Bicycles Online Expands to the USA
When Jono and I started our bicycle business, we weren’t even selling bikes – we had a bike tour business, renting bikes to tourists in our beachside suburb called Manly in Sydney, Australia. Back then, little could we see what path lay ahead and that 12 years on we would be taking our Bicycles Online business and going up against some of the titans of the industry, in the single biggest bicycle retail market – the USA.
Here’s what our first business (and we) looked like back then.
During this time, we were buying our rental bikes from a local distributor, and we thought it would be worthwhile to see if we could buy direct from a factory, so we booked a trip to Taiwan to the largest bicycle tradeshow at the time. It was there we saw the opportunity to source from a factory and sell direct online. Our backstop was that we could always put the bikes into the fleet if they didn’t sell online.
So we bought a container full of bikes and started by selling them on eBay.
Here is one of our first bike videos – if you look closely, you'll notice it’s the same shopfront that we used for the initial bike rental business.
Enough time has passed now that we can admit that we ran the entire Bicycles Online business off a single power cord from the neighbour; including laptops, printers, compressors, fridges, lights; all from one little extension under the back door. On top of that, there was no bathroom, no running water – these were humbling times for us.
Also, if you ever wanted to know where the colours on the Bicycles Online logo come from, well, they came from the bike rental business. We decided to save on having to repaint the shop by keeping the same color scheme - there was no focus group to decide on the correct colours back then!
We thought if we got our business up and running we might have an impact on our local area bike market, but we had never forecast we would affect the broader Australian bicycle market. Fast forward to today, and it is with some pride to say that Bicycles Online is Australia’s largest online bicycle retailer. We have now sold well over 100,000 bikes.
For comparison, you can see the latest 2019 video for the same Polygon Xtrada 5.0
Now, 12 years after we took our first step into the cycling industry, we cast our eyes to the infinite horizon that is the US market. It presents a massive challenge for us – titanic competitors, huge brands, new cultures, and different legislative environment.
We feel that Americans will also appreciate the same value proposition that has been received so well among our Australian customers. We are launching as BikesOnline.com, and it has the same direct-to-market business model that has allowed us to set industry standards in terms of value. Just like Australia, we will also offer a free 14 day test ride on all bikes and free shipping to all metro areas in the lower 48 states.
Polygon Bikes is teaming up with us to enter the market, and their support is invaluable. Polygon Bikes have some considerable brand awareness in the US, despite any major distribution into the country thus far. The reason for this lies with winning Redbull Rampage, twice – you would probably have seen this video:
Perhaps the biggest gratitude, however, goes out to our team, who have helped bring this to life. Jono and I long ago stopped being the engine room of the business, and these roles have been more than met by people more competent than ourselves. This includes both Serena and Andre, who have been working with us for many years and volunteered to move to North America to set it all up. So please don't be afraid to pick up the phone and say g'day to the team.
We want to thank you for your support, if it's of interest, please visit the new website at BikesOnline.com and we’ll be sure to keep you up to date.
James and Jono