Paceline Podcast 262

John has been doing what we’d refer to as gravel rides since before he had a gravel bike and while he enjoys increased specialization, he thinks we don’t always appreciate just how versatile less discipline-specific bikes really are.

Patrick talks to industry vet Rick Vosper about how the Dutch conglomerate Pon just purchased Dorel, one of the biggest producers of bikes for the U.S. market and just what that means for shops and consumers.

Show links:

Pearl Izumi Gravel Gaiters

VanMoof X3 ebike

Join the conversation
  1. johnrom719 says

    Hi guys, I enjoyed Rick’s perspective on the changes in the bike industry. A couple comments:
    1) Despite our knee-jerk response to dig in against change, it’s actually exciting that independent bike shops are valuable enough to attract interest from big companies and private equity. PE doesn’t ruin everything. Would you rather have an industry backed by deep pockets (with frame sizes in stock from 48 to 65 cm) or completely made up of solo-preneurs barely ekeing out a living?
    2) Homogeneity is a likely first impact of vertical integration a la Trek, Specialized, or Pon Stores. But since that won’t make everyone happy, there will be a demand, and later a supply, for boutiques. Think beer here. Sure, there is a lot of Budweiser, Miller and Coors out there. But while Anheuser-Busch/InBev, Molson Coors and Heineken were busy buying up market share, Bell’s, Sierra Nevada and Boston Beer were crafting their own niche (see what I did there?). I think we’re living in a golden age of delicious beer, which really gathered steam about a decade after the biggest companies merged.
    3) Even if we don’t see a bunch of craft bike shops, there may be space for independent frame builders to work together for joint marketing. Imagine a single sales team representing Parlee, Co-Motion, Moots and a score of other custom builders. Rather than each independent fabricator trying to market direct to consumers or scrap together shelf space one store at a time, IBDs could have 20% of their footprint dedicated to their Hand built or Custom sleeve. Within that sleeve could be a few score of builders, each with their own vibe and specialty. This would require real “co-opetition” that might be hard to swallow, but could allow small builders to broaden their reach.

    C’mon robot, always look on the bright side of life!

    1. Padraig says

      Your first point is a real consideration. And your analogy with beer is spot-on. My concern is to have a varied ecosystem; we need everybody, but I get concerned when the big companies use their might to create barriers for smaller brands. There have been several efforts to bring smaller builders together in a joint marketing/advertising effort and none of them really accomplish much, probably for the reasons John cited.

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