Felt Bicycles Joins the Direct Sales Movement

Dec 12, 2017 at 18:50
by Richard Cunningham  
Felt Decree 2018
Felt Decree, 2018

In a press release launched on BRAIN today, Felt Bicycles announced a hybrid direct-to-customer marketing program, with a twist. Online buyers will be able to click on a "Buy Local Now" link to check stock and purchase their bike remotely from the shop, or choose to buy directly from Felt. Either way, the bike will arrive at the nearest Felt dealer for assembly, where the customer can pick it up.

Felt plans to credit the participating retailer with a commission for any online sale they deliver and, also, all online sales will count against that dealer's annual quotas or pre-season orders.

Felt international sales manager Tyler Meyers, who reportedly assisted Felt in preparation for the Customer Connect roll-out, told BRAIN:

bigquotesCustomers vote with their dollars. The fact [is] that they're researching the product online, and if they choose to purchase it online, we don't want to say, 'You can't.' We want to have a program and operational support to deliver the bike consistent with their expectation.

...It's removing barriers to access, but also saying, 'We want you to work with the retailer because that's where you get the best fit, or if you have questions or need service.'


Felt's entry into consumer-direct, online sales marks another influential brand that has come to terms with the fact that online buyers are here to stay. The question is: "Does Felt's dealer-delivered strategy offer adequate insulation from retail pressure to keep online buyers comfortable?" Trek has dabbled in dealer-linked online sales with some success. Felt's Customer Connect is more aggressive than Trek's, but falls short of Intense's new customer-direct model. Time will soon weed out the winners, but we can be sure that Felt's bid will be closely watched by every other brand that is heavily invested in brick and mortar stores.







123 Comments

  • + 147
 Shimano and SRAM need to go to direct sales.
If they do I predict they’ll be the top two component manufacturers in no time.
  • - 102
flag dhrace507 (Dec 12, 2017 at 20:28) (Below Threshold)
 Bold prediction. As if they weren't already the top two component makers.
  • + 27
 @dhrace507: wonder why you got neg’d?
I’ll throw my two cents in and say that the first tire company that goes direct sales is going to kill it. I’d ride Nobby Nics if they were $15/tire
  • + 109
 @speed10: I wouldnt ride knobless nics if they were free.
  • + 124
 @Boardlife69: with all due respect, for $15 you’d ride any knob nic put in front of you.
  • + 31
 @speed10: why he got negged? Because he completely missed the joke ????
  • - 4
flag bikegreece (Dec 13, 2017 at 3:54) (Below Threshold)
 @cunning-linguist: this was a joke??? and 65 people found it funny!!!!
  • + 2
 @speed10: with all due respect I would never ride a kobby nic in front of me. Throw a MM into the deal and maybe I'll put the KN on the back, but only in the what-ever-they-call-it-now casing thats basically a 2 ply.
  • + 6
 Maxxis sells direct, at least in USA
  • + 8
 @Boardlife69: Buy a KN for $15, then use the money you saved to buy all the spare tubes that you'll need to get out of the woods and not hike home.
  • + 2
 @speed10:

NNics Evo are $52 CAD @ CRC

Cheap enough for me
  • + 2
 @speed10: You can buy CSTs for $15-$30 on Amazon. Close enough?
  • + 1
 @dhrace507: right over ur head
  • - 4
flag calconniff (Dec 13, 2017 at 15:57) (Below Threshold)
 they already are the top two component companies.......
  • + 1
 @calconniff: apparently that was the joke. Don’t worry, I missed it too.
  • + 6
 @calconniff: careful...........I'll keep you afloat with my 1 prop, but you better find a floatie
  • + 1
 aftermarket sales is only 5% of shimano cycling business

this is why leakage of grey stock (OE) into aftermarket is not a concern, as long as the factories are getting paid by the real customers (95% OE).

Of course its killing the IBD network as trade pricing is higher than on-line sale pricing, but small fish...
  • + 110
 Who buys a Felt MTB anyway? These guys have been treading water for years with an uninspired offering.
  • + 9
 That was my first thought. Maybe they're bigger in the roadie world?
  • + 33
 It looks like a Trek (business model).
  • + 8
 @dirtnapped: much bigger in road and tri.
  • + 4
 @DrPete: and CX
  • + 37
 @racecase: It does, and Trek is a terrible model to follow. Shopping online has nothing to do with wanting it delivered; it has to be crammed in a car to go riding anyway. The point of shopping online is to save money, pure and simple. If Felt’s online prices are just the same inflated shop price, then that’s a massive fail.

Intense understood this and did it right.
  • + 2
 No idea about their more gravity oriented offering but Felt are quite popular around here with the XC and marathon crowd. Well less than Scott obviously. I tested both the Eddict and Nine 2y ago and they were quite nice.
  • + 5
 I never ever saw a Felt. Where are the guys who rode them?
  • + 16
 Sweet! God I hope Ellsworth is next.
  • + 4
 I actually did, quite a long time ago. Geo was a bit off, but set up properly it was awesome. Their equilink suspension design is quite good. If they could just get the Geo sorted. funny thing is they tried to refuse warranty when I cracked it, cuz I bought it on the interwebs... ironic?!
  • + 1
 @racecase: give that man a medal!!
  • + 7
 @ReformedRoadie: I'll sell you direct my Ellsworth...
  • + 1
 @Serpentras: I rode the 'Surplus' and liked it a lot. Reasonably priced 27.5-plus hardtail, good geometry and spec. A buddy of mine still rides a Felt 26-er fully as his main trail bike. You see a few Felts riding park here on the East Coast.
  • + 1
 @ninjatarian: agree completely!
  • + 1
 Used to work at a Felt dealer and can confirm, they are pretty huge in the Triathlon scene.

They have some nice bang-for-the-buck models in their catalog. But as a brand I would put them in with the likes of Fuji--some totally decent road/tri/cross bikes, but the MTB selection has always seemed a bit "roadie designed". I agree with the sentiment that they seem like they are treading water as of the past few years based on the changes they have been attempting with their business model. While their MTB offerings aren't even in my top 10 (or top 20?), I wouldn't hesitate to ride any of their mid to high end road/cross stuff. It's nice stuff.
  • + 1
 I believe Felt was the first brand to sell a 29er DH-bike, some 5 years ago.
  • + 1
 @Startgas: that would be interesting to see, I didn't think they ever made any downhill bikes
  • + 1
 @Duderz7: My bad, i confused Felt with Lenz... Sorry about that.
  • + 89
 Guess they Felt they couldn't compete
  • + 11
 This thread is without Virtue!
  • + 1
 I think like they are trying to Equilink the playing field.
  • - 2
 I felt something in the force
  • + 10
 maybe their profit was decree-sing
  • - 2
 @K1maxX: this looks like a short pun session
  • + 0
 @WAKIdesigns: Yep, they're going into Feltdown already....
  • + 6
 @WAKIdesigns: I agree. But my Compulsion to be a part of the pun train is too strong.
  • + 48
 How does one claim his bro deal through the website
  • + 31
 This isn't really direct retail markup is all still there..
  • + 13
 For serious. Does pricing for the consumer change? If not this won’t really help if Felt is treading water already. Meh.
  • + 5
 I feel that manufacture are now just throwing the term direct sales to the product line to give an illusion that your getting a low cost bike. What was 500% mark up is now a 400%. It's great that the European direct sell bikes are making a dent in the U.S. bike prices!
  • + 3
 @femto505: capitalism doing its thing.
  • + 6
 Some of those hybrid direct to consumer models seem like a hidden try to control prices at the local bike store ... Sorry for double posting.
  • + 19
 Bike purchasers, especially at the high end, simply can't have their cake and eat it too.

The reality is that the industry will likely set its prices so that in the not-too-distant future, direct bike sales won't save you much, even compared to brick and mortars with higher overhead. The more players in the direct seller game, the more that these companies will rely on their increasing brand value to sell product, in contrast to simply offering lower prices. Lower pricing only works if they sell even higher volumes, or if the company is trying to establish a strong market presence in the early going, transitioning to pricing that rivals the competition once they have established themselves.

When the goal is to maximize profits, do you really believe that the proliferation of direct sales will mean cheaper/better bikes for everyone in the long run, or will it kill the local bike shop, the way that Wal-Mart, and now Amazon have done/will do to countless brick and mortar retail stores. Do we accept this change to the retail bike sale landscape?
  • + 8
 Well put, I think the general public has an idea that the bike industry is taking a bike that cost a few hundred dollars to make and charging $8000. That is just simply not the case. Most bikes provide very little margin. If inflated mark up is a crying point why not ask how much that tube or sealant actually cost vs what you pay. The LBS is an asset to the consumer but unfortunately they are starting to be viewed as a hassle or inconvenience. The LBS goes away so does the culture attached to the MTB community in that area. Shops support local race event, trail building, group rides demo events and much more. The LBS should be preserved.
  • + 1
 You're just missing one important point... Distribution fees. In the end when the companies adopt the direct-sales model they don't cut their own profit margin, they sell the bike to you the same price than they sold it to their former distributors. So in the end, the customer pays less but the builder keeps the same margins...
  • + 1
 @mollow: For any"premium" product they will sell it at the highest price they feel they can get.

Why would a company lower a retail price if they can create a healthier margin and still sell through their total inventory?
  • + 1
 @PinkyScar: Well that's a simple matter of offer and demand. Different point but I hear ya
  • + 13
 "Either way, the bike will arrive at the nearest Felt dealer for assembly, and afterwards be delivered to the customer's doorstep" - Looks around and realizes there are no Felt dealers nearby anyways... A late attempt to salvage a bad plan..
  • + 15
 Team Robot's gonna be psyched.
  • + 0
 Didn’t he go to Ellsworth?
  • + 11
 When every company goes direct, the price will rise again
  • + 9
 Im not buying until they release a climbing only bike called the "Up"
  • + 1
 Good one! I always thought that would be a good name for their DJ bikes.
  • + 6
 The bottom line is we consumers want MUCH lower prices by cutting out retailers such as YT did. If you can't do this your direct sales means nothing to us.
  • + 5
 Strange business model. People who buy online would rather have the bike delivered to their door to ride it a couple hours later.
  • - 1
 Not sure about that, I wouldn't mind picking it up at the store and go for a maiden voyage. I would mind paying extra money for the staff to build it as I can do it myself and I rarely trust shops' expertise so I'd take it apart again anyway.

(YT owner by the way).
  • + 3
 @bonkywonky: Not sure about that, I wouldn't mind picking it up at the store and go for a maiden voyage.

But you could already do that.

I mean Clicking buy and giving your credit card information then waiting for the bike to be delivered to the shop is only marginally different than browsing their current website and give a call or drop an email to your bike shop to order it. People have been doing that for years.

I mean I've never bought a bike that was in stock at my LBS. I always had to order it to get the desired spec/size anyway.
  • + 5
 Maybe all it means is that Felt is not selling much through retailers, and has nothing to lose at this point. Why not go direct?
  • + 3
 Not maybe...more like bang on...
  • + 4
 Felt could be giving their bikes away for free with this model and still not see their mountain bikes leaving the building. Uninspired and overpriced clones don't cut it anymore
  • + 2
 Felt are the biggest crock of shit out there. I bought a redemption back in the sales in 2010 (2009 model). It snapped first ride out with the smallest of crashes. On inspection you could clearly see defects with the manufacture of the frame but they were having none of it.

I’d never let that company have another penny of my money.
  • + 2
 Not sure where all the hate is coming from regarding the DTC sales model. It makes more sense in the age we live in where heaps of information is readily available at your fingertips. When I come in to a retail establishment, bike shop or otherwise, I've typically already done my research and know what I want. Having worked at a bike shop for going on 5 years now, I've seen an increasing amount of this mentality. It's not for everyone, but it's just where the market's going. Kudos to Felt for having foresight and being an early adopter.

Side note: as someone who was never a huge Felt fan, I was surprised when I rode a few of their bikes for the first time this year and was totally blown away by how well they rode. These guys are on the up in the MTB world...
  • + 2
 Amazing to me that people dismiss a medium size brand as an unknown. Is it the same people who hate on big brands and only like the small indy brands? Or is is just ignorant kids who only know brands by those who sponsor big name riders/racers?

Either way brand managers should put almost zero stock into opinions from discussion forums and comment sections. You have no background data on these potential buyers.

TL/DR - Felt bikes are nice and people should ride them before posting bullshot opinions
  • + 1
 Not sure where all the hate is coming from regarding the DTC sales model. It makes more sense in the age we live in where heaps of information is readily available at your fingertips. When I come in to a retail establishment, bike shop or otherwise, I've typically already done my research and know what I want. Having worked at a bike shop for going on 5 years now, I've seen an increasing amount of this mentality. It's not for everyone, but it's just where the market's going. Kudos to Felt for having foresight and being an early adopter.

Side note: as someone who was never a huge Felt fan, I was surprised when I rode a few of their bikes for the first time this year and was totally blown away by how well they rode. These guys are on the up in the MTB world...
  • + 2
 ^Felt sponsored rider
  • + 1
 I have always liked the look and build specs on Felt bikes. I also respect the fact that they have donated bikes for the advent calendar in the past to gain healthy exposure. The problem is you really have to jump head first when buying a bike now a days. I know I have purchased a few bike from my LBS that were not my first choice, but the discounts they offered were just too good. I have never been upset with my purchase, but the boutique brands never seem to get blown out at the end of the season.(false) They are discounted but it depends on what the shop paid for them based on currency exchange at the time of their purchase and still out of the budget for the average Joe.
  • + 1
 I am pleased to announce that I am switching from a traditional brick-and-mortar model to a direct-to-consumer model, effective as of this posting. Please inquire directly regarding what you wish to buy and how much you are will to pay for it. I will find a way to insert myself into your electronic transaction and receive a modest fee. Thank you for your support of this mom-and-pop, grassroots start-up, 100% made in America.
  • + 5
 What the fuck is a felt
  • - 4
flag WAKIdesigns (Dec 13, 2017 at 2:26) (Below Threshold)
 another bike that comes from Va-China
  • + 3
 I've only been mail ordering bike parts since 1988. Dans BMX the original mail-order bike shop
  • + 2
 I didn't see any mention of a 20% or more price drop. If the prices are not dropped across the line for cutting out the LBS, then what's the point?
  • + 4
 The Decree looks great to me.
  • + 6
 They ride pretty great too.
  • + 2
 I'm running a 175 fork on mine with the high bottom bracket adjustment and its officially a weapon hahaha
  • + 2
 Thinking this will be great for both parties. I'm a huge believer in the brand and the quality of bikes so it will be great to see more people out there shredding Felt's
  • + 2
 It's a darn shame they don't offer the Virtue in a reasonably priced package anymore. That would be a killer bike if they updated the geo to modern standards.
  • + 2
 Nice of them to discuss this with their retailers before announcing it on PB...
  • + 2
 My thoughts as well. I work at a shop that sells (among other things) Felt. We're a pretty big account for them, but heard nothing. It reminds me too much of what Raleigh/ Accell NA recently did.
  • + 1
 Oh you’re super big in the triathlon world?
I wouldn’t let too many mountain bikers know that...
  • + 1
 Wow! we can hardly give Felt bikes away at the shop I work at. Good luck with this.
  • + 0
 If they made a quality full suspension bike they would not need direct sales. Revamp the rear suspension and increase the headtube angle a decree or two
  • + 2
 I bought a Felt last week, it was a Sharpie.
  • + 1
 Some of those hybrid direct to consumer models seem like a hidden try to control prices at the local bike store ...
  • + 2
 I felt nothing after riding a felt...
  • + 2
 Weird business model to say the least.......
  • + 3
 I think Knolly does the same, I wish more brands did something similar. Essentially the same as special ordering a bike from a shop, but a bit easier.
  • - 1
 I'm pretty sure this is the exact same thing Giant does...
  • + 1
 I thought Cam was on Felt for a bit? Have some old Declines laying near the canSmile
  • + 1
 He was, 2008 I think, although it did not influence my decision that is the model I had, (redemption). Actually was pretty awesome with a 66 on it. Still a little tall though.
  • + 1
 @Duderz7: man I miss some of those bikes! I saw a Trek Liquid the other day at the pawn shop near me and I just had to have a picture of it. It had a 4 way swinger on the rear and 66 up front. It was a beast of a bike but still looked like it could rip DH. Felt has always had some sharp bikes though.
  • + 1
 I felt they didn't have what it takes to make it any other way...
  • + 1
 That thing looks exactly like Trek's rocker design over a decade ago.
  • + 1
 I felt this coming a mile away
  • + 1
 I think they Felt it was the way to go!
  • + 1
 I felt this was going to happen...
  • + 1
 Couldn't ride a bike with Felt on it, looks a bit paedo imo
  • + 1
 I had a felt kids bike and it was great
  • + 1
 i thought that felt was bought by Rossignol ?
  • + 1
 Sounds like he feltch to me
  • + 1
 Bruce Jenner’s bike of choice
  • - 1
 Felt is now in the Amer sports team, so the bird will try to recover his money first.....
  • + 0
 Sweet now felt will be easier to ignore.
  • + 1
 I’d like a felt coat
  • + 4
 I’d like to get felt up
  • + 0
 Megh who cares...
  • - 2
 I thought Felt was a big box brand like Mongoose anyway.
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