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  1. #1
    fginjection
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    How hard is it to make it in the bike buisness?

    Me and my dad have been talking about maybe importing entry to intermediate level bikes(mainly FG, or whatever is in) and parts from china, and putting a label on em and eventually, if things pick up, import from taiwan. (sorta like an eighth inch kinda deal). I'm wondering, how hard is it to start being known. Also, if i import good quality parts(probably gonna do chromoly framesets) will it be able to sell even though people don't know the brand, like it isn't a windsdor, or motebecane or something?

    to sum it up i guess is... Would YOU buy an off brand bicycle of decent to good quality at a lower price?
    Last edited by fginjection; 10-16-10 at 11:00 PM.

  2. #2
    Señor Member c_dinsmore's Avatar
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    yes i would, but that's because i love giving underrated shyt a chance. instead of loving ego boosts from established bling.

    i don't have industry experience, but i would imagine my advice to be this: ignore the classic and cautious model of "start small and build up". unless you're fine with starting with just printing your own stickers, slapping them on unbrandeds, and selling them to friends until 15 years later you have any input whatsoever on the design of what you're getting. instead, save up and make a good initial investment. nothing is more disappointing than thinking you stumbled on a great startup company and then finding out that everything they offer is understocked and without options. "if you're going to cop something, you've got to cop for real". you know? i mean don't half-ass release another name. get a nice complete line of products at varying pricepoints and come out all at once. that's what would attract me as a generic consumer.
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  3. #3
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    You're not going to win against the mighty BikesDirect. Fixed gear trend is dying down a lot, if you are going to start a business pitching to FG folks, do not do fancy colour parts, matchy matchy wheels and tires. A large number of remaining folks are the one that use the bike everyday to commute to work, to bump around town or the more serious ones actually go/race at the track, very little is in it for the trend. Sure, there are the trick riders, but they have their brands for trick stuff, EighthInch, Leader, Volume etc etc.

    Plus, what else is there? Crankset? We'd go to EighthInch/Pake, Omninoomomom, Miche. Stems? Velo Orange, various road stems. Wheels? VeloMine. Bars? We'd look on eBay for special deals, hence the Great Deal thread. There are also many Taiwanese eBay sellers who basically do the same thing, and some of us is quite drawn to their stuff.

    If you are going to start a business pitching to the FG folks, you have to pick your business style very carefully. Lurk around to see what the majority of the people want; people will buy your stuff as long as is good quality and of decent price. Words spread like wild fire here, of course, that could easily go either way.

  4. #4
    THE STUFFED Leukybear's Avatar
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    Yup as vixtor said; the fixed gear/ bike market is pretty over - saturated with competition.

  5. #5
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    1) Generally speaking, the fixed gear crowd has never been one to have lots of discretionary income. This is nice way of saying that many on this scene are either broke or simply don't want to spend their money on this stuff. There are a few that will, but most are budget shoppers. Bikes Direct is doing well with an obvious strategy: Undercut the heck out of everyone and make money with sheer volume of units moved.

    2) Lots of people seem to be trying the white label bikes and components thing lately. I personally know 2 people doing this. How do you like being in sales? Because that's what it is. All you are doing is selling stuff made by someone else somewhere else.

    3) I would learn about the business using someone else's money. Basically, go to work for a company that's already doing this and be on their payroll (or commission program) and learn as much as you can without taking the risk (loans) in your name. Then after some time you will be able to make an informed decision.

  6. #6
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    Then there's Micargi

    http://www.micargibicycles.com/

    Definitely internet sales, but who knows you might score a lot of local business in a college town for disposable college bikes. The ones that are inexpensive and if they get stolen there aren't any sticky threads created here at BF ?

    Not to discourage either, but there was a recent thread on the Christian-Vegan Bike Company. Sorry I brought that back up, I certainly don't want to start a debate on religion. But my point is, there are new one's popping up everyday.

  7. #7
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    Carleton has some valid points, but you know, the internet is an anonymous sale, people research and google the sh*t out of everything, then there's ebay too. BD may have a head start, but that doesn't necessarily mean someone can't make some quick money in it ? Waiting too long might mean (and this may apply to SS/FG) you miss the trend/fad. It's like selling anything, boom or bust, real estate seems to have hit it's own bubble burst ?

  8. #8
    Senior Member Monkey Face's Avatar
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    +1 for carleton, 3).

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    As with any product/service in a mature market you'll have to set yourself apart in order to take sales away from the established players. You're going to have to do something that's already being done better than the existing marketers are doing it, or identify an underserved market segment and go after that.

    So, what's your angle? "Whatever is in" isn't going to cut it. Every seller is trying to sell what's hot - there's no money to be made in selling stuff there's no demand for.
    Bikin' far-off places with the wife: http://peacocksride.wordpress.com

  10. #10
    Senior Member vw addict's Avatar
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    They say to make a million in the bike industry start with 2 mill.

  11. #11
    Old fart JohnDThompson's Avatar
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    I worked in the bike industry for over 15 years in various positions: shop mechanic, retail, manufacturing (Trek, as a brazer) and will say it is unlikely that you will get rich. I really liked being a mechanic and brazing (not many jobs where you can get paid to play with fire!) but when I got married and started a family I realized it wouldn't work for me as a long-term career -- especially when I'd be coughing up black crap from my lungs even after a couple weeks of vacation (yes, I did wear a particle mask at work, despite the intense heat). And I found that when bikes are your job, you don't often get much time to ride them. The pay's not great, so you end up working a lot of hours, and in a shop you're always busiest when the weather is nicest. I went back to school and now I have a professional job where I get paid decently and I can choose my own hours. I ride a lot more than when I was working in the industry and my home shop is as well equipped as any of the bike shops.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
    I worked in the bike industry for over 15 years in various positions: shop mechanic, retail, manufacturing (Trek, as a brazer) and will say it is unlikely that you will get rich. I really liked being a mechanic and brazing (not many jobs where you can get paid to play with fire!) but when I got married and started a family I realized it wouldn't work for me as a long-term career -- especially when I'd be coughing up black crap from my lungs even after a couple weeks of vacation (yes, I did wear a particle mask at work, despite the intense heat). And I found that when bikes are your job, you don't often get much time to ride them. The pay's not great, so you end up working a lot of hours, and in a shop you're always busiest when the weather is nicest. I went back to school and now I have a professional job where I get paid decently and I can choose my own hours. I ride a lot more than when I was working in the industry and my home shop is as well equipped as any of the bike shops.
    Great post with so much true info.

  13. #13
    fginjection
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    well me and my dad aren't planning on making millions(though it would be nice ), we just want to make enough to get by, my dad got laid off from his job, its stressful, yet relieving(he had a two hour commute by drive) and he wants to find less tiring ways to make enough cash, so far he's been restoring some vespas, and its really tedious. We're thinking of different things we could maybe import and sell so Thanks for the feed back!

  14. #14
    Senior Member hansel's Avatar
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    some dude i know tried to make his own frame company, went to china and everything. got a company to make his frames on order and all that jazz. only sold two bikes. one to himself and one to his best friend. you need to know people
    "Its a circus, and i dont want to be one of the clowns" - Chris Boardman

  15. #15
    fginjection
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    well i was thinking, start off trying on ebay, maybe send a couple to some of you guys here on BF, and build from there, maybe you guys can help recommend newbies and stuff like that

  16. #16
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    We're not going to hype up your stuff unless your parts are really good in terms of price and quality...

    If you're going to contact Maxway for frames though...I'll be more than happy to be your lab rat.

  17. #17
    working on progress treebound's Avatar
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    EighthInch has a Sugar Daddy type of situation (larger shop) giving them some direct and indirect support and infrastructure and building space.

    Actually that might be an angle to play with. Throw your pitch at a large local multi-store LBS in your area and see if they are open to it. But plan on them just saying "hey, good idea, thanks, bye".

    Also keep in mind that you're probably going to need to link up with a regional or national distributor and they have their own requirements before they'll give you an account and sell to you. You will need them for parts and tools and tires/tubes and cables and all the stuff you won't be getting from your frame source. Without that you'll be competing with all of us for Nashbar closeout deals and customer returns.

    Another option is to buy an existing store, but see if you can work with them for a few months before committing to the deal.

    Figure, at least in my area, your main season is May-June-July, with things really dropping off in mid-July. The rest of the year things will be slow to dead. And don't plan on getting through the winter on holiday sales.

    I still like the idea of a seasonal burger joint. There are or were a few of those around here where they are open from April to September, then shut down and head south for the winter. But even the restaurant business is tough to make a go of it at.

  18. #18
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    No money in bikes. Everyone's solid.

  19. #19
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    If you want to make it by selling fixed geared bikes, you better get yourself some frame jigs, know what the hell your doing or have someone who does, pump out good product (design and material) all a decent price. Oh yeah, look up the definition of the word "marketing" because your going to need to be on top of that.

  20. #20
    Veteran Bastard Scrodzilla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vixtor View Post
    If you're going to contact Maxway for frames though...I'll be more than happy to be your lab rat.

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  22. #22
    all-weather commuter
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    You either need a niche market or massive initial capital. Start selling fixed gear recumbents or something. Maybe you will get lucky and it will be the next fad and you will make a killing at the leading edge. Once BD undercuts your price, get out and count your winnings.

  23. #23
    working on progress treebound's Avatar
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    I tried to google fixed gear recumbent and all I got was the following:

    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2526/...20c0a61ed7.jpg

    I might have typo'd something.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Bat56's Avatar
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    I would do the math on starting your own frame business. You might get a better payback in five years from making frames than from getting into retail distribution.

    Spend a few years learning to make frames. A few years building them. A few years selling them.

    You own the means of production. Since you are far up the supply chain you can quickly change your product if the market changes. When the market changes.

    But what does "make it mean?" You probably won't die if that is what you mean.

  25. #25
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    I know a couple of guys that are great frame builders. They are "on the scene" and great friends with lots of cyclists, even shop owners and racers (they themselves being racers, too). They still can't sell their frames (prebuilt or custom). They both have day jobs.

    I hate to be a Debbie Downer, but it seems that the best way to work in the bike business is to work for an established business, be it a shop or manufacturing company.

    Remember, business is business. Widgets are widgets. You are gonna have to learn to be businessmen to be in business, whether you are selling bikes, belt buckles, or biscuits.

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