A few weeks back we launched a survey to better understand the market for bicycle wheels. We do an awful lot of talking here on the blog and the survey is a way for us to be better listeners. 464 of you had something to say, which is great. That's enough for us to cut the data in some interesting ways.
Today we'll start sharing some of the data, as promised. We'll start the same way the survey did: Why are you here? First, we emphasize the WHY and look at the reason you're shopping for new wheels in the first place. Here's what the data says:
1/3 of respondents appear to have read or inspired Dave's blog from a year ago about 1 Bike, 2 Sets of Wheels, as they are augmenting their wheel portfolio for different setups. We love to see it, and it explains part of why we see so many repeat customers. What's striking about this is how different it is from the boom we saw 9 years ago when we started selling carbon clinchers. If we ran this survey then it's likely that a plurality or even a majority of respondents would have been purchasing to upgrade from alloys. We didn't see a lot of alloy / carbon portfolios on the same bike because they require a brake pad switch along with a wheel switch. Disc eliminates that problem. And of course the other change now is driven by different tire needs, as gravel has expanded use cases for quite a few people.
That's not to say that straight upgrades have vanished. 29% of people (11% + 18%) in our survey realized (either immediately or eventually) that life's too short to ride crappy stock wheels. We have always seen a lot of that (anecdotally, we haven't measured it previously), though much of our upgrade business to carbon was from high end alloy as well as OEM. We realized about 4 years ago that we'd see a wheel boom when people buying complete road and cross disc bikes would want better wheels. It's now kicking in. Better late than never.
Now we'll focus on the HERE of Why are you here, and look at how you all decide where to shop for wheels:
Help us out with this one please - 71% of you use internet searching. We know that - we see it in our analytics. What we don't see is what specifically you are searching for. Can you give us some context in the comments please?
Did you know blogs are very search friendly? They make the site bigger and inspire a lot more links into it (particularly from the forums, here at 58%). This helps tell Google that we're a site worth visiting and pushes our pages to the top of searches. This is about 100% of the reason that the top blog posts of the year that Dave talked about here and here are all from the back catalog. People search for things like Lasers vs CX-Rays and How to Inflate Tubeless Tires and we're at or near the top.
We don't get much coverage in Cycling Websites (57%). One way to read this data is that maybe we should try harder to get coverage. The way we typically see it though is that it's where our competition gets a lot of their exposure. Our story is easier to tell through word of mouth (60%) and direct channels like the one you're on. The other thing this data validates is that social media is not great at bringing in new customers. We've long known that, but there are other reasons for us to be there. Our Instagram, for example, helps us tell the custom handbuilt story in pictures in ways that we can't here on the site. And Twitter rewards us for being irreverent curmudgeons, which is fun.
Next time we'll look at the features in a wheelset that are most important to you.
I don’t think Mike and Dave know how close I was to crashing their Demo Wheelhouse at DCCX in 2010(?)…I had just race cross on a canti-bike with a really bad brake setup, so riding their demo back down the hill to them at a good clip I grabbed a huge handful of brakes, and not being a badly setup canti-brakes they bit really hard, I started pitching forward and I’m sure the rear came off the ground before I recovered…3 frames and 6 or 7 wheelsets later they are still my favorite small bike business for big purchases (still ride my Wheelhouse with Rail34s, and I have two active sets of gravel/cross wheels on other bikes.)
Wow, great feedback everyone. Part of what we’re using this survey for is to figure out how to better organize the site. It sounds like we need to integrate the blog more deeply and feature it more prominently. Steve, I initially laughed at your comment about how you searched for negative feedback about us but it’s something I do also. The Google equivalent of going straight to the 1 star reviews to see what might possibly go wrong, right? Glad to hear you didn’t find anything.
I discovered November years ago when I spent a lot of time on the Wheels forum on roadbikereviews.com and Dave was always there handing out free wisdom. I don’t travel that site anymore but that’s what initially drew me in. Been a customer ever since.
I can’t remember how I discovered November but it was definitely the internet and likely a forum. I do remember Googling November after hearing about them and ending up at a lot of forums as well as a review of the Rail 52s on maybe an Australian? website. The blog is what hooked me.
There were quite a few dots to connect, but an internet search is exactly what brought me to November.
I’ll often google “Bike Radar” (or someplace similar) to find a link to see what’s new in cycling. One day Aforce AL33 came up which interested me. A few searches later led me to a wind tunnel test by this independent place called “November Bicycles”. A search of November led to forum after forum saying things like “great wheels, great people” (I tried, but I couldn’t find anything negative about November).
After many email exchanges (even before I actually gave a deposit), I received my set of AL33’s with CX-Rays and CK hubs. FWIW Dave, your transparency and willingness to freely share unbiased information online brought me to November… the customer service secured the sale.