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Re: [rootsradicals] Re: Growing the Xtracycle community | Brand strategy and development exploration

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  • Steve Krall
    Hey Jen, I have been commuting to work up and down the Monon in Carmel on my Xtra since 2009. I commute 2-3 days a week year round. I did most of the work
    Message 1 of 7 , Apr 12, 2013
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      Hey Jen,

      I have been commuting to work up and down the Monon in Carmel on my Xtra since 2009.  I commute 2-3 days a week year round.  I did most of the work attaching the Xtra but had Carmel Cyclery help me with a few things.  I originally got an Xtra so I could pick my girls up from school sometimes and not have to drive.  They are too big for that now but I still love riding the Xtra.  It gets more use than all my other bikes combined.

      If you want to see my Xtra or have any questions, let me know.  My direct email is swkrall@....  I also have a couple pictures of my Xtra under the rootsradical photo album swkrall.

      Steve

      Sent from my iPhone

      On Apr 12, 2013, at 8:11 AM, "jen_indiana" <jenenglert9@...> wrote:

       


      I will be putting together my xtracycle free radical together this weekend. It took a while to find a used xtracycle free rad kit here in the Midwest. In Chicago, I think it's fairly common in the biking community as a car replacement. I have never seen one here in my 'burb just north of Indy. Heck, I went to 4 local bike shops, and had to get a picture out at all four places to show what I was talking about. The one store that had a cargo bike was displaying one Trek longtail (up on a display rack, as part of the Trek line but definitely un-emphasized) and five different trailers. The closer I got to urban downtown Indy, the more the shops knew about cargo bikes and xtracycle products.

      I have been wanting one for a while. I've never seen one in person- I first learned about it on the Internet when looking for biking-inclusive options for my non-verbal autistic son. He was too big to put in a child's bike seat last year. He was 4at the time, five now, and able to get out of child safety seats in the car, much less having him in a bike trailer so far away from the bike rider. Plus, I feel those things take away half the joy of biking and are much less safe when you do have to use a road with Inattentive phone-using drivers at speed.

      My 7yo daughter is getting independent in her riding, and I didn't want to leave son behind on rides, but can't afford a Bakfeit or a child-forward tandem to keep him in front of me. I decided right behind me was the next best option. He loves windows-down car rides, and loved the wee rider that put him in front of me when he still fit that, so I'm excited to take him out on his first ride in a couple of years!

      I think that the suburbs are an untapped market for xtracycle. I just moved to a place a mile away from my grocery store, 3/4 of a mile from a rail trail. I live on the edges of an affluent suburb, so the need for gas replacement may not be as high for that audience, but as gas prices raise, anything that will cut out car trips seems good to me!

      Another untapped market is special needs children that might have trouble with attention, balance, or following the rules of the road. My son dislikes riding bikes w training wheels at his school, and it will be a while before he can be trusted to follow directions religiously when out of army's reach.

      I do plan on getting involved with the local biking community, but I may be the only long-tail user in my area...

      Jen

    • Ben Rosenthal
      Hi Tim - Thanks for your response. How cool that you made your own FAQ cards!, which reminds me that I need to get some more info cards from Xtracycle to give
      Message 2 of 7 , Apr 12, 2013
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        Hi Tim -

        Thanks for your response. How cool that you made your own FAQ cards!, which reminds me that I need to get some more info cards from Xtracycle to give to prospective customers.

        Xtracycle does want to expand beyond its niche market. I had a conversation with Nate a few weeks ago and learned that the company is interested in developing partnerships with more bike shops/dealers. Challenges to do so effectively include placing the right set of products in each store, ensuring that enough stock is available, and determining how best to inform customers about Xtracycle.

        For example, how much training or support is required to ensure that dealer staff are capable of educating customers and installing products?; what point of purchase literature would best communicate product features and benefits?; and, yes, in what ways can existing owners be tapped?

        What kind of marketing have you observed that sells the nonfunctional ultralight bikes? What techniques do you think would be useful for Xtracycle? Also, how did your neighbor's son get to his T-ball game? Was he in the car with his father?

        Where do you live, Tim? Are the particular types of areas where you think cargo bikes are better suited?

        Thanks again!

        - Ben

        On Apr 11, 2013, at 14:10, Tim <tmtuttle2002@...> wrote:

        Ben,

        Interesting post.  I've been a cargo rider since 2006.  My first was a Freeradical which I rode for 3 years before converting to a Big Dummy.

        When I first got my cargo bike, I had a lot of interest from others, so much so that I printed up my own informative sized business cards to answer the repetitive questions:  What is that?  Is it hard to ride?  Is it heavy?  That's a long chain! You can really carry some cargo with that setup.  etc.

        I too share your desire to spread the gospel when it comes to the functionality and fun that comes with riding a cargo bike, so I contacted Xtracycle and inquired about the idea of being a local rep.  At the time I was working for a ski and whitewater kayak company as a rep and I'd travel to various festivals and resorts in my state and let public try our wares.  The folks at Xtracycle seemed interested enough in the idea for a while but then the communication ended.

        And to this day, that's still my main beef with the company - they don't market very well.  You could ask 100 people on the street what an Xtracycle is and I'd be surprised if 5 of them knew.  Ask them if they knew about Specialized or Giant and I think you'd get a different answer. And maybe they don't want to.  Maybe they're happy in their niche.  I notice that too many of their items for sale on their website are on backorder.  I get the feeling they are happy with the customers they have and they'll just try and pick off new ones here and there.

        But you know what, I'm not happy with it and I want to see more cargo bikes on the road.  I think this design is how all bikes should be.  I get so frustrated when I go into my local bike shops and see racks and racks of ultralight this or titanium that - none of them functional in the slightest.  Yet they sell.  You know why?  BECAUSE THEY'RE MARKETED!

        I'll leave you with this - I rode my bike 2.5 miles to my neighbor's son's T-ball game last Saturday and the sports complex was overflowing with vehicles.  So much so that he was late getting to the game because he couldn't find parking.  We live very close to each other and I couldn't help but think to myself, if he'd only had a cargo bike he could've ridden straight to the diamond.  We left the game at the same time and guess who was back home first.

        BC

        --- In rootsradicals@yahoogroups.com, Ben Rosenthal <earthsaver@...> wrote:

        Hey Radicals -

        Do you feel free on your Xtracycle? Are you constantly struck by its utility? Do onlookers regularly strike up conversations about it? Do you talk about the functionality? What about the emotional appeal?

        I'm an 8-year FreeRadical owner completing an MBA in Design Strategy this spring at California College of the Arts in SF. I'm working on a campaign to increase awareness of and interest in the Xtracycle brand and products.

        In particular, I am looking for possible new customer segments to introduce to Xtracycle products and/or new methods of engaging existing Xtracycle customers as ambassadors to the brand. My research indicates that Xtracycles could benefit people in beach and resort towns and time-share owners in places like Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, where people may prefer not to drive to go shopping or do errands.

        Also, as I have observed from participating in the Roots Radicals list over the years, we are one dedicated community. What if the Xtracycle brand was all about building communities or using existing communities like ours to gain exposure and increase sales? "One longtail at a time!"

        I'd like to speak with some other owners about your experiences to learn what functional, emotional, and other benefits you get through your Xtracycle ownership and riding. Are you interested and available to chat with me between now and next Thursday, April 18? I would be happy to speak in person (if we can meet in San Francisco or Berkeley/Oakland), on the phone, or in a video meeting.

        Thanks! I hope to hear from you.

        - Ben





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      • Tim
        Ben, The cards weren t that altruistic. When I first got my Freeradical, I was getting stopped on a daily basis. Back then there were probably a handful of
        Message 3 of 7 , Apr 13, 2013
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          Ben,

          The cards weren't that altruistic. When I first got my Freeradical, I was getting stopped on a daily basis. Back then there were probably a handful of cargo bikes in town, but now they're more common so the questions have lessened. The cards were as much for my benefit as to help the inquisitive.

          I'd love to see Xtracycle products or any of the cargo bike companies in my town. With that said, unless it's a commuter/touring/cargo specific store, I think they'll play second fiddle to the MTBs and road bikes. Case in point - my wife and I are considering a tandem and so I found a local shop that sold the brand we were interested in. I stopped by and they had two in stock. You know where they were - tucked away around a corner, out of sight next to an adult trike and the kid's bikes. The information and sales pitch I received on the bike were less than stellar.

          And I think this is where the rep would serve a better purpose than brick and mortar store. With your local bike shop, the bike stays put and the potential buyer has to go to them. With a rep, they can take the bike to the people.

          Some ideas where a rep would work in my community:

          New Belgium brings their Tour de Fat across the country and that draws thousands of cyclists - what better way to get butts in the seat for a test ride than joining forces with them. In my opinion, a test ride is crucial to selling a cargo bike. My wife is a good example. She was intimidated at the idea of riding my Big Dummy - too heavy, too big, too unwieldy. Well, one day all of her stuff wouldn't fit on her commuter and she asked me to setup the Big Dummy for her. She was surprised at how 'normal' the bike was to ride.

          Along with the Tour de Fat coming through town, we have Boise Bike Week, a week long event sponsored by our local independent newspaper. A rep could leave an Xtracycle with the paper for a short term test and maybe a write up in the paper would result.

          A rep could market to local universities. I'd think cargo bikes would kill with the college crowd - how cavalier is it to give your girl or how modern is it to give your guy a ride on the back of your cargo bike.

          What I'd really love to see in my town is a cargo bike specific store: Xtracycle, Surly, Madsen, Bakfiets, Yuba, Bullitt, etc. all under one roof.

          To answer some of your questions:

          The bad marketing? A lightweight bike is essential to go fast. Small wheels are slow. You need to go fast. Heavy bikes are hard to ride. Special shoes, clothes and a helmet are required to ride a bike. (some may argue with my helmet comment but that's for another discussion). And so on...

          Communities? Any community that takes biking into consideration when growing their infrastructure. I'm lucky, Boise is a great town with a good head start on keeping access open to cyclists.

          This is where I get critical.

          "For example, how much training or support is required to ensure that dealer staff are capable of educating customers and installing products?"

          Really! They sell attachments via the internet that buyers are responsible for installing or having installed and they're worried about a bike shop not doing it as well. I'm confounded.

          "Challenges to do so effectively include placing the right set of products in each store, ensuring that enough stock is available, and determining how best to inform customers about Xtracycle."

          What? they've got the EdgeRunner (in one size) and the Radish (in one size). What is there to think over? Throw in a couple Hoopties, Wideloaders, Kickbacks, Pea Pods, and that silly side cart thing and the shop is set. As the cargo community grows and the bits and pieces are needed, stuff like Whatchamacollars, different decks, and smaller parts could be added.

          This is getting long winded, so I'll wrap it up. I love Xtracycle products. In my opinion, their Freeradical was the best modification of a bike ever. Ever! I'm not so sure they're on the right path with their current products. If I were in the market for a round-town bike, it'd be a Yuba and as a commuter/tourer, I'd pick a Big Dummy.

          Hope this was some help.

          Tim

          --- In rootsradicals@yahoogroups.com, Ben Rosenthal <earthsaver@...> wrote:
          >
          > Hi Tim -
          >
          > Thanks for your response. How cool that you made your own FAQ cards!, which reminds me that I need to get some more info cards from Xtracycle to give to prospective customers.
          >
          > Xtracycle does want to expand beyond its niche market. I had a conversation with Nate a few weeks ago and learned that the company is interested in developing partnerships with more bike shops/dealers. Challenges to do so effectively include placing the right set of products in each store, ensuring that enough stock is available, and determining how best to inform customers about Xtracycle.
          >
          > For example, how much training or support is required to ensure that dealer staff are capable of educating customers and installing products?; what point of purchase literature would best communicate product features and benefits?; and, yes, in what ways can existing owners be tapped?
          >
          > What kind of marketing have you observed that sells the nonfunctional ultralight bikes? What techniques do you think would be useful for Xtracycle? Also, how did your neighbor's son get to his T-ball game? Was he in the car with his father?
          >
          > Where do you live, Tim? Are the particular types of areas where you think cargo bikes are better suited?
          >
          > Thanks again!
          >
          > - Ben
          >
          > On Apr 11, 2013, at 14:10, Tim <tmtuttle2002@...> wrote:
          >
          > > Ben,
          > >
          > > Interesting post. I've been a cargo rider since 2006. My first was a Freeradical which I rode for 3 years before converting to a Big Dummy.
          > >
          > > When I first got my cargo bike, I had a lot of interest from others, so much so that I printed up my own informative sized business cards to answer the repetitive questions: What is that? Is it hard to ride? Is it heavy? That's a long chain! You can really carry some cargo with that setup. etc.
          > >
          > > I too share your desire to spread the gospel when it comes to the functionality and fun that comes with riding a cargo bike, so I contacted Xtracycle and inquired about the idea of being a local rep. At the time I was working for a ski and whitewater kayak company as a rep and I'd travel to various festivals and resorts in my state and let public try our wares. The folks at Xtracycle seemed interested enough in the idea for a while but then the communication ended.
          > >
          > > And to this day, that's still my main beef with the company - they don't market very well. You could ask 100 people on the street what an Xtracycle is and I'd be surprised if 5 of them knew. Ask them if they knew about Specialized or Giant and I think you'd get a different answer. And maybe they don't want to. Maybe they're happy in their niche. I notice that too many of their items for sale on their website are on backorder. I get the feeling they are happy with the customers they have and they'll just try and pick off new ones here and there.
          > >
          > > But you know what, I'm not happy with it and I want to see more cargo bikes on the road. I think this design is how all bikes should be. I get so frustrated when I go into my local bike shops and see racks and racks of ultralight this or titanium that - none of them functional in the slightest. Yet they sell. You know why? BECAUSE THEY'RE MARKETED!
          > >
          > > I'll leave you with this - I rode my bike 2.5 miles to my neighbor's son's T-ball game last Saturday and the sports complex was overflowing with vehicles. So much so that he was late getting to the game because he couldn't find parking. We live very close to each other and I couldn't help but think to myself, if he'd only had a cargo bike he could've ridden straight to the diamond. We left the game at the same time and guess who was back home first.
          > >
          > > BC
          > >
          > > --- In rootsradicals@yahoogroups.com, Ben Rosenthal <earthsaver@> wrote:
          > >>
          > >> Hey Radicals -
          > >>
          > >> Do you feel free on your Xtracycle? Are you constantly struck by its utility? Do onlookers regularly strike up conversations about it? Do you talk about the functionality? What about the emotional appeal?
          > >>
          > >> I'm an 8-year FreeRadical owner completing an MBA in Design Strategy this spring at California College of the Arts in SF. I'm working on a campaign to increase awareness of and interest in the Xtracycle brand and products.
          > >>
          > >> In particular, I am looking for possible new customer segments to introduce to Xtracycle products and/or new methods of engaging existing Xtracycle customers as ambassadors to the brand. My research indicates that Xtracycles could benefit people in beach and resort towns and time-share owners in places like Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, where people may prefer not to drive to go shopping or do errands.
          > >>
          > >> Also, as I have observed from participating in the Roots Radicals list over the years, we are one dedicated community. What if the Xtracycle brand was all about building communities or using existing communities like ours to gain exposure and increase sales? "One longtail at a time!"
          > >>
          > >> I'd like to speak with some other owners about your experiences to learn what functional, emotional, and other benefits you get through your Xtracycle ownership and riding. Are you interested and available to chat with me between now and next Thursday, April 18? I would be happy to speak in person (if we can meet in San Francisco or Berkeley/Oakland), on the phone, or in a video meeting.
          > >>
          > >> Thanks! I hope to hear from you.
          > >>
          > >> - Ben
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > > ------------------------------------
          > >
          > > You're getting this message because you signed up to be an Xtracycle roots radical.
          > >
          > > To Post a message, send it to: rootsradicals@yahoogroups.com
          > >
          > >
          > > ride to believe.Yahoo! Groups Links
          > >
          > >
          > >
          >
        • zookeeper17@ameritech.net
          I would love to help,but still waiting- when I have money there are no bikes when there are bikes I seem to have no money. First I was looking at big dummy but
          Message 4 of 7 , Apr 14, 2013
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            I would love to help,but still waiting- when I have money there are no bikes when there are bikes I seem to have no money.
            First I was looking at big dummy but my kids voted against it big and clunky.
            Last fall visited and had agreat visit with Nate and got to test ride the Ridgerunner-
            Now my kids say okay( this is big - both avid Mountain bikers ages 21&25).
            I have been talking with Robert too, since we want to build ours- last note now waiting until August or September.
            On return of my visit I dropped off information at a few of my local stores to increase awareness.
            Thing is if you increase awareness you MUST HAVE the PRODUCT.
            That said good luck
            Waiting again,
            Kim
            --- In rootsradicals@yahoogroups.com, Ben Rosenthal <earthsaver@...> wrote:
            >
            > Hey Radicals -
            >
            > Do you feel free on your Xtracycle? Are you constantly struck by its utility? Do onlookers regularly strike up conversations about it? Do you talk about the functionality? What about the emotional appeal?
            >
            > I'm an 8-year FreeRadical owner completing an MBA in Design Strategy this spring at California College of the Arts in SF. I'm working on a campaign to increase awareness of and interest in the Xtracycle brand and products.
            >
            > In particular, I am looking for possible new customer segments to introduce to Xtracycle products and/or new methods of engaging existing Xtracycle customers as ambassadors to the brand. My research indicates that Xtracycles could benefit people in beach and resort towns and time-share owners in places like Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, where people may prefer not to drive to go shopping or do errands.
            >
            > Also, as I have observed from participating in the Roots Radicals list over the years, we are one dedicated community. What if the Xtracycle brand was all about building communities or using existing communities like ours to gain exposure and increase sales? "One longtail at a time!"
            >
            > I'd like to speak with some other owners about your experiences to learn what functional, emotional, and other benefits you get through your Xtracycle ownership and riding. Are you interested and available to chat with me between now and next Thursday, April 18? I would be happy to speak in person (if we can meet in San Francisco or Berkeley/Oakland), on the phone, or in a video meeting.
            >
            > Thanks! I hope to hear from you.
            >
            > - Ben
            >
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