- First published on Linkedin
This is the first of 2 articles about how the #customer experience in the cycling industry can change if we move from the existing, not very sustainable, linear cycling economy to a #circular cycling economy.
The article is an extract from “From marginal gains to a circular revolution“.
Sarah’s linear bike experience
Sarah is a keen amateur rider. She rides some 3,000km a year, including a couple of Gran Fondos that she approaches as her yearly goals. After a number of seasons on a second-hand bike, Sarah found that cycling really was her thing and she decided to buy a fancy carbon road bike a few years ago. Her mates told her she needed to buy something lightweight for her Gran Fondo ambitions; a bike with a carbon frame and a high-end groupset. None of her mates were riding disc brakes and they all advised her not to go for this option, as it only added weight and was not a proven technology. Eventually, she bought a top-end model with a previous generation groupset that had been on show in the shop for a few years, with a 25% discount.
Eventually, she bought a top-end model with a previous generation groupset that had been on show in the shop for a few years, with a 25% discount.
When she left the shop, Sarah was happy as well as anxious, never having spent this much money on a hobby. Yes, it is a super cool bike, but did she buy the right one? Would everything on the bike fit nicely, or would she be replacing the saddle soon for another more comfortable one? Would a bike without disc brakes still be cool in a few years’ time, as she was reading in the magazines that these were going to be the new standard?
A few years later
Sarah has now used the bike for a few years. Yes, she did replace the saddle for a different model after a couple of months, but other than that, the bike never had any issues, apart from the regular handlebar tapes, tyre and chain replacements. Now the new saddle all of a sudden started to sag, making it very uncomfortable. A close inspection showed a crack in the bottom of the shell. Speaking to her mates, she found out this was a common issue with saddles as well as other parts; she realised that a little extra material could have made the saddle last forever. Repairing it seems impossible, so she is forced to replace the saddle with a brand new one.
A couple of weeks later, Sarah crashes on a wet spot in a sharp turn on her local loop. It is not a serious crash; Sarah is not injured, and the bike has suffered no real harm. However, her handlebar hit the ground and her shifter is broken, the brake lever snapped off and the shifting mechanism somehow locked up. Sarah goes to her local bike shop that weekend to get the shifter repaired. It is busy at the bike shop and Sarah has to hang around for a while before someone is able to listen to her story. ‘We’re busy at the moment, but if you leave your bike here, we will check it out as soon as possible and give you a call.’ Unhappy – the weather is exceptionally good this weekend and she had a couple of rides planned – Sarah leaves her bike at the shop.
Eventually, she bought a top-end model with a Almost a week later, the shop calls Sarah and tells her that the shifter cannot be repaired and thus needs to be replaced
Almost a week later, the shop calls Sarah and tells her that the shifter cannot be repaired and thus needs to be replaced, but that they cannot find a shifter of the same, older generation. They tell her that they need to order an entire new set from a new generation of shifters, and that this new generation is incompatible with her front and rear derailleur. This means that she needs to replace these too, and it will be another couple of weeks before the parts arrive and the shop has time to replace the old ones. The cost, including labour, is about 30% of the original price of the bike. The bike shop asks Sarah whether it might be an idea to buy a new bike with the latest technology instead? Even unhappier than before, Sarah decides to let the bike shop do the repairs.
Just after she gets her repaired bike back, she goes out on a training ride with a group of friends in preparation for her main event of the season. In a few weeks’ time, they will head to the Alps together to ride some of the famous cols of the Tour de France. The six-day trip has different start and finish locations, taking them from Albertville to Nice.
Disc brakes are a must-have it seems, the guys cannot stop talking about them.
Most of her friends seem to have bought new bikes this winter – shiny bikes with aero shapes and disc brakes are parked around the local coffee bar where they usually meet. Sipping her cup of coffee, Sarah listens to the stories being told around her. Disc brakes are a must-have it seems, the guys cannot stop talking about them. They all bought these bikes specifically for the trip this summer. ‘The old types of brakes cannot get you down these mountains safely – if you go to the mountains, you need to have disc brakes,’ is what she hears everywhere. Sarah listens and regrets her decision not to buy a new bike, instead of doing the repairs; her bike is clearly not as good as the new ones bought by the others.
The linear economy
Sarah’s story is not a true story, but it easily could have been. What she experiences are issues typically related to the linear economic system that comes with the expectation of continuous growth of sales and revenues to generate as much ‘shareholder value’ as possible. In the next article, you’ll see how Sarah experiences a whole new buying experience in a circular cycling economy. An experience that is not only better for her as a customer, but better for shops, the brands ánd the planet.