– Has anyone else noticed the horrific start so far for bike industry sales this year? February data were scary, but when Leisure Trends reported March I nearly fell out of my chair. Total merchandise sales in March fell 23 percent year-over-year. Bike unit sales dropped by a whopping 24 percent while the average selling price only increased by 1 percent.
Average selling price is a crucial datapoint because its steady increase over the last couple of years had been the saving grace of the bike industry. The industry hasn’t seen a year-over-year increase in bike unit sales for quite sometime. Recent industry growth was almost exclusively the result of a steady increases in bike prices. If bike prices have reached their limit, the industry has lost its most meaningful growth driver.
The caveats here are obvious. The first quarter of 2012 was crazily warm, so last year’s sales numbers probably aren’t a realistic comparison for 2013. But do you think manufacturers adjusted their production plans for this sort of sales drop? Did retailers build sales plans for a more typical Spring, or did they fall spell to irrationally exuberant optimism? Expect to see a summertime glut of inventory in all categories at your local bike shop. IBD balance sheets will groan under the weight of excess inventory. Cash there will be an endangered species. Margins will go south as shops desperately try to swap aging inventory for liquidity. If you like your IBD, go spend money there, do it now, and don’t buy stuff that’s on sale.
– From the Department of Places You Must Ride But Probably Haven’t: Go to Boise, Idaho. Yes, it’s flooded with bike lanes. Yes, it’s home to the biggest population of Basques in the US, so you’ll be widely appreciated if you show up on an orange Orbea and attack up the climbs a la Roberto “Vasco Loco” Laiseka. Yes, it’s home to Kristin Armstrong, one of America’s most successful-yet-untainted-by-dopage cyclists since Greg LeMond. But the best thing about Boise is that one minute you’re riding along a downtown boulevard thick with gorgeous Mississippi-like plantations, and then, after, two turns, you’re at the bottom of a 16-mile climb called Bogus Basin. It has zero traffic on it. News flash: In Boise, apparently cars haven’t been invented yet. And it goes and goes to the point where Boise vanishes down yonder and the high desert hills look they’re from the Vuelta a Espana or southern California. The Bogus Basin climb might be the best road in America.
– This is probably just shock jock schlock, but it’s worth pointing out for its idiocy.
– Of all the PROs I wouldn’t care to get into a backalley fistfight with, Allan Peiper is definitely in the top ten. Something about him makes it clear that he isn’t to be trifled with. He stopped racing 22 years ago, but he’s still ProTour wiry and lean. Seeing him on-camera is the best part of this video —
– This is the best Flickr photostream ever of snapshots from the Peiper era. Much wallpaper fodder here.
– This is one of the saddest tales I’ve ever read.