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  1. #1
    The Legitimiser Sammyboy's Avatar
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    A little help from Downtube owners?

    Excitingly, I've just made an agreement with Yan to help him with marketing his bikes in the UK. I've been working on launching my online bike business, but was pending raising the capital for startup stock - the deal I've made with Yan means I can launch with Downtube as my central product line almost immediately, and add other products slowly over time - perfect!

    Yan will still be taking the money and shipping the bikes, I'll simply be using my site, my PR abilities and my online savvy to get the message out there. What I'm hoping for is for some of you who own Downtubes, particularly the 07 FS, to post here and let me know what you love about your bikes, in a way that you'd be happy for me to quote. Likewise, if any of you have pictures of you riding your bikes that you would be happy for me to use, I would also be really pleased if I could have them! I realise all this is a big ask, and a bit out of the blue, but any help you can give will be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    jur
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    Congratulations! I wish you best success!
    My folding bike photo essays www.dekter.net/

  3. #3
    ♋ ☮♂ ☭ ☯ -=(8)=-'s Avatar
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    Alas, Im only an '07 NS but will glad to be a good recommend to anyone

  4. #4
    The Legitimiser Sammyboy's Avatar
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    Good recommendations on any of them would be helpful. A bit about what you like about the bike, and how you think it compares to the rest of the market would be fabulous!

    I'm hoping that, once the 2008 models get shipped (and success in this for me will make that happen way quicker), I can get a couple or 3 Minis in, and offer a deluxe version (improved cockpit, Brooks, fenders, rack). All this kicked off because I wanted a Mini for myself. I might examine the possibility of making a custom stem for the Mini (would that then be interchangeable with all other Downtubes?), and offering that. If I get to that point, I'll be here calling for people's thoughts on what it would need to be like.

  5. #5
    Senior Member DVC45's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sammyboy View Post
    Good recommendations on any of them would be helpful. A bit about what you like about the bike, and how you think it compares to the rest of the market would be fabulous!
    Non-proprietary parts
    Its built tough (no recalls that I know of)
    It looks good (I actually got more positive comments than "WTF's")
    Its priced right
    The SA hub equiped models is ready to go as a full time commuter as is (except the FS versions)
    Last edited by DVC45; 03-01-08 at 02:33 PM.

  6. #6
    ♋ ☮♂ ☭ ☯ -=(8)=-'s Avatar
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    Ok.....heres the good and the bad.
    Bad :
    The bike was damaged upon arrival. Large paint scrape on the front fork
    and the derailluer was very bent as were a few teeth on the 7th cog.
    The box was damaged so I cant tell if it was shipping or if I got a returned
    unit that someone stuffed back in the box very harshly. I was sort of disappointed
    and emailed Yan and he emailed back immediately with a few solutions.
    Good:
    I decided to keep it cuz there isnt too much stuff I cant work through and am very
    glad I did. It did take about a whole saturday morning of sorting but again, I am
    leaning toward thinking mine was a one-off situation that should not be used to
    judge them as a whole. During my build I put on BMX platforms a padded MTB
    seat and a CYGO lite system and it has remained my main commuter.
    I put 100+ miles a week on it and Im up to 2500+ now and it needs only a new rear
    tire I think because I carry about 15lbs on the rack. A great excuse to take my hero Jurs
    recommendation for a set of Big Apples, though ! I have added a fender extension to the
    back but there needs one on the front too which will come before rainy season here.
    I have had no issues with it whatsover...no loose stuff, nothing broken, only a
    hurt face from smiling as I zip in and out of gridlock beached HUMMERS with gleefull aplomb

    Ill post some pictures of my little thunderpixie and my impossibly ugly puss as I can get
    my digi-cam away from my wife

    Barring no shiping issues that I mentioned I think you will be doing the commuters over
    there a real service by providing this product to them for this pricepoint. I have a dilemma in
    that now I want to get a serious 20"er like a Hammerhead or BF but really cant think of
    a reason why I should with this bike performing so well.

  7. #7
    The Legitimiser Sammyboy's Avatar
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    Interesting. I'm thinking that I might need to treat myself to one of 'em, just so I can say the right things about myself! Is yours a hub, or derailleur geared bike? There are only 9 speed FS derailleur models in the UK right now (I think!)

  8. #8
    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    Congrats, Sammyboy! Wish you the best. Hope you can create the same growth in the UK as Yan has in the US.

    There have been tons of pictures and comments on the Mega Downtube thread. I'm sure you can glean lots of comments and testimonials from there. At various points over the past 2 years, I've owned every model of the Downtube line except the Capreo Mini. My thoughts and experiences are well documented on that thread.

    Good luck!

  9. #9
    The Legitimiser Sammyboy's Avatar
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    I can, but I don't want to use anything from there without people's permission. If you're giving me permission to pick your pictures and comments, I'll do that, and thankyou!

  10. #10
    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sammyboy View Post
    I can, but I don't want to use anything from there without people's permission. If you're giving me permission to pick your pictures and comments, I'll do that, and thankyou!
    You certainly have my permission!

  11. #11
    rhm
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    multimodal commuter rhm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SesameCrunch View Post
    You certainly have my permission!
    Mine too (assuming, of course, that I have posted anything useful).

  12. #12
    Bicycling Gnome
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sammyboy View Post
    Excitingly, I've just made an agreement with Yan to help him with marketing his bikes in the UK.
    Good luck. Now there are some lines that will sell well and in big numbers. On the pictures thing -14R has shown us all some absolutely wonderful photos. Maybe you could ask him if he will let you use the DT ones. They are so exotic and well done they would be good PR stuff.
    “Get a bicycle. You will not regret it, if you live." - Mark Twain

  13. #13
    The Legitimiser Sammyboy's Avatar
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    I'll do that. I'll also be arranging my own photoshoot with an FS 9 speed in the City, Canary Wharf, and Waterloo station - I'll be in my pinstripes. It's a shame we don't have the Mini to play with at present - I think we could make Brompton sweat.....

  14. #14
    jur
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    I realise you don't have a Mini but please go ahead and use anything I posted if it is useful. For photos if you thought mine were useful, please allow me to give the go-ahead on each one.
    My folding bike photo essays www.dekter.net/

  15. #15
    The Legitimiser Sammyboy's Avatar
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    Thanks Jur. I think what I'll do is trawl through that whole thread (huge!) and ask permission specifically for each comment/pic.

  16. #16
    Bicycling Gnome
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    The joys of a nice helpful and polite forum. I think it must be the only one like it on the Internet. Some of the others even here on Bike forums are pretty acrimonious. Maybe it's just that folder riders are nice people.
    “Get a bicycle. You will not regret it, if you live." - Mark Twain

  17. #17
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    it would be great if you could carry replacement 20" forks, either downtubes or another make. my fork stopped working fairly early on and found it very hard to find to find an affordable replacement or somebody who would fix it in the UK. London cycles shops that i visited couldn't source replacements and the only option being expensive recumbent forks. in the end i imported a cheap fork from jenson in the states, which while cheap in the states soon became fairly expensive when carridge and import tax were added. this was before yan started selling his 2008 replacement forks. so it would be great if you could have a stock of forks handy if other Uk owners develop a similar problem. this was the only part that i couldn't purchase in my local shop.

    good luck with your venture!

  18. #18
    The Legitimiser Sammyboy's Avatar
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    That's exactly the sort of thing I'll be stocking, and I think I can work with Yan to do that fairly cheaply. Keep your eyes open!

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    Are you going to be mainly just marketing, or are you actually planning on setting up a distributorship and/or dealership?

    It sounds like the bikes will be drop shipped by Yan. What about parts and accessories? You have indicated stocking some parts, and was wondering what business model you were planning.

    Will be following your progress with great interest and wish you success.

  20. #20
    The Legitimiser Sammyboy's Avatar
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    Here's my plan. I was always intending to run a company selling really nice things for Utility biking. Chaincases, racks, parts, handlebars, helmets. All of them things which are currently really hard or impossible to get in England. Working with Yan means I can get started, and I don't foresee a circumstance where he wants anyone actually stocking his bikes and competing with him on price online. So, what I'll be doing is gradually adding more and more items, but since I'll be marketing with Downtubes, there'll naturally be a bit of a focus on things that'll work with them. I'll certainly look at fenders, racks, and other items that'll naturally work with a Downtube. I won't, however, be looking to stock parts which you can already by just as easily from Wiggle or SJS or whoever - I don't want to get involved in price wars I can't win with companies bigger than I want to be.

    I anticipate, when the next container of Downtubes arrives, buying a couple or three Minis, and upgrading them with Brooks saddles, fenders, front and rear racks, and whatever else I find is necessary to make them suitable for longer distance riding. I'll aim to do this, and still keep them cheaper than a Brompton. That, coupled with the natural advantages of the Mini (specially the gearing) should make them absolute Brompton killers. Brompton is huge here - way bigger than Dahon or any other folder company, and there's a real market for bikes that fold small in London. If I can show that ours is cheaper, easier uphill, faster downhill and, after my upgrades, more practical too, I reckon we'll sell a bucketload. I might, if it seems expedient, also look at developing things like a better handlepost and stem, but it might well be that Yan has that underway anyway, since that's been the most common mod to Minis.

    I don't specially want to become a big box-shifter. I would like a small, boutiquey business which turns decent profits, but which allows me to indulge ideas like providing upgrade parts for old bikes, and designing and selling my own items. The nearest equivalent is Velo Orange, but they're focussed on a nostalgia market which probably has a limited size, whereas I want to focus on what I'm calling Lifestyle Cyclists; people who use their bikes practically, and think of them as a representation of them (like so many people do their cars). I think this will be a fast growing market, so I expect to do well. In the medium term, I might look at things like frames designed to carry a front rack well, or the Surly Big Dummy, or perhaps other cargo bikes. The key thing for me is not to take on the mainstream big-boys, but instead to carve out my own niche by being first to new ideas.

    I'll have a forum, and invite people to let me know what they wish they could buy that's available elsewhere, or what they wish someone made. I'll also invite manufacturers, especially small ones, to approach me with their new ideas. I don't really plan for this to be my main job - I love what I do (I'm a trainer, consultant, and freelance journalist, and I want to expand into making money from my music, and screenwriting and/or novels), so I'll be looking to get quickly to the point where I can employ someone to do the picking, shipping, ordering etc for me. My role will be marketing, looking for new products, strategic direction of the business, and sometimes product design, because these are the things I'm good at.

  21. #21
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    Sounds good. Wish you all the best.

    Please keep us in the loop. I've been thinking along the same lines here in the Colonies in regards to the Birdy. Now that petrol is headed to $4.00 a gallon(same as Japan), maybe the masses will start rethinking public transport. Folders are starting to get some recognition and the Birdy distributor is asleep at the wheel. It's a shame, as I think it's one of the best values out there for a well engineered, light weight, superb handling, comfortable bike that easily folds into a small package.

    The bike is just the beginning and too many distributors/dealers of folders leave the customer to twist in the wind after the initial purchase is made. If you can establish yourself as the go-to guy for all the necessities, and wants, after the purchase is made you will be ahead of the game. And producing your own custom versions eliminates any sense that you are directly competing with the distributor.

    Gaerlan, here in California, has leveraged this into a nice little business. Unfortunately they, like many others, have abandoned the Birdy due to lack of support from the distributor.

  22. #22
    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    Yes, best wishes in your new business. Knock 'em dead!!!

  23. #23
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    All the skill and luck to you Sammyboy.

    I have a Mini. If there are any comments or pictures that you wish to use in the Mini thread, feel free.

    Thoughts on products for the Mini ...

    (1) a multi-tool with a wrench for the hub's axle nuts

    (2) a longer seat post ... or a telescoping seatpost

    (3) a Carradice-like saddlebag for non-Brooks saddles

    (4) a cover that lets one still roll the Mini

    (5) adjustable quill-like stems that rotate 180 degrees that allow a longer reach yet maintain the compact fold. Zoom -- did I get the brand correct? -- used to make such stems just a few years ago. Finding one with a long stem has been difficult.

    Some things to stock ...

    (1) Big Apple tires ... maybe Marathon Racers and Stelvio too

    (2) 28 spoke SA-8 hub ... impossible to find

    (3) dyno front hub ... I would offer wheel builds with the aforementioned hub

  24. #24
    rhm
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    multimodal commuter rhm's Avatar
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    I agree with all Invisiblehand's suggestions. To this I'd add:

    28H rims for the Mini; can't find them anywhere.

    Head and taillights that can handle --or take advantage of-- the higher voltage put out by a low-cost dynamo hub, as opposed to an insanely expensive one designed for small wheels.

    Chain tensioner. It really should be standard equip on the Mini; only need one on the drive side.

    One would want to stock better folding pedals than OEM stuff, too.

  25. #25
    The Legitimiser Sammyboy's Avatar
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    Certainly planning to stock the SA8 - I only know of two online stockists in the UK, one is out of stock, the other is a bit amateurish, and both of them require serious hunting to find. Velocity do the Aeroheat rim in 305 28 holes - my plan is to stock 700c Deep V's (believe it or not, you can't buy those online in Britain), plus 24", 451, 406, 305 and 349 rims from them. Interesting to think about the dynamo hub issues - I'll let that percolate.

    rhm - I presume by chain tensioners you mean tugs, rather than something like a Surly Singleator?

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