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are all these grassroots teams killing the our sport?

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12/22/2009 2:00 PM

i can't decide if i think all this grassroots stuff is good or bad for the sport.

i'm talking about programs that give riders discounts just for joining a "team" - it has nothing to do with sponsorship based on results or talent...anyone can sign up to one of these teams so companies can sell direct to the riders.

one thought is that these "teams" get new people into a sport that is expensive. i see that point and we definitely need more people riding bikes!

the con to all these "teams" seems two-fold
getting someone into the sport at a discount means they will always expect a discount, for the rest of their life. you can't sell them a bike for $1000 one year, then tell them the bike is $3000 the next year.

also, bike shops have potential business taken from them by companies they have agreements with.

what do you guys think? it's a tough decision on both sides of the argument.

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12/22/2009 2:18 PM

giving product away cheap or free to anyone who asks does not breed brand loyalty.

if companies look at the long-term, they'll see these programs are bad ideas.

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12/22/2009 2:50 PM
Edited Date/Time: 4/21/2016 10:18 AM

There are quite a few companies who use Grassroots to build rider loyalty and get riders onto their bikes. Many frequently will move riders up through their programs from grassroots to Pro offers and eventually factory. Look at the Yeti set up. They have RPM for fast juniors to get involved in their program, build brand loyalty, and to give riders a chance to perform. Then the riders move over to Yeti regional, then National, then potentially World Cup. Joey Schusler went through each of those programs aside from RPM.


Places like sponsorhouse which get every person who signs up a deal on product only prevents the local bike shop from earning business because the companies sell direct and cut out the shops.


From people I have talked to, grassroots is not always offered to everyone. The certainly are deals like the generic 661 deal that they hand out to anyone able or willing to send them an email is one thing, but there are companies that have a criteria and may only accept 10% of the applicants onto their program because that program looks to move riders through their program later on down the line. This is how it should be done. The Yeti example is better for the sport than the 661 deal is.


It can be a slippery slope, but many companies handle it well. Anyone can apply to any company for a factory ride even. Almost all mountain bike companies have a link on their website offering sponsorship. Just because they offer it does not mean everyone is accepted.

But that is my $0.02

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12/22/2009 3:21 PM
Edited Date/Time: 4/21/2016 10:18 AM

Programs like Sponsorhouse and in particular the 661 deal that Nick mentioned are dumb and as a bike shop manager it makes it less appealing for me to carry 661 in my store. I actually joined Sponsorhouse several years ago but eventually just learned it was an ineffective marketing campaign disguised as social networking.


The attitude of some of the "sponsored" groms and teams at the races is pretty annoying and snarky to the point where its divisive (IE not contributing to our scene or culture). Additionally our industry shoots itself in the foot when it "hooks" everyone and thier mother up with product - it ends up on eBay and further dilutes the ability to make a living in bicycle retail. Full disclosure, I've been on both sides.

I prefer more personal sponsorship relationships where I can be of service to the company in some way and our goals, my obligations, and expectations are clearly laid out and agreed upon ahead of time. I don't ask for things, I offer things. I've been successful with this approach and I take it very seriously.

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MRP - VP of Business Dev.

12/22/2009 4:55 PM

nick, yeah, i'm referring to the programs that hand out "sponsorship" to anyone who asks. seems like there are a lot of these deals popping up more frequently which is a bummer.

actual, proper "sponsorship" of a developing athlete is great. companies building relationships with riders who show promise, talent and dedication is definitely needed in the game and i support those efforts 100%.

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12/24/2009 11:13 AM

This is a frequent topic of discussion here at The Fix. There are certainly arguments both for and against the benefits of grassroots sponsorship, and the bottom line is it mostly depends on whose perspective you are viewing it from. We are working on our 2010 amateur team right now, and you can see our team statement in the thread about that on this forum. Basically our goal is to only sponsor riders who are interested in making racing and the sport better for everyone, not just grabbing up whatever discounts they can get. This is a challenge, and you can't really blame anyone for taking a good deal when it is offered to them.
What is certainly destructive, from my perspective as a bike shop worker and a pro racer, are faceless, internet based sponsorships that are really just ways for companies to sell direct to riders and in fact make more money than they would selling at wholesale to a shop. It represents no sacrifice on the part of the company, no accountability on the part of the riders, and is in fact not really sponsorship at all. So it is definately bad for the shops. Many would argue that most bike shops suck and don't deserve the business anyway, and sadly in many cases they would be right. Regardless of the bike shop factor, it is just plain annoying seeing hordes of riders touting their "sponsors", when those companies have in fact done nothing for that rider, other than to make money off them. It come down to a quality vs. quantity argument. What is better, sponsoring a few riders who deserve it, represent your company well, act as salesmen/women for your product, and give you feedback, OR getting a horde of jerseys on the hill on people who you have no relationship with, may tell people god knows what about your product, may act like asses or ambassadors, and so on. Personally, I'm a fan of quality over quantity.

One more thing....

The other thing I don't like about some grassroots sponsorships, especially for younger kids, is how it can create the illusion of racing being a big deal when it really doesn't need to be. Sure everyone is excited when a sponsor signs on, it makes you feel good about yourself, helps you out financially, ect. But the truth is that the pickins are pretty slim these days, so whatever you get compared against the cost of racing a full season is probably going to be pretty minimal. And I have seen sponsorship, particularly in the team form, completely take the fun out of fun, particularly for younger kids. This is all about how well the team is run and the disposition of the rider. If you can make the team a fun experience and a learning experience then great, but if it just makes racing more stressful for riders who really don't need to be stressing out about the appearance of their kit, their results, and so on, then what is the point? So my advice there is if you are thinking about joining a team, make sure it's for a good reason and that you click well with the people who are running it and the general vibe. Don't just sign on because you can.

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12/27/2009 7:42 PM

Companies need to leave the good deals and sponserships to the ones who actually deserve it. Just because your into racing doesnt mean you should be getting free stuff. With so much product and deals being spread around, it gives the people who actually need the deals because of breaking parts regualarly and traveling across the country, a lower chance of recieving the kind of support that they require.

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12/28/2009 11:12 AM

The "sponsor anybody" (including me) programs are problematic at best and evil at worst. They definitely undercut local bike shops, can screw the "sponsored" rider with ridiculous shipping arrangements, lack of availability (for help, product backorders, etc) and the rider may not be getting much of a deal in the first place.

I'll be blacklisted from their site. . . but sponsorhouse is definitely first and foremost a marketing tool. People are lured in to become a "sponsored rider" only to find they are paying near retail to fly the flag of the "sponsor". In the arrangement of one of the companies listed above (no hard feelings btw) they lose NO money on the deal, they get their product on the majority of riders at a race and the local shop loses sales.

OK that was a generalization and there are definitely companies out there working with riders to help racing AND their product, but my experience left me soured. Should have known that a mediocre rider like myself was unlikely to get a real sponsorship anyway. Buyer beware.

Privateer forever

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12/28/2009 11:22 AM

DannyFrey wrote:

Companies need to leave the good deals and sponserships to the ones who actually deserve it. Just because your into racing ...more

Amen!

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12/28/2009 11:55 AM
Edited Date/Time: 12/28/2009 12:16 PM

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12/28/2009 11:56 AM

After reading through most of the posts here, I would suggest that the thread most of you have replied to is 'are all these grassroots teams killing our INDUSTRY'. Most of these responses have nothing to do with growing/ or killing the sport. They have to do profitability of the industry.

I guess you can argue that it is a chicken and egg argument. To get more riders into the sport you need inexpensive bikes, but to get inexpensive bikes you need many riders, and further to make it worth while to get inexpensive bikes you need a profitiable market.

Are all these grass roots teams killing our sport? No, not at all.

Are they hurting real up and commers? Maybe.

Are they hurting the indusrty? I would say that as a former shop manager they are certainly a pain in the ass, but I do not feel that they are widespread enough to hurt the industry, and if they are it is the industry doing it to themselves.

Towards the end of my time working in the shop it was not the grass roots teams that hurt my bottom line. It was trying to match the online dealers and cross boarder shoping. Again does that really hurt the sport? No.

Does it hurt my shop within the industry? Well it hurt right up until we got creative.

Buying clubs are old news for me. Our issue issue was how to deal with places like Jenson blowing out staple products at below our cost.

Maybe these buying clubs hurt in the short run. In the long run they are keeping butts on bikes, and maybe even helping to drive the rampant consumerism in our industry (You've got to get that matching kit or ano blue bar to match your bike because all the hot 'sponsored' riders bikes are colour matched).

Are these grassroots teams keeping butts on bikes and riders in our sport?

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12/28/2009 1:44 PM

NoahColorado wrote:

Programs like Sponsorhouse and in particular the 661 deal that Nick mentioned are dumb and as a bike shop manager it makes it ...more

I prefer more personal sponsorship relationships where I can be of service to the company in some way and our goals, my obligations, and expectations are clearly laid out and agreed upon ahead of time. I don't ask for things, I offer things. I've been successful with this approach and I take it very seriously.

I completely agree with this. I'm not fast enough to be of marketing help to a company like 661 or Specialized, but I can help increase exposure in the gravity scene for a local shop. Plus, representing someone with whom I have a personal relationship makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.
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12/28/2009 5:22 PM

grassroots shouldn't be handouts. companies should switch to a flow am and pro system to not kill the industry as much. if you wanna call the flow team grassroots or whatever thats fine but giving stuff away for free is stupid. if you wanna get on a team you should have to earn a spot on there and continue to earn the right to be on it. and for all those kids who brag about being hooked up with parts how does that at all fell gratifying or make you any better than the next kid paying his way to ride his bike, the freebee system that they having going right now just seems dumb.

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12/28/2009 10:54 PM

NoahColorado wrote:

Programs like Sponsorhouse and in particular the 661 deal that Nick mentioned are dumb and as a bike shop manager it makes it ...more

sofa king slow wrote: I prefer more personal sponsorship relationships where I can be of service to the company in some way and our goals, my ...more
Quoting @sofa king slow - "I completely agree with this. I'm not fast enough to be of marketing help to a company like 661 or Specialized, but I can help increase exposure in the gravity scene for a local shop."

You don't need to be fast to be of marketing help. You need to think from the company's perspective. What are some things you can do to further the brand other than riding?

I think this basic concept is all too often overlooked by your average "sponsored" rider.
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12/28/2009 11:40 PM

there's a difference between grassroots, like yeti's program, and the random discounts companies like 661 offer on sponsorhouse. if it's an actual team, that travels together to races and goes on rides and whatnot, the grassroots i think are a good thing. they help people who are dedicated to the sport get access to equipment cheaper. im 17, and only recently joined a team. we do a bit of grassroot like sponsorship aside from the the main sponsors, but its always on a personal level. we usually meet a rep or someone at a race or event and after talking to them they may or may not get involved. this is definitely a good thing. it makes more connections to those in the industry and the consumer, benefiting both. however, sponsorhouse is not. i used mine for a couple years, and now its basically a joke. its just a bunch of kids who care more about getting "sponsored" than actually riding. you know who they are to. you see them at races, and if there completely decked out in 661 and royal gear matched with poorly placed stickers and have a monster hat on, maybe combined with a division 26 shirt and fmx optics glasses, you know they have a sponsorhouse. its sad and kinda mean but you sorta hate em. it just makes them look like an idiot. and you hardly ever see them on a podium. but its not completely their fault. its just something maybe all their friends are doing, and even further pushed by the companies who "sponsor" them. it almost takes a level of intensity out of a race when a gang of them pile out of an escalade with one of their moms driving. then it bums you out even more when they start doing skids in the parking lot on brand new demos and kona stabs that there parents paid for. that's what sponsorhouse has created. haha. oh well. more money in the sport, right?

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yak

12/29/2009 12:03 AM

Well im agreeing with you all on the fact that there probably shouldn't be so many free handouts. These teams probably aren't as an effect hurting the industry.

But as MATT_W has said it is the faceless companies over the internet that are killing the local culture as people get the parts from whoever is cheapest which i understand why. The only reason i have ever not ordered through a local shop is because the local shop doesn't sell the part i have wanted.

The price shouldn't be too much of a deterrent as the shop will usually help you select the part for what you want, Put the part on for you, And also the warranty side of things is so much easier i have just walked in and said what my problem was and they will fix me up with a week.

Its the same as at the hardware store when you are building a new line or new set of jumps, we snap a shovel we will walk back in as we only buy the shovel with the decent warranty. In which the hardware store will fix you back up with a brand new one and you feel like someone cares from it as you aren't dealing with a computer.

It's not about how fat you go with racing or how high you go with jumping when you are sponsored. Im sure a company would want to have the person who is standing on the podium at 3rd in stead of first if they are giving the right feedback in order to further the company and telling people about the products that are really good for them, then someone who know one respects or has anything to do with because they aren't a good quality person and just always complains about the company and says they aren't getting a good enough go with the company.

The best thing with a bike is having a mate at a store who gives you a small discount but they still make a profit and also just to travel and not get tied down because of a team just ride and be free as such.

Peace out

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12/29/2009 12:08 AM

killer discussion going on! stoked to hear all the different thoughts and opinions. keep 'em coming!

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12/29/2009 8:11 AM

Bottom line: No these companies arent hurting mountain biking in anyway, their bringing new people involved who may never have before. Yes maybe the bike shops do lose money in the process, but if any of you have been like me, bike shops can be a major hassle. Waiting and waiting when you can just go online or to whoever your sponser is in and get it shipped out in 5 business days or whatever. Overal its a very positive for our sport as a whole. Even though it does cause problems as a bike shop owner, or as a more elite racer (from my earlier comment).

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12/29/2009 12:38 PM
Edited Date/Time: 4/21/2016 10:18 AM

The problem with the "sponsorships" hurting the bike shops is fundamentally tied in with how much bike shops suck. Advice and customer service are great, and can definately be worth paying a little more. But most shops don't know anything about gravity riding, don't have anything in stock, and process special orders at such a speed that you would think the parts are delivered via pony express. I like to think that our shop is an exception to that, but we're in Boulder, CO, and most people don't have the luxury of living in a mountain bike Mecca. Even here, we are pretty much the only shop with any kind of selection for gravity products. Most of the downhillers at other shops around town are sequestered in the service area, and the salespeople are clueless on the issue.


I don't blame anyone for taking a deal that's being offered them, when the alternative is a clueless shop that treats them like crap, doesn't have what they need, takes forever to order it, and charges more. No one involved in a bike shop can complain until they get their shit together. The moto shop in town is a great example, they are closed on Monday, and if you go in on Tuesday morning for something and they don't have it, they can't (read- won't) get it for you by Friday. So instead I get on Rocky Mountain MC and I get what I need in 48 hours and cheaper. Why would I feel any obligation to support a shop that has made themselves useless by being slow and overpriced? I'm not going to sit out a weekend with my bike out of commission so they can make a few dollars, but I'll bet they all sit around grumbling about how everyone shops online. If they had what I wanted in stock and had good service, I would gladly pay a little more and not mess with the potential headaches of shopping online.

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12/29/2009 12:56 PM
Edited Date/Time: 4/21/2016 10:18 AM

sspomer wrote:

giving product away cheap or free to anyone who asks does not breed brand loyalty.

if companies look at the long-term, ...more

I don't necessarily agree. I can see the logic, just don't agree.

Why?

Apparently I do not possess the skills nor the luxury of time/racked with monetary debt to enjoy a 'free ride' in the mountain bike racing world. No big deal. It is what it is. Plus I think I make a pretty mean apple pancake, so all is good.

I do however spend a boat load on bicyles and gear each and every year, normally going through 2-3 completes a season-just ask anyone at Go-Ride. However, as the economy has gone to pot and my income was halved and then halved again I've come to rely and appreciate the handful of 'grassroots' deals I've come across from Turner, 661, Maxxis, e.13 and MRP to name a few.

I've never been given anything for free from any of said brands except a handful of stickers and never expected anymore than that. I still have to pay for what I buy, albeit at varying discounts. From a strictly competitive point of view, once the 'grassroots' racer shells out for a USA Cycling license, entry fees, lift passes, gas, lodging (if need be) that's a lot of coin before you even set the bike on the ground and starting wearing out tires, brake pads and anything that's going to completely brake or need serviced. Granted, these things need to be done regardless but usually much more frequently when you're beating your gear in competition.

Also, I do enjoy watching Peat, Hill and the rest of them compete on DVD's and online sources but I'm not 100% comfortable with the idea that 'X' amount of 'Y' product goes to fly these guys all over the world. Sure they're better than me and 99.9% of the guys out there racing, but why should I as a paying customer foot their bill? I get the fact that it's all part of the R&D process, but in the real world over the past two decades I've come to the realization that most of the R&D process comes down to and is incured by the consumer and changes are made through feedback from warranty departments.

Having said that, I don't feel bad or believe that I'm taking away from the industry/sport/LBS with the few grassroots deals I've had/have. They take the edge off an otherwise expensive sport. And as far as brand loyalty, that is where I disagree with you. With Sponsorhouse, and direct line grassroots deals I can pick and choose those companies who products I would normally buy without any discount. I'm not going to pursue a grassroots deal from Manitou because I would never ride or purchase one on my own. I'm not going to pursue a grassroots deal with Assos chamois cream because my taint prefers Brave Soldier. You get the picture.

It's interesting to see how the responses to this question usually fall on either the LBS side or the customer side of the debate with little gray area. About a month ago on Pinkbike there was an article/advertisement announcing Transition's foray into the 'Grassroots' sponsorship world. The responses were fairly heated from both sides and Transition had to come to the rescue and post up a response to the mess that was going on. Again, it all came down on the two sides of the coin: LBS guys vs. Joe cheap ass bike buyer.

Bottom line: Mountain bikes are fucking expensive and IMO are quite a bit overpriced. Even with a 661 'grassroots' 50% off deal, I still buy my Fox gloves at a Motocross store across town because they're less expensive than the discounted price and about a 1/5th of the price than I can buy the same glove at any bike shop. I could go into the whole 'I can buy a brand new Honda Moto-X for the same price as a V-10' debate and the tires-which cost the same-will last longer than one day of park riding. If the LBS is upset at grassroots deals, they should be ashamed at the prices they're offering the exact same gear that one can purchase a moto-x store for a lot less. I don't need to buy a Leatt Brace at a high end bike shop for $475 when I can get it down the road at the moto-x store for $395 without haggling or feeling like I'm putting anyone out-or that the LBS is giving me some special deal/treatment and I should be so grateful. Sorry, but business's have to adapt or fall by the wayside. Record stores failed to do so and now we're left with ITunes and a few relic stores staffed by bitter old hippies sniffing old vinyl than no one can use.

Do I think grassroots sponsorships are hurting the industry? Not at all. I still buy 99% of my stuff from brick and morter retailers and online stores. I would assume that most people using any grassroots program is in the same boat. They are too few and far between to be taking over what a decent, well run bike shop can accomplish. However, with the changing economy and ways of doing business in general, that doesn't mean the LBS should just kick back and put their heels up on the desk and rely on loyalty. It still has to be earned and from what I can tell these companies offering discounts are attempting to do just that and may in the end be changing the way we all buy bikes.

Anyway, flame on.

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Suck All You Want. I'll Make More.

12/30/2009 12:17 PM
Edited Date/Time: 10/4/2011 5:10 PM

I see your point about how a business model must adapt or fail but your comparison to the music industry and the local record shop is flawed to me. You can't download a set of handlebars for free. You can't have your friend burn a copy of a downhill frame. The way that technology has fundamentally altered the music industry (or entertainment media as a whole) is not the same as how universally offered grassroots "sponsorships" are chipping away at the already unstable foundation out from under local bike shops.

When Sponsorhouse started, it was a genuinely good idea. Connect people looking for sponsors with companies that can offer that help. It's appealing from both ends as the rider gets their resume out to many companies from one source and companies get their sponsorship process streamlined (can you imagine sorting through thousands of proposal packets coming in by mail for three months out of the year? barf).

Most of this thread is preaching to the choir and we all seem to agree that it is not grassroots sponsorship itself that is the issue. Any "team" that harbors the development of talent, provides its members with an easier access to fun times, and establishes a solid and lasting sense of community within a race/ride scene cannot be blamed for a decrease in local shop sales. Right?

The issue is that the streamlining of how some companies offer sponsorship has become perversely efficient- give out the same thing to anyone who asks for anything.

So we seem to get it in here.

What's going to change though?

Are any of us going to write letters to any of the offending companies and bring it to their attention what is happening? Are any of those companies going to change the way that they do business now after hearing the perspective contained in this thread? Are any of those companies going to stick with their new found enlightenment long enough to really see any real long term benefit from the altering of their ways by pursuing the slow dime? Or are they just going to blow us all off in favor of the fast nickel they have become accustomed to?

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12/30/2009 3:10 PM

This is a touchy subject and always will be. I feel like I have a pretty good grasp of two of the three sides of this, as I work at a shop, and have been part of grassroots sponsorship programs in the past. I am lacking actually working for a company handing out the sponsorships. With that said, here are my opinions on the effects of grassroots teams.

Why it ISN'T killing the sport from a riders perspective...

When I got my first Ellsworth Specialist at the "grassroots" price I was pumped. There was no way I could have been able to afford it otherwise. It turned out to be a great few years riding for them, and promoting their product. I feel it helped out with my love for the sport, and I continued a career in the cycling industry. As my riding style progressed I got into DH racing and pretty much all aspects of cycling, and in turn I believe I have helped the sport grow.

Why it ISN'T killing the sport from a shop perspective...

If a rider that wouldn't normally be interested in racing DH can get a bike, helmet or tube at a good deal, starts racing, and then frequents the local shop, great. Hopefully the shop can earn his trust/business and allow him to continue to ride and help grow the sport.

Why it ISN'T killing the sport from a manufacturer perspective...

Additional sales and no loss of profit, helps grow the business. In most cases actual additional profit. This could be used to further the company, product, or possibly provide additional funds to sponsor events and help grow the sport. Good stuff! Product in the hands of more riders. Riders that are pumped about getting a good deal, more likely to talk good about the product. Riders listing the manufacturer name as a sponsor so again, more recognition for the product. Seems like the perfect deal. More races, more recognition, more riders. Sport grows, prices come down, we are all happy campers.

Why it IS killing out sport...

Here is a scenario that is currently playing out here in Utah. Go-Ride currently sponsors the Utah Downhill Series. This consists of 5-8 races a year, most of which include a DH race, as well as a Super D or other gravity event. A large part of Go-Ride's business are the downhill racers that are customers of the shop. As grassroots sponsorships have grown over the years, the sale of DH and other gravity style bikes and products have steadily declined at our shop. If this continues we will not be able to afford to sponsor the race series. Worst cast scenario is the race series completely goes away. Suddenly with no DH race series on a local level, the industry loses a number of potential riders, and everyone suffers. Now I'm sure I'm being pessimistic here, but what's next. Does that mean the 100 or so racers we have totally stop riding bikes? Probably not, but maybe they decide they don't need a dedicated race bike because there is no longer a local race series. Less money in the sport is certainly not helping grow it. Also, as direct sales from manufacturers grow and grow, the potential for the local shop becoming obsolete grows. With no local shops to carry the product, most of the knowledge and visibility of the brand goes away, and sales actually drop off, and manufacturers start going out of business. There goes the short term gain of direct sales. Again, maybe that is far fetched, but maybe not. Although Go-Ride sells online, we are a local shop. Our local business far outdoes our online business. If we lose our local sales to direct "sponsorship" sales, then we go away. The local race series and the local gravity shop going away, in my opinion, definitely "kills" our sport.

My final rant. Should Joe Schmoe, 35 year old Cat III racer that races 2 events a year and bitches about how bad bikes suck, how expensive they are, and how he doesn't have any fun even racing, get a "grassroots" sponsorship? Hell no. He isn't helping grow the sport. But how does the sponsorship program tell him apart from the other guy, same age, same class, that goes to every race he can afford, is absolutely PUMPED just to have the ability to get on a bike at all, and gets all his buddies involved in racing? The can't, the current programs are flawed. We bitch about it to manufacturers all the time. Do we have the answer, not one bit. Just a couple guys with a love for bikes trying to keep our sport alive. Did I really just type all that?

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Job - Go-Ride.com
Bike - SuperCo Charger

12/30/2009 3:24 PM

As a shop owner this can be a frustrating topic. sponserhouse / mailorder / ebay / whatever you want to call it, A lot of you have brought up some very good points that have some clout . Let's face it,gravity sport's ARE expensive,Wether your getting a deal or not . And with these pore economic time's everyone is trying to save a buck anywhere they can. But as for killing the sport, I would have to say NO, the sport continues to grow each year.I think the industry has lost site of the way they operate there programs,I have a few friend's that started with these program's almost over 2 decade's ago back when you had to earn it thru showing results and performing. And they are still killing it to this day thanks to these REAL grassroots programs.
My thought is maybe the need of an overhaul of how they go about it.(maybe some sort of contingancy deal) like what they have done in sno x or moto for win's etc. but the fact of the matter is that this Sponserhouse / mailorder / ebay stuff will always be present. If all of these post have you cranked up K.shiz said it best ( Are any of us going to write letters to any of the offending companies and bring it to their attention what is happening?) and will they change or Will they just blow us off . That is the real question.

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12/30/2009 4:02 PM
Edited Date/Time: 4/21/2016 10:18 AM

In my ideal world, local shops would not sign contracts to deal any product from the companies that subscribe to (what we all seem to agree to be) unsupportive business practices. The real world is different. What's going to fill the void on your shelves if you cut 661 pads from your inventory? Some kid wants the same pads that Steve Peat has... are you going to sell him some Roach pads? What is this, the year 2000? He's going to want the 661 pads and you'll be down a customer, probably forever.


Saying "the sport will grow and keep growing" is kind of absurd to me. Sustainable growth is an oxymoron. Thermodynamics applies to mountain biking as much as it does to little electrons. The sport shrinking is a very real possibility as illustrated by Von's not nearly so far fetched scenario about the Utah race series folding without Go-Ride's support. How quickly we exhaust established growth momentum and start losing ground is up to us all as a sport.


Supporting companies that honor and respect their dealers/importers/customers will help those companies grow. Companies operating under the guidance of greed driven (masked often as "profit driven") conglomerates or catering to investment capitalists or whatever- those are the companies here to make a quick buck. You can write letters to these companies with one hand and beat off with the other. I bet I know which one will bring change first, or even at all


The brand loyalty expressed by Jack's Wet Dream and the significant impact on the sport that a bro-deal price on a Specialist frame has had for Von are what I can only see as the rare exceptions to the otherwise general rule that blanket sponsorship offers will ever yield anything good for us all. How many kids take every Sponsorhouse deal they are offered, run it for a year or two and then quit racing or riding altogether once they turn 18 and have to start paying for real life? Just about all of them. Had those kids earned the same deals (key word there- earned) through a local shop or local team, they would probably have appreciated the deals they were getting, as well as developed some more lasting relationships with established members of the cycling community and would have a laundry list of intangible "deals" that would keep them (and their money) in the sport for many additional years, perhaps even long enough to return the favor to the next generation of upcoming kids a few years down the line.


I don't want to tell anyone how to run their business in any way other than through my own financial resources and time contributions, but it boggles my mind that a company would bother to make a few extra points on their margins in the short term by effectively killing off their opportunity for long term future growth.


This forum may be slow right now but I know that there are industry people reading this stuff (maybe it's "I hope"?). Can anyone pass this thread on to the powers that make choices regarding these issues? I doubt it will make an immediate difference but if enough people (forums, go-ride, racers, shops, whatever) all start yelling the same tune, maybe the companies will change their ways.


If not, I blame the poor grammar in here. Come on, guys.

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12/30/2009 5:21 PM
Edited Date/Time: 4/21/2016 10:18 AM

k.shiz,

Perhaps I didn't explain my point well with the 'music industry' comparision. What I was trying to point out was that the way people were acquiring music was changing and rather than adapt and change their business model to survive, most did nothing and eventually went the way of the dinosaur.

Obviously, the way everyone is buying everything has changed since most of us were kids. Whether it be through a big box like Walmart or an online store without a brick and morter storefront, the mom and pop stores aren't doing anything to change and adapt and instead are complaining to manufacturers. Do I like and agree with it? No. But given how the world economy operates now there is that very real threat that your LBS will go the route of the old record store. Sure I can't download a handlebar, but I can order one while sitting at home in my underwear eating a pizza-from the same device I download my music selection from.

V-Dub,
As far as your last rant goes (and I really like Von and he is great to work with), you have to remember that Go-Ride offered an exclusive 'grassroots' bike deal through Turner this very year AND you guys are an e-tailer (I'm looking at an ad for a Go-Ride Ventana deal over on the right hand margin). I'm fairly certain that the majority of DHR's sold through your shop under that grassroots sponsorship deal were to customers out of state and thus taking away business from those customers' LBS. Not to mention everytime you sell a part or frame to someone out of state-it has the same effect-even to those few other shops who may also throw their muscle behind their local 24-hour, XC or DH races. So how is that fair to those guys/stores? Basically, what you're saying can be construed as "it's ok for Go-Ride to sell and ship bikes around the country, but you can't do the reverse to Utah because we support a local race series and you're taking money out of that coffer." Plus, I vaguely recall an advertisement for said 'grassroots' deal on this very site. Granted my mind is a little shot and Alzheimers has a mild stranglehold, but I swear I saw that Turner grassroots deal being advertised here. Definitely on MTBqueeR.com. So what does that say about Vitalmtb's stance on the issue?
However, what I just mentioned above in regards to V-Dub's rant and what I'll call 'the Go-Ride model' is exactly what I was trying to point out as far as shops needing to adapt and change up the old school business model in order to survive. But by doing so you run the risk of no longer becoming an 'LBS' but just another online bike shop that all the other shops hate.

If the little shop owner really wants to make a difference they should all ban together and say were not selling jack until you as a manufacturer not allow any of your product to be sold online. Sponsorhouse is small beans and most of the 'sponsorships' are very limiting: maybe you can order one part or one frame and that's it. The real enemy to the LBS guys are the online retailers-sorry Von and Go-Ride-not some half assed grassroots sponsorship from Brave Soldier chamois cream or all the hoodrat, gangsta clothing companies from NYC that hit my inbox on a daily basis from the auto-generated Sponsorhouse spam email box.

Anyway, it's actually a bitter 38 year old (as of last week) CAT1 racer, not 35 CAT3...upgraded solely on the fact that placing First is easy when you're the only racer in your age division for 2-3 years straight-who thinks bikes are over priced. And yes, all those First Places look like gold on those grassroots sponsorship applications...but I digress. It's all good debate.

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Suck All You Want. I'll Make More.

12/30/2009 6:22 PM
Edited Date/Time: 4/21/2016 10:18 AM

I see what you're getting at with the record store analogy, mainly that shops need to adapt or face closure. I just don't think it's really a well fitting analogy. To get a handle bar you have to pay for one from some where. It's a tangible thing. A song isn't necessarily. So yeah, you can order up a bar from Jenson and download a song without putting on pants from the comfort of your computer (hoozah, future!) but you're still buying the bars. You're just opting to do so from an online retailer instead of a local bike shop. Where new technology has fundamentally changed music distribution and made it difficult for the entire industry to make money, new technology has not altered all of cycling in that way. It has shifted how much profits are being made and by whom but it has not made "profit" an uncatchable unicorn.

The threat to local bike shops posed by online retailers is one that can be handled and honestly, if there were half as many (or fewer) local bike shops around my own home town of Boulder, I would say that's a good thing (most of them are mediocre at best). The Jensons and Price Points and stuff like that have probably put more than a few curmudgeonly, resisting old bike shops out of business and will continue to do so. But that is competition in the marketplace between one dealer and another. That is good and healthy. It's helping drive prices down as new technology costs more and prices stay kind of level (in theory this is true, a five thousand dollar bike in 1998 relatively sucked shit but a 5 thousand dollar bike in 2008 is probably a really great bike) and is moving the "local bike shop" towards a service oriented center, and hopefully a staple of the community. The fact that some shops like Go-Ride and The Fix have transitioned into online sales is an incarnation of that need to adapt. Simply having an online presence does not render those "local shops" as retail giants working against other "local shops." The spirit of the local shop stays with them. If you call Go-Ride, you will talk to the same couple of guys every time. Same with The Fix. You know when you call them that you can ask them things about parts and they will likely have first hand knowledge as a reply. I'd trust a Jenson sales rep to sit on a toilet the right way but probably not on what chainguide is a piece of crap or not.

Anyways, the point is that online bulk sales places are healthy competition for local shops. What is not healthy competition is the manufacturers themselves selling their own goods in direct competition with their own dealers. Why have the dealers at all?

Take a look at camera dork stuff. Lensbaby lenses are hot shit these days. You can buy them directly from Lensbaby on their website for essentially the same price as you could from online giants like Adorama or B&H (maybe a couple % difference in shipping or something) or even the local camera store down the street. Lensbaby would like you to buy their product from them directly (higher margins for them obviously) but they are not going to price themselves under their dealers or they would lose all of those dealers and all of those sales the dealers would generate over a long term. But the bike industry seems perfectly okay (well, us excepted) with this kind of shananagins since it's being done under the guise of "sponsorship"...

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12/30/2009 6:37 PM

This has given me much to think about.

I fell into the illusion of being "sponsored" and bought some gear at a discount because it allowed me to get more stuff for my $. After reading this I kind of feel dirty, but who's going to turn down a good discount?

I have spent much more money replacing broken/worn parts (rear shock, cranks, pedals, rebuilt wheels, etc) at a LBS than through my "sponsorships".
I bought my bike at a LBS too (at cost thanks in part to RSCycle).

My opinion is that the manufacturers need to see the value in having experts sell their products. It's important to be able to try stuff on, sit on a bike, talk to people who know bikes, etc. before typing in your VISA number and ending up with something you're not happy with.

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12/30/2009 7:06 PM
Edited Date/Time: 4/21/2016 10:18 AM

Well, I admit I do order from the likes of JensonUSA and have for almost a decade. I'm not a fanboy of the place and feel their CS has gone to pot the past couple of years, but like the Fix and Go-Ride they also have store fronts and usually when I call Jenson I get the same guy "Lee" on the other line. He's been there since I started ordering back whenever. Does that mean Lee knows jack about bikes? Don't know. He does know how to take and order or help out with an order though.

I think your last paragraph brings up a good point. Like you mentioned with the camera dork stuff, there are more and more bike companies offering their products or a limited variety of inventory online-usually at full MSRP. I browse bike porn all the time online and I get the impression that this trend is growing. It can be as blatant as the entire line and then some posted up for sale or for example Yeti-who will sell derailleur hangers, t-shirts, socks and the like, but not frames or completes. It could be argued that these companies by doing this are 'taking away from local shops.' It's convienent (order in the underwear model), the item is usually instock, and if it's large/expensive enough the cost of having it shipped far outweighs the cost of state sales tax.

So given the Sponsorhouse/grassroots deals, the online retailers, the gray area online/LBS variety shop, the direct access to product from the manufactuer, the 'pro' deals the 16 year old kid who doesn't race but works at a shop gets (grassroots-ish? maybe), the buddy 'pro' deals the shop employee gets for their friends, and even the pro's who get the stuff for free-bypassing all of the above and throwing the whole system out of whack completely-what's the best option? There is none and therefore the whole bike industry is now screwed and those of us taking advantage of whatever opportunity is placed in front of us-whether it's earned or deserved is subjective-are somehow harming the sport? It's an odd concept to swallow as I don't feel that my getting a discount on anything is taking away from anything. If so, why was it offered in the first place.

Obviously, there is some underlying reason why these grassroots programs are becoming more and more commonplace. If I was a product or bike manufacturer and my sales were in the toilet (Tomac bicycles comes to mind), a sales avenue like Sponsorhouse or a direct access grassroots program sure would sound appealing. And can you blame the party who's putting out the offer for trying to save their business? If the LBS guys can't move product giving out deals to Joe Schmo racer or just Joe Schmo bike rider is better than closing up shop and working as a Walmart greeter.

And adding to that, even if I never entered a race, yet as a consumer spent a large amount of money on a certain company's product over time-why am I not deserving of a deal over a so called 'pro' who's been buying stuff at a discount or may have only purchased one item from them or maybe nothing ever? Who's the one keeping that company's bottom line in the black? Earlier this year I had 3 pairs of DT Swiss EX1750's in my hands and I paid full retail for all three sets. No discount. No deals. And I used each one of those pairs to race a few local races a year over the course of a few years (bitter 35 year old Cat 3 scenario). Fuck, I feel more deserving of a deal from DT Swiss than some shop employee 'pro deal' or someone who turned pro and maybe never purchased a pair of wheels from that company but turned that magical corner into deservedhood because of what his USA Cycling license reads or that he/she has to now piss in a cup in random circumstances.

Anyway....

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Suck All You Want. I'll Make More.

12/30/2009 7:34 PM
Edited Date/Time: 12/30/2009 9:11 PM

its a good thing!

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Hans Keisler

12/30/2009 7:41 PM
Edited Date/Time: 4/21/2016 10:18 AM

I completely get what you're saying there Jack' WD. And Snipa, no one can blame you either for taking a deal if it's offered. No one should feel bad for taking advantage of deals offered. Unless of course you did nothing in return to the company under the terms they had made the offer to you initially (like: promote us in your area and get this pricing).


The problem that I see is in offering that deal universally in the first place. If you're company's sales are in the dumps, they got there for a reason whether that be rotten luck, a poor brand perception in the market, or maybe you just made crap no one really wanted. Who knows. The problem then lies in having to sell your stuff at a deal, just to get it sold at all. That's a rotten business model. If you can only sell your stuff at say a 20% discount, then why not just price your crap at being 20% less expensive. You may just sell more because of the budget pricing. Look at some people recently who maybe sold a mediocre downhill frame for $1,500 when everything else was pushing $3,000... tons of frames were sold because of the lower cost of entry. Profits were likely made even after warranties and returns and all that crap are factored in. If you have to discount your stuff to sell it at all, then something is wrong with either the original price or worse, the product itself in the first place.


Loyal shop customers do tend to develop the buddy-deal on stuff. Every shop that I have ever had a long standing relationship with has eventually extended the "Hey buddy" discount over time. I'm guilty of ordering from Jenson for years too. I don't all that often but hell, sometimes a new cassette for basically OEM pricing can be hard to pass up. Especially if you need a new cassette.


I think a lot of the current sponsorship model is flawed, or at least a considerable perception of sponsorship as a concept is flawed. Sponsorship should not be extended to just successful racers at some top level. Just because you don't race much or at some esteemed level doesn't mean that you can't be seen out on the trails all the time as a positive roll model for both the sport and the brands that you choose to use. That kind of promotion and representation of a brand is worth a 15% discount or whatever if you ask me. Maybe it's not a grassroots team, maybe it's called a "club price" or whatever. What matters, I think, is how that discount is extended to you. If it's offered through your local shop that knows you as a stand up guy then it's going to the right pricee for the right reasons. If it's a blanket reply to any email sent to "sponsorme@somecompany.fart" then it's bad business.


I think if we saw an ideal solution to the issue, it would take years to implement. This is not a trend that you can simply reverse overnight. People get fat and lazy over the course of years and it takes anyone years to get fit and trim again. The bike industry as I see it right now is pretty lethargic as a whole. If it wakes up, it's going to take a few years to get itself healthy again. It's going to take a while to change the perception of what does and does not deserve sponsorship and of what degree. It's going to take some cooperation among the entire industry to get there in a smooth manner though. And when manufacturers are pitting themselves against their own dealers by trying to sell cheaper across the board to any customer who asks, then that just makes it seem like a healthy industry will never come.

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