Starting off this Friday still quite at the beginning of the year, it’s hard to overlook a bit of a rollercoaster the Cycling Industry is on at the moment. We’re still seeing plenty of new product announcements and plans to launch a new wave of new road, gravel & mountain bikes. But at the same time we see struggles for brands big and small. Yet, it’s not all doom & gloom, for example, both Eurobike & SRAM are expanding.
Cycling Industry Ups & Downs
I’ll keep this brief, as it’s really just a smattering of news bites that have swept across my desk in the last ten days or so. But in a time of global economic uncertainty, I can’t really ignore the ups & downs of my own industry, even if I’m generally reporting more on technical gear than the companies behind it all. It is after all, the success of these companies that keeps me gainfully employed.
Look Mum No Hands shutters London cafe & workshop
The one that curiously seemed to be the tipping point for me was the shuttering of the Look Mum No Hands cafe in London. I think really I was there only once. But it had been an institution for more than 12 years. And had been one of the earliest, and longest-running successful examples of a mixed-function cycling community shop – a cafe, a bar, and a bike workshop wrapped up in one. Like many others in the service industry, the pandemic had been hard on Look Mum No Hands, and they had to lock up for good. Here’s hoping those behind the scenes will bounce back soon. You can keep an eye out for them still via social media… fingers crossed.
Machines for Freedom calls it quits
Earlier at the start of the month, Specialized put an end to their inclusive women’s apparel company Machines for Freedom. Founded by Jenn Kriske to help break down barriers to entry that continue to keep many potential cyclists from getting on the bike, Machines for Freedom was all about making riders of all shapes & size comfortable in performance cycling gear. There are few companies that are so open about creating a safe space for riders outside of the relatively narrow fit-cyclist-assumption from getting into riding bikes. Machines for Freedom was one of those. And while it is unfortunate that they apparently weren’t profitable enough to continue, they did build a welcoming community. That hopefully will live on, and we’ll try to keep an eye out on social media for them, too.
Parlee files for bankruptcy
We hope this isn’t by any means the end of Parlee. But reported on by industry news site Bicycle Retailer, Parlee Cycles filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection is pretty troubling news from the premium custom carbon framebuilder that’s been around for more than two decades. Owing about twice as much as they have in assets at the moment, the bike maker will need a serious restructuring to make their business sustainable again.
Parlee believes that bankruptcy protection should allow them to deliver to current & future customers, while they shore up efficient operation and settle their debts. According to Parlee COO Jamie Bradley, “There have been a confluence of factors, from COVID-19, from supply chain challenges, to inflation pressures on the entire business. And, so my view is, this is not something unique just to our industry. But I think the cycling industry is going through a lot of pain right now. I would encourage everyone to stay positive, to support each other through what is a challenging time.”
Fingers crossed for Parlee. We’ve been covering them since the early days of Bikerumor, and hope to see many more of their sparking bikes in the future.
MIPS claims a 50% decline in helmet demand at the end of 2022
Another troubling tidbit from Bicycle Retailer this week was a story on decreased MIPS Protection sales last year that highlighted a 50% Q4 2022 decline in helmet sales at the end of last year. MIPS’s overall annual sales didn’t sink nearly so far, but their CEO Max Strandwitz cited, a “drastic slowdown in the bike sector in the second half of the year” that had a “substantial negative impact” on the brand’s overall sales. And helmets are a pretty core part of cycling, right? If cyclists aren’t buying new MIPS helmets to ride safely, will they keep buying new bikes and other gear that’s less critical?
Mercury Wheels shutting down, too
Another bit of sad industry news, this one compounded not just by the pandemic but also by the serious health issues. Mercury Wheels is shutting down, effective next week. So this is the last chance to get ahold of their wheels for road, gravel & cross bikes, as some seriously discounted prices. It’s really a bummer for us to hear this, and we wish Chris all the best.
Eurobike continues to expand in Frankfurt
On a more upbeat note, the biggest bike industry tradeshow (and the last one standing), Eurobike announced this week that they expect a full house this summer when they return to a second year at their new location in downtown Frankfurt, Germany. Citing 400 more new exhibitors on top of a successful line-up last year, the 2023 edition of their show will expand its display area this summer to meet increased demand for booth space.
Explaining their growth, Eurobike says, “The worldwide interest shows that the bike and lightweight electromobility industry is back on the road to normality and needs a leading global trade fair.” The e-mobility reference isn’t lost on us, as we do see more growth not only in performance e-bikes, but also as ebike alternative transportation, a welcome trend.
We’ll be there again, and look forward to more new tech to dig through and share.
SRAM expands in Taiwan
One last bit of silver lining from Bicycle Retailer this week is news that SRAM is ramping up to open another, entirely-new 100,000m2 manufacturing facility in Taiwan next year. Slated to be almost 1/3 larger than their other four facilities in Taiwan – which we toured back in 2015 – this new Taichung factory is meant to boost production efficiency to help meet increasing demand for cycling components, and likely to build more capacity for SRAM‘s growing portfolio.