“Now might be the best time ever for you to buy a new bike.”
Ok so I admit that sounds like a very bold statement so allow me to explain.
First a little about how the cycle industry works.
Cycling is a manufacturing and retail focused industry complimented by servicing and support (that’s what we do).
Manufacturers understandably obsesses over the fine nuances of supply and demand.
With a few exceptions the overwhelming majority of bicycles adorning UK bike shops are manufactured outside of the UK. Note that ‘manufacture’ and ‘assembly’ are two different things. It’s a little terrifying when we observe large brands with mass advertising campaigns declaring their bikes are assembled in the UK as if it meant the origins of their manufacturing are in the UK. ‘Assembled in the UK’ might mean as little as that the wheels are put into the same box as the bikes at a UK distribution centre. For a clearer idea of what exactly 'assembled in the UK means you'd need to check individual manufacturers websites.
Cycle retailing works roughly six months ahead of real time and for you as a consumer that’s crucially important.
Right now there are hundreds of thousands of 2017 bikes sat on vast container ships somewhere in the middle of the Pacific ocean. Those ships will soon arrive in ports all over the UK and their loads will soon be making their way to UK distribution centers.
Reason No 1: Supply might be on your side
All of the above means that UK distributors are desperate to clear their shelves of any 2016 stock and in some cases even the lingering remnants of 2015 stock.
Now remember that on very many mid range bikes the only thing that changes from one year to the next is colour!
Those distributors we spoke of are sending daily emails to their UK stockist with amazing offers.
UK retailers want floor space devoted to the 2017 stock you are already seeing advertised in every cycling magazine and all over social media. Many UK retailers will already have chosen, and in some cases been invoiced for, their 2017 stock. The big issue that keeps retailers awake at night is where to put that stock. Storage is an expensive and complex option. Still having 2016 stock on the floor is therefore a BIG problem and for you as a consumer that’s incredibly good news.
The price on any 2016/15 bike should be read as nothing more than guidance.
If the shop in question is part of a large chain they may need 48 hours to get the approval of head office but the truth is they more than any one else want this stuff shifted and quickly.
Reason No 2: Sterling is falling
You might have noticed that the pound isn’t in great shape at the moment. Now remember me saying that the UK cycle industry in primarily an import industry and there in lies a huge problem.
For UK bricks and mortar bike shops margins are fading and fading fast. In the two weeks proceeding the Brexit vote we received emails from three different suppliers warning us of price increases between 15% and 20%. 15 and 20%!!!!! When that industry is pitched against massive online stores who buy in something other than Sterling the future looks bleak, very, very bleak.
Truth is margins can’t shrink forever. Bike shop owners need to feed their families and that means that some prices will have to rise. No where will that increase be more clear than on the price of imported bikes. Over the next twelve months bikes are likely to be marked by a stark increase in price or a reduction in the quality of parts. look out for group sets dropping not rising. Another reason to buy now.
Reason No 3: Upgrading might be your/their only option
"Sorry sir we don't have that in your size". It's probably the line none of us want to hear but if we turn it on its head it's also quite a revelation. To put it another way the sales guy may as well have said, "I don't have what you came in the shop for but I do have lots of other stock I want rid of".
At this point their reputation and your loyalty are on the line so why not ask for a free upgrade.
If they have the model up in your size then they ought to be giving you it at the same price.
Reason No 4: Rock bottom interest rates
Finance is currently crazy. If you know you can afford it there are currently some fantastic deals on finance. Always check the stores finance against other credit card and small loan options.
Reason No 5: You are amazing!
Last but by no means least the odds are that if you’re reading this you either have a profound amnesia problem or you like to ride your bike. While the summer hasn’t been great the truth is it hasn’t been awful either. Lots of us have extended our evening ride home to take in a cheeky extra 40 or 50km. In simple terms we’ve used our bikes, we’ve ridden hard and we’ve done well.
Why might now be the perfect time to buy a new bike? Because you deserve it!
There are some exceptions and restrictions to all of the above.
If like me you are very tall, or unlike me, very short, forget it! Bike manufacturers make very significantly fewer bikes at the extreme ends of the sizing spectrum. At 6’5” my only hope of getting a bike that fits is to jump on the very fist opportunity that comes my way. I all too often would have no choice but to pay full price.
High end bikes hold their price. Demand always outstrips supply and deliberately so. You’re unlikely to pick up huge bargains on bikes with anything more than a 105 groupset.
Some models just work and because they work they roll over year after year after year with no real changes and thus no need to clear stock.
Bikes built in the UK aren’t suffering the same issues surrounding sterling. In fact some are doing exceptionally well out of it.
Good luck and happy hunting!!