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BikeFriday possible sale. Not a bike, the company.

Old 10-14-19, 11:57 AM
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BikeFriday possible sale. Not a bike, the company.

Saw this on Facebook:

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Old 10-14-19, 12:25 PM
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Anyone remember Green Gear's "stock" sale a few years back? Not bicycle stock, but rather "shares" which allowed you to purchase a future product at a discount. When I read that, my assumption is that the company was operating on razor-thin margins and doing whatever they could to raise funds.

If indeed Green Gear has been operating on thin margins all this time, Alan probably thinks it's not worth it anymore, time to hand the day-to-day ops to someone else.

I wish Alan and all the employees at Green Gear the best if they get sold. If they don't get sold, I hope the company at least stays in business.
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Old 10-14-19, 12:44 PM
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Originally Posted by bargainguy View Post
Anyone remember Green Gear's "stock" sale a few years back?
Yes, the 'Class B Non-voting Stock' offering, with 178 investors and their $221,000. It's unknown at this time what the future might hold for the Class B Stockholders.

Others have theorized things are peachy-keen @ BF but 2nd generation BF'er Hanna Scholz has decided she doesn't want to take the reins at BF and run it after all, or perhaps that she's given it her best but isn't suited for the job.
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Old 10-14-19, 12:49 PM
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My 2 cents

Very well put.

And YES, I unfortunately totally agree with your assessment.

SAD
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Old 10-14-19, 02:36 PM
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Scuttlebutt is Hanna isn't quite suited to company profit-making management and she has other interests she wants to pursue. Alan has gotten to the point where he deserves the freedom of retirement. They've done some very good innovating with the Haul-a-day and their various electric drive solutions, but they've never really put much emphasis on marketing...something Hanna should have attended to as the leader. If someone buys them, they can definitely remain competitive but will need marketing and more dealers; without that, they'll not grow and status quo isn't cutting it. Interesting to see if tariffs play a part in someone wanting a US bike producer.
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Old 10-14-19, 04:00 PM
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Sad to see the company in the boat they are in but the reality is they built the boat. The company has so much potential and just needs good leadership. It wouldn't take much and I would love to see Hanna get the freedom she deserves from this company where she can be happy and feel what success looks like. I am truly thankful to not have the stress of working there anymore. No budget to market the company the way most are now so it was basically a grass-roots effort just to keep the boat in the water and now swimming with Neptune. I am not worried about the Scholz family but the families of all the employees who feel the need to go down with the ship. If you are reading this and can afford to buy the company, PLEASE BUY THE COMPANY before it's too late. The team there is amazing! Let the Scholz bow out gracefully but bow out...everything you need to make the company work will still be there when they leave. Alan deserves to retire and Hanna deserves to be happy and in a position that brings her joy, BF is not it.

I am not a past disgruntled employee...I promise. I truly care about the team at BF but had to step away to protect my own sanity and knew they could no longer afford me either. I loved many things about working there but with no budget, there was no way to really market the company as it should be marketed and didn't have the support needed to do what was expected of me unless it came out of my own pocket and hope to get paid back at some future point. Just bad business sense/understanding of how business works.

I truly wish them the best and good luck.
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Old 10-14-19, 06:28 PM
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From Hanna:
Hello Bike Friday Community. This press release was sent last week after a lot of deep thought on the best ways to move Bike Friday to the future we see unfolding for what high quality packable bikes can offer the world. We are still deeply committed to building Bike Fridays by hand in Oregon, USA. We still believe that offering high quality bikes that travel and really fit the needs of the rider, is a special strength Bike Friday has to offer. The channels and skills to market our special bikes have changed quite a bit in the last 10 years. We have great products but many people don't know about us these days.

Neither Alan nor I want to leave Bike Friday, we're looking to improve Bike Friday. We have realized that we need a key stakeholder on the team with those skills and connections to really grab the big opportunities we see in the market right now. We are committed to finding the right person that shares our values. If you know of someone who might be a good fit we are happy to hear suggestions from the community.

The Bike Friday Community is the life blood of the company and we know it! I am here to answer your questions in the comments below. I am busy running the company but I will be checking this page regularly.

Hanna Scholz

Bike Friday President

P.S. I am committed to be a full part of Bike Friday management all the way through. Alan is almost 70 and still passionate about bikes improving peoples lives, and he needs to work less.
Seems like they realize they need someone with skills they don't have to market and move the company forward during a time in bicycle production that is just plain nuts, with e-bikes and tariffs.
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Old 10-14-19, 07:09 PM
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Recap

So, I am getting the impression

Either a COMPLETE buy out

OR

An extinction level event

Will happen!!!


I concur.

Based on my over 30 years in numerous functions within Finance this would be the best way to ensure the survival of BF past 12 months with the clock starting now!

THE ONLY QUESTION IS WILL BF BE ABLE TO SUCCESSFULLY ATTRACT AN OUTSIDE INVESTOR?

I hope, but I don't know how dire the situation is.

Self-made disaster.

Even BMW(Quandt) have outside finance personnel in order to ensure that the company stays healthy.

Anyway, let see what happens.

If by any chance I would win the lottery, I would buy the outfit.

But it would be a TOTAL Takeover.
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Old 10-14-19, 07:40 PM
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Hmmm...

Thanks for the updates.

I wonder if part of the issue is that they do well in the spring/summer, but then struggle this time of year. Budgeting with both money and labor?

Are they considering an employee cooperative?

It is hard to say what Bike Friday needs. The company has grown somewhat differently than say Brompton.

Brompton has quite a few small shops selling their wares.

Bike Friday still has primarily their local store, and direct marketing. That means that they don't have to deal with dealer markups as much. But, it also limits their sales.

They've also priced their bikes pretty high, although I realize it is hard to get down to bargain basement prices (and not necessarily a good thing).
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Old 10-14-19, 07:44 PM
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Originally Posted by termv View Post
So, I am getting the impression

Either a COMPLETE buy out

OR

An extinction level event

Will happen!!!


I concur.

Based on my over 30 years in numerous functions within Finance this would be the best way to ensure the survival of BF past 12 months with the clock starting now!

THE ONLY QUESTION IS WILL BF BE ABLE TO SUCCESSFULLY ATTRACT AN OUTSIDE INVESTOR?

I hope, but I don't know how dire the situation is.

Self-made disaster.

Even BMW(Quandt) have outside finance personnel in order to ensure that the company stays healthy.

Anyway, let see what happens.

If by any chance I would win the lottery, I would buy the outfit.

But it would be a TOTAL Takeover.
The only way it could work for anyone would be to be a complete buyout. Anyone who knows how to run a business would first get rid of the reason the company was losing money. I could say so much but choose not to, just know that the only way the company is to move forward to would be to quickly move-in(like in the next couple weeks while the team is still intact) and buy the business. Keep the team there that is building the bikes and the sales team at least for the short-term among other team members. I would shift some of the duties of a few of the employees to better suit what they are best at and then empower the whole team to put their heads down and start doing what they are best at. They need to know they will have jobs and get paid for their hard work STAT! If you are thinking about buying the company, don't wait!
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Old 10-14-19, 07:56 PM
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I've been meaning to talk to Bike Friday again.

I have a little different vision for a company like them. I think if they could sell, say a few of a bunch of things, then they could do well.

My new Cat Trailer, which is based on the Bike Friday Cargo Trailer (which I think is now discontinued).





As far as I can tell, there are a few dog specific trailers, but NOBODY is making cat specific trailers.

The conversion from cargo to CAT was quite simple.

Say one only sold 100 of the trailers a year, at $50 profit each... $5000... A couple of weeks worth of wages for one person. Not a huge amount... hardly even a couple of bicycles.

But, it does a couple of things. First of all, it might drive more people to the Bike Friday bikes (Bike Friday uses a proprietary hitch), although one should have multiple hitch options.

And, every little bit adds up.

Say $50 x 100 for cat trailers, $50 x 100 for cargo trailers. Bigger cargo trailers for more profit? Spare parts & hitches.

Pretty soon one starts getting some actual profit.

They have several discontinued bikes. And, yes marketing says if the Air Friday doesn't sell many, why support it. But, how much does it really cost to support them?

Their recumbent?
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Old 10-14-19, 08:52 PM
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A bit painful to hear this about Bike Friday, I like their products enough to own one. Things that draw me to the brand is the really nice fabrication of the frames and parts thereof, the quality of the tig welds, brazing of small bits, and the powder coat finish is perfect. The folding mechanisms work flawlessly and the small details are well attended to.
The various Bike Friday designs are unique and original. The ability to custom order any configuration of components for any purpose across the entire line of frame styles is unheard of outside of dedicated custom shops and this is a small production bicycle manufacturer serving a niche market. I would consider this endeavor a extension of the owner/designer's love of the bicycle and it shows.
In all that I have said none of it would be true, if the bicycle didn't function, and function it does very well indeed, as a bicycle first and a packable second. This is a bicycle solid enough to wear out multiple sets of rims, hubs and components and the frame will still be as solid as the day it was built. I know this because I purchased a very used Pocket Rocket a short while ago and the chassis is perfect even though the components are near life's end and those wear items are being replaced with upgraded kit if I can ever stop riding it long enough to do the work.
Thank you Alan Scholz and your team for a wonderful bicycle.

: Mike
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Old 10-14-19, 08:55 PM
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I think a big part of the problem was the ordering delay. Fabricating a custom bike takes a couple weeks and BF always had a queue so orders could take a couple months. They attempted to address this recently by moving some models to s/m/l frames and with their adjustable frame, to allow stock on hand that could be built more quickly. But not having local dealers with models in stock is what really has held them back along with lack of marketing and name recognition. Everyone knows Trek and even non-cyclists often know Brompton. 99% of the people I've talked to while on my bike had never heard of BF. It's a new retail world - if you don't have a strong social media presence, more than just a website, you're missing out. If you're not in shops in key markets, you're missing out. There's an opportunity here for a savvy business person (with $$$) to catapult BF into the forefront of folding bikes by capitalizing on being made in America. I hope someone steps in to make those changes. The bikes are amazing - it's the business model that needs help.
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Old 10-14-19, 08:58 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Are they considering an employee cooperative?
Like the old Burley Co-op? (RIP, BTW)

It is hard to say what Bike Friday needs. The company has grown somewhat differently than say Brompton.
And not nearly as much. BF: <40,000 bikes in 27 years. Brompton: currently >40,000 bikes every 9~10 months.

Bike Friday still has primarily their local store, and direct marketing. That means that they don't have to deal with dealer markups as much. But, it also limits their sales.
Trek, Specialized, Giant - even Dahon - have embraced multi-path retail and moved in the direction of direct-to-consumer. Not sure a multitude of local dealers is the way to the future for BF.
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Old 10-14-19, 09:15 PM
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Originally Posted by tcs View Post
Like the old Burley Co-op? (RIP, BTW)

Trek, Specialized, Giant - even Dahon - have embraced multi-path retail and moved in the direction of direct-to-consumer. Not sure a multitude of local dealers is the way to the future for BF.
A bunch of names of companies that have mostly moved production to China.

There would be a benefit of say pursuing markets like New York, and at least having a showroom where customers could look at the bikes and try them out.

We have a couple of European BikeForum members that have bought Bike Friday bikes and enjoy them. But, very little representation of the company in Europe, and it is expensive to ship that way.

Tokyo?
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Old 10-14-19, 09:53 PM
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A few thoughts on marketing... Jan Heine's Bicycle Quarterly would be a fine place to advertise Bike Friday, highlighting the brand and a few select world trotting adventurers in a half page ad emphasizing the ease of transport, reliability and the global nature of the brand. Also offering up an "adventure" spec NWT with drop bars and full racks for an extended road test, those guys know who you are!!!
A few thoughts on production... Standardize the most popular production model to run on a parallel assembly line, maintaining the quality of frame fabrication is paramount as that is where the true value of ownership lies. Line up multiple sources of outside fabricated frame parts as the failure of a single source of critical supplies can stop production for a month, duplicate frame fixtures in anticipation of growth. Prepare for increased production and have a plan to put it in to action. Take resumes and do interviews of qualified tradespeople and keep them on file so you have them when needed.

: Mike

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Old 10-14-19, 11:54 PM
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A victim of their own “success”, err passion for their products perhaps best describes BF and other artisinal companies like them. Clearly the focus has always been on the product, with a lesser emphasis on a fast changing business world deeply impacting their industry.

Sounds like they recognize the fact that its due time to hand over the reins to an entity that has the resources and enthusiasm to keep them afloat, viable and contemporary in terms of business operations.

Hopefully BF will find a way to soldier on and thrive going forward, they deserve it.
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Old 10-15-19, 01:43 AM
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Do we really know the issues and needs at Bike Friday.

Is it possible that Alan Scholz simply wants to sell out his share for one reason or another, and that Hanna Scholz can't buy him out.

It sounds like they've also been trying to grow the company with new products (haul-a-day & pakiT). But, they may still be stuck with word of mouth advertising.

We have a LOT of Bike Fridays here in Eugene, but even so, I'm constantly telling people I meet that it is a Eugene product.

I wonder if they actually own their shop. That could be bad if they had an opportunity to buy the land 30 years ago and passed up on the opportunity. I'm pretty sure they did move about 25 years ago, so perhaps they purchased the current location.

No doubt there is also increased global competition. Hard to sell niche $2000 bikes with $300 bikes flooding the market.

Originally Posted by linberl View Post
I think a big part of the problem was the ordering delay. Fabricating a custom bike takes a couple weeks and BF always had a queue so orders could take a couple months.
Do they always have a queue? If that is the case, then sales isn't the issue, although they could likely increase production. Or is the problem a queue in the spring/summer, and idle machines in the winter?

In manufacturing, there is a "Just in time" approach. That can be difficult for a small shop.

However, if one considers a bike as a collection of parts, then one should still be able to stock up. Interchangeable parts have been important since Eli Whitney.

In theory they could make a collection of rear triangles, main frames, forks, seat masts, & wheels. The triangles/forks vary with brake types. Goosenecks could be stocked as straight pipe.

So, order comes in, one has frame subunits pre-assembled, and one simply powder coats and installs the subunits to the main frame. In theory one should be able to go from order to packing and shipping in 48 hours.



cross-training employees to weld up stock in the winter, and do assembly and finishing in the summer.

Of course, holding inventory is expensive for a number of reasons.
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Old 10-15-19, 07:48 AM
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With the exception of the e-bike market, all non-motorized bike segments seem to be contracting.

I see the entire non-motorized bike industry in decline. Green Gear's sale is just one manifestation of that decline. I certainly don't blame them for not being able to see what's coming, namely, why pedal if you've got a motor? Why even own a bike if you can rent an electric scooter for the times you need one?

If Green Gear wants to thrive, I think they have to play up their motorized folders. Seems that's the only market with profit or growth available.
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Old 10-15-19, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Nemosengineer View Post
Jan Heine's Bicycle Quarterly would be a fine place to advertise Bike Friday, highlighting the brand and a few select world trotting adventurers in a half-page ad emphasizing the ease of transport, reliability and the global nature of the brand. Also offering up an "adventure" spec NWT with drop bars and full racks for an extended road test...
Yeah...no. I fear Mr. Heine would savage the BF a) for not being French, and b) as inferior to his own 'Rinko' system of travel bikes.

I like your ad & road test concepts, but I'm not sure magazines are where it's at in 2019. Bicycle Touring Pro, CyclingAbout, Bikepacking, Adventure Cycling, Traveling Two, Bicycle Travel Network, The Path Less Pedaled, Alastair Humphreys, London Cyclist, Hungry Cyclist and other websites would seem to be the ticket for reaching the target audience these days.
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Old 10-15-19, 10:03 AM
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Originally Posted by bargainguy View Post
With the exception of the e-bike market, all non-motorized bike segments seem to be contracting.

I see the entire non-motorized bike industry in decline. Green Gear's sale is just one manifestation of that decline. I certainly don't blame them for not being able to see what's coming, namely, why pedal if you've got a motor? Why even own a bike if you can rent an electric scooter for the times you need one?

If Green Gear wants to thrive, I think they have to play up their motorized folders. Seems that's the only market with profit or growth available.
That has indeed changed the industry. BF has moved in that direction with several offerings (hub, mid-drive). But again, if people don't know about the product, they can't sell it. They Haul a Day is, imo, an amazing cargo bike with electric assist - carries as much as full sized cargo bikes with a smaller and easier to park footprint. But they just haven't been taking advantage of marketing exposure to compete with the top sellers. The folks I know who have HADs are always stopped by people asking about them - which shows there is interest there, but cargo bike purchasers absolutely want a shop where they can try the bike out and compare to other bikes. Their HAD is a better system than the Tern e-cargo bike and better priced, actually, but Tern is in stores and as a result sells better. Cargo bike owners don't typically shop for bikes online. BF biggest problem is lack of exposure and marketing. Their production system is much easier to remedy.
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Old 10-15-19, 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by bargainguy View Post
With the exception of the e-bike market, all non-motorized bike segments seem to be contracting.

I see the entire non-motorized bike industry in decline. Green Gear's sale is just one manifestation of that decline. I certainly don't blame them for not being able to see what's coming, namely, why pedal if you've got a motor? Why even own a bike if you can rent an electric scooter for the times you need one?

If Green Gear wants to thrive, I think they have to play up their motorized folders. Seems that's the only market with profit or growth available.
There's certainly a trend in electric bicycles. But I think the main advantage for manufacturers is that they can be much more expensive. Meaning they can earn more money per bike.

Nevertheless, the amount of people willing to spend >3500 €/$ for a bike is a small fraction of those willing to spend ~1500 €/$. Meaning that there is still a lot of money to be earned with "classical" bicycles. But you have to streamline your manufacturing process and compete through price! The bikes need to be easily available in shops. And there needs to be marketing that is relatable to many people. (If you look ads / pictures of Bromptons you see people taking their bikes to the city, subway and in cafés. Bike Fridays are pictured touring in South Africa. It sounds exciting, but not many people can afford such trips. Especially not young people who can help your brand by posting attractive pictures...)
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Old 10-15-19, 02:18 PM
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Originally Posted by ladi View Post
The bikes need to be easily available in shops.
Were Downtube and Origami left off this memo?
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Old 10-15-19, 02:58 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by ladi View Post
If you look ads / pictures of Bromptons you see people taking their bikes to the city, subway and in cafés. Bike Fridays are pictured touring in South Africa. It sounds exciting, but not many people can afford such trips. Especially not young people who can help your brand by posting attractive pictures...
Large, uniform base of Brompton owners, that I think even determines most of the bike parameters, are those working in the City of London and living in the London surrounding. During most of the day the only bikes allowed on trains in and out of London are folding bikes, the trains are crowded and you have to somehow make the few last miles from and to the station, possibly also that in the surrounding. (Incidentally, much of the London infrastructure is so outdated, with uneven surfaces, that presumably an electric scooter is not practical, but I am speculating.) People working in the City od London usually have no problem affording a Brompton. In the downtown London often half of the bikes you see in the streets are Bromptons. If you move away from London, even within the British Isles, the frequency of Brompton encounters dramatically decreases and, if you ride one, you repeatedly run into people who never saw the bike, at least in vivo. In any case, Brompton advertising refers to the circumstances under which the bike has flourished. For BF there is no such, at least comparable, US base and people who can justify its purchase presumably need to be those affording a SA trip.
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Old 10-16-19, 03:55 AM
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edwong3
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Originally Posted by tcs View Post
Were Downtube and Origami left off this memo?
Let's not forget Citizen which has also thrived with just an online presence though their budget friendly prices might have helped tremendously besides effective marketing.

Last edited by edwong3; 10-16-19 at 03:58 AM.
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