shortage of people who are passionate about the sport. Perhaps the 'decline' is simply the result of a 'maturing' population of riders who spend less or, at least, spend less frequently at the LBS.

    Getting back to the point of this whole thread, mountain biking doesn't need to be saved. There's always going to be a dividing line between those who 'get it' and those who don't. From season to season, year to year, there's always going to be fluctuations in the market. And there's always going to be poseurs. And casual riders. And collectors. Rest assured though, there will always be mountain bikers...whether bike shops do anything to 'win over' converts or not.



    End of my own little rambling account.
    "mmmm....Beeeeeeer." - Homer J. Simpson

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