Bicycle Industry

Cycling iQ Twintel | 01 – 14 April 2012

A splendidly frivolous week of riding in New Zealand earlier this month means this week’s edition of Twintel covers the last fortnight of Cycling iQ Twitter highlights. In this installment: AsiaTour contrasts, Chinese bicycle market data, Giant Bicycles hits revenue wall in NZ, composites supplier Toray goes back to Uni and a cool new gig in Asia for Cycling iQ.

SUNDAY, 01 APRIL

It’s too early to say whether it’s a systemic issue but, in media outreach terms, the difference between a UCI2.1 and UCI2.2 professional road cycling race is noticeable. Claimed financial restrictions by the organizer of the recently-held Tour of Thailand meant attendance by foreign media was not budgeted for. Fair enough. However, as it is incumbent on the organizer, as part of its commitment to UCI regulations, to produce a race manual and official results, it seems puzzling that Tour of Thailand did not make a concerted effort to build an email database of foreign cycling media through which to push out this information. Additionally, Facebook and Twitter updates cost almost nothing. Thankfully, personnel from various participating cycling teams are across social media, which partially fills this communications gap. Even so, this insular behaviour is incredibly frustrating.

Thankfully, the UCI2.2 Tour de Filipinas has gotten off to a better start. Race results have been published within several hours of stage completion and the organizer has done a serviceable job of engaging local Filipino media – most of whom post stage reports quickly, whilst being prominent enough to rank highly on Google search results. On the downside; official race images are not yet available and, after dozens of phone calls, unanswered emails and sleuth-like investigation to find contact details of race officials, Cycling iQ has still not been able to obtain a race manual.

 

MONDAY, 02 APRIL

The above snippets are taken from a presentation by Mr. Shi-Guang Yu (Director of China National Information Center for Bicycle Industry) at the International Bicycle Trend Forum, held at Taipei Cycle Show last month. As My Yu’s twenty minute address (accompanied by the obligatory Powerpoint slideshow) was all in Chinese, it’s taken a while to find someone* who could translate the audio file and slideshow images. This translation yielded excellent market data, which will be disseminated throughout future articles.

*Serendipitously, Cycling iQ was contacted by a Beijing-born cycling enthusiast (currently based in Australia) who really knows her stuff about cycling. Expect to see Chinese-language Cycling iQ articles sometime in the future.

 

TUESDAY, 03 APRIL

Australian Cycling Executives (ACE), an entity founded by Sydney-based Ryan O’Neill to connect corporations to the many facets of cycling, launched its official website this month. For a backgrounder on ACE, hop over to this Cycling iQ backgrounder.

Pakistan Today published an article about the sales growth of Pakistan-made composite hockey sticks. In particular, demand from neighbouring India – where ‘Malik’ branded sticks sell for up to INR8,000 (USD155) – is growing fast. It’s not too much of a stretch to imagine composite bicycle tubes coming out of Pakistan in future; although demand from India may be less than for its hockey sticks – Indian firm TI Cycles has been making its own carbon bikes for over one year now  Referenced link

The National Sporting Goods Association published a summary of 2011 bicycle imports into the USA in its March 2012 research newsletter. Bicycles with 700c wheels have increased, though US customs data does not go so far as segmenting imports by price or segment (eg hybrid/road bicycle). Referenced link

 

WEDNESDAY, 04 APRIL

Finally, the March 31 media embargo passed and Cycling iQ was first to break the news about Specialized’s investment into Bangalore-based cycling team, KYNKYNY Wheelports. The team, now known as Specialized KYNKYNY, still has firm ambitions of UCI Continental status for 2013. Referenced link

Held since 2006, the bi-annual ‘Ultimate Sports City’ award has been presented to Melbourne on all three occasions (2006, 2008, 2010). The winner will be announced at the SportAccord International Convention in Québec City next month.

 

THURSDAY, 05 APRIL

 

 

The REBRAND 100 Global Awards select the best brand repositioning efforts from around the world. Giant Bicycles Australia commissioned Aussie firm Diadem to design a new retail fitout concept which would “reflect Giant’s brand ambition and express the lifestyle aspirations of its customers”. Referenced link

 

WEDNESDAY, 11 APRIL

Having broken out from a tech-free Easter hibernation in New Zealand, it seemed fitting to report on the status of market-major Giant Bicycles. Even though Giant Bicycles Australia registered a NZ branch in 2002, the brand still relies on a third party (in this case, AUS/NZ distributor De Grandi) for sales and distribution functions. While Giant is performing strongly in Australia, NZ revenue has flatlined for the past four years. There is much more to this story, so a separate article will be posted on Cycling iQ during April.

 

THURSDAY, 12 APRIL

The Wheeler magazine was launched in hard-copy format in 2010. The quarterly magazine was circulated through bicycle retailers and hip cafes across Australia. Production values and articles were of a high standard but, most notably, it was free. The publishers, Coretext Pty Ltd, hoped this approach would guarantee a high readership and eventually lead to a commercial backer to keep it going. After five issues, it hadn’t happened.

 

FRIDAY, 13 APRIL

In contrast to The Wheeler, established road cycling magazine RIDE Cycling Review has a loyal following – and, according to Publishing Editor Rob Arnold, a waiting list of advertisers. Though ‘RIDE’ has been mailed in print form to international subscribers for years now, its recent launch on Zinio was its first successful push into digital media. RIDE has since partnered with popular cycling blogs CyclingTips and The Inner Ring, illustrating that no cycling magazine is an island in this new publishing paradigm – although, at almost 300 pages and 700 grams, RIDE – in print form – almost qualifies for a postal code. [Disclosure: Cycling iQ previously worked for RIDE as manager & technical writer and still contributes to RIDE Cycling Review on a regular freelance basis.]

This is the “cool new gig” referred to in this article’s introduction. It’s time for Cycling iQ to put its money (read: actually the budget of the Tour de Korea organizer, who is covering my travel costs) where its mouth is, by aiming to out-perform the daily communications benchmark of other UCI2.2 AsiaTour races. Tour de Korea starts next Sunday, April 22. Cycling iQ will be on-site from April 21.

Held in Monterey, California, during the Sea Otter Classic, the Bicycle Leadership Conference (presented by the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association) is a three-day summit (17-19 April) where bicycle industry figureheads and research groups discuss cycling’s status and future strategies. Visit Bicycle Retailer for updates during the summit.

 

SATURDAY, 14 APRIL

The multi-national composites supplier Toray, headquartered in Japan, has invested into a chair at the Flanders-based Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium. The scope of this partnership is centred on “fundamental research into the further refinement of composite materials based on carbon and other fibres”. Interestingly, Professor Ignaas Verpoest (of KU Leuven’s Department of Metallurgy and Materials Engineering) stated that “One-fourth of my research team of 35 is working on natural fibres from hemp, flax and bamboo”. This should come as good news to owners of natural-fibre-based bicycle brands like Museeuw.

What do the sports of boxing, taekwondo, athletics, swimming, wushu, archery, wrestling, bowling, weighlifting and billiards have in common with cycling? Well, not support of the Philippines Sports Commission, it seems. Cycling has been left out of the list of ten “focus” sports targeted by the Filipino Government in its “new support system“. An excerpt follows:

In introducing a new support system by giving priority to 10 focus sports, the PSC and POC Boards shall be adopting certain parameters in classifying the sports, as follows:  

a.Sports where the Filipino’s physical characteristics are deemed fit to creating champions, such as

1) sports that do not require height as an advantage, and
2) sports that are by weight category.

b.Medal-rich sports
c.Individual Sports
d.Records of performances
e.Potential for winning in international competitions
f.Capability to implement a mass-based / grassroots program

Melbourne’s St Kilda Cycling Club is not only large, with almost 800 members, it is also smart. SKCC continues to develop programs to retain and attract new cyclists, whilst being one of the most savvy when it comes to attracting female cyclists – one quarter of its members are female. Though not intended as a procurement document, the information in SKCC’s recent member survey should not be ignored by bicycle brands seeking inroads to this important part of the consumer market. Referenced link (PDF)

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