Why small cycle builders have such poor websites

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
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horizon
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Why small cycle builders have such poor websites

Postby horizon » 10 Apr 2013, 4:52pm

In my search for a new bike I've relied heavily on websites. This isn't necessarily a great idea but given that I am in the market for a niche product and live in Cornwall it's pretty inevitable. What has struck me however is that small builders seem to pay little attention to their websites. They themselves probably don't like that side of things (and who blames them) and rely on a local clientele that they can talk to and discuss things properly. However Thorn manage to sell their bikes all over the world and I don't see why the likes of Vernon Barker cannot use the web to sell much more widely. What I am looking for is a website that is technically very simple but loaded with information (the opposite of the big boys). It is probably much more information than they think you need. Even Paul Hewitt's was difficult to follow, slick though it is. I really don't like flashy websites with their anodyne and meaningless prose ("you can go round the world on this bike") written by copywriters: I am sure that Vernon Barker and others have a great deal of interesting things to say about themselves, if only they would. I wondered what other people thought about cycle websites (I don't mean the vast e-commerce websites like Wiggle but the "brochure" style websites of small builders and suppliers).
When the pestilence strikes from the East, go far and breathe the cold air deeply. Ignore the sage, stay not indoors. Ho Ri Zon 12th Century Chinese philosopher

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NUKe
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Re: Why small cycle builders have such poor websites

Postby NUKe » 10 Apr 2013, 4:57pm

Have you tried Bob Jackson I seem to remember theirs is fairly good, Mercian, not sure about their web site but their phone service is very good
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horizon
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Re: Why small cycle builders have such poor websites

Postby horizon » 10 Apr 2013, 5:12pm

AFAIKnew, Bob Jackson don't do a 26" wheel frame which is a shame as their prices are OK (off the peg). I didn't find their website particularly enticing though and it still isn't very informative, IMV.
When the pestilence strikes from the East, go far and breathe the cold air deeply. Ignore the sage, stay not indoors. Ho Ri Zon 12th Century Chinese philosopher

Elizabethsdad
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Re: Why small cycle builders have such poor websites

Postby Elizabethsdad » 10 Apr 2013, 5:15pm

Try Milk Bikes or Demon Bikes

mrjemm
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Re: Why small cycle builders have such poor websites

Postby mrjemm » 10 Apr 2013, 5:15pm

I agree with this. Though I get annoyed with Thorn's dependancy on pdf files- was trying to get more info on the Ripio today, out of curiousity, and ended up giving up.

I use Paul Hewitt's shop/services, but the website is nothing like the shop, and tells you very little. A word of note relating to your other thread, is there are usually very few bikes on display there, although very nice looking they are (Metalwork Fabrications(?)- their frame-builder's own marque I believe) standing out). I do believe SJS (Thorn) shop is nothing more than a couple of desks though.

Another one that always disappoints me is Ghyllside Cycles' site- a great shop, but almost non-existent website. The standard frames are supposedly built at the same builder as PH's standard ones, and I could wonder about their websites!

Mercian's website is really quite good- Madame's choice to use them was quite possibly swung by their on screen frame builder thingy, which is quite fun to play with.

One I like that is rather, errrm, scatty, is Kinetic's- http://www.kinetics.org.uk/ which I find a playground of info.

Another almost non-existent one is Robin Mather's, which is barely more than a front page.

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NUKe
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Re: Why small cycle builders have such poor websites

Postby NUKe » 10 Apr 2013, 5:21pm

Sorry hadn't realised you were looking for 26inch
Woodrup do a 26 inch custom. Last time I had anything to dowith them Maurice was still building frames from a little shop in Leeds
NUKe

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tatanab
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Re: Why small cycle builders have such poor websites

Postby tatanab » 10 Apr 2013, 5:28pm

horizon wrote:but loaded with information (the opposite of the big boys).
What sort of information? Since you have written cycle builder I assume you do not mean a custom frame builder but somebody who builds machines on stock frames - Thorn for example. I would expect the shops in that market to show some sample or recommended parts build-ups, but you also say
I am in the market for a niche product
which suggests you are looking for something different. So is it not really up to you to specify how you want the frame built up - taking advise from the dealer as well probably? Just curious as to what information you are looking for.

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531colin
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Re: Why small cycle builders have such poor websites

Postby 531colin » 10 Apr 2013, 5:36pm

The simple answer is that people who set themselves up in the bike trade are bike geeks first, philanthropists second, and computer geeks not at all.
Get somebody else to do it?....see "philanthropists second" and "anodyne and meaningless prose.....written by copywriters" (above)

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horizon
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Re: Why small cycle builders have such poor websites

Postby horizon » 10 Apr 2013, 6:15pm

531colin wrote:The simple answer is that people who set themselves up in the bike trade are bike geeks first, philanthropists second, and computer geeks not at all.
Get somebody else to do it?....see "philanthropists second" and "anodyne and meaningless prose.....written by copywriters" (above)


I agree with you and I wouldn't expect a bike builder to design a website. However I certainly wouldn't ride a bicycle equivalent of some the websites I see - and I am talking here of those produced by website designers: at least the bike builders can build bikes! I do like the very simple, bespoke websites of small builders in the sense that they say a lot about their owners. But they do need a push up a level so that they become useful to potential customers, hopefully without losing their character!
When the pestilence strikes from the East, go far and breathe the cold air deeply. Ignore the sage, stay not indoors. Ho Ri Zon 12th Century Chinese philosopher

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horizon
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Re: Why small cycle builders have such poor websites

Postby horizon » 10 Apr 2013, 7:32pm

tatanab wrote:Just curious as to what information you are looking for.


It isn't that niche, just not high street - a 26" wheel heavy touring bike, frame or complete bike but it could apply to any frame or bike. Just as much information as they have: frame material (and why they us it) and sizes, colours, options etc etc.
When the pestilence strikes from the East, go far and breathe the cold air deeply. Ignore the sage, stay not indoors. Ho Ri Zon 12th Century Chinese philosopher

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deliquium
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Re: Why small cycle builders have such poor websites

Postby deliquium » 10 Apr 2013, 7:55pm

"Why small cycle builders have such poor websites?"

Why do they need them? Unless they are importers and mass producers. Reputation is not virtual.

One suggestion - take a nice trip up to see Dave Yates - or phone him? Or CLICKY

Vernon Barker works part time (retired mainly), from a tiny basement with zero stock (last time I saw him in 2005). Amongst other things, he, Hewitt and ByerCycles rebadge 26" wheel frames imported by Autostrada made form Reynolds 631.
Current pedalable joys

"you would be surprised at the number of people in these parts who nearly are half people and half bicycles"

BruceJ
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Re: Why small cycle builders have such poor websites

Postby BruceJ » 10 Apr 2013, 8:25pm

Have a look at http://www.shandcycles.com Small firm but good website, and fantastic looking bikes.
Last edited by BruceJ on 11 Apr 2013, 8:06am, edited 1 time in total.

mrjemm
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Re: Why small cycle builders have such poor websites

Postby mrjemm » 10 Apr 2013, 8:33pm

Seems that not all Hewitts are built in Asia or wherever, as well as the 'Creative Metalworks' side of things http://www.hewittcycles.co.uk/creative-metalworks , they state on the site- 'All Hewitt & Creative Metalworks custom built frames are individually hand-built at our premises in Leyland, Lancashire. In addition to our own in house brands, we can also supply custom built frames from Van Nicholas, Enigma & Sabbath.'. (My highlighting)-

http://www.hewittcycles.co.uk/custom-built-frames

Maybe the off-the-shelf models are imported, but customs made there. Still a confusing site though, and you can't click to read more about the models, which is frustrating.

Oh Bruce, you've named the dangerous site again... I can't not go in there; Shand Cycles are gorgeous. No use going in there Horizon, they don't have a 26" model...

tatanab
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Re: Why small cycle builders have such poor websites

Postby tatanab » 10 Apr 2013, 8:36pm

horizon wrote:It isn't that niche, just not high street - a 26" wheel heavy touring bike, frame or complete bike but it could apply to any frame or bike. Just as much information as they have: frame material (and why they us it) and sizes, colours, options etc etc.

Tubing - I suppose the likes of Thorn will have to say that they have made a compromise since the frames are stock and they do not know if their frame will be used by a 6 stone weakling or a 16 stone powerhouse, but they are not going to say that sort of thing on a website. Do you remember the first generation Thorn Audax frame in the late 90s? It was made with something like 5 different types of Reynolds tubing carefully selected to be optimal for that particular tube place. That frame design did not last long before being replaced by the 725 frame. Perhaps the mixed tube set was just too difficult or perhaps they changed the manufacturing (I think the original frame was built in house and the later ones not). A custom frame builder will take a different approach. I can think of several builders who have sample frame models by name on their website but may be with only little information about tubing, braze ons etc - it is a custom frame after all so all of this is discussed with the individual customer. If you look at the Roberts website for example http://www.robertscycles.com/Robertscycles.html there is very some information about material options, braze ons etc and a sample picture of a build. There is however a statement "All Roberts frames and Bicycles are "Handmade to measure" for you by us" so all the details are discussed before you place an order.

I remember shopping for a custom frame in the 1970s, long before websites and so on. I selected half a dozen builders to question so you can imagine how many letters got written and how long it took.

thirdcrank
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Re: Why small cycle builders have such poor websites

Postby thirdcrank » 10 Apr 2013, 8:47pm

My most recent handbuilt frame was built by Chris Marshall of Keighley. I've never looked him up on the internet before but I've just found this, from the 531colin school of thought.

http://www.marshallcycles.com/

I can only say he builds cracking frames and he's an artist when it comes to the paint job.

It is written that a good wine needs no bush, and I suspect a good framebuilder needs no www.