It’s no secret that the cycling and triathlon industry has been in a rough patch for the last, say, decade or so. It’s a recession. It’s a downturn. It’s – well, perhaps it’s just trying to find the meaning of life. I’m passionate about this business, and I’m continuing to seek out the knowledge and opinions of smart people from inside and outside the industry, so we can all continue to enjoy what this lifestyle can do for us.
That said, I decided to interview Chris Wiggins of A1 Cyclery in Indianapolis, IN. I’ve known Chris for over a decade now, and he always has an interesting and wise perspective on the bike business. Most interesting to me is the fact that Chris has had ownership of his store for the last 15 years, and went through the “Lance boom” of the early 2000’s. His shop was big into high-end road and triathlon. When I first walked in to the store in (roughly) 2007, there were new tri bikes being cabled and fitted. You could find nice wheels and tires. It was my kind of place.
As the economy went south and cycling went along with it, Chris made a big decision to shift the focus of the store, due in large part to a personal shift of perspective. Nowadays, they still sell your bread-and-butter hybrids and entry-level bikes, but their core is steel, touring, fenders, and fat tires. That’s right – you won’t find a tri bike in sight, but there are plenty of very cool bikes from companies like Surly and Rivendell.
This isn’t to say that they won’t sell you a high-end road or tri bike if you really want it. Chris has a long history with them, and can absolutely sell you your dream carbon race bike. His heart, though, is in functional, affordable bikes that can take you to the grocery store, the local trail, or camping out for a night or two. I wanted to find out why, and where he sees his business and the overall industry heading. It should go without saying, but neither Chris nor I are saying that YOU shouldn't do triathlons or race your bike. I still jump in one from time to time. He's just a guy that has been around the block more than once, and I wanted to see what he had to say.
Rather than trying to regurgitate Chris’ perspective, I’ll let the interview do the talking. We had a great time doing it, and I hope it will serve as some food for thought. Fair warning - it's almost an hour long. In addition to the full version, I'll post a short trailer below, so you can see if you'd like to dive in to the full episode.
If you'd like to download an audio-only version, that is available on Chris' podcast, The Psychic Derailleur - HERE.
(Note that full 1080p HD video is available - but you may have to manually enable it on your YouTube player, depending on your settings.)