Wiggle Number One Bike Shop

Double Take – Is Chain Reaction Cycles bigger… or Wiggle?

We recently asked Has Wiggle just beaten Chain Reaction Cycles to the top spot? which covered the 2013 financial reports of both Wiggle and Chain Reaction Cycles and showed that Wiggle (£168 million turnover) was now the top dog and Chain Reaction Cycles (£156 million turnover) is no longer the number one.


An Online Scandal in the Making

On December 2. a press release was published titled:

JONCKERS Partners with Chain Reaction Cycles to Create Customized Solutions for Market Expansion

So far so good and there a lot of exciting word use; “experienced tremendous growth”, “rapidly growing market economy”, “quick time-to-market” and “customized solutions for global adaptation.” If you are wondering what Jonckers do, it takes a bit of reading between the exciting terminology to discover they do translations.

However it appears that Jonckers either knows something that the rest of the world doesn’t, or as a brand new service partner hasn’t been updated, or may simply be using different metrics to classify CRC as the world’s largest online bike store.

Jonckers Chain Reaction Cycles Reputation

I assume that the claim, ‘The World’s Largest’ reflects the annual turnover rather than the size of the inventory.  Let’s assume that they have new intel and current turnover has increased beyond that of Wiggle (although Wiggle would not freely share this information any earlier than required).

I enquired with the Press Contact for Jonckers, Elena Rees who did not respond. I asked if the claim is justified based on turnover, alternatively which data is used to back this up. I also enquired about the role of Jonckers in helping CRC expand into Eastern Europe.

Jonckers Chain Reaction Cycles Largest Bike Shop

Wiggle on the other hand call themself the UK’s number one online bike shop and there are other contenders for top spot but with slight variations. CRC is based in Ballyclare, Northern Island which is still counted as the United Kingdom.


You may be the biggest, but we are the largest!

In the UK, The Wheelbase claim to be “The UK’s Largest Cycle Store”.  But Rutland Cycling call themself “the UK’s biggest bike shop”

While R&A Cycles of Brooklyn in New York, USA claim to be “The World’s Largest Cycle Store”. They are around the corner from Gotham and Toga who call them “New York City oldest and largest bike shops”. Wheel World Bike Shop in California, USA call themself “one of the earliest and biggest online bike shops”

Everyday Tourist Blog has an amusing anecdote, emailing R&A Cycles enquiring about their claim he received the response from Sales Rep, Philip Cabbad, “[we are] the largest Professional bike shop in the world. Not in square feet as there are shops who are larger but they carry mostly bikes under $2,000 in value. As the world’s largest Professional bike shop, we have on display we have over 50 bikes with an average price tag over $4,000, with 800 frames and over 500 bikes in stock”

In the same blog article, Darrell Elliot of Bow Cycle in Calgary, Canada (a pretty big store with 24,000 squre feet retail space) shares a few truths in discussing the claims, “I think when you are looking for the world’s largest bike shop, world’s best bike shop, etc., you need to have some parameters or guidelines as to what qualifies the shop as the largest or the best. Is it square footage? Overall sales figures? Bike sales? Parts sales? Accessory sales? Internal labor sales? External labor sales? Clothing sales? Bike fitting sales? Service school sales? Event sales? Number of employees? Community involvement? Industry involvement? What does it take to be the world’s largest/best bike store?”

Making grand claims is exciting, it may even motivate some customers but for me it is a case of the Judean’s Peoples Front and the People’s Front of Judea.

Comparing Bike Store Size


Youtube: Watch The Life of Brian – Peoples Front Clip

SHimano Chain Reaction Cycles

Is Chain Reaction Cycles REALLY the best place to buy Shimano?

Behind closed doors, Shimano love online retailers. The online bike shops move a lot of product, and Shimano dominates groupsets so when you need replacements for Claris, Sora, Tiagra, 105, Ultegra or Dura Ace, or on the MTB Deore, Deore SLX, Deore XT, Zee, Saint, XTR or Di2 versions, particularly older versions, the internet can be a good friend… and cheaper too.

NEWS JUST IN – Chain Reaction Cyclies is the best place to buy Shimano. I was not aware of that, but according to CRC there are seven great reasons why. What are they you say?


1. Best prices on Shimano Worldwide

Lets trial this, it will be hit and miss but a fair starting point.

Round 1: I want a complete Shimano Dura Ace Di2 groupset.. and want the lowest price. Lets start with (based on turnover) the worlds biggest bike shop, Wiggle. They have a sale and the groupset will set you back £1,999.99. Not bad. Merlin Cycles also want £1999.99

Shimano Dura Ace Di2 Groupset Wiggle

Evans Cycles – fail, no results found. OK, Ribble.co.uk… whoops (that domain is availble to purchase). I remember, it is Ribblecycles.co.uk. It looks like something out of the 80’s and hard to find the search box. Two pages of search results but no groupset.

And now to CRC, low and behold £1799.99.  On the RRP alone, Wiggle have a pre-sale price of about £2999.99 while CRC have £2499. Although Wiggle also have a price match strategy. But for this round CRC wins!

Shimano Dura Ace Di2 Groupset CRC

Round 2: That was probably an easy test – lets go for something obscure, I will let wiggle set the tone and have located the Shimano XTR BR-M985 Metal Pad With Cooling Fin. This is a metal brake pad (rather than resin. Wiggle list £18.49. Ribble and Evans are not coming to the party, not listing these.

Wiggle XTR Brake Pads


Now it is time for CRC and their metal brake pad version is exactly £18.49. DRAW!

CRC XTR Brake Pads

Round 3:  to be fair, CRC can choose an obscure Shimano item. We are still in the MTB world and CRC have a Shimano XTR M970 Outer Chainring for £79.99

CRC XTR Chainring

Evans wants to join in, but only with a bundle for £112.99 – and CRC don’t do anything similar. Ribble don’t want to be involved with no search results to match.

Evans Cycles XTR Bundle

And even Wiggle decides not to take part – a few different variations reveal no real match.

Wiggle No Search Results

Lets give CRC the benefit of the doubt on this. But what else makes them the best place to but Shimano?


2. Biggest Range across all disciplines

Lets not argue this one, even in the price test, CRC have been fairly consistent, Wiggle fairly good and the others trailing behind.


3. First to market with the latest products

A big claim – this means that before the local bike shops, before the dealers and before everyone else who has supported Shimano in their sales across the globe, Shimano are now trusting Chain Reaction Cycles as the first retail outlet to stock their new gear.

The dealers and distributers must be happy about that.


4. The best value on groupsets in all discplines

We will take your word that you have done your homework, and that Shimano have set CRC at the preferred retailer.


5. Unsure of need some help, our first class customer support and tech support team are always on hand

Most customers know what they want, I need a 6700 Ultregra 10 speed cassette, 11-28. Done.

But CRC have a big support team and if instant gratification is not crucial then they are in the business of selling and will assist the sale. The alternative is internet research, because the internet knows everything (you just have to find it). Or go to your local bike store where they have to know because they are fitting the part, and it is their responsibility if it doesn’t fit.

At this point, it is worth noting the extra tools you have to buy to DIY. I highly recommend doing it yourself, but is is an extra step and some people prefer the comfort of a skilled bike mechanic to do it for them.


6. Buy with confidence – 2 years warrant and 3 years on Dura Ace and XTR

When was the last time I had a warrant issue with my groupset. They are very well made. In the case of the SRAM Road cycling hydraulic disc brake failures, SRAM did the right thing and looked after their customers. Shimano would do the same. Though it isn’t noted who pays return shipping. Realistically, the chances are that when anything brakes in a new groupset then it is from an accident or rider error.


7. Peace of mind – return any item within 365 days (free returns UK)

Unless you use it of course. I would be surprised to learn that you could use and wear out a chain and return it within a year – no questions asked. Generally this claus comes with a disclaimer that the product can’t be used, has to be in the original box and in a resalable condition. It can happen, if you stock up on chains, however this is not as good as it is made out to be. And if you are outside of the UK, of course you pay shipping.


How it all stacks up

CRC have a good deal with Shimano and will genuinely offer competitive prices, for some gear it will have the same cost while for others such as the groupset there can be good savings. CRC have to make a big noise about this but for a customer it is a much simpler message – it is worth keeping an eye on CRC when buying Shimano gear online.