About Christopher Wiggins

I'm a bike shop owner, and part time world traveler. I am the author of "The Idiot's Guide to Bike Repair and Maintenance". I like to play the ukulele, and 5 string banjo. I used to be a drummer.

Do you really want to “save” the bike biz?

It seems that every year the industry rolls out the next product that will “save” the bike business.  A product so great, so revolutionary that rabid throngs of customers will rush into stores all over the country.

Of course, it never really lives up to the hype.

The products always seem to appeal to niche audiences, and said products always are on the higher end of the price range.  The funny thing is that there’s a gaping hole in the offerings from the big bike companies.  Something that truly could make a very big difference in the health, and happiness of a large number of people.   As far as I know no one is addressing it.

Here in the midwest we have a population that skews……..larger.  I’ve lost count of the number of customers I’ve talked to that genuinely want to ride a bike.  They just don’t know where to turn.

The first inclination seems to be visiting one of the big box stores and just buying a bike.  This rarely ends well.  Lack of sizes, and poor components make for a bad experience that usually ends in the person giving up.

Buying a bike in a bike shop should be a better alternative.  The trouble is that the wheels spec’d on recreational bike in the $400-$600 price range are not sufficient to hold someone tipping the scales over 250 lbs.  This is the problem.  Could the customer invest in a bicycle that is considerably more expensive with better, more durable wheels?  Absolutely.  Trouble is most new riders aren’t willing to shell out $1500 on what may be their first bike since childhood.

You may be saying “So what?  Just sell them a bike.  Having a bike with sub standard wheels is better than no bike at all”.  Unfortunately it’s not that easy.

Let’s say that you’re the one in this situation.  You’ve decided to exercise, and you’d like to ride a bike.  You go to a bike shop because that’s where you get “good” bikes.  You may have had a couple of not so great experiences at bike shops already.  You explain that you would like a bike, but don’t think there is anything available that will “hold” you.

Now let’s say I assure you that said bike will be fine.  I may even provide a gentle warning you that there may be issues with the wheels, but they can be serviced.  You buy the bike, and within the first few months spokes start breaking.  What are the chances that you end up discouraged, and stop riding all together?  What are the chances that you are left feeling a bit betrayed by me for selling you something that should have “worked”?

I am in no way suggesting that larger folk not seek out the joys of riding a bicycle.  The point is big bicycle companies don’t think that this is a category worth spending time on.  For that they should be ashamed.

If they really want to “save” the bike business they will stop allocating all of their resources to high dollar, ever more complicated racing bikes and start spending a little more time on the other 95% of their customer base.

 

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How Wide is Right for Me?

Yet again Jan breaks it down for us. Wider tires are not slower! (for the 57,000th time).

Off The Beaten Path

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Our ideas of what is a performance bike have changed a lot in recent years! One of the most exciting bikes of the moment is the Open U.P. – a carbon race bike that accepts 50 mm-wide tires!

Not too long ago, every performance road bike had 700C x 23 mm tires. Now you have to choose not just how wide you want your tires to be, but – thanks to disc brakes – even which wheel size you want to use! For the Bicycle Quarterly test, we rode the Open with 650B x 48 mm tires, but our second tester, Nate King, raced his Open with 700C x 44 mm tires. Which is better? Or should you get several wheelsets for different courses? Is there a reason to switch tires and wheels on the same bike?

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Let’s first talk about some fundamentals: Wider tires don’t roll slower than narrow ones. Bicycle…

View original post 1,544 more words

Testing 1, 2, 3……

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I’ve been trying my hand at the audio visual side of personal/professional blogs.  It’s taken up a bit of time.

I was recently interviewed for a well known forum here in the US.  The participants are made up mostly of triathletes.  I was an interesting choice for a guest, but my store used to cater to a fair number customers who took part in those events.

Should I be able to work out the technicalities, I plan on posting the audio version of this interview.  I was deep in the throes of bronchitis at the time, and I haven’t heard the finished product.  It should be……..interesting.

For all of you here in the states, enjoy the Holiday tomorrow.  I hope you get a bike ride in, and don’t have any pyrotechnic mishaps.

Podcasting (finally)

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There was a time in my life when all I wanted was to be on the radio.  I made that happen at a pretty young age.  By my sophomore year of college I had an actual job at an actual radio station.  It was small town AM radio, but I was doing it (and getting paid which made me a bit of unicorn among my peers).

I ultimately decided to not pursue radio as a career, but sometime in the mid 90’s I discovered podcasting.  It was the very early stages of the medium, but I saw potential.  I sat on the sidelines for years thinking that podcasting was something I would like to do.  Well, I’ve made the commitment and I’m going to give it a go.

The program will be discussions with people that I find interesting.  There will, for obvious reasons, be a strong bicycle component but it will not be the sole focus.

Even though this is a brand new endeavor I hope it sparks constructive conversation, and suggestions.  Links will be posted in the space as the episodes are finished.

Fingers crossed.