Visiting a Bicycle Mega-StoreJan Heine
During a pre-PBP visit to Germany, I had the opportunity to visit one of the largest bike shops in the region. Germany is the country with the most bicycle sales in Europe… and it shows. This shop is more like a supermarket. It’s huge. There are four cash registers to take care of all the sales.
There is a vast selection of, well, almost everything a casual cyclist needs. Helmets, bike shorts and jerseys, bells, racks… It was impressive.
When I was a teenager, I went to this shop to buy my first Silca pump, my first hairnet helmet, and they even had a 50-tooth Campagnolo chainring for my sister’s bike. (I bought it to replace the 53-tooth that came with her bike.)
The store’s size has increased many-fold. I saw rows upon rows of racing bikes. Upon further inspection, all still had 700C x 23 mm tires. There were no gravel bikes. No wool clothing. It felt like I had traveled five years back in time…
Finally, in the very back of the shop, I found three cyclocross bikes. They seemed banished to the far corner, even though cyclocross season is right around the corner. Then I remembered that cyclocross isn’t popular in Germany (yet)…
I am confident that when I return in a year or two, all this will have changed. Already, as I was leaving, I saw that employees were putting a gravel bike prominently on display. And when I was interviewed by a German radio show about cycling, the interviewer asked about wide tires, 650B, Allroad bikes… Experts are aware of these trends, but they haven’t made it into mainstream bike shops yet.
In recent years, many important trends – like handbuilt bicycles, wider tires on road bikes, gravel riding, wool clothing – originated in North America, and then slowly made their way to Europe and the rest of the world. It used to be the other way around… but today, cyclists all over the world are looking to North America for inspiration. We’ll keep trying to do our part to make sure the new trends are positive and improve the enjoyment of cycling!