Through the wonders of Twitter I found the image below.
In case you haven’t spotted it the front forks are facing backwards, making the bike dangerous because the brakes and steering will not work correctly. In case you cannot see the image below you can view it here
This again highlights the fact that bikes need to be set-up properly. This is not simply an issue for Asda – although they get the egg on face – but many other large retailers as well. And of course it’s an issue for customers also, as its their money and their safety on the line when a bike is not assembled correctly.
If you have any similar photos or video of bikes in store which are not set-up incorrectly please let me know as I think a “rogues gallery” would be a useful way of highlighting the breadth of the problem. Contact me here
Here is a short video of buying the bike, discussing the process and the bike. If you can’t see the video below try here
Details of the bike and other models on the Asda website
A few things covered in the video but I think are worth highlighting:
- Displaying bikes in boxes – let alone selling them that way – does not feel like good retail practice. I guess its all part of the cheap low cost way of doing things.
- To be clear I was offered no advice about the bike, and to be honest I’m not sure the staff could have offered much. There is no point-of-sale literature on display in this Asda store to assist the buying process. And certainly there is no opportunity to test the bike for size or fit.
- I was asked if I would like help taking the bike to my car.
- The bike is not as heavy as I thought it would be. Which is a good thing.
- The bike is supplied by Falcon Cycles Ltd and manufactured in Tunisia. I have very little knowledge of Tunisia as a centre for bicycle production, as most bicycles are produced in the Far East.
- In my personal opinion there are serious issues of sustainability and ethical production surrounding this bike. If a bike sells for £70 how much did it cost to produce, transport, import, distribute and market? Asda says it is selling these bikes at no-profit, which could also mean in retail-speak that they are “loss leaders” designed to drive footfall to stores . But what about the suppliers and manufacturers, are they equally as charitable in this project and taking no profit?
Last week Asda aired the first TV advert for its new not-for-profit bikes. In a classic example, which highlights the problems of self-assembled bicycles, the front forks on the adult bike in the advert had been fitted facing backwards.
The advert was quickly pulled but not before eagle eyed viewers spotted the error and with great amusement discussed it online. Search “asda bike advert” to see for yourself
The error was also covered by The Daily Mail and The Guardian, as well as a number of marketing and advertising industry publications.
I bet Asda wishes it were making some profit from these bikes to cover that costly mistake.
In June the UK’s second largest supermarket, Asda – part of WalMart – launched what it claimed was Britain’s cheapest bicycle. In fact there were 4 bicycles, one for all the family. Kids bikes would be £50 and adults £70. Bargain!
The launch of these bikes is part of Asda’s Pedal Power initiative, which aims to get more people cycling through various different projects. This has the backing of Olympic champion and all-round cycling god Sir Chris Hoy no less. (I wonder if he got a free bike?) Asda said their new bikes would be sold not-for-profit, in order to make it easy (and cheap) for more people to take to the saddle.
On one level this is great news. Cycling needs big support if we want to make the kind of structural, social and cultural changes which can deliver the benefits cycling has to offer.
The problem is that cheap bikes aren’t the way to do it. Sure price is a barrier, however it can be overcome in different ways. Whether this is by better promoting the benefits (financial / health / environmental etc) or by other means such as tax breaks. Asda is in a prime position to take a much more powerful stance which can deliver long term benefits. It appears to have gone for the easy option.
It is bicycle shaped, but is it a bicycle?
These new Asda bikes – like those sold by its competitors and in catalogues and online – are sold flat-pack in boxes. What did you expect for £70?
These types of bikes are known as “Bicycle Shaped Objects“. Sure its a very subjective term but there is a point where great value and cheap pass each other in a value curve, which means your supermarket bargain can come with some hidden costs.
There are 2 key issues:
- The objective = Is the bike safely assembled and correctly set-up
- The subjective = Can a bike which is so cheap offer an enjoyable long term cycling experience
As a trade association we believe all bikes – sold in store or in a box – should be properly checked and set-up by a professional (and preferably trained) bike mechanic. I believe this is a public responsibility. The more subjective point about the quality of the cycling experience is much harder to prove, and that’s part of the reason for launching this blog.
It is not for us to tell the public how much they should spend on a bicycle. We generally recommend not spending less than £200 but appreciate that for some these seems like a small fortune, and especially on the humble bicycle. However regardless of what you spend the bike you buy should be safely assembled and properly set-up in good working order.
Putting our money where our mouth is
Helen Pidd from The Guardian spent 4 weeks on one of Asda’s bikes and she was my inspiration to take a closer look at what buying, building and owning Britian’s cheapest bicycle actually means.
In the past we have attempted to address the issue of cheap flat-pack bikes in boxes. We have met with Trading Standards but nobody seems to think the issue justifies a change in the law or enforcing better practices. We have received anecdotal evidence and some photos from bike shops which highlight the issue.
The aim of this blog is to document buying, building and riding Britian’s cheapest bicycle. It is an effort to raise all the issues – good and bad – which surround cheap bikes and cycling.