Madison Opens Online Shopping Platform to All UK Bike Shops

Jan 22, 2019 at 3:30
by James Smurthwaite  

In a bid to give independent bike shops an online presence to serve more customers, Madison is opening up its Freewheel platform to all UK bike shops.

Madison is a UK distributor that carries brands including Shimano, Saracen, 100% and Park Tools. Their Freewheel platform is an online shop with a difference - whenever a customer makes a purchase on the Freewheel website, they will be asked to designate a local bike shop and from then on all commission or collections will go to that bike shop.

The idea is to merge the best of brick-and-mortar and online shopping to allow bike shops to compete with the e-commerce giants. Bike brands such as Trek and Specialized have similar schemes for their bike sales but Madison would crucially allow customers to buy through any participating shop, as opposed to just those aligned with a particular brand.

Freewheel was soft launched with select retailers in August 2018 and currently has 59 participating shops. The service is being fully rolled out at Madison's in house show iceBike*, which takes place in Milton Keynes in February, where there will be seminars on how the system works and how retailers can get involved at different levels.

 icebike 2018
A Saracen Traverse from last year's iceBike* show

Dominic Langan, Madison CEO, said, “We are really pleased to now be at the stage of being able to open Freewheel up to all of our specialist independent bricks and mortar customers. This is an initiative we truly believe could benefit all local bike shops with greater customer awareness, improved footfall and additional sales with no cost of entry.

“Freewheel is a sophisticated website with complex capabilities to deliver an effective customer experience for our specialist retailer network. Madison has invested significant sums of money and resources to facilitate the creation of a nationwide union of specialist independent bicycle retailers. Together we are stronger. You can find out how it all works at iceBike* next month and we look forward to welcoming you to Arena:MK.”


  • 9 0
 i'm all for supporting my LBS, and as an employed adult, I can afford to.
It grates though, when you go into your LBS, who don't have the space to keep reams and reams of stock, and the part you want (and have psyched yourself up to take a 30%+ hit on the price) needs ordering in, which takes 3 days and another ride or drive to the shop.

Hopefully this will go a long way to mitigate this.
  • 2 0
 I dont know if I got the jist of this properly, but my understanding of it is that you will still have to wait until the part arrives and do that round trip to the shop, unless you pre-order it through the madison site yourself - It will help but its no cure to the problem.

Its the manufacturers / designers that need their heads banging together to solve this one. With all of the ever evolving standards and slightly different fitments (that often provide no benefit at all) that they seem to relentlessly push into reality how can any independent LBS possibly hope to carry parts that will fit - its almost impossible.

I mean just to stock one brand in each size is probably 15+headsets now, 10+bb sizes, 8 different sizes of tyre (plus etc) god knows how many hub sizes, about 50+ chainrings, seatpost diameters, two bar types etc etc

The small LBS is going to become a service centre in my opinion who just make a small margin when they next-day order parts from distribution, aside from super simple stuff that they can actually afford to stock.
  • 1 0
 Last time I went to my LBS to get something he didn't even bother trying. He just said you're better off ordering it online.
  • 1 0
 @Allen82: the shop I worked at 20 years ago closed down in 2015. One of the workshop guys now does the service thing. You buy your own parts and take them to him to fit in his house workshop. He does wheels, suspension servicing, brakes etc. I guess he doesn't make a lot but his wife works full time so he does the dad thing.
  • 3 0
 From bike biz

The Freewheel catalogue was Madison’s trade and mail order operation. It also spawned franchised bike shops of the same name - there were 30 of these shops at one time, with the last one, being Freewheel of Nottingham, which is no longer trading. Freewheel sold and promoted Madison own brands such as Pakit pannier bags, Aztec brake blocks and Grab-on sponge handlebar pads. The catalogue also introduced Revell touring bikes (made by Mercian and Dave Yates) and Ridgeback mountain bikes.
  • 2 0
 I had the idea to do this a while ago, where the website would effectively know the stock of all the participating shops, and the order would be fulfilled by your nearest shop with their business card in the box. Kind of as a way to keep Indy shops going. Obvs, I never had the balls or the contacts to do it. Hopefully Madison can do this in a positive way to help the shops compete with crc etc.
  • 1 0
 My experience of Madison has been woeful, I have contacted them on a few occasions, through the submit form on their website, regarding certain products and who in my area stocks the required items, I got no feedback whatsoever.
  • 1 0
 Maybe this is their way of improving that.
  • 1 0
 My experience of LBS is they are geared towards the general public and not the experienced mountain biker. I do purchase things from LBS and online, but the majority is online due to prices and availability. I also build/service my own bikes, because I enjoy doing this, and due to the fact that my LBS does not service suspension. I crashed and smashed a large hole in my carbon Scott Genius 700 Tuned (gutted) and they couldn’t say if it was repairable, or not. Despite the fact I bought the bike from them. The stock they carry has been the same for years and is of a general cycling type, no real DH or enduro products, you can guarantee that anything you really want has to be ordered in. There has to be demand for higher end more experienced products and services, I can’t be the only one! I don’t know if it could be an idea to setup a Pro Racing Bike Store, like there are Race Shops for Cars.?
  • 1 0
 So you go to the Freewheel website, order something and where does it get sent? To the bike shop or to your house? If a bike shop, how do they get a cut? If direct to you, how does the shop benefit?
  • 1 0
 Sounds a great idea. But how will returns work? Don't want to be filling my LBS with stock they can't shift and costs them money to return.
  • 2 0
 We are currently part of the Freewheel system. Any returns we get can be sent back to Madison without any worries of being lumbered with the extra stock. The only stipulation is that the packaging is in tact and able to be re-sold
  • 1 0
 Do you not just order it to your house? why get it to the lbs to then have to collect, when you could just have it arrive?

not my opinion, but I think its of many..
  • 1 0
 You can do either, they have free click and collect and free home delivery for orders over £50 but you can do home delivery on small orders for £4.95.
  • 1 0
 (I thought the same thing so I went and checked it out)
  • 1 0
 @Patrick9-32: yeah, so I would just have it delivered to my place..
  • 2 2
 That logo looks very similar to free wheel nottingham's logo. They were my lbs for years, rip!
  • 2 1
 Madison own Freewheel and set up the Freewheel franchise back in the day. There's no ripping going on.
  • 1 0
 I remember Freewheel Norwich being my go to bike shop in like 1987-93..??
  • 2 3
 Most large brands have been offering this or very similar for decades. Welcome to the 21st century Madison
  • 1 0
 Who does this in such a wide range of product in the bike trade?
  • 3 0
 Most distributors do not have direct to consumer or free click and collect with their dealer network.
  • 4 5
 still be cheaper buying at CRC
  • 6 4
 CRC wont build it for you, wont fit that part you want, wont be able to offer experienced advice to you, wont be able to help you out when you need pads on a Saturday morning.... and on and on. If that stuff doesnt matter to you, shop CRC etc, if it does, go to your LBS
  • 4 2
 @justanotherusername: That isn't an issue for me either. I can fit all my parts myself and if I was to get stuff delivered to a bike shop I would have to travel to said bike shop to pick it up. Buying from CRC et al makes much more sense to me.

I keep spare pads anyway along with other consumables Wink
  • 3 3
 @poah: Like anything in this world, there are often various ways to access the same product all with varying models and providing different value to the customer - you are choosing the basic product-only approach which is fine, good for you but is the customer who pays more at the shop actually paying more for the product or are they getting additonal value?

As another example, you can purchase / lease etc a car online at a discount and have it delivered to your home, but you wont get the test drive, to ask the dealer questions about the product and the options available etc (unless you are the kind of arsehole that goes into a dealer and lies, gets the info and leaves to order online that is - but take note, they are wise to this f*ckery)

So really your comment is pretty irrellevant to the topic, carry on doing what you like to do, but dont feel smug just because you choose to spend your money with a venture capitalist owned online giant.
  • 4 2
 @poah: Exactly, I don't need anyone to to fit my parts or build the bike. Advice from LBS? Always aimed towards what they have in stock/what they can order.
  • 4 3
 @ciechan: I dont get this attitude, its like you would almost be happy if the LBS model went in the can - you dont use them, I get it, but why the smug attitude like you are almost more infomed somehow because of it?

And as for the LBS aiming advice towards the products they can supply, are you absolutely mental? Are you suggesting your shop stands with you for 15mins advising you to buy a product from elsewhere, you do realise a bike shop is an actual business, dont you? Thats almost comical.

Please toddle off Audi and ask them about BMW for a while, or your indian for advice about the local chinese, or any shop for that matter and ask them to discuss products they cant sell you.
  • 5 5
 @justanotherusername: I'm not going to pay more for the same product I can get delievered to my door rather than drive to a store to pick it up. If the distributer wants to help the small stores then they have to sell the products to them cheaper, make it easier and quicker to get the parts and provide a better service.
  • 3 2
 xt brake from freewheel £155
xt brake from CRC £74
  • 2 2
 @poah: Everybody understands that you dont have to pay more - again why are you stating the obvious and almost having a smug attitude about it, buying parts online isnt an achievement, is it?

Do you not see the point that others value purchasing items in a different way to yourself?

BTW, I have not shopped in an LBS for over 5 years and dont plan to do so, but im not going to campaign for others to stop going or state the obvious, that you can get things cheaper from CR.

On your last point, do you have any idea how CRC sell some products so cheaply? Its called grey imports, products purchased bypassing the distributor network, they buy at the distributors (or cheaper than) rate. If the distributor sold parts to the shops cheaper they wouldnt make a profit.

If you are going to preach online about something, at least dont be so ignorant.
  • 3 1
 @poah: A a replacement calliper for those brakes however:

£44 from Freewheel
Not available on CRC, no ETA,

Can't help but think this will be handy if you need spares as a distributor will carry far more depth of stock than most websites.
  • 2 3
 I don’t care how they get their products. They are covered by a uk warranty.@justanotherusername:
  • 3 1
 @justanotherusername: doesn't surprise me you copy Trump's tweets.
  • 3 3
 @poah: hah, ironic.
  • 3 1
 @justanotherusername: you have no idea of the meaning of the word ironic.
  • 2 3
 @poah: So you are not ignorant, misinformed, contradictory and incapable of seeing anything from anothers viewpoint then?
  • 3 1
 @justanotherusername: you also don't understand the words ignorant, misinformed or contradictory either. I can see what you are saying it's just that it's bollox.

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