Mountain bike production giant Intense cycles has shaken the industry this week with announcement of a new rider direct sales model and a drop in retail prices of all their bikes by twenty-five per cent, overnight. This is a massive step for Intense and marks the beginning of a new phase for the company as a means of competing with brands such as YT and Canyon. Is this the beginning of the end for our local bike stores?
The writing has been on the wall for brands like Intense to offer a more competitive price point to consumers and match the value for money offered by direct sales brands such as Canyon and YT Industries, this week they stepped up to the plate and shook the industry as only Intense could.
The new ‘Rider Direct’ program will see consumers able to order their bikes direct from Intense online and have it either delivered to their door or to their local dealer, at exactly the same price point. Over night the prices on all models have dropped 25% and the market has all of a sudden become a lot more competitive for Intense, placing pressure on other brands such as Santa Cruz to move in similar direction. Whilst it might come as a surprise to many, Intense have certainly put a lot of though and research into this decision and have banked their future on it.
What does this mean for Riders?
Well the new program is being touted as a win for consumers with exactly the same quality cycles that have made Intense a boutique brand with riders such as Jack Moir flying the flag on the world cup circuit. Consumers will be able to purchase the same quality bikes for a markedly reduced price as of earlier this week, there are sure to be some teething issues as the program is being introduced but overall it will save the average Joe a fair wad of cash that will stay right in their back pocket.
The question is will we get the same service that we have come to expect from the epic brand? The company says yes by all reports and many of their dealers will come online as their servicing contractors, which should mean the same quality service and bike setup and the same ability to make warranty claims should they be required.
What does this mean for the LBS?
Whilst Intense state they are standing behind their dealers, many of whom will be continuing on in a service capacity, this new structure surely will hurt the hip pocket of the majority of Intense dealers. Rider direct means a saving for riders but will surely mark a decrease in profit for the dealers, no longer able to pocket the profit from the sale of the bikes themselves. In a struggling LBS market economy and with many smaller shops shutting their doors in my local area in recent years, this may mark the beginning of harder times for some local bike stores.
A change in consumer buying habits has many of us buying spare parts online and now with more and more brands going with a direct sales model this leads this writer to wonder what is left for the local bike shops. Whilst I am always happy to save some coin, I would hate to see the demise of a specialist industry, the inability to head to the local shop to demo bikes and get advice before making a purchase is a crucial requirement for many of us. I guess time will tell and we may see many Intense dealers opting sell other brands as well, many of which already do this so the change may be minimal…..
A brave new world ahead for many within the mountain bike industry and unknown times ahead for many stores. This will mean a win for consumers but at what cost? Canyon and YT have had great success utilizing a similar model and many of the local riders that are riding Canyon bikes have raved about the service and have had little to no warranty claim issues. I guess it comes down to the company having a structured and professional approach to direct sales for the mountain bike community, something Intense cycles has never had an issue with in the past. This writer fears that this may be the beginning of the end for some Local Bikes Stores…….