Bicycle dealers notice that the season has gotten longer

Longer cycle season, more loaded customers and more and more electric bicycles. These are some of the observations that Jonas Holtbo, Marketing and Establishment Manager at the bicycle retailer Sportson, has made in recent years. When he comes up with good advice for us cyclists, it is not to forget the maintenance.  

Not long ago, Jonas Holtbo was sitting in his car at Gullmarsplan waiting for green light. At his side came a man cycling towards the same traffic light. When it was time to stop, the brakes did not work and the man continued right into the intersection.

- If a car had come into intersection, it would have been really bad. Now I could get out of my car and help him fix the brakes so he could continue. It is a clear example of how important it is to submit your bicycle on service regularly, or go through it on your own if you have the knowledge. A bicycle requires service in the same way as a car, says Jonas Holtbo.

If you use the bike every day, service may be needed several times a year, he says. If you bike less, once a year it will suffice. Many do not have it clear.

- We often get bikes where basically everything is over; the driveline, the brake pads and so on, then we say that "it will cost so much to fix it". Then people think "What? I bought a nice bike for it to last a long time ”. We answer "No, you bought a nice bike for it to work well". It doesn't if you don't take care of it.

Longer season for cycling
On your own, you can always keep the bike clean, lubricate the chain, check the gears and brakes. Rinse off the chain, but don't use too much oil, Jonas Holtbo warns. Pinch the brakes and test before you leave. The need for maintenance has increased due to a phenomenon that he and his colleagues have seen in recent years.

- Those who ride all year round have become more, and even those who do not ride all year round ride a larger part of the year. You bike even when it is dark and cold, and set the bike only when the snow gets serious. In the past, many people cycled in the summer and then it decreased rapidly, in October cycling was stepped down properly, in November it was dead. That's not it anymore.

Oddly enough, the use of studded tires has not increased to exactly the same extent. Sportson conducted a market survey in the spring of 2017 and it turned out that only a quarter of those who ride bicycles in the winter use studded tires.

- That answer scared me a little, I do not really understand how to dare to go on a bike when it is slippery without a tire. A small cord on the front wheel loses balance immediately. One explanation may simply be a lack of information, many still do not know that bicycle tires are available.

It is important to think about how to use the bike
Sportson still sells most of what can be called standard bikes used for everyday cycling. At the same time, it is noticed that customers' preferences have become more specialized and that many who enter the stores are very well read.

- Today many people go straight to the type of bike they should have and know that "this is a cross-country, this is a trail or an enduro". It is interesting that people are more aware of the different alternatives and know what to have. This allows us traders to build a range in a more interesting way, ”says Jonas Holtbo.

He believes that it is important for the customer to think through quite carefully how the bike you buy should be used and how often.

- You do not get the function you want if you buy at too low a level. A more expensive gear system doesn't have to last anymore, but you get a completely different function. Should the bike hold for anything? Then it may not be very cheap, but it is also not an idea to go too far up the scale. If you cycle every day in all types of weather, the bike is worn harder, and it is more expensive to replace a high end system than a midrange system.

Transport rather than exercise
As a bicycle trader, you have to be aware of trends to a greater extent than a few years ago, Jonas Holtbo says. Still, you have to have ice in your stomach. Sometimes the interest in something new is great, but not everyone really strikes and buys a fatbike, for example. One trend that he undoubtedly believes will continue is electric bicycles.

- I also think that the market for electric bicycles is starting to mature, the resistance that existed a few years ago has disappeared. We see, among other things, a new type of customers who are not cyclists in the "traditional" way, but who mostly think about their needs for daily transport. They prefer to choose electric bicycles. Even traditional cyclists have changed their mindset and are beginning to realize that electric assistance is perfect when you want to get to work without having to shower. It is probably this change in attitude that has led to sales accelerating, new groups of cyclists being attracted by the possibilities of the electric bicycle. It's about transport, not training.

Cheaper and often faster
Electric bicycles also create new opportunities for business and the public sector. Both in terms of accessibility and climate neutrality.

- For example, we sell a lot of electric bicycles to the home service. Inside the city or suburb where it is more or less impossible to park the car, electric bicycle is perfect. You go from one block to another in no time, stopping right in front of the gate. It costs a fraction of having a car, and in many cases it goes much faster. These are the advantages that apply in many other industries where you need transport, where the electric bike is really an alternative.

An electric bike usually costs more than a standard bike, but what does Jonas Holtbo think is a reasonable price?

- What we have sold the most for a couple of years is electric bicycles for around SEK 15,000 or just over. Then you get a sensible high with a good system, which is built with quality. You can buy electric bikes for down to 7000 and they may work well, I can't tell everyone, but we often see in our workshops that cheaper electric bikes do not have as good quality. More importantly, they are not as well thought out in their function, they do not behave the way a bike should, since there is no thought behind the whole.

More cheerful at work when cycling
When people want to tour the bike, it is important that bicycles can be rented at the resort. To a certain extent, Sportson is noticing a growing interest from bike rental companies.

- It is not very much, but there are more people who hear from us, we notice that there are more people who enter into this industry. There are more people looking at alternatives, and then I not only think about the bike, but also that you want a safe function in actually owning the bike. Many also want our mobile service concept or just a regular service contract linked to these bikes.

The future then? Jonas Holtbo believes that we will see more of benefit bikes, that is, companies let staff rent bikes at a good price and that the cost is deducted from the salary. He sees it as a positive element in many ways, as bicycle dealers of course, but also the effects it can have on society and working life.

- Some of those who try out a preferential bicycle will continue to cycle and opt out of car or municipal transport. In addition, my own experience when I started cycling to work is that you are much nicer when you arrive, compared to if you have driven a car, so I think productivity increases in the workplaces. You also get more time over to another when you exercise to and from work. Previously, I had 1.4 miles to work and it took me 32 minutes by bike, and 26 minutes by car. Then I could ask myself why I was sitting in a car.