The world's most talked-about cycling brand has finally come to America, and it wants to disrupt the bicycle industry by selling some of the world's best bikes directly online at a steep discount, but insiders say it faces fierce headwinds
The most talked-about cycling brand in the world right now is Canyon Bicycles , which opened for business in the US on August 15. The German company manufacturers high-end road, mountain, triathlon, and commuter bikes and sells in more than 100 countries. And though its origins date from 1984, Canyon is only now making its American debut.
Canyon says it differs from its rivals by offering technologically advanced performance bikes at comparatively low prices. And though price comparisons are not easy to make, because similar bikes are often specced differently, Canyon says its bikes sell for 20% to 30% less than comparable bikes from major rivals like Specialized, Trek, Cannondale, and Giant, but some observers suggest those figures are overstated.Canyon sells only online, at canyon.com , direct to consumers. There is no bike shop or middleman. By comparison, if you want to buy a bike from Specialized, you must do it through a brick-and-mortar retailer. You can order a Trek online , but you still have to complete the transaction at a physical shop. Some lesser-known companies also sell bikes online directly, and there are successful third-party sellers, but Canyon is looking to be among the first brands to sell high-end performance bikes directly at a discount on a larger scale. Bike shops make money by assembling, marking up and selling, and servicing bikes, in addition to selling gear and accessories. Because Canyon sells direct and skips the shop, it says, it can afford to sell bikes cheaper. Canyon calls it "democratizing performance."
Canyons are highly desired , award-winning bikes , but US consumers haven't been able to purchase them until now. Riders in the States who own a Canyon most likely had the bike shipped from Europe through a friend or found other means. But their cachet also comes from a German-engineering heritage, which emphasizes a technology-driven approach and matters of detail drawn from a unique industrial-design language that appeals to discerning consumers. Canyon's chief brand officer, Frank Aldorf, who worked at the brand's chief rival, Specialized, comes from the advertising industry, where he did creative for BMW, Mercedes, Adobe, and other top brands. Canyon recently won the prestigious international Red Dot design award.
Canyon says customers will receive nearly fully assembled bikes on their doorstep (direct signature required), with US orders taking no more than a day to process. Customers choose from three shipping options: ground, three- to seven-day, depending on destination, $89; two-day, $150; and overnight, $175. Customers also pay tax.
Canyon's arrival in the US has many cyclists excited, but it's also brought about a sense of anxiety for some in the industry, and there is debate, on sites such as Bicycle Retailer and Industry News , over what effects, positive or negative, a successful consumer-direct sales model like Canyon's could have on brick-and-mortar retailers. In addition, though Canyon has been selling in more than 100 countries, its entry into the US won't be easy, several insiders who spoke with Business Insider said, pointing to a soft bicycle market and a lack of new riders buying bikes.
Business Insider spoke with Aldorf by phone from Canyon's headquarters, in Koblenz, Germany, and industry insiders about the company 's bikes and business model. We also tried out one of the company's most popular bikes, the Aeroad (photos below), which Canyon shipped from its new Chino, California, warehouse by UPS to our doorstep. We had it assembled inside a half-hour and have already ridden it 500 miles.