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Are we already stuffed for quality of choice with purchasing options?

daniel_bdaniel_b Posts: 8,767
edited 21 January in Road buying advice
Morning all,

so many happenings in recent months/years have led me to this conclusion.

Our choices for buying products from reputable sources seems to be diminishing rapidly.

Wiggle and CRC merged some while back - no biggie really it would seem.
Cycle Surgery closed down.
Tri UK and Evans are both now owned by Mike Ashley, and having looked at Evans today for the first time in a long time, I'd be amazed if anyone shops there, or how on earth they keep going.
I used to browse their extensive stock regularly, 10% bc discount, frequent vouchers, free delivery over a fairly low amount - usually good deals to be good, and critically good quality brands, some like Louis Garneau, Evans was the only place to get their kit from.

Post leaving the EU, loads of retailers I would have shopped with are basically now off limits.
Mantel, Bike Discount, BOB, All4cycling, Berk, Isadore, BikeInn, Rose, Ciclio Mattio, La Passione - there are plenty more I could put down, but with increased postage costs, import duty, plus the couriers admin charge, it's not viable anymore - returns would be a complete nightmare.
I also read that if you bought something abroad, had to send it back, and they replaced it under warranty, you would have to pay the duty again as it re-enters the uk - happy to be proved wrong on that, but the research appeared to be legit.

Decent retailers who spring to mind in no specific order:

- Sigma Sports
- Tredz (Part of Halfords)
- Hargroves
- Merlin Cycles (Top drawer generally imho)
- PBK - Part of the hut group since 2013, but never had an issue personally
- Wiggle and CRC
- Rutland Cycles
- Leisure Lake Cycles

Any others that are still rated?

I used to have something like a list of 30 odd sites I would look at.

I am wondering if the reduced amount of decent retailers, plus the lack of competition from outside the UK is going to lead to a situation where prices just start creeping up across the retailers who remain, and we have to suck it up - and buy it or not.
Personally I have a pretty good stock, and it would greatly please my gf were I not to buy anything for several years.
Felt F70 05 (Turbo)
Marin Palisades Trail 91 and 06
Scott CR1 SL 12
Cannondale Synapse Adventure 15 & 16 Di2
Scott Foil 18
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Posts

  • mrb123mrb123 Posts: 2,829
    Pactimo, Rapha, Torm, Lusso, Galibier. All UK based or have UK distribution.
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 25,689
    things have gone downhill in all respects... but maybe we had it too good before?

    Recent purchases have been affected by unrealistic delivery times, up to two weeks for items in stock.
    Delivery that used to be free is now charged and megadeals seem to be only for stuff that nobody wants
  • elbowlohelbowloh Posts: 3,973
    They're not a big outfit, but I've regularly got bits and pieces from these guys online (I never realised until fairly recently, they're also 15 mins drive away from me

    https://www.gbcycles.co.uk/
    Felt F1 2014
    Felt Z6 2012
    Red Arthur Caygill steel frame ??
    Tall....
  • Bring back Parker International.....


    I suspect it will get worse before it gets better.
  • thistle_thistle_ Posts: 4,589
    I've always found Start Fitness pretty good, although I tend to use them more for non bike stuff at the moment.
    Prices are usually reasonable, sometimes cheap and they've always been really helpful.
  • rafletcherrafletcher Posts: 1,233
    To the OP - yes. Everything, including that sold by the retailers you list, that has to be imported from the EU will attract duties and handling it didn't before.
  • pangolinpangolin Posts: 3,110
    Depends what kind of kit / components you're after but chuck in:

    Ribble
    Spa Cycles
    Sport Pursuit
    PlanetX?
    Genesis Croix de Fer
    Cube Attain
  • daniel-b, pretty much agree with your assessment and my list of sites would generally be the same. I do most online purchases from Sigma, Tredz and Merlin these days. I have used a few smaller online shops such as Winstanleys and Westbrook for the odd part here and there, but they don't carry the range of the big sites.

    Agree that the Ashley takeover of Evans seems likely to be a disaster for them. Was in the Brum store before lockdown and was going to purchase a few bits until I found out they no longer price match. The chap in the store was genuinely apologetic and admitted it had driven a lot of their regular customers away.

    I know that lockdown has been a good thing for LBS which is nice for their long term health, but I have to admit the service I have received over the last couple of months from a couple has been pretty poor. Having said that, I know they have probably never been so busy and many are not equipped to deal with the kind of demand for goods and services they have seen.
  • super_davosuper_davo Posts: 578
    I think we have but it was kind of inevitable after the initial wave of "etailers" settled down and only the strongest few survived.

    All those stories a few years ago at the time of the Wiggle/CRC merger that Wiggle barely turned a profit despite their massive turnover across many countries told a story; it was never sustainable.

    A few seemed to have realised the way forward is to move upmarket; Ribble being the best example who I would frequently use for bits in the past now really only do bikes and are positioning themselves as the British version of Canyon. The top end DHB ranges are another example.

    Bikesy is a great site to find bargains; they are still there if you look hard enough. Sportpursuit are still good for clothes. But unquestionably things are not as good as a few years ago; it is a good time to be selling your excess stuff bought in the times of glut!
  • joe_totale-2joe_totale-2 Posts: 1,183
    edited 21 January
    Freewheel seems alright for some things. I think it's an online shop front for Madison so it they'll be the official supplier of several things such as Shimano. Originally the plan would be for items to be picked up from the LBS who'd get a cut but obviously that's not happening right now.

    Sigma are great but they've definitely stopped trying to be competitive with their pricing and don't offer price match anymore which means I'm shopping with them less.

    Merlin always reliably good.

    Since Planet X have been using Royal Mail I've been using them more and can't fault them.
  • daniel_bdaniel_b Posts: 8,767
    edited 21 January
    mrb123 said:

    Pactimo, Rapha, Torm, Lusso, Galibier. All UK based or have UK distribution.

    I have some kit from all of the above, and agreed they are UK Based, although I know Pactimo are in Ireland,but not sure which part of Ireland, as that would affect things surely, or not?
    Additionally they are not the makes (With the exception of Rapha) that fit me the best, Castelli and Ale are the makes that fit me the best and provide the most comfort.

    They are all pretty much purely clothing based retailers, where as I was more looking to general suppliers who can provide clothing from multiple makes, and components from multiple makes.

    Good shout re Parker International, they used to be really good, and funny gbcycles are mentioned, I bought my first proper pair of bib shorts (Santini) from them in probably 2008.

    To the OP - yes. Everything, including that sold by the retailers you list, that has to be imported from the EU will attract duties and handling it didn't before.

    Ah yes that fact had not occurred to me properly, I guess there is an amount of stock that is unnaffected, but then everything that is coming in from now will cost a lot more to receive, and of course that cost has to be passed to us the consumer, so irrespective of my thought about lack of choice pushing the price up, the fact of the matter is even with choice it would still be ramping up significantly, so perhaps a double rise in the next few months.

    Ribble I used to shop with a lot, but I think they pretty much steered away from components and clothes totally, and just concentrate on bikes?
    They used to carry a really good line of clothing, especially Giordana and Mavic.
    EDIT: I see @super_davo has said exactly this.

    SPA Cycles are top drawer, but they are more niche I think, more aimed towards the tourer, or those needing mudguards fittings etc, that's how it has always come across to me anyway, perhaps unfairly!

    I have ordered from Sport Pursuit before, but I rarely find anything on there I want in my size, so it's only been a couple of items I think.

    Planet X are good for stack em high, sell em cheap stuff, but I have never found the quality (Apart from their merino thicky socks) THAT good, although they do on occasion, or did, have some good component deals - oh and I do have an Exocet 2 frame I am aiming to build up anytime now, bought about 5 years ago I think!

    Good shout on Winstanleys (Get bad reviews but I have never had issues with them) and Start Fitness, I'm a Scott fanboy and they stock a lot of Scott kit, tons of it massively reduced.
    And Westbrook, yes a returning customer there, 3 Scott frames bought back in 2013 or 2012 whenever it was.

    Glad it's not just me then thinking along the lines of my original post.


    Agree that the Ashley takeover of Evans seems likely to be a disaster for them. Was in the Brum store before lockdown and was going to purchase a few bits until I found out they no longer price match. The chap in the store was genuinely apologetic and admitted it had driven a lot of their regular customers away.

    I'm amazed they are still in business, I can only assume lockdown, and proximity to some of the shops has kept things going, but surely their days must be numbered.
    They sell Muddy Fox (Yes once a great name I know, but Ashley buys up all the defunct quality names, and then trots out a load of tat with that name plastered all over it) - Look at this for example, and yes it does make me want to recoil :#


    Scott have gone, appears they still have Cannondale, Spesh, Bianchi and Trek, but they used to carry a much broader range of manufacturers than that.

    They are even selling a £9500 Cannondale Supersix - anyone who would commit that amount of money to an Ashley company would need their head examining.
    Felt F70 05 (Turbo)
    Marin Palisades Trail 91 and 06
    Scott CR1 SL 12
    Cannondale Synapse Adventure 15 & 16 Di2
    Scott Foil 18
  • dj58dj58 Posts: 2,161
    d_b
    Agree with your analysis, one for your list of UK suppliers, St John Street Cycles. Not always the most competitively priced, but seem to stock items not availale elsewhere.
  • +1 for Merlin Cycles brilliance. Great service and pricing from SDJ sports too recently on Shimano consumables (10s Ultegra Chain and Cassette)
  • veronese68veronese68 Posts: 23,405 Lives Here
    dj58 said:

    d_b
    Agree with your analysis, one for your list of UK suppliers, St John Street Cycles. Not always the most competitively priced, but seem to stock items not availale elsewhere.

    I was just thinking SJS, also they often have more obscure components so you can repair something rather than replace it. Very good for older bike bits.
  • bmxboy10bmxboy10 Posts: 1,891
    elbowloh said:

    They're not a big outfit, but I've regularly got bits and pieces from these guys online (I never realised until fairly recently, they're also 15 mins drive away from me

    https://www.gbcycles.co.uk/

    GB Cycles used to be a 100% road bike shop and were great. They owned another general bike shop down the road and merged operations. Since then its gone down hill IMO. They used to have really good sales in January but no more....I think they moved following the Croydon riots.
  • bmxboy10bmxboy10 Posts: 1,891
    I was so shocked to see that Evans no longer do refunds for purchases in store - seems a similar policy to Sports Direct. The Gatwick showroom and warehouse is shutting soon so I hear. I think a lot of their staff have moved on and I hear Balfe Bikes are looking to be the next big player headed up by some of the Evans staff....
  • daniel_bdaniel_b Posts: 8,767
    bmxboy10 said:

    I was so shocked to see that Evans no longer do refunds for purchases in store - seems a similar policy to Sports Direct. The Gatwick showroom and warehouse is shutting soon so I hear. I think a lot of their staff have moved on and I hear Balfe Bikes are looking to be the next big player headed up by some of the Evans staff....

    I was shocked when I realised sports direct didn't offer refunds in store, only credit notes, so yes you're spot on, the exact same mike ashley gambit - one he has his hands on your cash, you are not getting it back.
    How could you spend 9.5k on a bike with a company like that I wonder?
    You'd need to be on day release.

    Gatwick was the huge distribution centre, and HQ wasn't it, or is that another part?
    It sounds like the writing is definitely on the wall, what a shame for a once fairly well respected bike chain to die a death.
    I say fairly well respected, as I had three issues with new bikes from them.
    One had the forks fitted back to front.
    One had wrong tyres, and wrong length seatpost fitted (Remedied pre sd days)
    One had wrong seatpost (Alloy instead of carbon) but worst of all there were scratches all over the frame, and the shifters were totally rogered - despite this they had wrapped it all in bubble wrap REALLY carefully to send it.
    That took some work (And contacting the head of customer service), but I got it sorted in the end, again pre sd.
    Felt F70 05 (Turbo)
    Marin Palisades Trail 91 and 06
    Scott CR1 SL 12
    Cannondale Synapse Adventure 15 & 16 Di2
    Scott Foil 18
  • thistle_thistle_ Posts: 4,589

    dj58 said:

    d_b
    Agree with your analysis, one for your list of UK suppliers, St John Street Cycles. Not always the most competitively priced, but seem to stock items not availale elsewhere.

    I was just thinking SJS, also they often have more obscure components so you can repair something rather than replace it. Very good for older bike bits.
    Forgot about them. Great for 'bits'.

    I've always found JE James pretty good too - online, in store or for click and collect.
  • Another vote for SJS Cycles.
    Used for a bike and replacement bits over many years.
    Also..I have needed to discuss/clarify things and they have always been helpful and taken the time to phone back if they couldn't immediately answer.
  • slowmartslowmart Posts: 4,036


    The market place will continue to consolidate with the likes of wiggle increasing market share though acquisition and increased purchasing power of pay per click

    Which reverts back to the old adage of supporting your LBS and maybe paying a little more than online and waiting longer but having a local resource which benefits the wider community.
    “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime. Teach a man to cycle and he will realize fishing is stupid and boring”

    Desmond Tutu
  • super_davosuper_davo Posts: 578
    LBS vs online ship has sailed a long time ago. If an LBS wants to survive it needs to offer something more than sales; those that still thrive offer something unique you can't get online like servicing, bike fitting, coffee shop, organised rides etc. You might as well give to charity rather than paying a fiver over the odds for an inner tube.

    In my local area (Essex) the bike economy is as big as its ever been, it's just more in servicing / cyclist cafes / tours etc. rather than bike sales. Which personally I don't think is a bad thing at all, the choice of things to spend my money on is much more.

    The issue is more that the competition has dropped out of the online market so we're getting 20% off RRP rather than the 50% we were used to...
  • navrig2navrig2 Posts: 1,590
    pangolin said:

    Depends what kind of kit / components you're after but chuck in:

    Ribble
    Spa Cycles
    Sport Pursuit
    PlanetX?

    Ribble have reduced their stock to concentrate on bike sales.

  • mrfpbmrfpb Posts: 4,480
    I tend to look at SJS first for bike bits, then Merlin. I go to Wiggle first for clothes. If I'm feeling flush, I'll look at Rapha. Le Col get my money when they do the double discount on something I actually want/need (Strava discount plus special offer ) but that is rare.
  • daniel_bdaniel_b Posts: 8,767
    edited 23 January

    LBS vs online ship has sailed a long time ago. If an LBS wants to survive it needs to offer something more than sales; those that still thrive offer something unique you can't get online like servicing, bike fitting, coffee shop, organised rides etc. You might as well give to charity rather than paying a fiver over the odds for an inner tube.

    In my local area (Essex) the bike economy is as big as its ever been, it's just more in servicing / cyclist cafes / tours etc. rather than bike sales. Which personally I don't think is a bad thing at all, the choice of things to spend my money on is much more.

    The issue is more that the competition has dropped out of the online market so we're getting 20% off RRP rather than the 50% we were used to...

    Agreed, our LBS has survived, and thrived to some degree by focusing on servicing, a cafe and Sunday group rides - or it did pre lockdowns.
    I try and put business their way when I can, despite them not selling any makes I like, but if I am buying a utility or kids bike that I'm not worried about a make I will try and put it through them.

    I wish they sold Scott or Orbea.
    Felt F70 05 (Turbo)
    Marin Palisades Trail 91 and 06
    Scott CR1 SL 12
    Cannondale Synapse Adventure 15 & 16 Di2
    Scott Foil 18
  • darrell1967darrell1967 Posts: 255
    bmxboy10 said:

    I was so shocked to see that Evans no longer do refunds for purchases in store - seems a similar policy to Sports Direct. The Gatwick showroom and warehouse is shutting soon so I hear. I think a lot of their staff have moved on and I hear Balfe Bikes are looking to be the next big player headed up by some of the Evans staff....

    Shame about the Gatwick store. I bought my Specialized there back in 2017. Good shop with a huge stock and decent staff.
  • bmxboy10bmxboy10 Posts: 1,891

    bmxboy10 said:

    I was so shocked to see that Evans no longer do refunds for purchases in store - seems a similar policy to Sports Direct. The Gatwick showroom and warehouse is shutting soon so I hear. I think a lot of their staff have moved on and I hear Balfe Bikes are looking to be the next big player headed up by some of the Evans staff....

    Shame about the Gatwick store. I bought my Specialized there back in 2017. Good shop with a huge stock and decent staff.
    Yes and I know Evans get a slated but all the guys in the Gatwick store have been ace and I’m going back 10 years plus. They have been my LBS for so many years. I’ve lost count how many R2W bikes I’ve had from them as their scheme was the best on the market. Then take the price match and BC cycling discount. I didn’t really need to go anywhere else. Gutted really, that Mike bloke has seemingly gone out of his way to make Evans irrelevant and I just don’t know why a business person would want to do that.
  • elbowlohelbowloh Posts: 3,973
    bmxboy10 said:

    bmxboy10 said:

    I was so shocked to see that Evans no longer do refunds for purchases in store - seems a similar policy to Sports Direct. The Gatwick showroom and warehouse is shutting soon so I hear. I think a lot of their staff have moved on and I hear Balfe Bikes are looking to be the next big player headed up by some of the Evans staff....

    Shame about the Gatwick store. I bought my Specialized there back in 2017. Good shop with a huge stock and decent staff.
    Yes and I know Evans get a slated but all the guys in the Gatwick store have been ace and I’m going back 10 years plus. They have been my LBS for so many years. I’ve lost count how many R2W bikes I’ve had from them as their scheme was the best on the market. Then take the price match and BC cycling discount. I didn’t really need to go anywhere else. Gutted really, that Mike bloke has seemingly gone out of his way to make Evans irrelevant and I just don’t know why a business person would want to do that.
    I have no good words to say about Ashley, but he was only able to buy them because Evans were already on a downward spiral. Not really sure how. They were everywhere, cornered the high street market and much of the cycle to work stuff. some of the pinnacle bikes were really good for that c2w scheme too. I suppose that high street presence meant to much real estate to maintain. I really don't know.
    Felt F1 2014
    Felt Z6 2012
    Red Arthur Caygill steel frame ??
    Tall....
  • daniel_bdaniel_b Posts: 8,767
    edited 25 January
    It clearly makes him cash somehow.

    This is what he did with the once legendary Lillywhites, established in 1863.
    I visited once in 2001, when it was still with the original owners, and then unaware it had been snaffled, visited after the take over - it was shocking.
    The previous setup with beautifully organised and labelled areas and floors for each sport was gone. When I have visited in 2001 I had a squash racket restrung, and a skillful member of staff spent about 10 minutes talking me through the various options, and to find out what would suit my playing style best.

    At my subsequent visit I was met with blank looks when I asked if they still did racket restringing.....

    Everything was piled up - pile em high, flog em cheap.

    https://theguardian.com/business/2019/dec/05/sports-direct-puts-lillywhites-london-lease-up-for-sale
    Felt F70 05 (Turbo)
    Marin Palisades Trail 91 and 06
    Scott CR1 SL 12
    Cannondale Synapse Adventure 15 & 16 Di2
    Scott Foil 18
  • elbowlohelbowloh Posts: 3,973
    Yeah Lillywhites used to be a treat to visit, like you were visiting somewhere special. Such a shame. Can't even walk around it properly with everything crammed in.
    Felt F1 2014
    Felt Z6 2012
    Red Arthur Caygill steel frame ??
    Tall....
  • cookeeemonstercookeeemonster Posts: 1,976
    I worked in Lillywhites as a 16 year old...it was a rare thing, a sports shop that actually sold stuff for sports with staff that actually knew about those sports!!! Slight contrast with Sports Direct, admittedly :)

    Evans only got into trouble because they were bought out a few years ago by a company that loaded them with debt - they were doing fine otherwise.

    Can’t see how Ashley closing a load of shops in the midst of a bike boom is good business sense myself...
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