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ASDA Launches Pedal Power Not-For-Profit Bicycles, U.S. Bike Shops Should Take Notice

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Pedal Power, a campaign to get more people riding bicycles in the UK, has joined with ASDA to produce a not-for-profit bike program, helping to make bicycles more accessible (read: affordable) to the masses.

Just like Trek’s WSD PM said in our interview last week, if someone can’t afford a bike, then it doesn’t much matter how light or fast it is.  So here’s where U.S. Bike Shops and Distributors should sit up and take notice.

We all complain about the shoddy builds and tunes of Wal-Mart bikes, but no independent bike shops that I’ve seen carry any bikes that are under $100.  QBP?  Hawley?  KHS?  You there?  Pay attention…If you want to get more people a) on bikes and b) going to bike shops, follow ASDA’s model, but sell them through IBD’s:

1) Create a not-for-profit division. Work with a major bicycle manufacturer or find your own supplier, but create bikes that can be profitably sold in independent bike shops.

2) Distribute them through your current catalogs to get them into independent bike shops, where they’ll be built up responsibly and correctly.

3) Market them effectively via good PR and viral buzz…this screams of the type of thing Oprah, etc., would get behind, and you need to reach beyond the cycling media to get to the people that would buy these bikes.

4) Bike shops benefit from increased traffic, where they can upsell the customer with helmets, gloves, locks, etc.  This helps offset the lower profit from selling these bikes.  Heck, they may even order these items from your catalog…

5) More people on bikes = better cycling infrastructure. Don’t believe me?  I’m not the only one saying that a stronger cycling culture leads to better accommodations.  Plus, more people riding bikes = more business for bike shops = more business for bicycle parts distributors.  Works out well, eh?

Oh, and did you know…

…ASDA is owned by Wal-Mart…I’m not sure which side of the camp you’re on, but Wal-mart seems to be doing the right thing with this program, and they certainly have the ability to drive the volume necessary to get bikes at these prices…which is why, in my opinion, a U.S. bike distributor is the perfect option.  They can sell into any of the thousands of bicycle shops regardless of what other bike brands the shop carries…there’s no reason why every bike shop in a city couldn’t carry them because they’re priced like a commodity item.  Target doesn’t not carry Gillette because Wal-Mart does.

If the program is succesful in the UK, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t bring this program to the states, in which case the bicycle distributors best get crackin’ and beat ’em to the punch.

BTW, ASDA President and CEO Andy Bond is embarking on a 1,000+ mile bike ride to raise money for the Bike Club consortium to set up community bike clubs for young people and families to discover cycling.

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mike Rubbo
mike Rubbo
14 years ago

My not for profit activities are now focussed on bringing E bikes to people’s attention, esp. for commuting.

Ride light and speedy in the weekend and then switch to an E bike Monday morning .

I’m convinced E bikes are potentially a paradigm shift, a technological breakthrough which will re open biking and commuting by bike to a huge public.

Here is a video I made working to persuade a neighbor, a cyclist but never a commuter, to try my E bike for a ride to his work, a daunting 12 hilly traffic heavy, miles

Cheers Mike Rubbo

Adam Watts
Adam Watts
14 years ago

The problem with the bikes that walmart sells goes way beyond the incredibly poor build. Most of these bikes cannot be made to work properly even by good mechanics. If they were given to me for free it would be difficult for me to do a reliable build and bring them to market at $100. I tried once. Bought bikes for $50 from Micargi, sold them for $100 with only a 30 day guarantee. Turns out people expect more of me than that, and we ended up with less than satisfied customers. Took my mechanics so long to properly tune them that I lost money. Walmart customers have much lower expectations, and understand that if they ride regularly the bike may not get past a few months.
As far as add-ons, thats also not a winner. In the 70s, when I got into the industry, bike margins were very thin. The idea, in many cases, was to break even on the bike and make it up in accessories. At the time this worked pretty well. In todays world, due largely to internet sales, accessory margins are much lower. You can’t expect to make a few extra margin points on these items, and because of that bike margins are much better.
Bottom line is that you shouldn’t expect bike shops, or distributors, to act as non-profits. There’s an old saying that goes “if you’re not in business to make money you’re not in business.” We will ignore such wisdom at our peril.

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