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  1. #1
    To fold or not to fold?
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    London Downtubers?

    Seeing loads more folders in London this summer. Lots of bromptons, a few nasty concept bike things, the odd Dahon. But today, cycling up through Camden on my Mezzo, saw the coolest looking folder I'd ever seen coming towards me on opposite side of the road. As it passed, saw it was the orange IXFS - the first DT other than my own I've seen in London. And looked even nicer in orange than my white version. Kind of brought home to me looking at the bike on the road (as opposed to riding it) just what a fine bike Yan has put together. Are there any other London Downtube riders on this forum?

  2. #2
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    The other downtube thread is way too long to check, but are there any UK distributors for the Downtube?

  3. #3
    too many bikes
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    Yan's listings on eBay now include DTs shipped from within the UK and priced in GBP.

  4. #4
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    W00t, E-Bay here I come! I like the idea of the Strida for simplicity and style, but the downtube is much more like a real bike.

  5. #5
    To fold or not to fold?
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    And now a good time time to buy - Ebay prices for DTs seem to have stabilised at around 150-180 regardless of variant (plus VAT) - don't think there is a better bargain out there bike wise. Tempted to buy another whilst prices are so low. Once the brand starts to get some recognition in the UK and people start seeing them on the street I can only see prices going up.

  6. #6
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    These are more than just a little tempting. The Orange FS looks seriously sweet. I think it'd even replace my MTB for casual evening rides (10-15 miles normally, not particularly arduous terrain).

    So, finances willing (and heck, that FS costs less than the annual parking ticket that I'd need if I used the car), you'll hopefully see me on an Orange FS scooting between Waterloo and Tower bridge end of September.

  7. #7
    To fold or not to fold?
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    An 8 speed no-suspension DT just went on Ebay for 101. At that price, I think I may buy a couple this week to give as christmas presents. I know Yan has to shift his UK stock, but I'd guess that even with a good /$ rate, he must be getting a hammering. Lets hope he still takes a risk on shipping next year's models to the UK (and invests in some good bike-mag oriented PR).

  8. #8
    Senior Member downtube's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by matt52
    An 8 speed no-suspension DT just went on Ebay for 101. At that price, I think I may buy a couple this week to give as christmas presents. I know Yan has to shift his UK stock, but I'd guess that even with a good /$ rate, he must be getting a hammering. Lets hope he still takes a risk on shipping next year's models to the UK (and invests in some good bike-mag oriented PR).
    We have taken a hammering in the UK and we are looking to leave the UK market very soon.

    Thanks,
    Yan

  9. #9
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    I'll have to get in there quickly then.

    Yan - long term, I'd hope that you can find a suitable distributor in the UK, your products look fantastic, and they deserve a presence over here.

  10. #10
    Raleigh20 PugFixie, Merc LittlePixel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yan Downtube
    We have taken a hammering in the UK and we are looking to leave the UK market very soon.
    Really? Because of the cost of shipping? Or value-added-tax? That's a shame - I'm intrigued as to why if you'll care to elaborate...

    Perhaps you should make some review models available for The Folding Society/A to B magazine/Which? (Uk consumer comparison mag) for a bit of promo. Word of mouth is great (like this thread)

    Huw

  11. #11
    Senior Member downtube's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by clonmult
    I'll have to get in there quickly then.

    Yan - long term, I'd hope that you can find a suitable distributor in the UK, your products look fantastic, and they deserve a presence over here.
    Since we sell direct neither distributors nor dealers are very interested in dealing with us. I doubt we will ever work with either in the UK.

    Thanks,
    Yan

  12. #12
    Senior Member downtube's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittlePixel
    Really? Because of the cost of shipping? Or value-added-tax? That's a shame - I'm intrigued as to why if you'll care to elaborate...

    Perhaps you should make some review models available for The Folding Society/A to B magazine/Which? (Uk consumer comparison mag) for a bit of promo. Word of mouth is great (like this thread)

    Huw
    Reasons the UK market is difficult:
    1. 50% anti-dumping duty
    2. VAT tax
    3. Insanely high shipping rates
    4. Warehouse costs are about 10 times the cost in the US.
    5. Bad exchange rate.

    We have redirected all future UK shipments to the US market. Currently I am looking to sell out my remaining inventory in the UK and reevaluate the market. It seems low cost/ high value products are not appreciated in the UK as much as in the US.

    Thanks,
    Yan

  13. #13
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    i think you'll find low cost high value items are appreciated very much in the UK, trouble is that the reasons you mentioned tend to scupper things.

    don't know much about business models or such but can't you stop using ebay and sell via your site at a higher rate - would it make it more than other brands. its a good bike, word of mouth might continue sales.

    good luck for the future, i'm a happy Uk downtube owner, i hope i see your products when traveling abroad

  14. #14
    Senior Member downtube's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by barneybarney
    i think you'll find low cost high value items are appreciated very much in the UK, trouble is that the reasons you mentioned tend to scupper things.
    We started selling the FS models in the US in June 2005, they were profitable right away....since they were/are an amazing value. We entered the UK market exactly 1 year later, and it has been a money losing headache. Eventhough the cost savings for customers (by buying a Downtube) in the UK is much greater than the savings in the US. Hence, I am not so sure the UK market really wants/needs a value brand.

    Thanks,
    Yan

  15. #15
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    Damn shame really, I'm keeping my eye on the models you have on EBay at the moment, they really do look like as good a product as anything else out there (much better looking, especially the Orange FS models), at an ultra competitive price.

  16. #16
    To fold or not to fold?
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    Yan

    I think the main issue here is not one of us Brits being too stupid to see a good deal when we are offered one, but one of complete unfamiliarity with the product and limited sale routes and product information out there. This means that people

    (i) don't know about the product;
    (ii) even if they do are wary of buying from a company they know nothing about, whatever the price;
    (iii) even if they able to get over those two hurdles, don't know where to buy one
    (iv) if they happen upon Ebay and then, rsearching their buy, look at your website, they find an undeveloped site, with a spelling mistake on the front page and a barely active forum, which communicates (not unfairly) small company, not yet really off the ground, be careful
    (v) understandably fancy trying the product before buying (even if they buy off Ebay or from an online discounter like Wiggle, they still want the option of a test ride beforehand at their LBS...)

    The sad truth (and I speak as someone with some background in marketting and PR) is that if you want to shift product in the UK, word of mouth and internet forums are not sufficiently reliable on their own as marketing tools (although they can add huge value to a "proper" PR programme). I'm really glad they are working for you in the US. But they won't cut it here. I am not aware of any significant press coverage of the DT in the UK. Without the reviews and endorsements people are either never going to hear of you, or if they happen to, are not going to feel confident that they are buying into a credible brand.

    If/when you relaunch in the UK, you need to put 10k-15k aside for some proper agency-based PR support, aimed at gaining significant reviews/coverage in the major cycling magazines, plus some of the male lifestyle interest/gadget mags (maybe backed up by some additional investment to generate interest/recognition in 2 or 3 other northern European markets - Holland? Belgium?). And think seriously about cutting a distribution deal - I don't think Ebay UK is going to cut it as your only sales outlet. It may shift up costs, but you need some bikes out in shops to generate customer interest. Given the quality of your product, if you do that, you stand a reasonable chance of shifting some units.

    Of course, you may feel that given tariffs, VAT, shipping and warehousing costs and everything else that it simply isn't worth the investment. Which would be a real shame. But I guess understandable. I guess we'll have to wait until you've taken out Dahon in the US market and decide to re-enter the UK to take on Brompton...

    Best of luck wherever you decide to take your product.

    Matt

  17. #17
    Senior Member downtube's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by matt52
    If/when you relaunch in the UK, you need to put 10k-15k aside for some proper agency-based PR support, aimed at gaining significant reviews/coverage in the major cycling magazines, plus some of the male lifestyle interest/gadget mags (maybe backed up by some additional investment to generate interest/recognition in 2 or 3 other northern European markets - Holland? Belgium?). And think seriously about cutting a distribution deal - I don't think Ebay UK is going to cut it as your only sales outlet. It may shift up costs, but you need some bikes out in shops to generate customer interest. Given the quality of your product, if you do that, you stand a reasonable chance of shifting some units.
    Matt
    Matt,

    We have invested over $200,000 in the UK market so far...not chump change. We put all our money in our bikes, not marketing. If $20,000-$30,000 in advertizing would help solve our UK problems I would certainly jump on it.

    FYI I have tried contacting UK dealers and distributors, neither were interested in working with us.

    We will certainly leave the UK market when our remaining stock sells out. I expect we will reenter next season with downgraded bikes....similar to our 2005 models. Those bikes should still be very competitive in the UK market, and the lower costs will limit potential losses.

    Thanks,
    Yan

  18. #18
    Bromptonaut 14R's Avatar
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    Back in the days when I was working for an advertsing agency, I mentioned to Yan that the internet site could benefit from a message board where Downtube owners could gather, share photos, mods, even a photography contest (which, by the way, Dahon ended up doing months later). In my humble opinion, a serious marketing campaign involving full page ads on indicated mags, reviews and other marketing tools would change the way the rest of the world sees Downtube. After all, it is a great product. People just need to know about it's existance.

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