Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Johnsonville Cycles blog

State of the Industry Ranting and election year perceptions.

It’s been a long time since I last subjected you all to some of my ranting so in the interest of alleviating some winter lethargy here we go.

As Bob Dylan put it so succinctly “The times they are a changing”

The cycle industry has been as turbulent as ever over the last couple of years and the Wellington area has seen more change than other parts of the country. Per head of population we have always had fewer shops than the more cycle friendly flatter areas such as Christchurch and Hamilton however we now have too many shops and not enough cycling public to support them all. This will inevitably lead to change and predictions from the larger importers are that at least one or two Wellington cycle retailers will disappear over the next year or two.

The escalating cost of property and commodities over the last few years have caused significant change to society particularly in discretionary and luxury spending. Property ownership is increasingly becoming beyond the reach of the middle and lower income members of society and the statistics department figures show the gap between the rich and the poor is widening at an ever increasing rate. Political scientists and philosophers who study the evolution of capitalism have all concluded that after a certain period it begins to work in the opposite way to that originally intended. As the rich in society become richer they are able to gain ownership of more and more property and raw materials. They are then able to control prices and eliminate smaller competitors by out pricing or absorbing them.
For those of you with an interest in political systems this book gives a picture of where capitalism is headed long term.

The Rise And Fall Of Capitalism
Y.S. Brenner, Professor of Economics, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands

‘This engaging and intelligent book argues that the unbridled impact of deregulated market forces will lead to social polarization and ultimately to the destruction of capitalist society as we know it today.

After providing a lucid and accessible overview of the development of capitalism, Professor Brenner explains how human greed was confined within legal boundaries and shows how ingenuity rather than brute force ultimately became the source of wealth. He explores the interaction between ideas, behaviour and economic change and points out comparisons between scientific ideas and the phases of economic development. He warns that, by an inner logic, deregulated capitalism must necessarily lead to increased inequality and to the waning of those elements in bourgeois culture which are necessary for the proper functioning of a technologically advanced industrial economy.

Written in a lively and non-technical style, the book will appeal not only to economists but also to other social scientists and historians concerned with the history and development of modern capitalist society.

We are already seeing more large chain store style bike shops owned by investors rather than individuals. They invariably aim to sell product they have in store rather than ordering it in. This inevitably leads to compromises for the customer as the bottom line (ie investor’s dividends) becomes the main focus of their operation. There are also more on line stores offering product at prices that smaller retailers are unable to match.
Few small retailers have the resources to set up online stores. Manufacturers with integrity (Fox suspension) who believe in supporting retailers are helping to level the playing field by monitoring the price their product is selling for and eliminating the supply to retail chainstores and online stores who are discounting excessively.

One of the higher profile online stores in New Zealand recently received some media attention for their alleged business prowess. The same week we received an email from the Bicycle Industry Association informing us that there were six cases presented to the Commerce Commission against the company for false advertising and unethical trading. I believe there have subsequently been more. It amazes me that the public continue to support businesses that lack integrity and are prepared to lie to sell product. Their reputation for warranty and supply is appalling.

So how does that affect smaller shops such as Johnsonville Cycles?

Manufacturers and importers will have a significant effect on the survival of small cycle shops. Importers will always support large shops in order to sell volume. In order for the small shops to be able to retail goods at the same prices as the larger stores we need to have access to the same purchasing prices from the importers. Johnsonville Cycles has supported the Jamis and Bauer importers (Adventure Brands) who have shown a great deal of integrity when dealing with these issues. Bauer is a New Zealand based brand and whilst the cycles are manufactured off shore I believe it is important to support NZ based companies and brands whenever possible.

Small shops will have to become more service and workshop focused in order to survive. Small suburban style stores are convenient for locals when it comes to speedy repairs however without the support of local customers at a retail level (ie parts accessories and bikes) they will not survive. The bottom line is: In order for us to provide a convenient and viable place for local customers to have their bikes worked on we need support at a retail level. Cycle shops regardless of size cannot survive through servicing alone.

As Kitchener put it: “Your Country (local bike shop) needs you”


We have recently been offered some outstanding closeout deals on product

IRC tyres are going through a restructuring process so we have some excellent tyre deals.
The wet conditions this winter have made for very muddy trails so tyres with a nice sharp edge and more aggressive tread are a necessity at the moment

Mythos 2.1 wire bead knobblies. Outstanding grip and good rolling resistance usually @$45 are down to $30ea or $50 for a pair.
Mibro 1.95 kevlar 127 tpi 450gram fast rolling, usually $70 now $45ea or $80/pr
Tamashi DH tyres 2.25, 2.35,and 2.7 (std and UST) usually @$98 now $60ea
These are awesome tyres at a superb price.

Road tyres with extra puncture resistance have been our best selling product this winter as there have been unusually high levels of glass and debris on the roads from the incessant rain.
Maxxis Refuse road tyre has been getting great feedback for performance and puncture resistance. For those who need an even more puncture resistant tyre the Specialized Armadillo is a great option.

Cycle clothing. We have too many tops in stock so all tops are reduced to half price. We have a great selection with plenty of women’s specific jerseys. Great opportunity for all you guys with cycling partners to sort out an early Xmas present!!! Reduced prices start at @$45.00

Velodrome action!!!! Inspired by the Kiwi track effort at the Olympics?? Have we got the track bike for you!!
Raceline Record: 56cm, Sealed bearing hubs, Sugino cranks, Awesome light bike. Was $1799 now $1250
Jamis Sputnik: 53 and 55cm, Reynolds 631 Cromoly tubeset, Carbon fork, Was $1400 now $890


29’ers and Single speeds: Interest in these has been increasing to a point where cycle manufacturers have included several in their ’09 ranges.

Jamis: Dragon 29’er: Reynolds 853 Cromo frame, Reba Race 100mm fork with lockout and damping adjusters., XT gruppo, Juicy brakes. This is the nicest off the shelf 29’er I have seen RR$3399.
Jamis Dragon One 29’er: Single Speed, Reynolds 520 Cromo frame, Rockshox Tora Race with rebound & compression adjusters and lockout, Juicy 3 brakes $1799
Jamis Durango 29’er: Kinesis 7005 triple butted frame, Deore gruppo, Hydraulic discs, Rockshox lockout 100mm fork, Maxxis Ignitor tyres. $1299. This is the best priced 29’er I have seen and would make the ultimate commuter/MTB
Diamondback Morning Glory: Two models the Lite and the Street. Essentially big BMX/Urban style bikes with 80mm forks and robust double butted cromo frames. Both are single speeds and priced at $1599 and $2199
Haro: Ally SS: Alloy 29’er single speed with rigid cromo fork. Super light fast rolling single speed. $1299
Haro Mary SS: Double butted cromo frame and fork 29’er. Awesome value and light weight. $1699
Haro Mary XC: Double butted cromo frame 29’er. Fox fork with lockout and rebound adjuster. XT gruppo, Avid BB7 brakes, Sweet Cromo ride $2549
Haro Thread 1: Alloy dirtjump singlespeed hardtail. Truvativ Ruticon/Howitzer crankset. Marzocchi Dirtjump fork $1299
Haro Steel Reserve 1: Double butted Cromo steel frame single speed dirtjump hardtail. Marzocchi Dirtjump 2 fork, Tubular Cromo crankset. $1499

For anyone wishing to try a single speed we have one available for demo use.

The astute among you will have noticed the revival of steel as a frame material. I have just built up a Jamis Dragon hardtail with a Reynolds 853 butted cromo frame. After riding a $5000 Merlin titanium frame for the last 14 years I expected the steel frame to be a little harsher in its ride quality. This perception vanished 5 mins into my first ride. The Dragon is every bit as compliant as the ti bike and the more modern geometry make it handle superbly. Steering is great, it tracks beautifully and is very confidence inspiring. After riding dual suspension bikes for the last few years I had forgotten how well hardtails accelerate out of slow corners and how responsive they are. If you’re looking for a great low maintenance bike that doesn’t give a punishing ride, handles superbly, will last for years and is inexpensive to buy the Jamis range of Dragons is well worth considering. We can supply the Dragon Team frame for @$1250. or whole bikes from @$2660.

Steel is real as the saying goes. A few things to factor into your buying decision when considering frame materials.
Carbon: Pros; Light, nice ride quality, nice aesthetics. Cons; easier to damage, environmentally unfriendly as it’s almost impossible to recycle, expensive and likely to become more expensive in the near future. Difficult to repair.
Aluminium: Pros; cheap, easy to manipulate, recyclable, can be alloyed with other elements and made very light. Cons; Suffers from cumulative fatigue so it will fail eventually, Fat tubes usually have a stiff unforgiving ride quality.
Steel: Pros; Great resilience ride quality, easy to manufacture, manipulate, repair and recycle. The best value for money of all frame materials. Environmentally the “greenest” option. My 18 year old steel hardtail is the best handling rigid frame I have ever owned. Cons; About 10% heavier than an equivalent priced alloy frame.

We have all the info in store for the 2009 ranges of road and dual suspension bikes from; Jamis, Bauer, Commencal, Diamondback, Haro, Trek, and Gary Fisher. Come and check out the hardcopy or go online and see what’s new for 2009.

For those of you wanting to satisfy your competitive urges our noticeboard is currently loaded to the max with entry forms. From 5 day road tours to short XC mtb sprints there’s lots happening in the next few months.

Don’t forget we have recreational MTB rides happening every Wed evening and Sat afternoon. Skill levels vary but a reasonable level of fitness and skill is required and the rides typically last 2 – 3 hours.

Cheers for now

The Jville Cycles Crew