"Road bikes are dead, dead, DEAD!"
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  1. #1
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    "Road bikes are dead, dead, DEAD!"

    That's a direct quote from a nearby LBS when I asked him why he and nobody else around here seem to carry any road bikes on the floor so I could at least look at what I'm thinking of buying before I have to pay in advance to order one with no refunds allowed. OK, in this immediate area on the northern edge of the Detroit Metro area we have miles and miles of very nice, interconnected rail-trails paved and unpaved plus parks with open trail systems and the volume sellers are obviously going to be of the MTB/hybrid/comfort/cruiser variety. And I'll admit that I don't often ride my road bike right from home since it takes a few miles to get away from the local congestion and busy roads.

    On the other hand, there are a number of annual weekend road rides in this area and other events around the state where hundreds of roadies show up on their road bikes, yet finding any around here is a real challenge. At one time, I thought it would be nice to own a Trek, but couldn't find the particular model in any area store (and there are plenty around). The dealers all said they had no plans to stock it, and when I went directly to Trek they basically said that I was out of luck because they don't even carry that model on their demo trucks! Apparently they didn't want my business, so to heck with them.

    I recently settled on a Felt Z4 Disc as my #1 candidate, but ran into the same problems. The above-mentioned LBS was talking the road bike market down to the point where he was almost questioning why I would ever want one (losing any potential sale in the process). So my next call was to a dealer a bit farther away, but that used to be the closest road-friendly dealer. I bought my Synapse there about 5 years ago as well as a couple of pairs of bibs and other road-related items. But when I called, I found that they were fully into the triathlon business now and carried nothing but tri bikes on the floor. It's hard to believe that they'd just turn away from the general road riding population, but it was the same story: we won't stock it but would be glad to order you one.

    I did finally manage to find a dealer out-state near Lansing, about two hours away, who carries Felts and has had Z4s in stock. He is currently waiting for the 2016s to start arriving in a couple of months, so it looks like I'll be heading up there to do business.

    Hard to believe that buying an expensive bike would be such a frustrating experience!

  2. #2
    Adorable Furry Hombre
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    Well...he's kind of correct, from a certain POV.

    Roadie bikes are getting insanely expensive while wages are crap. Result is that an already small market has fewer customers due to entry cost. Further most people aren't really going to be suited to a road bike purchase (most want hybrids or MTB/gravel bikes or townies), so most shops won't sell a whole lot of them. If you won't sell much of something-why stock a bunch of inventory you won't sell?

    Econ 101, mi amigo.

  3. #3
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    I think this must vary from market to market.

    Road bikes are anything but dead around here ( Seattle) One well run shop on the area that has jas only been open about 2 years had to lease an empty strip mall space across the street to add inventory storage space. They are also looking at a second location across town.

    They are doing booming business in all areas.. Recreational bikes. Mountain bikes, but especially high end road bikes. They have a large demo/rental fleet as well.

  4. #4
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    road bikes are alive and well.

    maybe just not in Michigan....

  5. #5
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    Insert something clever here:

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  6. #6
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    keep hearing that Detroit itself is dead.

    round here, must be about 50/50 road bikes out on shop floors, if you include the recreational hybrid ones that only see pavement

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Migen21 View Post
    I think this must vary from market to market.
    Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner!

    Where the economy is healthy, and where those with disposable income have healthy lifestyles, road bikes sell well (along with cross, mountain, fixes and city bikes).

    Detroit doesn't come to mind.

  8. #8
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    Local bike store says road bikes are dead. Maybe he means he's losing business to a nearby competitor. Seems a rather silly comment to make. Where I live I see the opposite problem. Too many road bikes crowding up the main road cyclists all begin their route on. Now as far as the Trek example, I think it is true, that as high priced models proliferate those models are not going to be sold as often as the lower end or mid-priced models which typically means they have to be special ordered. I'm sure there are many Trek dealers who won't have the new Trek Madone in stock in all sizes and configurations.

  9. #9
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    Road bikes are alive and well in all the shops on my part of the Jersey Shore. Pick your bike, there is a dealer... MTB are well represented and fat bikes too... gravel grinders, fixes and of course, a load of beach cruisers.

    If if they can sell them they will carry them.
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  10. #10
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    From my experience road bikes are alive and well. Selling well at the shop I work at.

    Maybe he means that the traditional road bike is dead. How we define a road bike has completely changed. Now we have lightweight bikes, endurance bikes, aero bikes, gravel bikes, cyclocross bikes, adventure bikes, etc.
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  11. #11
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    I'm guessing pure high end race road bikes. That can be a hard sell and small market .

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by crowaan View Post
    From my experience road bikes are alive and well. Selling well at the shop I work at.

    Maybe he means that the traditional road bike is dead. How we define a road bike has completely changed. Now we have lightweight bikes, endurance bikes, aero bikes, gravel bikes, cyclocross bikes, adventure bikes, etc.
    That's part of the problem too. Remember when each manufacturer only made a couple of models and they all had race geo?
    There are so many models now that it's impossible for most dealers to carry many of them.

    The Trek dealer where I bought mine stocks about 10% road bikes and I had to order my size. He sells more kids' bikes than anything.
    "When you know absolutely nothing, anyone who knows 1% more than nothing sounds like an expert."

  13. #13
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    Maybe the "problem" for some of the bike stores is that people have bought some nice bikes that will last a long time and there haven't been really compelling advances in the industry to make people buy new ones. Around here, whether the retail stores are flourishing or not, ridership is healthy...

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by PBL450 View Post
    gravel grinders
    oh if that term could just curl up, die, and go away.
    Blows your hair back.

  15. #15
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    Sounds like that dealer was trying to sell you what he had, not what you wanted to buy.

    It happens... they consider it to be 'good salesmanship'.

    The road bike sure ain't dead around here in the Silicon Valley. In fact, it's most of what I see.
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by crowaan View Post
    From my experience road bikes are alive and well. Selling well at the shop I work at.

    Maybe he means that the traditional road bike is dead. How we define a road bike has completely changed. Now we have lightweight bikes, endurance bikes, aero bikes, gravel bikes, cyclocross bikes, adventure bikes, etc.
    I don't know... he said that the Trek Demo fleet doesn't even have the bikes he was interested in, so my guess is that he is looking for a moderately priced bike. Trek Demo fleets tend to be the high end bikes.
    Life is short... enjoy the ride.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by tvad View Post
    Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner!

    Where the economy is healthy, and where those with disposable income have healthy lifestyles, road bikes sell well (along with cross, mountain, fixes and city bikes).

    Detroit doesn't come to mind.
    My thoughts exactly!
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  18. #18
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    I now live in the Detroit Metro area as well but lived across state and was really good friends with a shop owner on the other side of Michigan. He would buy road bikes to sell and they would sit on the floor for a long time. Not only do they not sell that well in this area but they also have more overhead for the shop since road bikes are more expensive, I had to special order all of my bikes from him for racing (he sponsors my team).

    Michigan is a mountain bike state. It's turning into a fat bike state. People willing to spend big money on NEW bikes are more likely to spend that on a fatbike or a mtb. I see a lot of road bikes moving on the used market here.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikerector View Post
    Michigan is a mountain bike state. It's turning into a fat bike state. People willing to spend big money on NEW bikes are more likely to spend that on a fatbike or a mtb. I see a lot of road bikes moving on the used market here.
    I lived in MI for a few years (about 15 minutes west of Lansing). Weird thing about the road system is that not too far from the main roads there are mostly dirt and gravel roads. At least in that area, I don't think a pure road bike would be the best bike to have. Additionally, MI was one of the worst places to drive. Tailgating, impatient drivers, etc. - note that I now live right outside of DC and still think MI driver's were much bigger A$$hats. No-fault insurance = little incentive to personally be a safe driver.

    I also agree with the other posts about the economy. MI is and has been in a really bad place for a long time. You cannot really use a bike as a commuting vehicle (outside of urban centers). I would not expect any specialty retail to be doing all that well.

  20. #20
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    As others have pointed out, this varies. I live in an affluent town (not trying to brag, just establishing context) and there are at least six independent high end shops that focus on road bikes within a 15 minute drive of my house. These are the type of places with will have Colnago C60s, P5s and Dogmas purchased in several sizes, built up and on the floor for sale. It's not uncommon around here to see 10+ groups of 10 or more people on the road on a nice Saturday ride. For middle aged white guys (sadly almost always white, almost always guys) who make decent scratch, cycling seems very popular these days.

  21. #21
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    It would be interesting to find data that shows how the cost of a road bike and accessories (e.g., apparel, wheels, groupsets, etc) have increased over past few years. The last complete road bike I purchased new was an OCLV Trek 5200 equipped with 8-speed Ultegra back in 1995 for $1800. Back then, I had to pay four installments before I could take it home. In those days, I made much less money than I do now. However, it feels like trying to keep up within a couple years of all the cycling innovations like electronic shifting, disc brakes and alike, takes more of my income than Im willing to devote to the hobby. Im not even factoring how cycling clothing has become so specialized and gone up in price over the years.


    I decided to get off the weight weenie and upgrade treadmill and freeze at circa 2007. If you see me, Ill be the frozen in time Retro Grouch riding around on a decades old frames with mechanical SRAM 10-speed as long as possible. Sorry bike industry, Im a consumer that is stopped trying to keep up with the industry marketing hype.


  22. #22
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    Cycling is a working man's sport/hobby but it's interesting it attracts the more affluent lifestyle especially when you start shopping at LBS.

    Not many sport/hobbies out there where you can literally get started out with an $85 Dept. Store type bike (like I did, get hooked). Honestly don't even know how it's possible to make or sell a bike and make a profit at $85. However, on the other end, you can work yourself up to $3K - $5 road bikes, now obviously this is where the profit is so what type of neighborhood/market is willing or can afford to spend that much money?

    Road cycling is a lot more intimidating to get into and does not attract the younger or starting-out crowd (teens, mom's or dads) as mountain biking does so that narrows the market even more.

    To top it off, many of road cyclists own a mountain bike but definitely not true the other way around. So as you can see, road bikes appeal to a very small market which equates to a more mature, well established affluent type neighborhood. Just my thoughts.

  23. #23
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    The greater Knoxville area (Population right around 500K - including Oak Ridge and Maryville) has 14 bike shops. Fifteen if your count REI. Sixteen if you count Dick's. The large majority of them not only have a great selection of road bikes in stock - but many of them carry more than one brand of road bike. Brands represented in the area:

    Giant
    Trek
    Specialized
    Felt
    Cervelo
    Litespeed
    Moots
    Pinarello
    BMC
    Colnago
    Orbea
    LaPierre
    Raleigh
    Fuji
    Cannondale
    GT
    Bianchi
    Scott
    Kona
    Jamis
    Rocky Mountain
    Focus

    Gorgeous day out today - the roads were all teaming with bikes in the usual spots.

    Mountain biking is also huge here. I imagine the trails were at full capacity as well today.

    Lots of cars with bike racks - that is for sure.

  24. #24
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    Road bikes certainly are not dead in this neck of the woods. However, this area is a road bike and mountain bike destination so not what I would consider representative of the country as a whole. I am a few mountain ridges east of the previous poster.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by rochrunner View Post
    That's a direct quote from a nearby LBS when I asked him why he and nobody else around here seem to carry any road bikes on the floor so I could at least look at what I'm thinking of buying before I have to pay in advance to order one with no refunds allowed. OK, in this immediate area on the northern edge of the Detroit Metro area we have miles and miles of very nice, interconnected rail-trails paved and unpaved plus parks with open trail systems and the volume sellers are obviously going to be of the MTB/hybrid/comfort/cruiser variety. And I'll admit that I don't often ride my road bike right from home since it takes a few miles to get away from the local congestion and busy roads.

    On the other hand, there are a number of annual weekend road rides in this area and other events around the state where hundreds of roadies show up on their road bikes, yet finding any around here is a real challenge. At one time, I thought it would be nice to own a Trek, but couldn't find the particular model in any area store (and there are plenty around). The dealers all said they had no plans to stock it, and when I went directly to Trek they basically said that I was out of luck because they don't even carry that model on their demo trucks! Apparently they didn't want my business, so to heck with them.

    I recently settled on a Felt Z4 Disc as my #1 candidate, but ran into the same problems. The above-mentioned LBS was talking the road bike market down to the point where he was almost questioning why I would ever want one (losing any potential sale in the process). So my next call was to a dealer a bit farther away, but that used to be the closest road-friendly dealer. I bought my Synapse there about 5 years ago as well as a couple of pairs of bibs and other road-related items. But when I called, I found that they were fully into the triathlon business now and carried nothing but tri bikes on the floor. It's hard to believe that they'd just turn away from the general road riding population, but it was the same story: we won't stock it but would be glad to order you one.

    I did finally manage to find a dealer out-state near Lansing, about two hours away, who carries Felts and has had Z4s in stock. He is currently waiting for the 2016s to start arriving in a couple of months, so it looks like I'll be heading up there to do business.

    Hard to believe that buying an expensive bike would be such a frustrating experience!

    I used to have good luck with Fraser Bicycle, did you try them?
    Last edited by Stumpjumper FSR; 07-26-2015 at 12:02 PM.

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