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 actually discovered November on the internet years ago when I was looking for information about a ride: The Diabolical Double of the Garrett County Gran Fondo. As I recall, Dave did a great write-up of the ride along with a kind of review on how some set of wheels performed on the insane hills that are the defining characteristic of the event. It’s just too bad that in his write-up Dave didn’t advise fat-bodies who mostly ride at sea level to take a pass on the GCGF. That might have saved me 15 hours of pure hell and the absolute worst beating I have ever taken on a bike (although I doubt I would have taken heed back then). Anyway, after the pain faded, I still remembered November and when it came time for some new wheels that was where I went for them.
It’s funny, I don’t actually recall how I first found November… maybe a forum?!