It’s that time of year when the memory of a new bike under the tree brightens the young at heart. For me my first bike came at Christmas in a warm far off place, Hawaii. It was a Murray that was not entirely mine since the bike had a removable top tube which was intended to be a girls bike combo. Could this have been a worse idea at Christmas? Share a gift with your sister? Come on. Reality was she rode this bike a couple times, brothers can be cruel, but what about parents? What about the bike industry too? This “convertible bar” was how I think I remember it being advertised, was the first “hybrid”. Just think one bike that does it all for little boys and little girls alike. Parents could economize and whatever sex the next kid was they were ready with a bike. With the popularity of step through frames let’s hope the modern bike industry doesn’t revive this for the sake of the life trauma it inflicts on all parties. The stigma of riding a “girls’ bike is disappearing in the USA. I happily can say I ride a Schwinn 3 speed step- through. Just re-frame the message to step-through and off we go. If it was so easy to do with girl’s bikes then how to re-frame a Wal-Mart bike. See inherently that is the 6 billion dollar question. Who will thrive and survive in the mass market? What will that re-framing message be?
I was at Wal-Mart and Target yesterday. For the money my bet would be that Wal-Mart will continue to sell adult bicycles in the foreseeable future. Target will be out of the adult bike business within 5 years. This is no surprise. The demographics are very different for both stores. Target is upscale and Wal-Mart is price driven. Both sell adult bikes far below independent bike retailers bottom tier. There are two mass market distributors that control sales to Wal-Mart, Target, Toys R Us, K-Mart etc. The largest distributor is Pacific Cycle Inc. owned by Doral corporation and the smaller distributor Dynacraftbike. It appears that DynaCraft sees the lack of relevance in supplying adult bicycles and will focus on child bikes. The reasons for this could be the falling ridership of adults in the USA or the business cycle is too extended into the future to introduce a replacement bicycle for the “cheap Mountain Bike”. If DynaCraft wants to keep in the game they will need to step up to a viable adult product. Mountain bikes are dinosaurs and Pacific sees this too. The adult products on display at Wal-Mart included some heavy but dependable cruisers. If you are looking for a cheap grocery getter, the parts are simple, the repairs are simple and on flat ground these are fun. Stay focused when buying. A 3 piece crank may not be the best purchase if the bike with the one piece crank comes with fenders. Oh, by the way another distributor not to count out is Huffy® Bicycles. So if and when Dynacraft pulls out of adult bikes the best way to re-frame “cheap” Wal-Mart bikes might be the “KISS” bike. Yes, KISS stands for Keep It Simple Stupid. There is a reason that single speed coaster brake bikes exist long after multi-geared bikes go into the dumpster. The adult single speed cruiser is no different than the kids single speed bike. We know this, the manufactures know this. KISS your first bike and in the future when thinking about bargains and economy don’t sell yourself short. The world of bikes exist outside of the Wal-Mart bike so go discover it for yourself.