It wasn't very long ago most people looking for a bicycle or components had one choice which was to visit your local shop. You could rely on them to have frames on display or which could be ordered from the major manufacturers they carried, demo bikes to ride and a world of knowledge about components and maintenance. For the most part that hasn't really changed. What has changed however is the explosion of choices for consumers on how and from whom to purchase bikes, frames and components. There has always been a universe of intrepid people who order components online for self-assembly. We are way past that today.
I learned recently that mainline bike companies will sell directly to a consumer. Typically they offer a small discount and have the frame shipped to a dealer which charges an assembly fee. Serious shoppers have an option of purchasing their bike from the dealer or the traditional route through their local shop. This doesn't strike me as having a huge impact on bike shops since I assume most consumers lack the awareness or confidence to make all the necessary decisions on what is best for them. Plus, how long would we assume dealers would floor plan multiple models for someone to shop before ordering directly. I'd be curious how this is working in the retail world.
Today carbon frame manufacturing isn't limited to the mainline names we know so well. Today high quality frames are being made by small specialty companies and one man shops. Trek has a small plant in the U.S. making carbon frames for several specialty lines. The January, 2018 edition of Men's Journal had a fascinating article about Allied Cycle Works in Little Rock, Arkansas. They manufacture a 15 pound hand-made carbon road bike with Shimano Dura-Ace electronic components and Enve carbon wheels which retails at only $4000. Enve is another U.S. company which makes carbon wheels in Utah.
Then we have e-bikes. This year it is expected some 400,000 will be sold in the U.S. which is way behind sales in Europe and Asia. These are becoming mainstream and are being used by committed commuters, big city folks wanting to ditch the car, as well as by members of your own bike club who want to be able to keep up on a long ride, particularly as they age. E-bikes have the potential to become a disruptive factor. How will their use be managed on our "non-motorized" trail system and what provision will clubs need to make about their use, if any? More on this later.
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