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Marketing's influence on road cycling, or lack thereof

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Marketing's influence on road cycling, or lack thereof

Old 09-22-20, 07:19 PM
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surak
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Marketing's influence on road cycling, or lack thereof

I've seen people dismiss changes and trends in cycling by saying they're marketing-driven and made-up to get the easily-manipulated to spend more money. Now obviously marketing exists to try and do this for everything sold, but I'm curious how powerful it is in cycling at making someone decide they must buy something they don't need.

​​​​​​I think cycling marketing frankly sucks, is quite ineffective, and plain bad at reaching people who aren't very knowledgeable about cycling. People find out about tech more from word of mouth or LBS advice, try it out, and keep using it if they like it. If not, it gets returned/resold/left in the closet or garage to collect dust like all other unused purchases. No one is compelled to perpetuate bad, marketing-driven tech out of some feeling of obligation.
​​​​​​
My experience: a few years ago, I got back to riding a bike, thinking I'd like to incorporate some cycling into my long commute because a big stretch of it was faster by bike than other modalities. I didn't know anything about cycling except that Shimano was a name brand and Trek/Specialized made some outrageously expensive bikes that were advertised in my dad's university newspaper back in the day. Other than riding my dad's SS around a park when I was much too undersized for it, I'd only ever ridden fitness bikes and BSOs. I bought a low-maintenance 3-spd IGH bike from Priority because I had a discount through work on it and thought it had decent looks, not because I knew whether it was a good choice for my route. After equipping it with all the typical commuter accessories (thru uninformed shopping on Amazon and REI looking for the most discounted goods) and doing the trip a few times, I realized I wasn't having any fun riding, and everybody on every other type of bike was passing me while looking more comfortable. So I started reading up on modern bike tech and scoured the Net for a modestly priced road bike. When I found a closeout-priced NOS Giant at an LBS in the burbs, I pounced on it. My test ride was my first time on a geared road bike, with STIs and disc brakes also being brand new experiences. I instantly felt a connection to the road and the machine that was a revelation. Didn't care for the cage pedals though and knew I wanted to try clipless, which I did and never looked back from. Being clipped in and having more gears at my fingertips meant I could ride a larger portion of my commute without bussing partway, including ramps of 15%+ grades. The disc brakes were nice to have since it rains here a fair bit and rim brakes were less than inspiring even at low speeds. Once I got into commuting regularly, I started riding recreationally just to get more time enjoying my road bike.

Not one time during my introduction to road cycling was I exposed to any marketing. I never heard anything about what was cool, hot, or what pros were doing -- I actually don't see how any newbie would without proactively going to niche Web sites and YouTube channels. Last time I heard a mention about the TdF from major media was in the Lance/Landis days. Nobody in any shop told me what I needed to be a "real cyclist." Yet many of the things I landed on using (including nice padded bibs after finding regular clothes flappy, uncomfortable, and unsuitable on my longer rides, and a very brief experiment with not-bib shorts) are things that people target as unnecessary accessories promoting an "image" that road cyclists follow blindly to fit in with the group. In my case, I was glad that there are many others wear lycra without shame, as I sure as heck needed the comfort but not the embarrassment of being the only freak sporting it!

Postscript: when I still knew nothing about bikes, I quite fancied the look of classic and vintage steel frames, and found the idea of their timeless blend of form and function appealing. However, as a newb, I didn't know how to acquire a decent one at a good price, so I ended up focusing on modern bikes. Now, I find myself primarily caring more about how my bikes ride than look -- I don't care one lick how they compare to others, only whether I like riding them. Modern or retro, I only pay attention to the design elements that affect my ride. Basically, nothing bothers me about a bike that would fit my riding style except if the colorway clashed with all my gear (I never said I wasn't a little vain). Note the complete lack of caring about whether my bikes "fit in" with what other people ride. I have to think that is the more common feeling around here, not people's choices being driven by the insecurity to conform, right?
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Old 09-22-20, 07:27 PM
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I think you hit on one thing about bicycle marketing; it's always targeted at people who already ride bikes. That portion that is aimed at getting people to ride bikes is always a lot more vague. The bib shorts, drop bars, clipless pedals worked for you, but it doesn't for a lot of people, and we've all seen a lot of people scared away from cycling because they got the impression that they COULDN'T go cycling without all of that. I agree with you that clipping in and riding in a comfortable pair of padded shorts makes a ride better, but a lot of people don't.

I guess the only thing I would add to that is that it's disappointing the guys at REI/your LBS didn't dig a bit deeper into finding out what you wanted out of cycling, but at the same time, it turns out you found it yourself, so maybe no great harm done?
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Old 09-22-20, 07:50 PM
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It's an interesting point, and people here who know about marketing have more informed opinions, but what message are you suggesting and who should be sending it out?

1. To people who don't own a bike: buy a bike!
2. To people who are thinking about owning a bike: Go to your LBS, don't buy at Walmart!
3. To people who are riding a basic bike: You don't have to be a jock or a MAMIL to enjoy better gear!

And who should be conducting those campaigns? #1 should be a general campaign, maybe done by a trade organization that is some kind of umbrella for all the manufacturers. #2 should be done by the LBSs #3 too?

Individual manufacturers, even the Treks and Specializeds, don't have the resources to mount national media campaigns like a car company or a pizza chain, and they do best by focusing on the devotees who are already ready (and eager) to shell out the big buck. No?
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Old 09-22-20, 08:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Leinster View Post
I guess the only thing I would add to that is that it's disappointing the guys at REI/your LBS didn't dig a bit deeper into finding out what you wanted out of cycling, but at the same time, it turns out you found it yourself, so maybe no great harm done?
Maybe it's a local thing, or a reaction to the stereotype of bike shops being pushy and telling people they need all the gear, but I've been to a number of LBSes and never has anyone tried to upsell me. Even if I roll in on my expensive Di2-equipped crabon bike. More often than not, I'll ask about something and the shop will give their honest opinion that it's not worth buying and suggest alternatives sold elsewhere, even online.
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Old 09-22-20, 08:14 PM
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I've had somewhat similar thoughts. I got back into riding 8 or 10 years ago after a long absence and at no point encountered any marketing I wasn't seeking out.

Most of what I now know about current trends I learned only through reading BF. If you don't read cycling publications, bicycle marketing isn't all that likely to reach you. I don't see it likely it would have much impact on the uninitiated.
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Old 09-22-20, 08:18 PM
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Originally Posted by MinnMan View Post
It's an interesting point, and people here who know about marketing have more informed opinions, but what message are you suggesting and who should be sending it out?

1. To people who don't own a bike: buy a bike!
2. To people who are thinking about owning a bike: Go to your LBS, don't buy at Walmart!
3. To people who are riding a basic bike: You don't have to be a jock or a MAMIL to enjoy better gear!

And who should be conducting those campaigns? #1 should be a general campaign, maybe done by a trade organization that is some kind of umbrella for all the manufacturers. #2 should be done by the LBSs #3 too?

Individual manufacturers, even the Treks and Specializeds, don't have the resources to mount national media campaigns like a car company or a pizza chain, and they do best by focusing on the devotees who are already ready (and eager) to shell out the big buck. No?
I have no suggestions, since my abilities are farthest from marketing as could be. I don't pretend that my way of cycling is the best or only way. I just think that people sometimes accuse trends of being only marketing-driven, when that argument doesn't match my experience.

Funnily, I see bikes in ads all the time these days -- in car commercials. So if we assume car manufacturers know something about marketing and are better at it than cycling, then that means they figured that certain images of cycling appeal to the mainstream. I leave it to people in the industry to connect the dots there of how to push more product out in a sustainable way that doesn't lead to more stuff ending up like other fitness equipment.
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Old 09-23-20, 01:17 AM
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I think most of what you read in cycling press and media (which is aimed at, well, people who already are cyclists, which is a good predictor that they're going to spend more money on the sport) is in good part marketing, in many cases rehashing what manufacturers have to say about their products and so on. This is, well, really to be expected - it's about the only way for cycling magazines to float financially. People who read cycling publications tend to share information with people who don't, either via word of mouth or via forums or such. Plus, the gear which pro cyclists use, largely chosen by their sponsors, is also in part marketing which also gets noticed.

So, I would say marketing has a significant influence on the sport and the direction it's headed in, but is mostly aimed at those who are already enthusiasts - which makes sense; someone from the street isn't going to start off with a $5000 bike and spending $2000 on a pair of wheels seems like madness to a normal person, but after some years in the sport it starts looking like a reasonable purchase.
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Old 09-23-20, 03:56 PM
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I'd say bike manufacturers are going for the low-hanging fruit---or rather, for the higher-up fruit that is still within reach.

It is much easier to sell more to someone who has bought some---and I am sure bike companies, like every other business, offer "upgrades" and "New models" and "breakthrough tech" and "new features' which are mostly cosmetic, or a controlled tiny percentage better than what was out there ("Our new high-modulus frame is .06 percent stiffer laterally and .007 percent more compliant vertically!!!!!" and the bike mags gush over the way "puts the power down" and "softens the bumps.")

Bik companies Could do different marketing ... but everyone knows that big-box stores sell some 90-whatever percent of the bike sold in the U.S. so why compete with that? And most of them cost bewtee$100 and $300---a price point at which nothing very good could be offered profitably.

So bike shops aim for the people who have bikes and really ride them---the sort of people who might consider themselves "cyclists." It probably is the wisest course of action---look at what happened when a company like Mongoose, which was a respected fairly high-end mountain bike manufacturer, decided to amp the profits by releasing a line of Walmart-grade bikes. The name was deemed corrupted, and all the high-end customers went elsewhere. Trek and Specialized aren't going to try that experiment again.

Because they sell bicycles as marketed as niche enthusiast items, bicycle manufacturers depend on enthusiasts doing research. So, they put articles in bike mags or bike mag websites so they turn up in google searches. This makes the news available to potential customers ... and how else would they reach those customers?

The way most people learn abo0t "real" bikes is by walking into a bike shop and getting slapped with massive sticker shock--this bicycle costs more than a motorcycle? Then the sales staff explains the tech, and maybe the customer looks it up online.

if the customer buys a bike and enjoys cycling, Then the advertising starts to take effect. Then the customer Wants to understand what is out there, whether there is something better than what s/he has, and what makes those other bikes cost more.

As the OP stated, after biking and seeing other people going faster and apparently enjoying it a lot more, the process began.

How else to pick out the tiny proportion of the population which Might one day be interested in buying an expensive bike (and when "entry-level" is considered to be $800-$1000, that is an expensive purchase for almost everyone)? What kind of ads would work to entice a person who doesn't particularly want to ride a bike, to suddenly spend a significant chunk of discretionary income on a bicycle?

The most sensible route is to let that person self-identify.

There are some really high-end boutique sports cars which are mainly only good for soothing really huge mid-life crises and driving on tracks at track days---an expensive hobby even by cycling standards. Most of us have never and never will see ads for those cars, because until a person reaches a certain level of personal interest, marketing would be wasted. Most people are not going to drop a few hundred thousand on a car which is barley drivable on the street, which need to be trailered to a track, , and which cannot be driven on a track unless the car owner pays outrageous fees. By the time a person finds him- or herself in the position of wanting a track-day car, s/he has already met a lot of enthusiast drivers and owners, joined chat rooms, followed forums .... and then, might get targeted mail or email ads. Why would those companies market to people who buy econobox loss-leaders?

Why should Trek or Giant spend any money on people who think $200 is a lot for a bike?

Here's a key. Everybody knows about cycling. Everybody knows that one can buy and ride a bicycle. And most people probably have, as kids. The experience and the knowledge are there. And most adults seem uninterested in spending even $100 and taking 20 minutes a day to ride. They simply don't want to.

Why market to people who have already opted out?
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Old 09-23-20, 04:27 PM
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Maelochs I was with you until the end, but I disagree that the average adult is not worth marketing to because of low potential earnings from them due to thinking $200 is a lot for a bike. Even before the pandemic, e-bike sales were skyrocketing everywhere. There have also been some successfully funded Kickstarters for bikes marketed a bit differently than how the typical bike brand tries to attract buyers.

Again using car sales to contrast with the bike market, the average price for a car sold in the US is over $30,000. With very good, reliable, practical options costing well below that amount. Yes, the country's infrastructure makes a car all but mandatory, but then consider that there's an average of more than 1 car per adult. Cars have become so ingrained in this country that the average person buys cars the way the beyond-average BF zealot buys bikes! We can go down the list of other items that our capitalistic society believes are indispensable instead of luxury. No fundamental reason, other than poor execution, that bikes couldn't be part of that as well.
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Old 09-23-20, 05:37 PM
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Originally Posted by surak View Post
We can go down the list of other items that our capitalistic society believes are indispensable instead of luxury. No fundamental reason, other than poor execution, that bikes couldn't be part of that as well.
I disagree.

Because of poor public transport and the complexities of scheduling most functioning members of society do need a car. I lived for decades car-free only because I accepted drastic curtailments in freed oms and options. If I had had a spouse and children, there is no way i could have been car-free. it is not feasible to get kids to day-care, then another kid to school, then another kid to another school, and to get to work, and to collect all the kids after work, then to get them to extra-curricular activities, all on a bicycle ---for almost every one.

Some people might live next to a bus station, or work from home, or find every place they want to go is serviced by public transport. most people do not have this situation. Most people simply cannot function effectively is this car-centric culture without a car---unless they are solo and willing to make huge compromises.

More than one car per household? Yeah, two working spouses who cannot get to work via public transport.

Ever work second or third shift? I have lived in major cities where most bus routes shut down after late evening because there weren't enough riders to justify running buses. Which means, if you go to work at five, you can't get a bus home. Which means, if you start work at 9 or 11, you can't get a bus to work. And if your place of business is not near some popular locus, you might have to walk a mile or more to get to work after taking a bus anyway, which can sure suck in inclement weather.

Trying to elevate cycling to a similar level of necessity is simply unreasonable, because it isn't real.

Everyone knows that it is Really hard, if not impossible, to get by without a car. And everybody knows it is really easy to get by without a bike---Because They Already Do.

You cannot tell someone who is getting by just fine without a bike, that a bike is every bit as important as a car. Because as dense as people can be, No one would fall for that.

A biker is simply Not indispensable. For most people a a car is---or if not absolutely indispensable, so important that not having a car would have a huge negative impact on most people.

Think about anyone who drives 45 minutes to work. That is probably a 30-mile drive---which is a Two-Hour bike ride. How many people are physically fit enough to ride four hours a day, five days a week, in all weather, and work a full **** in between.

In hot weather the rifer would need a shower and a change of clothes, which adds another 15 minutes or so, and also requires such facilities to be available at the job site. I have worked a lot of jobs, and bikes to most of them, and never had a shower available. Also in hot weather a rider might take 30 minutes to stop sweating after a two-hour ride. And what about torrential rain? is there a place the rider can stow his or her soaked clothing? or even hang it to dry?

Anyone who works in a office or with the public, where personal appearance is important, is at a huge disadvantage cycling to work. A woman might have to do full makeup at the job site, because a full face and a coiffure certainly isn't going to survive a sweaty bike ride---and if the rider wears a helmet .....

And how about grocery shopping? yeah i can load 80 pounds of gear onto my touring bike--but if I just did a 60-mile commute, it is going to be a hard ride home with groceries. And if I am the head of the household and shopping for a spouse and two kids ....

I am not trying to be rude, but I would hazard a guess that you have never lived car-free. I have decades of experience. I know how hard it is. I also know that I found it rewarding in a lot of ways. However, I now own a car. it hardly gets used, but it is invaluable. I can see you have never tried to buy lumber for a building project, never tried to haul a week's laundry, bought a week's groceries, and never tired to keep yourself healthy while riding every single day, running errands, going to work ... and maybe even now and then trying to go on a date or socialize with friends.

As I said, a solo individual, wirth no family, no career goals, and a lot of determination, can possibly make it work. But that person has to choose to live in an area where it can work, has to choose jobs which allow it to work---which might mean sacrificing income or career opportunities---can only pursue entertainment options which fit a cycling lifestyle---has limited educational opportunities---try riding form job to class --if the schedule doesn't just happen to work out, you can't take that class.

In other words---been there, done that. A bike is Not indispesnable. A car can be dispensed with in a very few situations for a very small number of people. There is no equivalency, and people will call you out immediately if you try to pretend there is,.
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Old 09-23-20, 05:56 PM
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Maelochs I did not say there were more than one car per household, I said there are more cars than adults. How often have you felt it necessary to personally drive more than 1 car simultaneously, poor infrastructure or not? I also stated that the cost of a new car, when cars have for the last two decades plus have been extremely reliable, has exceeded that which is arguably necessary. The average person buying a car pays for one that is more expensive than a hybrid RAV4, which I would safely say is a decent option for the average American driver. People don't need a luxury car to live and get by in the US. They've been buying them anyway. That's disposable/financed money that you also see being thrown around for Apple products year in and year out regardless of real necessity, and the incessant ads for those products suggest that marketing plays a big role in it.

I may have never lived my adult life LCF for more than a month, but I have gone a year spending only $25 in gas. I don't know what that has to do with what I've been saying, which is that it's not a foregone conclusion that adults won't pay more for bikes (again, see the rise of e-bikes). Heck, they'll even pay for bikes that don't take them anywhere if the marketing message resonates.
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Old 09-30-20, 03:38 PM
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It's an interesting topic - I can't remember any advertising for cycling products, bicycles, or any other cycling paraphernalia outside of cycling periodicals or watching the Tour on the various networks over the past 20 years. Even the new Specialized advertisements about their Turbo Bikes have only appeared during the Tour. You would think that they would advertise through non-cycling outlets to encourage new riders/users. Then again maybe they know if they sing to the choir they will get more sales. Marketing isn't proven to work until it does.
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Old 10-01-20, 12:52 PM
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Originally Posted by surak View Post
However, as a newb, I didn't know how to acquire a decent one at a good price, so I ended up focusing on modern bikes. Now, I find myself primarily caring more about how my bikes ride than look -- I don't care one lick how they compare to others, only whether I like riding them. Modern or retro, I only pay attention to the design elements that affect my ride. Basically, nothing bothers me about a bike that would fit my riding style except if the colorway clashed with all my gear (I never said I wasn't a little vain). Note the complete lack of caring about whether my bikes "fit in" with what other people ride. I have to think that is the more common feeling around here, not people's choices being driven by the insecurity to conform, right?
Really interesting topic - my view as a newb is 180* from yours.

Of all the hobbies I follow, cycling has got to be the absolute worst when it comes to folks falling into what's being marketed. The opinions you get here, LBS, Facebook and so so on are at the end of the day an outcome of the industry's efforts, so you and I are actually being exposed to the marketing everytime we interact with someone else.

And as I said, it is the absolute worst. People are suckers when it comes to bikes, even if they're not suckers with their other hobbies. Someone highly critical on a car forum are all of a sudden all about wide, gravel, slack, weight, aero, boost, disc, thru axle, carbon, ti, steel is real, full sus, tubeless blah blah without a critical thought.

i'm a sucker too. It can't tell you objectively why I want Ultegra hydraulic levers and deep carbon rims, but I do. Neither can I tell you that they provide ANY benefits over what I already have.

Every single one of us has a stake in it if we want to break the cycle. Wake up people. Or just enjoy being suckers and have fun with it. Nothing hurts except the wallet.

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Old 10-01-20, 02:27 PM
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I think in the grand scheme of bikes I am not typical. I ride my bike purely for pleasure and getting a work out. I am a runner too and really the same situation we cycle because of the physical outlet that I happen to like. At some point I ride and performance becomes dominate although I don't race. I like to ride long and fast if possible. However with aging I don't want to take chances.

The average person who gets on a bike or even buys one from any source is not me, at least I think that. Since I ride many miles it becomes important that I am my own mechanic and take care of my own needs. Clearly I am not the typical cyclist and if my bike is not shifting just prefect I need to get it back in shape. The typical rider is going out and can ride almost anything for a few miles and no real wear. They don't need clip on shoes and fancy clothes. If the cycling industry is putting all it efforts of marketing into a roadie like myself I think they are nuts but who knows.

Right now gravel and utility bikes that can be ridden under a variety of conditions but still in style and that seems to be where the market is. I am not one of those and could care less. Some things over the years have been great innovation's like SIS shifting and I have no desire to go backwards. Probably electronic at some point but my 6800 shifts completely flawless marginal gain until I need/want a new bike. LBS in the area really don't need someone like me I am probably a negative. If I need something chances are they do not have in stock and over course like them I can order it online too. I don't need the mechanical assistance and mostly they do no stock what I use. I do buy cables at times but tires really the 2 LBS around here do not carry Conti GP 5000 or at least do not have them in stock much.

Some innovations take me a lot of time. I perfectly happy with rim brakes but probably will go with disk at some point or at least buy a disk brake bike. My biggest gripes is the major players Trek and Specialized have press fit bottom brackets for the most part. I will not have them unless absolutely forced. All I hear of is folks with BB problems and maintenance on them. My bikes right now have 30000 miles on them between them and I have never once done a thing to the BSA threaded BB. This was done to save money the manufacturing process and so now I go to custom bikes. I still prefer exposed cables and housing as the easiest to maintain and change, the first tries at these frames were not user friendly

So as you tell from the conversation so far I put forth I am not anywhere near the normal bike consumer yet I manage to ride them way more than any normal person. In fact normal folks will say I am slightly nutty. I guess my point is that from all I can see in the cycling industry I am not much of a target and maybe a detriment. I can hear the executives in the industry saying to someone like me..........."wow, we don't want this person around they try to be self sufficient, probably not going be be buying a bike every year or 2, not to mention they find something that works and don't fix it............"

I really don't care too much about what other cyclist think about my riding or clothing. I have to do what works for me and find the mix. To bring new folks into cycling I love that idea but I am just not the best person be telling anyone what to do. Over the years I have found certain jerseys and clothing that allow me to ride all winter as long as no ice on road or huge wind chills below zero.

My final rant or thought is that sometimes it simply is easier to replace then change a part. Bearing for wheels can get expensive and time consuming to replace. I buy or build my own routine easily serviceable wheels that so are have never cost more than $350. If they last for 2-3 years and maybe 15000 miles it maybe better to buy a new set if things get worn. All this I see as nothing a LBS would want in myself as a customer. From all I can see I am cyclist but rarely deal with a LBS. I have nothing directly against them they are doing a service. One thing I could tell them since I repair guitars for a living and have some understanding of customer service. If I have a LBS or was an owner I would put all my energy into repairs and mechanical work and I would not care if you ever bought a bike from me. Bring you bike to me and we can get it working or explain what you need to get it correct. We are not brand loyal or have any attitude about bikes. Some ride because that is there only way to get around. They rely on them like some do cars. Others want to just spin around the neighborhood. Take them all even roadies who want to see how fast they can go or climb.
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Old 10-01-20, 04:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Mounttesa View Post
People are suckers when it comes to bikes, even if they're not suckers with their other hobbies. Someone highly critical on a car forum are all of a sudden all about wide, gravel, slack, weight, aero, boost, disc, thru axle, carbon, ti, steel is real, full sus, tubeless blah blah without a critical thought.

i'm a sucker too. It can't tell you objectively why I want Ultegra hydraulic levers and deep carbon rims, but I do. Neither can I tell you that they provide ANY benefits over what I already have.

Every single one of us has a stake in it if we want to break the cycle. Wake up people. Or just enjoy being suckers and have fun with it. Nothing hurts except the wallet.
I'm curious, how do you see the bolded section expressed? The things you listed often lead to contentious threads, but I feel like I see plenty of criticism and more reactions against trends than blind cheerleading for them.

You bring up an interesting point that most bike choices we make are subjective rather than ones that make meaningful, quantifiable difference to riding. Maybe that's OK, because cycling isn't something we do where it makes sense to eliminate all feeling and emotion. How much our opinions are shaped by marketing, especially directly, I don't know, but it's not like marketing is all-powerful -- it's a lot easier to sell a message that resonates with people who then amplify it. I know disc brake and road tubeless detractors would point to those as examples where it seems the industry is ramming them through regardless of consumer demand, but if they didn't have merit then I would expect some manufacturer to profit from the pushback. They aren't all sitting in a dark smoke-filled room making unilateral decisions about which bikes will be available.
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Old 10-01-20, 05:35 PM
  #16  
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I stand by my view---the vast majority of bikes sold in the US are sold by big-box stores, to people who think a $400 bike is ridiculously overpriced.

The profit margin on these bikes is minimal, and only a store like a Walmart can afford to pay the rent to sell at that low a margin. Walmart also sells accessories, but all the accessories a person might need can be had for the cost of a decent helmet at an LBS.

Bike shops, which cannot afford the credit, do not have the traffic and do not have the showroom space for both cheap and expensive bikes, try to attract wealthier riders---enthusiast riders---because not are they more likely to spend big bucks on bikes, but they are also much more likely to sell high-profit accessories and upgrades to those riders.

Sure, Trek could sell Magnas or whatever Walmart brand---but certainly wouldn't sell low-budget Treks (Mongoose example listed above.) Problem is, first off, the people who buy Walmart bikes shop at Walmart. They don't tend to make special trips to bike shops---so it would take a Huge ad campaign just to get the word out to Walmart shoppers that they could get cheap bikes for the same price at Trek dealers. But how many towns don't even Have a Trek dealer? Every municipal region of any size has a few Walmarts, Sam's Clubs, Costcos .... but how many have Giant or Cannondale stores?

And all those low-end bikes---which Trek or Cannondale dealers would have on pure speculation---would squeeze out all the high-end models. Further, the expensive bikes might even scare off some of the less affluent customers.

Terrible business idea.

Further, because of economies of scale, the high-end shops would probably have to pay more for those cheap, low-margin bikes than big-box stores would. So now there would be absolutely zero incentive for low-income or low-interest bike buyers to ever visit the high-end shop, even to by low-end bikes--especially not to buy low-end bikes.

I don't care how many people compare bikes to cars, or share anecdotes about personal economy. All that shows me is that those people have no clue what motivate buyers.

People buy cars for more than one reason.. The first reason is necessity---for most people it is simply impossible to live in any suburban or rural area without motorized transport. There isn't sufficient public transport, distances are too great, and also, almost all our cities, towns, and villages have been designed for people who own cars---except really big cities, and particularly for cities which have developed in the past 70 years or so, the highway and the car were the center of the design. A place like NYC, which was built up in horse-and-buggy days, might not reward car ownership--but the amount of income spent on taxis, Ubers, etc is equivalent to car ownership, and the fleets of vehicles are there. In most places I have visited---and I have been all around the country---car ownership was by far the norm---as a certain posters\'s mention of car ownership exceeding the adult population proves. (https://www.vocativ.com/culture/fun/...ple/index.html)

So---people buy cars because a bike or a bus or a taxi or walking simply won't get the job done. That in itself relegates the bike to the status of a luxury or recreational purchase.

Further, people buy cars for independence---teens buy cars if they can, so they aren't dependent on borrowing the parents' cars, and so they can get work when not in school---and date and party with more freedom. I don't see a lot of bikes with back seats, or bikes you can sit in to party when the weather is freezing and rain or snow is falling.

The reason people buy more car than they absolutely need is status. Anyone who has to be told this would be best walking away from discussion about marketing.

People buy cars because they identify with the cars. They use their cars as communication methods, telling other people about who the owners are. People buy cars to show that they have wealth, or youth, or a sense of adventure, or are manly, or rugged (how many 4x4s have never seen dirt, except to be parked on the lawn for washing? How many pick-up trucks have never had a load in the bed? How many sports cars have never seen 100 mph?

People buy as much car as they can afford as a rule, and are quite willing to go into debt, deeper than needed, to get a car they like---a car which says what the buyers want it to say. Not everyone can, but everyone tries. I spent most of my life among poor people, and they were the ones who were most eager to add a few cheap custom parts to their cars to express some identity or individuality.

And of course, people with means can get more cars, just like people with means can have more bikes. The parallel there is pretty exact. Gravel bike? Ow vehicle to pull the boat? Aero CF knife? Middle-aged crisis sports car. track day cars, weekend cars, project cars .... I have some friends I met shooting auto racing who, instead of buying a summer home or buying stocks and bonds, bought old Porsches or whatever to drive on occasional sports-car vacation weekends with other enthusiasts.

And of course there is the husband's car, the wife's SUV for hauling the kids, the two old cars (the ones before the most recent SUV and sedan) which are kept for the kids ....

But none of those reasons for buying cars could be fulfilled by buying bikes.

And absolutely, none could be filled by Walmart-level bikes. Some of those wealthy people do have bikes---not motorcycles, but that is another luxury/enthusiast/recreation item in the category----but bicycles. Those are the folks who buy the $5K and $10K bikes with all the latest bling, who buy the $400 helmets, the $300 bibs, the $250 jerseys .....

But the people who have one car per adult in the household, or just one car---the ones who could only afford a Walmart bike---aren't going to buy one because they need that car. They don't need that bike. And there is no way, without completely redesigning the American economy---with its 8-9 hour work days (including breaks and lunch) its six-hour school days, its expensive day cares---and the American landscapes, with urban sprawl---that a bike can do, for most people, what a car can do---not even close.

So there is no way to sell a bike as a necessity on par with a car. it simply is not, and likely never will be. perhaps some future-looking communities will be built which are laid out for and encourage bike ownership---but I have seen the ones that have been built (the "planned communities" which encourage walking by having small shops within walking distance of clusters of dwellings, to supposedly stimulate the sort of lifestyle of some European communities, where people stop on the way home and buy groceries of the evening meal, instead of shopping once a week for everything.) Those communities fail, because people still have and need to have cars, and prefer to drive---and due to time constraints and efficiency, prefer to shop at larger stores less frequently.

Basically, in America almost everyone needs a car and almost no one---except for people who have too many DUIs---needs a bike. So any idea of marketing a bike as a necessity is dead at birth.

Further, most people who Want bikes find that cheap Walmart bikes serve all their needs. pretty much any bike will work for a low-speed, low-impact tour of the neighborhood after dinner, or a few miles on the MUP on the weekends. Those people are too smart to pay $800 for a bike when a $180 bike will do everything they need and more. yeah, the bike is crap compared to a really nice bike ... but many of us grew up riding pretty crappy bikes and it didn't seem to matter at the time.

So .... the way major bike manufacturers market makes a lot of sense. They cannot compete with big-box stores unless they build or rent big-box stores to spread the costs over a wide variety of items (Walmart couldn't sell even its cheap bikes for anything near that price of they Just sold bikes---they can sell stuff cheap because they sell so much stuff, and they can afford the shopping because they can fill container ships---or buy into shipping businesses. (https://deltavan1.wordpress.com/2016...n-just-5-days/) No way a competitor can match the shipping costs when Walmart Owns Its Own Ships.

So Trek, Giant, Specialized---they are priced out of the low-end market. They have to aim at the next level up, and the real money comes from going even further up the food chain---and convincing people they need the Latest best, and convincing people they need to spend big bucks on accessories. And as far as that goes .... they market to the people who will spend the cash, and since they are all still in business .... maybe it's working? (https://www.statista.com/topics/1448...try-in-the-us/)

Other interesting stats--https://www.bicycle-guider.com/bike-facts-stats/

Last edited by Maelochs; 10-01-20 at 05:41 PM.
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Old 10-01-20, 07:01 PM
  #17  
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LBSes were going out of business left and right before the pandemic caused the current boom, so I think maintaining the business model and marketing focused on existing cyclists is myopic. Even an enthusiast with deep pockets is not going to faithfully buy everything thru their LBS when a lot of stuff is heavily discounted online.

As an example, Specialized may be doing fine, but their dealer network is feeling the squeeze due to their decision to offer their products through large online distributors like BackCountry. But Specialized did this to stay competitive with product availability and visibility. Even the better off customer has come to expect convenience. Much more in that direction and there won't be anything left except boutique shops catering only to the top-end, with everybody else being available only through online or big-box channels.

Again, I point to the success of e-bikes worldwide as showing the potential for new, non-enthusiast customers. No amount of plotting to kill rim brakes and inner tubes is going to matter as much to mainstream bike manufacturers' future sales as capturing a share of that e-bike market. I saw a Rad Power Bikes billboard along a busy arterial here in Seattle. I realize they're local, but it's still surprising to see when again, the only time I've seen bikes advertised in mass media has been in car commercials. The people making car ads aren't just throwing in bikes for no reason, they know that adding them to their ads appeals to their target buyer who may not actually even have one. They're masters at selling their product by projecting desirable images of owning a car (in stark contrast to the reality of it) and have probably done more to make owning a bike desirable to the average American than actual bike manufacturers.

E-bikes are a gateway to regular bikes, too. I'm curious to see how the industry will try to convert the novice e-bike buyer into a lifetime customer. That person is already much more invested in cycling than someone whose entry was a BSO from a big box store. They'll be riding, getting fitter, enjoying themselves, and looking for opportunities to expand on the pursuit. I doubt the yearly touting of 11% added stiffness and aerodynamics will do the trick. Unlike with cars, more mileage won't be much of a concern. Trying to get them to step up to a fancy road bike or e-roadie also seems like too big of a leap.
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Old 10-01-20, 08:28 PM
  #18  
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Originally Posted by surak View Post
I'm curious, how do you see the bolded section expressed? The things you listed often lead to contentious threads, but I feel like I see plenty of criticism and more reactions against trends than blind cheerleading for them.
It's the cheerleading from both sides with questionable justification on contentious topics, and also the status quo for not-so-contentious ones.

Disc vs Rim is a good one, and while I have my personal opinion I'd love nothing more than for both to co-exist and be available forever without people have to take sides where one is being obsolete or the other regarded as defacto better. I love how this one isn't settled and we get a mix at the Pro level.

And there are really great rational voices that tow right down the grey zone, but what sticks mostly is the absolutes. As I relative newb that's what I see a lot of, and if I were to just buy in and go with it, it's easy to see I'll pass on the same advice. "You need a carbon (or steel, or Ti, but never aluminum) aero lightweight electronic integrated thru 1x that fits 50mm tubeless tires that's all day comfortable forgiving like a magic carpet with lazer racer like reflexes that can put power down like a hammer".

I'm taking it to extremes and I'm not really all that bothered... mostly. My wallet hurts though.

Last edited by Mounttesa; 10-01-20 at 08:34 PM.
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Old 10-01-20, 11:13 PM
  #19  
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It is quite hard to market something to people that have no interest in it.
Even marketing for a very popular item like a smart phone basically has no impact on me at all.
I am simply not interested and when they push the latest and greatest I just switch off and ignore it.
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Old 10-02-20, 10:12 AM
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Nearly every waking moment of our lives is pervaded by advertising. Don't wish more upon us.

Stuff that gets national advertising is being marketed to everyone. Food and detergent and cars and "ask your doctor". Bikes however are sporting goods, hobby items. If you show any interest in bikes to social media you will be bombarded with plenty of ads. I'm sure the same is true of other hobby stuff. I can't recall the last time I saw a national level ad for any brand of sportsball equipment other than shoes, even on the sportsball games.
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Old 10-02-20, 11:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
Food and detergent and cars and "ask your doctor".
"Ask your doctor if road cycling is for you. May cause an empty wallet, pain in the butt, leg pain, and occasional sweating. Patients who are afraid of hills should not try road cycling."
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