Outside Europe, Bike Discount may not be a name on the tip of everybody's tongues, but over the last thirty years, the German mail-order specialists have earned themselves a spot as one of the big four of online sales. Starting from a tiny shop in the suburbs of Bonn they have risen to become a million order per year mail order giant. At the same time they have been building their own direct-sales bike brand too—Radon (which translates to English roughly as "Bike-on"). From building a solid base in the German market, in recent years they have come to international attention producing bikes that are not only great value but serious fun to ride. For 2017 they have stepped their racing programme into high gear too, signing Manon Carpenter to spearhead their World Cup DH team and bringing in Ralph Naef's strong Swiss-based programme for the XC. We sat down with their flamboyant owner Stahl to talk about the past, the future, and heart.




Where does the Bike Discount/Radon story begin? Where and when did it all start for you?

It was 30 years ago. We were studying, my partner and me, and during our studies, we opened our first bike shop in Bonn. We started with a little, little bike shop and it was like this room here. After that we changed - we had a larger showroom and we went to the next level. It was a bigger shop and we were a premium dealer for Rocky Mountain, GT, and other brands. We started there 25 years ago, building the first Radon bikes by ourselves.

Obviously now your main business is the online shop. How did you make that transition to selling online? How did that happen for you?

It was with the internet. 20 years ago, there were just magazines like Bike Magazine and Mountain Bike Magazine, and every rider was waiting for the second or the third of the month to get the magazine and every dealer, every brand has a little advertisement in it. Everybody was looking to get a bargain, and today it's much harder than the years before. It's online, you can compare every manufacturer. The market's so open, it's very difficult to survive for a brand just selling through shops.

On the internet there are a lot of comments about how online bike shops are killing the traditional bike shop, talking to most online bike shops, they all started as a bike shop, and just evolved as the business changed.

This is real, that we will kill the traditional shops. But since we have also started as a “normal” bike shop everybody is free to go the same way. Especially for the small shops, it's difficult for with brands like Specialized to sell them for the original prices. This is a problem. I see now that all the little shops have overstock problems, and they're selling with a lot of discounts. The 2016 bikes and the 2017 bikes, I think it's problem to sell it for the official price because they have 30, 40, 50% discount on the old bikes. In contrast to most of the other bike brands with a direct sales approach, we even offer partnership offer for shops with our Service Partner Network. By doing this the consumer can buy at direct sales prices but still, have local service and support.

You guys have built your Megastore here, so you obviously still see there's still a place for a physical bike shop? Is that fair to say?

Yeah. This is for Radon, to show the bikes. This is our main shop. The online business is running much better, we are selling over 1 million packages a year with Bike Discount. It is much easier to sell like this, but the Megastore… My heart belongs to it because it's the feeling when you see the people coming. You see them with the bikes, and they are laughing and are happy to buy them. I think this is a main problem of the online shop. You can't touch it, so it's… I'll show you the frame here. If you have it in your hand, it's another feeling than just to see it on the website. You need to hold it.



Radon Chris Stahl

Radon Chris Stahl
Radon Chris Stahl

Radon Chris Stahl



What do you see is the future of the physical bike shop? Because obviously it's getting harder, and harder for bike shops to compete on selling bikes, but is there still a place for them?

Yeah, there are some products and services that could be a new chance for little shops in the future. Ebikes, for instance, nobody wants to buy them online. You have to try them. Older people are buying these bikes, and they don't look so much on the price. They want to have a good service, and to have a good warranty. So this is a chance for the little shops with ebikes, but with special bikes, or with parts, it's unbeatable for them. Today most customers know what they want. Before, they came in a shop with questions, and they want to get answers. They wanted the people to show them what they could buy. Today people come into the shop and say, "I want to have this, this, this, this, this." The information they have is much better.

With Radon, you seem to have started in the same place most of the German brands do. There seems to be a point in the early 90s when there were a few companies who realised you could buy these bikes from Taiwan and bring them over.

Yeah. In the beginning, we just bought moulds. Shells or moulds was the name and bolted a lot of good parts on it, but I think it's 13 or 14 years ago. Then Bodo came to us. He's a famous engineer here in Germany and we started to make our own moulds. What mostly the clients don't know, that in Taiwan that two or three factories make all the carbon. If it's Santa Cruz, Canyon or Specialized, or a Radon, it's all the same manufacturer where the frames are being made. People don't know that because, in the beginning, Rocky Mountain was coming from Vancouver, and Santa Cruz was in the USA, and people bought these frames because of the history of these frames, but today mostly they are in Asia.

It seems to be that the German market is quite a difficult market to compete in, because customers expect a high level of bike, but they also expect competition on price. They don't want to compromise on either front. Is that fair?

Yeah, this is a problem. On the internet when we announced we would be racing at the World Cups they all say, "Okay, now the bikes get much more expensive because of the cost of the World Cup." But this is not a good way for us to sell the bikes because people expect the low prices. They won't accept paying for a brand.



Radon Chris Stahl



Was there a definite point with the German market where the competition changed? Because in the beginning most of the German direct sales brands started with "me too" bikes, frames from a generic supplier with high-end components to compete at a price point, but the competition seems to have moved past that and towards competing on performance and features now today.

Yeah, all the German consumer-direct brands have the same history as us. Arnold Roman was Radsport Arnold before he started Canyon, it was just a shop in Koblenz, and Rose was a shop in Bochholt. Rose was the first delivery service for parts. All three companies started at the same time building their own bikes. There was one point, in Germany, when there was a battle of prices. It was, for example, Zaskar. All three companies, Rose, Radsport Arnold, and us have the Zaskar, and the price was 1,500 Deutsche Marks. Then one of us said 1,250, we say 1,199, and the next one was 1,050. There was one time all the brands put in place ways to stop this pricing. They say it's not allowed to reduce prices, so then all of us stayed at the same prices. Then we started to build our bikes because we could do what we wanted with the prices. This is the thing, with such firms in the competition, you need elasticity of prices so that you can set your own price levels.

It seems to me that the competition in the German market seems to be the strongest of anywhere.

Yeah, it's a tough challenge every day.

It's interesting because for companies to survive this market, you have to be strong in every aspect, I think. Is that part of the reason why a lot of the German brands are starting to come to the forefront now on a more global level.

We educated our clients over the last 20 years, so they know everything. They know to wait until the reduction of the prices, and it's horrible. We get to Autumn and everybody is buying bikes. Now it’s our job to convince our customers to buy in spring, and not in fall [laughs]. We need to offer such an attractive package, that the customers feel that they cannot wait.

Obviously the first phase in mountain bike history was very much about the US. It's where the sport came from. It seems to me that at the moment that emphasis is shifting. There's a shift and maybe Germany's starting to become more central to the industry.

Yes, well this is because of the European Union. Because without the import taxes, that means in the European Union you can sell in there wherever you want, and we've got a big market. Now it is a logical step after that to go to America or Australia… Although I can't understand the Russian market, or if there's an eastern market. They don't want bikes... In Saudi Arabia, nobody wants to have a bike. They are buying camels, but not bikes.

One thing that's always interested me with German companies is that there's a very German way of doing business, where it tends to be smaller companies with one or two owners. There's not as much outside finance, maybe a longer-term approach to the business. Do you think that's fair to say?

Yeah, we were a little small here. Right now investment groups are buying all the little companies. They have asked us two or three times last year to sell it to a big firm, like when Chain Reaction was merged with Wiggle. But to be privately owned is our freedom, because we have Bike Discount, and Bike Discount is making all the money with the parts we deliver, and Radon was just for my heart. We are living this, we started mountain biking 40 years ago, and today we are riding all the day with our own bikes. We are so proud. We have nine world champion titles on our teams and if you go biking with those guys, it's unbelievable. It's so good that they are riding for us now. You get feedback from them. Bodo is just an engineer. He's a brilliant engineer, but you need a feedback from the riders. You see, last year Pinkbike tested a Slide 160, and it is a brilliant bike, but you said it didn't have a slack enough head angle. So we have changed it. Now it's much slacker, in fact, we have changed everything on the bike, and now it's much better. This was very good to give people the bikes for testing, you have a feedback, and this is the only way to make it better and better and better. Not just to wait and sit there and to say, "Hello, I have the best bike." You have to do new things every year.



Radon Chris Stahl



It's clear, you have a strong passion for these bikes. You want to show people these bikes and it seems to be something you're very proud of.

Yeah, to see our riders winning and I expected for this. With Manon coming, the expectation that she will win, one race or two. Perhaps this would be the greatest thing for me, to see them, and I'll always have tears in my eyes if the riders are riding. But I think this is the heart you have to have in the brand. The heart of the brand, you either have it or you don't. To make such good bikes, you must have a strong passion for it.

What do you see as your future What's your goal?

To get more international. In Germany, we're very, very famous, but the German market is so narrow.

Does that mean America, then?

America, it's a big problem with warranty on the bikes, you need to invest in a service structure to sell there. I think with Canada, it's much better as a first step. The United Kingdom was our aim last year, to step a foot in that market, but with the Brexit, it's a problem to go into the UK market. But France is a good market, and Spain also. It's very large. This is very tricky, though, every one of the different markets, they need their own bikes. The French, they need a lot of travel - 170, 180 millimeters in the suspension. In Belgium, and in the Dutch market they want to use hardtails. In Italy, and in Spain also, road bikes are selling well. In England, you can sell road bikes up to €6,000-€7,000, they're absolutely crazy with the prices they will pay for road bikes. In Germany, everybody wants to have a road bike for €1,000-€1,500, and that is enough ... They just want to ride it. With the British, we went to the London and Birmingham roadshows, and everybody was coming said, "Hello, do you have a road bike for €3,500. Is it your starting bike?" No, it's the end of our range. It is unbelievable.



Radon Chris Stahl



What do you see as the next big change coming to the mountain bike industry? How do you see the market changing, evolving over the next 5 years or so?

I think ebikes, they are coming more and more, but this is dependent on the law... There are rumours that they will make helmets compulsory for the rider, or to get license plates on it, or to be prohibited from riding on singletrack. This will be the end for the ebikes, but at this moment it's unbelievable. The people, they spent a lot of money without searching for a bargain. For normal mountain biking, it's 29-inch wheels, I think even for the downhill bikes, it's coming. People want to have it, and I hope we will lose some standards. It's 26", and 27.5", and 29", and it's too much. For us, for such a little company, we have 190 different models. 190...

Wow.

Yeah, it's unbelievable. We have to have so much stock for them.

Okay, it's just too many different things to try and cover?

Since this year, we have a size split with most of the bikes. We're producing 16", and 18", with 27.5" wheels, and 18", and 20", and 29" wheels. In the middle, you have both 27.5" and 29" models. So, you have 50 models.

That's a lot.

Yeah, but you have to imagine, with all the models, you have development every two or three years. Of every bike.

That's a huge amount of work.

Yeah! There are bikes where the demand is very high, and others where demand is very low. With the XC full suspension and DH bikes, it's very low. But for our all-mountain bikes in the middle, the demand is very, very, very good. To develop mid-travel bikes is not a problem, but if you have a downhill bike and you spend a lot of money on it… At the end of the day, you're only selling hundreds of them… There's not really a reason to have it, it's just there because you want to have it.


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Must Read This Week

94 Comments

  • + 75
 Fucking brexit
  • + 10
 True story.
  • + 5
 @jamesdunford: I am holding my breath for the upcoming French election and any possible Frexit. Hope the French will not go either extreme left or right! Anyway, not here for politics. Radon seems like cool bikes!
  • - 29
flag Fattylocks (Apr 20, 2017 at 6:17) (Below Threshold)
 What in the freakin hell does Brexit have to do with some German guys 30 year success story?
  • + 30
 @Fattylocks: You are free to read the answer to you question in the article above.
  • - 21
flag bman33 (Apr 20, 2017 at 6:25) (Below Threshold)
 The nerve of a country wanting to be free of outside bureaucracy and financial restrictions from 'leadership' in another country that doesn't have their country's best interest. Scandalous
  • + 24
 @bman33: That's the propaganda used to justify Brexit but in reality there are very, very few people in the general public here in the UK (I am not from Canada) that feel any direct effect from the EU and its 'restrictions'. Many are also common sense legislation to prevent people being plain stupid and overfishing, polluting etc etc - You will see the UK take on most of the laws the EU has implemented for itself post brexit!

The world is in a strange place politically at the moment, you have an orange man child as a president, we have the mess that is brexit, a general election and fragmented parties that cant agree on anything.

Turds, turds everywhere.
  • + 13
 @Racer951: "turds! turds everywhere!" - that's what I scream when I wake up in the middle of the night.
  • - 12
flag Earthmotherfu (Apr 20, 2017 at 7:39) (Below Threshold)
 @Racer951: I think your getting your waxed moustache over twisted..
  • - 2
 @Racer951: Trump will ride a Radon bike soon, like George Bush was riding a Trek.
  • + 1
 @Earthmotherfu: I think you are confused, it was the 'wazed moustache' old boys that voted for brexit. Unless you are implying I am a hipster, in which case you would be wrong, Im not as southerner.
  • - 7
flag trialsracer (Apr 20, 2017 at 10:23) (Below Threshold)
 @Racer951: And yours is the propaganda that leads people every day to accept tyranny. (I know "tyranny" is a strong word and will probably get me down votes, but that's the correct term for massive and concerted restrictions of individual freedoms by a disconnected bureaucracy in the name of "security" or the "greater good")
  • + 1
 Don't be silly guys, it is Ellsworth that suits Trump best. After Ellsworth will notice that even Brian Lopes cannot improve their image they will go all the way! I can see a promo with Ivanka doing a wall ride...
  • + 5
 @trialsracer: if you think there is any "tyranny" in US or Europe you deserve much more than a down vote... you deserve to be sent to a part of the Earth where there actually is tyranny. We can start with Syria from the more obvious places.
  • - 1
 @Racer951: of course it was,silly me.your the man.
  • + 0
 @trialsracer:The EU is definately a threat to liberty, as is any, as you say, disconnected bureaucracy which it is. Just know a whole lot of europeans agree, but more are unfortunately sheep.
  • + 1
 @combee: load of hipster bollocks. your opinions are just as disconnected from reality as people you accuse of such treats. Please take my advice. I've been there, talking such leftie bullsht. You can find my rants from 2010-2012 like from article about Race Face closing down. You will like them. I no longer subscribe under such points of view. You are just in one of stages of development of your personality. Don't clench to any ideology for too long. Cheers
  • + 1
 @Racer951: Well I guess if you lived in or around a Muslim ghetto like Luton you might think differently. Or if you understood economics and realized that countries like Germany and Greece sharing a common currency was always going to fail.
  • + 8
 @jclnv: yea Muslim ghetto, are they muslims from middle East or from Indonesia? Sounds like wanting to buy a 29er. Can mean so many things. It is hard enough to get people to appreciate that they are no longer in the food chain, then to make them get their heads around pre WW2 mortality rates from fkng disease like flu. Child mortality rates anybody? Can't you just appreciate a fkng fact that your life is so great that you can ride f*cking mountain bikes, and stop spreading some equalitarian bullshit? Muslim ghetto - really?! EU bad? Really?! You guys need to get a fkng life. I am old enough to remember how fkng cool was it to live in Poland in 1980s, mile long queues for meat and toilet paper. Travelling between countries - Waiting 10 fkng hours on the border almost every time you were crossing it and sometimes they didn't let you in. sometimes authorities wouldn't give you a passport like it happened to my dad. Getting one banana and one can of Fanta per two years. Yes Fanta, that thing was more precious to me and my cousin when aunt brought it from Germany than a carbon frame is to me now. Get f*cked guys - really.
  • - 2
 @WAKIdesigns: Middle eastern. Some of your buddies are busy in Paris right now.
  • - 2
 @jclnv: they're Pakistani mainly in Luton.
@WAKIdesigns: doesn't matter who lives in Luton..its a shithole.
  • + 6
 @jclnv: Having lived in genuine white minority areas in London (Bow, Hackney), I fail to see your point in any way, shape or form. If anything, I miss that mix of people as it meant you could get some fantastic food. A large percentage of British Muslims can trace their families back to Pakistan, Bangladesh and Somalia, so I don't understand how you are linking muslims to Brexit. Most British Muslim families came to Britain because of the Commonwealth... In case you hadn't noticed, Europe is majority white and predominantly Christian.
  • - 4
flag jclnv (Apr 20, 2017 at 23:54) (Below Threshold)
 @mattwragg: Unless I'm mistaken Brexit was predominantly an anti-immigration vote? A vote by people who don't want Britain to be overrun by a backwards culture with 4x the birthrate.
  • + 5
 @jclnv: I can't deny that there are a small minority of people who voted for Brexit because they lack any basic concept of geography or history. As for Britain being overrun? Well that's just horseshit peddled by people who hark back to some rose-tinted idea of Proud Britain, some post-WW2 heyday when a man and his family could be pale and proud, with an English rose in his garden and a Spitfire in every driveway. But that never actually existed, they have forgotten about the very real, ongoing threat of economic collapse before Britain joined the EU (in no small part because we were mortgaged up to our eyeballs with the Americans to fund the war), electricity shortages, rationing and so on (this goes back to lacking any concept of history). We invited many of the minority communities to Britain because a) they were part of our Commonwealth and b) we desperately needed people to do those jobs, much as we need doctors, nurses and teachers today. I think I can see what you're getting at here with "backwards cultures" and if you make your racism any more overt I will have you banned from this website. xo
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Hipster? Leftie bullshit? Lol what are you smoking dude? I'm as far from a leftist as you can pretty much get. I am very pro free market! If you are anti socialist, why would you support a bunch of unelected socialist bureaucrats that are the Eu top dogs, who try to expand into a federal europe? We can have free trade without a political union. If you have lived behind the iron curtain, you should know to be weary about big government. We are on the same side here.
  • + 1
 @combee: there is a dramatically colossal difference between European Union and Soviet Union, particularly Stalinism. I am not a leftie nor a rightie. No need to pick teams. I do like a few things from Milton Friedman but half of the sht I find to be ideological bullshit.
  • + 2
 @mattwragg: See it's that leftist ideologue apologist viewpoint that anyone who is anti a certain culture due to intrenched religious dogma is a racist and should be banned from discourse that contributes greatly to guys like Trump in power. How about standing up for women's rights, or the indoctrination of children who are brought up in cultures mired in religious shit?

And yes Islamic immigrant cultures do have the highest birth rates. I think you'll find the oppression of women in those cultures has something to do with it.
  • + 1
 @jclnv: Absolutely correct. And by the way, that is part of the reason why Radon and Canyon are so cheap: If it wasn't for the Euro, German products would be much more expensive as our currency's exchange rates would rise. You max benefit from this as a customer, but it's actually the killing blow to the economies of countries like Greece, Spain and whoever is next. That you comment was downvoted below threshold just shows how little people esp. in Europe understand economics and how little the media informs them.
  • + 64
 Fantastic article, thanks Pinkbike - really interesting to hear more details from 'behind the scenes' at Radon and the origin story not only of them, but the other German brands.

I have had 3 Radon bike now over the last ~4 years, they have all been excellent in terms of spec, price and quality... I won't go elsewhere at this point. In terms of after sale service, I have only had one warranty issue in this time, a seatpost adjustment screw that stripped on a 29er HT... they had a replacement post in the mail the same day. When the replacement part arrived, it was an upgraded item from the model above in the range.

In terms of price some of the bikes are genuinely very cheap indeed - I bought a Radon Slide 130 (140mm FS 29er) 2016 early last year. I've been really happy with it - it rides excellently covering everything from ST to light DH, but honestly don't know how they got a bike with that spec to the price point I bought it for;

Fox Factory 34 fork and Factory shock, DT Swiss XM1501 wheelset, RS Reverb, Magura MT5 4 pot brakes, Raceface 35mm bar, GX Drivetrain... With the 'opening deal' I paid 2300CHF. Here in Switzerland it would have been 8500CHF+ for a Santa Cruz or similar with the same spec.

This may read as an advertisement for Radon, but it's genuinely not... I've just been a very happy customer over the last few years and wanted to share my 1st hand experience.
  • - 1
 You're telling me you stripped your fucking seatpost, clamp bolt and you contacted them for warranty...For pete's sake how the hell did you think it got stripped, uhh lemme guess you overtightened it or the allen key slipped, doesn't sound like it was their fault.
  • + 4
 @Whats-Next: *Sigh* Wow, jump to conclusions Batman. When you say - "You're telling me..."... no, I'm not, you got there (not sure where 'there' is either) all on your own.

For the sake of explanation: It was a standard alu seatpost on a hardtail XC 29er. The seat tilt angle was adjusted not with an allen key, but with a plastic 'wheel' which was attached to the thread on the front bolt. I needed to drop the angle of the post, but on first use, the plastic wheel just stripped on the thread making it unable to turn the bolt.

No allen key, no over-tightening (no tightening at all actually), no slipping, and I don't have the force of Samson. It was a manufacturing defect of some kind, hence the warranty.
  • + 3
 @Marc2211: Well thanks for the clarification, and yes I know what part you are talking about now. That style of bolt for adjusting the seat angle inherently sucks, sorry for jumping to conclusions.
  • + 2
 @Whats-Next: No probs at all, and thanks the reply! Happy riding Smile
  • + 26
 Really frank and honest insight. But interestingly, having been a strong user of the internet based mail order approach for both bikes and parts, I'm starting to drift back to using a local bike shop. That's in part due to the fact that my son and I are racing and it's small local shops that often offer that initial support and low level sponsorship. It's also because it's taken me a while to find a shop where the people who run it are passionate and engaging...
  • + 15
 @Thor44 This. The LBS that will survive will be the ones that supports the community as well. The direct internet sale model may force many doors to close, mostly those that refuse to adapt. The fact that these direct sale companies are building showrooms and glorified bike shops proves neither is the perfect model but a hybrid direct/LBS has huge potential. In the end we are humans, we still love to interact with real people and to touch and feel real products. And to touch and feel real humans as well. Free porn on the internet didn't kill real sex. Not for me anyways.
  • + 13
 @Boardlife69: I would not be so well spoken of local shops. In Poland and Sweden it's been only recently when they realized that selling expensive mountain bikes brings money, even if only in net profit with everything else. Right now shops in Gothenburg are run in one way or another by my friends who ride a lot and geek out of tech to a certain degree. Same in my home town in Poland, it is a matter of max last 5 years when you can come to a shop ask for a proper mountain bike or a MTB part and be treated seriously and get satisfactory answers and service.

I have had enough bad experiences in the past of coming in and being trated like a misfit by a guy who knew absolutely nothing and at best didn't hide it. Some were getting on the edge of being aggressive when asking about specific tyre type. This is a rough transpcript of a discussion I had once: "Do you have Minion DHF in DH casing? - No, but this... erm... Contintental!, yes this Contintental ermm... Baron, is very similar - no, it is a single ply version and I don't like Continental - I prefer a minion, Can you order it? - No! I told you twice sir, this one here is as good, Contintental is much better than Maxxis, eeem aaaam, I have plenty of clients who like Contintental because they only had problems with Maxxis eee eeee, they were having flats."

Even though it got much better since these days most people who work in bike shop actually do ride bikes, you can still come upon a fkr with an attitude and bias towards certain kind of biking and he just won't talk to you about anything outside of his noble area of incredible expertize. And sometimes I overhear shop employees talk absolute crap to clients and I know for a fact that they can't ride and sell what boss tells them to sell on a particular week since on last week inventory meeting it came up that they have too many bikes of a certain kind while new order is coming soon. A dude was trying to sell a M sized 29er to a father of barely 160cm tall teenager. "you know what this is? This is a 29er, you know what is special about it? thanks to big wheels it rolls fast"- he fkng said it. And the bike was a terrible junk for lots of money, a generic sht with terrible fork, discounted 10% from an outrageously high price. This sales dude couldn't keep up for 15 minutes with us on that one ride I was with him, he was affraid to ride down a 30cm step and finally got lost. In a small fkng park. And he was making a fkng lecture on roll over as if he was a professor of physics potentially making the kid never ride the bike again.

Been to a few shops in Italy in Riva Del Garda/ Torbole, that's been terrible. They even had "don't touch bikes!" signs next to the bikes. And they couldn't even get arsed to come from behind the counter when people wanted to ask questions. I asked about 510 Impact VXii they had on sale out - ASK FOR MORE SIZES a sticker said. So I did. The dude was too busy sorting tubes in the drawer to come and help me. After 3 minutes and 2 attempts he told me he doesn't have any more sizes, and a dude next to me had two boxes with VXIs open

So well... LBS is not some noble guardian angel of local biking scene by default, while many direct sales reps go deep up your arse for you to buy something from them and be satisfied.
  • + 4
 I´m from Spain,here are a lot of small shops. They know all about road and XC but in general they don´t know anything about Enduro or DH bikes. You must to go to a "big brand" to see a DH bike live. I work for a lift company in Madrid,we get a lot of new people into the Enduro and DH scene...I see a lot of 6000,7000,8000 € bikes being sold without any advice about the suspension tunning,shock is rock solid and the fork is a bubble gum...I always carries my shock pump to do initial settings on those bikes. Good advice is if the guys who are selling the bikes are riders (Enduro,DH) is a good chance they can understand better their customers.
  • + 1
 bike shops?
the only 'bike shop' that really works is decathlon (lowend market), the others just try to survive
  • + 21
 Awesome article. The final paragraph is interesting in that it confirms DH bikes are probably not profitable for the vast majority of manufacturers (which is often speculated online anyway). It's kind of a "halo" product to support the image of the brand, especially if you sponsor a UCI World Cup team. Kind of like F1.

The fact he said they only sell "hundreds" is kind of scary though.
  • + 8
 I think that is the case. The rise of long travel AM bikes have really dented sales in DH bikes. Not all riders have ski-lifts in their backyards and having a bike that you can pedal uphill and then bomb backdown makes sense.

That being said, if I lived in the Alps or Whistler (anywhere with ski lifts), I'd buy a DH rig in a heartbeat.
  • + 3
 @Odinson: I agree. At the cost of a higher end bike these days, I can only afford one bike. I would love a DH bike, but using it only 5x a year, that's a very expensive proposition. Makes way more sense to have a long travel AM/Enduro bike that I can ride with the kids, race local enduro races and take it to whistler.
  • + 20
 Hansi Hinterseer is that you?
  • + 1
 Thahahha thought the same! xD
  • + 1
 Also looks a bit like the new Ridge Forrester Smile
  • + 5
 reminds of "the wrestler"
  • - 1
 Well we found the 2 people in the world who actually know who that is...
  • + 15
 Must be moving some serious numbers with a....$30,000 watch on his wrist =)
  • + 1
 I heard a story about how he bought a brand new Porsche GT3 and ripped the front bumper of when turning into his driveway for the first time. Returned it to the dealer the next day.
  • + 7
 @SiSandro: heard they have a hardtail called jealous. Think about it????
  • + 7
 @Luomi123: It's an anecdote that illustrates the point that he has indeed done very well for himself. Untwist your panties.
  • + 9
 "I don't always ride mountain bikes, but when I do, it's a Radon"
  • + 6
 I'm glad it wasn't just me that noticed the Big Bang Big Grin
  • - 13
flag Will-narayan (Apr 20, 2017 at 4:24) (Below Threshold)
 Uh, well I guess the employees must all be super well paid if he can afford such a useless waste of money :/
  • + 16
 @Will-narayan: don't be that guy. He created something from scratch, he earned it, it deserves it, and it's cool. Also you should definitely educate yourself about the amount of work and expertise that goes behind building a timepiece like this, then maybe you would understand the price tag.

You should really be positive about other people's achievements. I'm really happy for him, it's a nice success story.
  • + 3
 haha, I was looking at the comments section to see if someone would notice. Good catch there (you must be a watch fan..).
  • + 5
 @Aprilfisheye: Haha, don't worry I totally recognize his achievment as a bike builder, I "just" think that the way humans lose the sense of reality when they get a bit of money is a huge part of why the world is what it is.
I live in a country where the cost of life is about 1500€ (France !) which means this simple watch -of which only purpose is to tell what time it is- is then the equivalent of about 20 months of work. Also, my car, my phone, my computer, my alarm clock can all tell me what time it is so I don't even really need a watch.

I know a bit about the timepieces business and, well, from my small experience, it seems like its roots are the work of very skilled independant engineers working on very intricate concept who then try to sell those as concept watch for brands that seem to be mostly facade brand owned by big evil companies like LVMH, with a lot of advertisment ("since 1850 blablablah") but not so much real knowledge inhouse anymore.
Those concept watch, sold for 100K$ and much more are then used to promote and sell the "basic" watches of the brand (+-5000$), probably built by unkown but very valuable firms that have all the knowledge and construction skills.
Also those watches don't exist because there would be a demand for it, it only exists cuz' some people have more money than they'll ever need (same with hyper cars, mega yachts, etc).
Hence all the jobs recently axed in Swiss (and the facade brands that disapeared), when the market crumbled following a purge against corruption in China.

We've lost the value of things, we just want the lowest price with no care for those who craft it. Except when it's really expensive, suddenly it's "the higher the better", cuz' it's luxury blablablah. 2 millions for a Bugatti. Or 110 years of work. This is insane.
Is my way of life only possible because some poor guys work for cheap far away ? I can't agree with that.
  • + 3
 ^^ this was also one of the first things which came to my mind, I think it´s a Audemars Piguet RoyalOak Offshore Chronograph, in this case it could be even more than 30,000€
  • + 1
 @dapl: Damned, one could buy like 4 Nomads for that money! Or like 10 Radons!
  • + 11
 "or if there's an eastern market. They don't want bikes... In Saudi Arabia, nobody wants to have a bike. They are buying camels, but not bikes."

...LOL
  • + 1
 And that's more important than you'd think at first, cuz' historically, the arab world economy started to lose ground to Europe when the Roman empire started declining, as they reverted to using camels and stopped using wheeled vehicles and maintaining roads. This influenced the whole economy, and the whole social organisation. Well, such an explanation need to be much more elaborate but you get the point.
  • + 7
 My first MTB was a 2005 (year) Radon Magnesium 5.0.. I sold my race scooters and decided to buy a mountainbike instead. Radon then was still produced in the same factory as Cube (same frames) and sold also by Bike-discount. I rode from Holland to Germany to test drive the bike... Was equipped with XTR mostly and shifters of XT. Brakes Magura SL Marta... insanely lightweight and fast hardtail... for 1500 euro's Wink

How cool is it to see where Radon stands now... great article and great to see also an owner who loves to have a private company instead to sell it to the highest bidders... no marketing talks, just honest answers.. Love the Germans...
  • + 6
 Ok, I own a S-Works Demo, a Enduro Expert Evo. I will buy a Session 9.9 tomorrow.
I've ridden other serious shit out there and I'd say I know some bikes and know this and that about it.

But hell yeah, I fckn love Radon!
First of all - other than my first sentences may give reason to expect - I really like a good value for money.
That's where radon really hits the spot.
But on top of that fact: those Radon bikes we own (Slide C, Swoop 170, Sage C Ultegra) are really good. I often ride my Slide and sometime I sit on a Nomad of some dude or another. I don't feel like "compared to the Nomad, the Slide is crap", no. They are pretty much even. Of course the Nomad is way more shiny and prestigious, but tbh one can live w/o that. When you ride a bike, you don't see it anyways. Not that the Slide is ugly, hell no! Imho it's pretty sexy, though.

Whatever. What I want to say: Radon makes really good bikes for a very fair price. Also the support is great (had an issue with a rear shock axle and it was solved for free in like no time by sending a new ti-part to me)
I just hope they keep it like it is and value/price will stay the same.

My buzz grew a little more when Manon joined the team - I won't be sad if she'll receive an Euro or two from me when I buy the next bike Wink
  • + 5
 I often think I learn more interesting stuff from these "industry" people in their interviews than I do when reading about the people who make riding their job. I love the back-story that comes to light on some of the products or fashions and knowing the history or reasons that things are the way they are makes being a mountain bike enthusiast all the more enjoyable.
  • + 3
 @radonbikes why does your size 16" all mountain bikes have a 430mm seat tube length. Especially the swoop the smallest model has 445mm reach with a 430mm seat tube! Don't you think that's too big for someone that's less than five seven.
  • + 4
 Come on make a Slide Carbon in 29"!!!

For me Radon is the best of the three large German direct sales brands. I had bikes from all of them and Radon has the fastest and most competent service!
  • + 3
 We moved to Europe a couple years ago and my wife wanted a new mtn bike, but nothing too expensive, so we went with a Radon. For €450 I was super impressed with the build and parts spec, crazy how much better it was than what you would get in the US for that amount. She's had not a single issue after thousands of km of riding on it either.
  • + 3
 Thanks for this article, It's great to see how engaged and passionate Chris is about his job and products. I didn't think that much of Radon before but this has brought them up in my estimations. Smile
  • + 2
 Really interesting points regarding the big differences in consumer preferences in European markets. It's really staggering when you cross the border from Germany to the Netherlands and suddenly all the bikes look different. You have the E-Bike obsessed Germans, Belgians and their cross bikes and the Brits with their insane roadbikes - the variety of different bicycle cultures is quite fascinating.

Just one pet peeve: stop with this manufactory nonsense, particularly if you are all about mass production and low prices. It doesn't suit the brand and is unconvincing.
  • + 4
 So many great answers. Very interesting and informative. Thanks pinkbike & Chris!
  • + 1
 I’ve always been a spesh rider, most enduros they have made and 2 demos's. Jan17 I was a bit bored with my bike and was looking for something new with modern angles.
I was going to purchase a YT but they went out of stock of my size when I was ready to order. Within half an hour I had read so many good reviews of the Swoop I pressed the button. The bike arrived in about 5 days fully built and even had the brakes on the right (wrong) way around. There was some small damage which must of occurred in transit but we came to a small financial agreement which was good. The bike is great and very confidence inspiring. I love it.
There is a fly in the ointment though. Myself and two other mates have bought different versions of the Swoop this year. All of them have had no thread lock to any bolts or screws. Bike Discounts reply: Its good practice to use this during assembly but we don’t have to. I personally found this out the hard way when a shock pivot fell out. I was told that EVERY bolt should be checked EVERY ride. I would recommend anyone buying on of these great bikes takes it apart and add some Loctite to every fastener before something falls off – a potential downside of direct sales.
I wanted a bolt quickly and was going to buy locally for speed. Radon don’t have (so they say) an exploded diagram like many brands of their bike frames so it wasn’t easy to get a dimension or part number. The bolt turned up in the post yesterday and took 2.5 weeks from Germany. It also arrived in cube packaging. A quick google and I have also found the hanger for my bike (out of stock at BD) can be bought locally and more cheaply as a ‘cube’ item in stock and with next day delivery in the UK.
So a heads up to any new buyer, your bike will be cheap, will be awesome and will be assembled by chimps
XXX
  • + 2
 Interesting article! Thank you PB! The things he said seem pretty honest, straight and make sence. Fits to what I heard before. You can understand industry a little bit better after reading this, I think.
  • + 1
 They got a pretty good selection and decently competetive prices, but man does the customer service suck! Never got as bad and arrogant service as from this shop, especially by email. No matter how big they get or how fast they grow, a (bike) shop should never overlook the importance of good customer service.
  • + 3
 Damn, I always thought they were more sinister being named after a poisonous gas.
  • + 2
 I wanted to know if there are plans to run an EWS team. The reviews the Swoop gets and how it rides I thought they would do well there
  • + 4
 I read all the answers in a german accent Frown
  • + 4
 "The French, they need a lot of travel" : Yeah, everything's bigger here
  • + 4
 Great review although i don't feel the need of 170mm travel Smile
  • + 25
 Yes you do. Now put on your beret and eat your frog legs.
  • + 3
 Wow, this is an excellent artictle, thanks pinkbike!
  • + 1
 I didn't read the article but can state that Bike Discount-DE are the best internet bike related company that i have ever dealt with...(f*ck you brexit)
  • + 3
 These are always the best articles here.
  • + 3
 Agree! The German bike shops/brands history and the insights that Chris shared are very enlightening.
  • + 3
 Interesting. Thanks for posting.
  • + 1
 No, not everyone wants a 29er. I dont, and there is just one of my main bike buddies who rides one and likes it.
  • + 2
 All I see is the AP ro Offshore
  • + 2
 Audemars Piguet..... So I understand why bikes cost so much!
  • + 1
 ha. that royal oak could buy you a LOT of carbon Smile
  • + 3
 More on the Transit?
  • + 2
 Tempted to sell all my bikes and get a slide and a swoop
  • + 2
 I have a Slide and a Swoop DH. Both great bikes. I was planning a replacement for the Slide this year but it's still an awesome bike so I'll keep it for at least another year.
  • + 1
 Hold my shitty micro brew. Did someone say we have Cristal?
  • + 1
 Is Manufactory an actual word ? See, i went back and read a bit !
  • - 2
 friends don't let friends ride 29ers

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