Like all good Aussies, I want to support local businesses. But as a cyclist with only a finite amount of dollars each month, I also want the best gear and deals for my money. Which creates quite a dilemma every time I need something for my bike. Or even a bike itself.
The occasional incredible deal aside, the sad truth is I can almost always get better gear for less money delivered free from overseas online retailers. Take this example. Last year, I bought a brand new Fulcrum 5 wheelset from an overseas website for $230. A large and bulky item, they were delivered free to my door just 5 days later. The exact same wheelset was at my local bike shop for just under $500. I asked the saleskid what he could do? He pulled a sheepish face, checked if the boss was about and said, “If I were you I’d buy them online too.” And I did, although I didn’t feel especially good about it.
Jerseys. Knicks. Lights. Gels. Pedals. Gloves. Tools. Tyres. I’ve since bought pretty much all this stuff online, and the experience is almost always painless. And cheaper.
However, I did draw a line at a new bike. Partly because I wanted to sit on the thing and have it correctly fitted before I bought it. Partly because the import duty on purchases over $1,000 is a great leveller of prices. And partly because if something goes wrong, I don’t want to have to pack and send a 10 kg box half way around the world.
That said, my cycling addiction still sees me send a small fortune overseas each year; money I’d genuinely rather keep right here in Oz if things were a little more equitable.
Now I’m no economist. But if the Poms can do it with Wiggle, Chain Reaction etc, why can’t an Australian company? Especially when you consider 99.9% of the stuff they sell comes from Taiwan and China, which is a lot closer to Australia than Europe. Yes, they’re massive international businesses holding considerable negotiating clout with suppliers and couriers. But they weren’t to start out.
I know there are some Aussie companies out there trying. But, generally speaking, they’re still more expensive. And, ironcially, often slower to get stuff to your door.
As the cycling wave of popularity continues to build and build, I reckon whoever gets it right in this country is going to make a motza. And they’ll deserve every cent. I’d be suprised if Woolworths or Wesfarmers aren’t thinking about it.