If you want to buy a new bike in Corona times, you have to expect restrictions. Online retailers are less affected by the crisis than stationary retailers. But these go unusual ways.
Berlin (dpa / tmn) - Since most stores in Germany have to be closed to curb the spread of the corona virus, bike shops have also had a problem.
If you have an attached workshop, you may remain open for repair work to ensure the mobility of people in the event of a breakdown. "However, retail sales are prohibited in almost all federal states," says Dirk Sexauer, managing director of Verbund Service und Fahrrad (VSF).
Imaginative dealers are still there for customers
While online retailers such as Canyon Bicycles in Koblenz report no restrictions when selling through their web shops or, as with Rose Bikes in Bocholt, even higher demand, the challenges in bike shops are huge. For many retailers, the main source of income is currently drying up, says Thomas Göbel, brand manager at the traditional German brand Victoria, which sells its bicycles through the classic bicycle trade.
Anyone who is now imaginative as a single trader can stay afloat. Because especially in spring, the dealers usually do their biggest business. In times of Corona, the sale of bicycles for the season did not dry up completely, many dealers reacted creatively, association director Sexauer confirms. Like Bicycle Fox. "The crisis is also an opportunity to try new things," says managing director Andrea Groll. You have to be prepared for everything and be flexible.
Via video chat to the sales pitch
Since mid-March, customers have been able to be guided through the store virtually via video chat. "If I am interested, I hold the cell phone camera in front of a detail of the bike," says Groll. In this way, the customer can get a concrete picture without being present and also get a personal impression of the seller in the messenger conversation. The procedure is similar at Kettler Alu Rad in Cologne, whose specialist retail partners now also offer advice via Skype.
For customers who may already have chosen a bike for spring and are now in doubt as to whether it is in stock and can buy it at all, Sexauer advises you to easily contact the dealer you trust by phone or email. "Our members are all available." And if the bike is not in the right size in the shop, there is at least a good chance that you can still order it.
For example, Derby Cycle, one of the largest bicycle manufacturers in Germany with the brands Focus, Kalkhoff and Raleigh, has switched production in the Cloppenburg factory to emergency operation. "No new bicycles will be produced until April 17," says spokesman Arne Sudhoff, "but we have bicycles, we can be delivered." Because the bikes for spring are mostly made and in stock. "If delivery works, the dealer can have the bike immediately."
At Kettler, too, the supply is evidently secured: orders for bicycles and e-bikes can be made online at any time via the local specialist dealer and are processed as usual, says spokesman Ole Honkomp.
Test drive? Yes of course
According to Sexauer, the recommended test drive does not have to be canceled. The handover can also be carried out without contact and in compliance with hygiene regulations. In some cases, retailers would deliver the wheel disinfected at usual grip points such as handlebars and saddles to the front door and secure it there with a combination lock. At Kettler, they have already started to deliver "contactless by freight forwarder" to your home - and no longer via the retailer's detour.
On the other hand, the effects of the corona crisis in online retail are currently small - "still", however, Lisa-Marie Möllmann from Rose Bikes admits in view of the uncertain times. The shipper generates 80 percent of its sales online and is therefore far less vulnerable than local dealers.
Business also runs at Bike Components in Würselen, which also sends complete bikes through a large web shop. The same at Canyon: "Our core business is practically not affected," said spokesman Thomas Lewandowski. Bicycle fans could continue to order bikes and accessories without restriction. Because Canyon introduced hygiene measures beyond the official regulations with protective masks for the workforce and disinfectants, "contamination of the bike and packaging material is also excluded".
What tools do customers need for bicycles?
Customers who order online get the bike delivered pre-assembled in a box. Usually only pedals have to be screwed on and the handlebars have to be set straight. "We only need Allen keys of sizes eight and five," says Christoph Schmitt from Bike Components. According to Sexauer, the stationary retailer "still puts the completely assembled bike in place." If not currently in the store.