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What the hell is going on in the bike industry? Wiggle Chain Reaction turmoil discussed plus pro cycling's idiot problem on the road.cc Podcast

As rumours swirl that Wiggle Chain Reaction has stopped paying its suppliers, we break down what's happening with bike industry stalwart Rory Hitchens...

Episode 63 of the road.cc Podcast is coming at you a week early, because hot off the press are shocking reports regarding the future of Wiggle Chain Reaction Cycles.

 

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Since Wednesday, the gloomy story has moved from a withdrawal of funding from WiggleCRC's parent company, to administration reports, to rumours that Wiggle has already stopped paying its suppliers. So, what happens if the cycling and multisport retail giant folds, and are we surprised about the reports considering the troubling situation the whole bike industry has found itself in throughout 2023 so far?

George and Jack are joined by Rory Hitchens, a long-time bike industry stalwart and the founder of brand new agency Greenleaves Cycling, to break down what the hell is going on, how it compares to trouble and strife in the past and what might happen next.

Lance Armstrong on Stars on Mars (Fox)
This guy may or may not get a mention

In part 2, Ryan, Adwi and Jack discuss professional cycling's 'idiot problem', inspired by a particularly idiotic social media post sent out (and swiftly deleted) by a pro cyclist recently. Is the number of unsavoury incidents and bad behaviour better, the same or worse in cycling than other professional sports? Listen on for our thoughts and analysis, and have your say in the comments. 

The road.cc Podcast is available on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Amazon Music, and if you have an Alexa you can just tell it to play the road.cc Podcast. It’s also embedded further up the page, so you can just press play.

At the time of broadcast, our listeners can also get a free Hammerhead Heart Rate Monitor with the purchase of a Hammerhead Karoo 2. Visit hammerhead.io right now and use promo code ROADCC at checkout to get yours.

This content has been added by a member of the road.cc staff

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30 comments

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Larry T | 8 months ago
0 likes

How can one not blame Brexit for  UK mega-online bike retailer going belly-up? Before Brexit I would order from them both in Italy and the USA, but now in the EU getting anything from them is not worth the trouble. My guess is a huge % of Wiggle's biz was outside the UK and it vanished with Brexit. I get stuff from Italian, German or Spanish online retailers now. The rest of the industry woes are the usual, poor management in the face of challenges - take your pick, over/underordering, over/underestimating demand, poor financial controls...same s__t, different day. Smart business people don't follow booms (with big risks) so don't suffer busts.There's always another boom/bust on the horizon.

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johnrawlins | 8 months ago
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I live in Spain and used to buy from Wiggle until Brexit. Now the big German online retailers are cheaper and faster than Wiggle for Spanish customers. 

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eburtthebike | 9 months ago
0 likes

Wiggle parcel arrived this morning: much relief.

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Muddy Ford | 9 months ago
1 like

Saturation. Once people have a bike that suits their needs, they will probably not replace it for a decade or more and they don't leave their bikes outside their homes as a status symbol so don't have a need to buy a better/flashier bike to get one up on the jones's. Wiggle and CRC are too big for the market. 

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SecretSam | 9 months ago
2 likes

It's. The. Website.

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C3a | 9 months ago
0 likes

I can only speak from my perspective as someone who has recently switched from cycling for fun (mainly MTB) to cycling for communting (basic hybrid bike).

My most recent MTB purchase was in 2021.  At that time there were huge waiting lists for everything and it was all a bit of a pain.  I did get what I wanted in the end, but if I wasn't so keen on what I got I would have abandoned the attempt and made do without.

My most recent commuting bicyle purchase was... over a decade ago.  Being able to find something suited to the task while being at the right price point and being the sort of bike that would be readily in stock (so that when it is stolen from the train station it doesn't hurt too much and I can get a replacement quickly) proved impossible and in the end I bought the mid-tier components that I liked and had them fitted to an ancient hybrid bike via a small local bike shop (because the larger stores were too busy or too preoccupied with trying to sell me things that they couldn't really provide in a timely fashion to help).

From what I can see the bike industry is not catering well to either the high end (MTB rather than road in my case) or the low end (basic hybrid or basic road) particularly well, either on stock availability or pricing.  Whether that is their fault or just the nature of the current political and economic environment is beyond me to answer.

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stonojnr replied to C3a | 9 months ago
1 like

It's much simpler for me and applies to alot of the cycling retail industry who have been struggling lately.

They just stopped selling stuff I wanted to buy.

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froze | 9 months ago
0 likes

That's too bad about Wiggle, I was going to buy a pair of tires, but after I heard about the bankruptcy, I don't want to risk my money and never see the tires!

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stonojnr replied to froze | 9 months ago
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Ironically it's articles/podcasts like this that push businesses that are borderline surviving on money flowing in, into administration, because people's reaction is exactly as yours.

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Backladder replied to stonojnr | 9 months ago
5 likes
stonojnr wrote:

Ironically it's articles/podcasts like this that push businesses that are borderline surviving on money flowing in, into administration, because people's reaction is exactly as yours.

Ironically it is retailers actions in taking peoples money long after they know they will not be able to deliver the goods that make people react like that.

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Dhill | 9 months ago
1 like

Normal bollocks comments from the reliable regulars. Going off on some bollocks tangent. Haranguing someone who has a different view and attack them. You should just leave this forum, as you only agree with yourselves.

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perce replied to Dhill | 9 months ago
7 likes

The guitar Marty McFly played in Back to the Future ( a Gibson ES345) wasn't introduced by Gibson until 1958. 

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Rendel Harris replied to perce | 9 months ago
6 likes
perce wrote:

The guitar Marty McFly played in Back to the Future ( a Gibson ES345) wasn't introduced by Gibson until 1958. 

That ruined it for me, they went to so much trouble to make it realistic with the time-travelling DeLorean and that then blew the whole illusion with that simple error. Would you believe a friend tried to justify it by saying maybe it was an ES335, thinking the series numbers went in time sequence, when as any fule kno the 335 and 345 were released concurrently (and of course in any case the 335 has dot inlays whereas the 345 has parallelogram ones)? Needless to say they are no longer a friend!

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perce replied to Rendel Harris | 9 months ago
2 likes

I must admit I thought it was a 335 at first. I wish I could afford either.

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mark1a replied to perce | 9 months ago
6 likes
perce wrote:

The guitar Marty McFly played in Back to the Future ( a Gibson ES345) wasn't introduced by Gibson until 1958. 

I've often wondered whether Marty's parents ever discussed how their son grew up to look and sound exactly like a kid they once knew in 1955. 

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Rendel Harris replied to mark1a | 9 months ago
3 likes
mark1a wrote:

I've often wondered whether Marty's parents ever discussed how their son grew up to look and sound exactly like a kid they once knew in 1955. 

And what was Mrs McFly's reaction when Calvin Klein underpants first came out?

 

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perce replied to mark1a | 9 months ago
2 likes

Yep, that bit always seemed a bit far fetched to me.

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Ianahughes | 9 months ago
0 likes

Nice one Rory, good to hear you are back and offering your insight to the current bike industry. Keep strong and good health  1

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chrisonabike | 9 months ago
1 like

If it's like any other industry the bike industry needs to be making even less compatible bikes, which last for less time and are not "user serviceable". They should up the proportion of products which require electrics or better electronics - that helps (also greater unit profit).

Compatibility and availability issue which result should help drive the parallel "cycling as a service" business model. Which in turn will tide them over until they can get everyone online.

Meanwhile their greatest foes are cyclists - probably some to be found on this forum - who buy secondhand, fix their bikes when they break, mix parts from different companies or merely favour local bespoke manufacturers.

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David9694 replied to chrisonabike | 9 months ago
2 likes

I've always said there's no money in bikes - at least not in a world that requires, like the music publishing industry, consumers to buy and re-buy essentially the same product presented differently. 

Guilty as charged.  Haven't bought a new bike for myself in 15 years, and that's despite currently owning several. Go back the 1980s for the last complete new bike before that, a Claud Butler Special from, I think, Freewheel (which I crashed).

Guilty some times of buying wheelsets and groupsets from Germany back when you could.  Haven't engaged a bike mechanic (except for that unfortunate incident with the stuck seat post 2 years ago) in ages, in fact I provide that service free to my local repair cafe. 

Gradual drift away from Wiggle/Chain Reaction in recent years - Tweeks, Singletrack, SJSC, Spa, Ebay (e.g. Hopkinson, High on Bikes), Tredz. There's a slight feelgood factor when your items arrive in a repurposed cycling branded box and have come from a business with a real world shop somewhere.

There was a nice starter toolkit and a torque set on the Wiggle Black Friday sale pages - the other cycling items seemed to be the usual odds and ends like the 46 cm handlebars. 

 

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chrisonabike replied to David9694 | 9 months ago
2 likes

Well there you are. WE are the problem with the bike industry.

Similar story myself. Also only one brand new bike in decades (last year's least-maintenance-possible commuter - now almost rebuilt after its 6 month holiday care of a bike thief). Foreign wheels also (Rose - alas now...)

In my defence I'm often getting *components* (although not top end) and am happy to use SJS for novel bits, put some business the way of the LBS for stuff I can't do or am lazy doing (same as you with seat post).

For me that's an attractive facet of cycling. Probably explains why politicians are so down on cycling - it tends to the wrong kind of economics for them to sell eg small scale, local / independent, secondary or tertiary businesses (eg. repair, resale).

Fundamentally it doesn't naturally concentrate large sums of money, isn't about "new" or shiny or "disruptive".

Is this also an age thing? If you keep that "I'm going to change the world / make my fortune" perspective perhaps things cycling will never be particularly inspiring? Unless you reinvent the cycle as something it isn't!

Mind you there has always been a high tech end to cycling. But that's the sport side. There are some "more fancy" changes at the regular consumer end though.
Many of the Dutch are now on relatively high tech bikes compared with a couple of decades ago eg. Gazelle and others now do suspension, alloy frames, more gears - and increasingly e- bikes. Same as cars - the Dutch don't all suddenly *need* these, but they promise convenience and people can afford them...

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Smoggysteve | 9 months ago
8 likes

What has happened to the bike industry? From where I'm sitting it looks partially if not totally self inflicted. 
 

some will blame Brexit. Some will blame the downturn in the economy. Sure they haven't helped. But, for the first time in years, where at one point I had at least 4 bikes - 5 if you include an old hybrid I would occasionally knock about on, I look now at my current single carbon fibre disc brake bike and wonder, do I really need to upgrade? It's light. 7kg with ultegra. It's aero. More than I could ever really push beyond its limits. I'll never wear out the rims. I'll not need to upgrade the integrated bars and stem. I'll never have to change a cable . It's doesn't have a single one! 
 

So what do I need? A helmet? They might cost a few hundred every couple of years. I own more clothing than I know what to do with for all seasons. 
 

I don't need anything. I never really did NEED, but I sure as hell always wanted. I don't even do that anymore. I'm happy with what I have and I don't see anything that's a worthwhile upgrade. I own a modest bike. It's sure as hell not cheap but it's not an ultra-bike. 
 

I see very similar trends as the mobile phone industry. I remember when touch screen phones came out, the iPhone trumped them all. Then every year a better phone with a better screen or camera then 2 cameras etc. it would always be a race to make the better handset between the big guns. Now I don't see any remarkable difference in anything that's new and a phone that 3-4 years old. Innovation peaked and now the market stagnates. This is precisely what the big cycle brands have done to themselves. 

 

sorry bike industry, you signed your own death warrant . 

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NOtotheEU replied to Smoggysteve | 9 months ago
2 likes
Smoggysteve wrote:

I'll never wear out the rims. I'll not need to upgrade the integrated bars and stem. I'll never have to change a single cable . It's doesn't have a single one!  

Sounds like when the entertainment industry tried to get us to buy all our old movies and music on digital formats for twice the price (& profit) until people discovered how easy they were to share for free. 

They had tours, streaming and TV to fall back on, we have chains, tires, and brake pads I guess.

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Smoggysteve replied to NOtotheEU | 9 months ago
3 likes

the entertainment industry is something else that's ready to collapse. Music is all created for high profit, low expenditure sales. The risks are low and it's all about making quick money. Streaming has killed the album. The experimental innovation. As music industry experts have said many times. You wouldn't get a Sgt Peppers today. The producers are too scared of change. They pay the artists a pittance and unless it's an artist you already really followed you are not likely to risk buying an album and listening to it from start to finish. No exposure means no new breakthrough artists with a fresh new sound. 
 

you could trace one genre back to another based on the bands influences. Not sure how sampling and auto tuned nonsense really influences the next generation. It's not their music to begin with 

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Cugel replied to Smoggysteve | 9 months ago
1 like
Smoggysteve wrote:

the entertainment industry is something else that's ready to collapse. Music is all created for high profit, low expenditure sales. The risks are low and it's all about making quick money. Streaming has killed the album. The experimental innovation. As music industry experts have said many times. You wouldn't get a Sgt Peppers today. The producers are too scared of change. They pay the artists a pittance and unless it's an artist you already really followed you are not likely to risk buying an album and listening to it from start to finish. No exposure means no new breakthrough artists with a fresh new sound. 
 

you could trace one genre back to another based on the bands influences. Not sure how sampling and auto tuned nonsense really influences the next generation. It's not their music to begin with 

Personally I've always felt that those who produce genuine art of any kind ought to pay us, the viewers, listeners et al, to "consume" it. After all, they do it for the love of their subect and to impart what they feel are important insights for all, don't they?  But why involve any financial transaction at all?

Far too much is turned into nothing more than another mere product for sale. Doing so often demeans, degrades and reduces it to some form of low quality but popular thing appealing to the greatest number. With popular musak its boom-banga-bang! I love you baby! (Or, sometimes, "I'm fed up becus....").

Another syndrome is the transformation of art objects into ridiculously expensive collectible investments, hidden in some rich person' safe. If such art is meant to impart important insights to all & sundry, how come only the rich are allowed them?

Don't worry, I know the answer.   1

************

Put all the genuine artists in a garret with only enough "basic income" dosh from the taxes to buy their materials and feed themselves. (Perhaps a drug allowance may also be awarded to some). Make their product public property destined for anyone who wants a copy, rather like providing pavements or public lavatories or libraries or museums or .....

********

Mind, I'm very willing to pay cash for good bike bits I wants. After all, the money has to get distributed somehow. But hang on!  Have I told you of my "Alternative to capitalism and wage slavery as the main income distributor" scheme? Well, it's like this .... [Deleted by the forum anti-boredom & daft stuff monitor]

 

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chrisonabike replied to Cugel | 9 months ago
0 likes

Gosh, are you sure you're only 94? This sounds like a vision of art which the lugals of Ur and Kish could have recognised. And to be fair it's probably still valid with minor tweaks - the artist as the servant of the powerful, to produce art demonstrating, validating and enhancing their status.

The wage of the artist is bread, not caviar - indeed.

Mind - does the same apply to forum posts?

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Cugel replied to chrisonabike | 9 months ago
1 like
chrisonatrike wrote:

Gosh, are you sure you're only 94? This sounds like a vision of art which the lugals of Ur and Kish could have recognised. And to be fair it's probably still valid with minor tweaks - the artist as the servant of the powerful, to produce art demonstrating, validating and enhancing their status. The wage of the artist is bread, not caviar - indeed. Mind - does the same apply to forum posts?

The art (or is it a low crafty) of the forum post!  I get paid exactly what mine are worth, cash-wise. In terms of casting pearls before .... well, all sorts of human animals, their value is moot but definitely nothing to do with pund notes.

I imagine you yourself will be printing and making a book of all my posts, so you can consider their pearls after the lecky has gone and feral robbers are bangin' on your door whilst demanding your emergency tins of beans and bags of rice. The book o' Cugel posts will be no use whatsoever, though.   1

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gb901 replied to Smoggysteve | 9 months ago
0 likes

Unfortunately, cycle retailers like wiggle and others involved in the health/fitness industry such as Garmin, peloton, wahoo etc were unrealistic expecting the boom experienced during 2020-21 to continue. Covid lockdowns mint Jim's closed and people looked to cycling to get their fitness kick. This combined with furlough meant many money to burn which meant health related expenditure on the likes of expensive bikes and equipment went up, however, this was only going to be short lived as people weren't going to be spending the same amounts annually. Obviously the cost of living crisis since early 2022 and the current economic uncertainty hasn't helped.

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Sriracha replied to gb901 | 9 months ago
2 likes

As I recall there was a shortage of Shimano stuff during lockdown with demand exceeding supply, and this apparently was the bottleneck in bicycle production worldwide. Shimano protested that to meet the surge in demand would mean building a new factory, but they didn't think that would be a wise investment. Seems they were right.

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Freddy56 | 9 months ago
0 likes

So Zyro was in difficulty and now Wiggle whos famous 160day invoice (we will pay you when we sell it) terms,  will not be able to pay Zyro what they owe them, will be the iron bar that broke their camels back

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