This week: two new ‘Smart road bikes from China; Ridley to sell ‘localised’ bikes in India; the Australian Bicycle Industry discusses how to deal with the internet; Campagnolo back in the hunt for OEM business.Market Talk is a weekly collection of market intelligence from across the Asia-Pacific selected to educate and inform anyone interested in understanding the APAC bicycle industry, its key players and the business behind the machines.
SMARTPHONE MAKER XIAOMI INVESTS IN BIKES
The Wall Street Journal (China edition) reports that Xiaomi – the number one smartphone company by sales in China last year – is launching a USD3’000 ‘Smart’ road bike through Xiamen-based iRiding; a tech startup that Xiaomi has a stake in.
According to WSJ the bike “has already gained certification under European standards and will be sold on one of Xiaomi’s e-commerce platforms under the brand QiCycle.”
Manufactured by Taiwanese OEM Ming Cycle, the seven-kilogram composite bicycle will be equipped with Ultegra Di2 and fitted with motion sensors to measure power output.
Though there are currently limited details about its ‘smart’ credentials, iRiding recently won an iF award for the design based on its ability to provide a “complete set of real-time riding sports data through the analysis of Qi – Cloud processing, and by means of the mobile APP, give riders real-time suggestions and feedback to help riders improve their performance in the sport.”
CHINESE START-UP ACCELERATES FROM APPS TO COMPLETE ROAD BIKES
Since materialising in January 2015 with seed-funding of USD1m, Chinese tech start-up Beijing Beast Technology Co., Ltd has wasted no time in transitioning from software to hardware.
The Beijing-based company first released its SpeedX app with GPS and real-time riding data last year while raising another CNY50m (USD7.7m) in a new round of financing in July 2015.
Next to come was the SpeedForce stem with integrated cycling computer and light, in October 2015. The project successfully raised USD442’000 on Indiegogo – blitzing past the original funding target of USD20’000 in 12 hours.
The USD199 stem, which is due to be released this month and is only available in 90mm (+7 degree rise) or 110mm (-7 degree rise) lengths, can be paired with a smartphone on which the app is installed, allowing (according to the company) users to “connect, compete and communicate with the online cycling community.” That pairing also allows navigational arrows to appear on the 1.6″ colour display, advising users the correct route to their chosen destination. Basic notifications such as text messages and incoming calls are also supported.
Aside from the expected performance metrics such as altitude, speed and distance the SpeedForce computer also connects via ANT+ or Bluetooth to other devices which measure power, heart rate and cadence.
Following the company’s latest round of financing, which raised CNY50m (USD7.7m), it announced last month that it would be entering the complete bike market under the SpeedX brand.
Due to be launched on crowd-funding platform Kickstarter, SpeedX’s latest category will consist of two road bikes priced at USD1’499 and USD2’499.
Named the Leopard and Leopard Pro respectively, both bikes are said to use Toray T1000 and T800 carbon fibre in their layup. The Leopard will feature a Shimano 105 groupset, while the Leopard Pro uses a Shimano Ultegra Di2 ensemble. Each model will be available in six sizes from 42cm (with 500mm top tube) to 57cm (570mm top tube).
Both models will also come fitted with a variation of the SpeedForce stem, called ‘Smart Control’.
Though the manufacturer is not known, there is a clue; the Sales Manager for SpeedX/Beast Bikes/SpeedForce is Yamou (Tony) Wu from UCC bikes.
UCC (Universal Cycle Corporation) is the Guangzhou, China, based division of Taiwan’s Peakwheel & Co., Ltd. Aside from their own brand of UCC bikes, the company makes composite road bikes for a number of international brands.
Though Cycling iQ is yet to join all of the dots completely – and to make sense of the seemingly insanely-competitive pricing of the bikes – we’ve reached out to SpeedX for more information. [Update: story here]
INDIAN CONSUMERS GET ACCESS TO ‘LOCALISED’ RIDLEY BIKES
TI Cycles of India, a subsidiary of the INR269Bn (USD4Bn) Murugappa Group, has announced it will offer a ‘Made for India’ range of Ridley bikes from June 2016. The announcement is the first significant material development arising from the 33-year brand licensing agreement that TI Cycles signed with the Belgian-based company in August last year.
Speaking at a press conference in Chennai last week, TI Cycles President Arun Alagappan said an 11-bike range adapted for the Indian market will be available, with a price range from INR25’000 (USD375) to more than INR80’000 (USD1200). The localised range will feature hybrids, mountain bikes and road bikes.
In it’s home market, Ridley – sponsor of UCI WorldTour squad Lotto-Belisol – does not currently offer any bikes below EUR699 (USD800). TI Cycles did not allude to where the cheapest bikes would be manufactured, but Cambodia would be a likely contender given the much-higher import duties of Chinese-made bikes.
In its most recent financial report, Murugappa Group revealed YoY Q4 revenue from its bicycle division – which includes Track and Trail retail outlets, Montra and BSA Hercules brands, plus distribution of Bianchi and Dorel Industries brands – fell 10% to INR287 crore (USD43.2m) from INR318 crore (USD47.8m) the previous year.
Cycling iQ has approached TI Cycles to learn more.
AUSTRALIA’S BICYCLE INDUSTRY IN THE INTERNET AGE
Bicycling Trade recently held a live panel with members of the bicycle industry to discuss how to ‘survive and thrive in the internet age’; with some frank and interesting perspectives from panelists and audience members.
Peter Bourke, CEO of Bicycle Industries Australia and Cycling Promotion Fund
Alan Stonestreet, Carbuta Pty Ltd
Tony Cook, founder of Clarence St Cyclery (former importer of Trek)
Lenneke Lucas, Bates Bikes (founded 90 years ago)
CAMPAGNOLO BACK IN THE OEM FIGHT WITH NEW ‘POTENZA’ GROUPSET
For years a distant third to Shimano and SRAM in the complete groupset business, Campagnolo has announced the release of its new Ultegra-level ‘Potenza’ ensemble which the company hopes will help it to win back OEM share.
As CyclingTips reports “an important part of this strategy is the cost-effectiveness of production. To this end, Potenza will be produced in Campagnolo’s Romanian factories, where labour costs allow the company to compete with Asian production.”
Though once a staple ingredient on racing bikes, ‘Campy’ is today seldom spec’d by major road bike brands – primarily due to its higher cost relative to the two majors (Shimano and SRAM) and lead-time blowouts in the past. Product managers will now have to look at the value proposition of this latest groupset ahead of making final spec’ decisions for MY2018 products later this year.