Intense Cycles is one of the original boutique names in mountain biking. The relatively small Southern California brand has a reputation for sparing no expense in its production. Intense expected its customers to do the same. But the times, they are a-changing. European companies Commencal, YT and Canyon are currently leading the consumer-direct charge, and we just witnessed Spot and Diamondback join as well.
The reason is simple: it saves money. On a $5,000 to $10,000 bike, it saves a lot of money. Intense is expecting its prices to drop by between 20 to 25 percent for most bikes. And it doesn’t cut the bike shop completely out of the equation. Instead of sending your bike to a participating shop and giving them a cut, all consumer-direct Intense bikes sold in the U.S. will include, free of charge, a limited service contract at an actual brick-and-mortar bike shop. Much of the global distribution for Intense will work similarly, varying slightly from country to country.
If unready to go consumer-direct, buyers can purchase from a dealer for the same price as the bike that ships directly to doorstep. Dealers facilitating this will be expected to stock a certain number of bikes but will not make the same pre-changeover margin.
Intense reported that most dealers think the program is a great idea. It will undoubtedly drive more sales by putting Intense bikes within reach of more consumers. And it’s more likely to get customers into shops than would a more traditional consumer-direct model. Whether purchased at a shop or online, the bike will arrive with a shock pump, a torque wrench and all else needed to assemble the bike, regardless of wrenching skills. If all else fails, consumers have service contracts to fall back on for incidentals or final adjustments.
Bike shops aren’t the first business to see change as a result of technology. As the consumer-direct model gains traction, shops are forced to adapt. Intense’s approach to the trend may be a way to give them a hand in doing so.