In the world of online mountain bike sales, Chain Reaction Cycles (CRC) is the 400lb gorilla in the room. No other site has the same global reach and the influence within the marketplace, so much so that there are several online campaigns to boycott CRC as traditional bike shops see their bottoms lines eroded by online sales. For some it is the one-stop shop for whatever they need, wherever in the world they are, for others a totem for all that it wrong in the modern marketplace. Yet their story is maybe not the one you would expect.
Born as a local bike shop in a tiny unit just outside Belfast, Northern Ireland, some 32 years ago, its roots are as humble as you can imagine. In those early days there was no plan to change the way we buy our bikes and components, it was just another small business trying to find its way. Where it differed from the competition is in how it adapted and grew. Many of our younger readers probably don't remember a time before the internet, how strange those first, shaky connections to a global network were. Back then it wasn't obvious how profoundly it would change our lives, from how we connect with each other, to how we shop. CRC were one of the first to test those waters and maybe more than anything it is that timing that set them on the path - it is around the same era as companies like Amazon were beginning. In the intervening two decades they have refined and evolved their business model, so today they may seem dominant, but it is because they were there at the right moment and willing to take the risks on this new way of doing business.
We visited their headquarters, which are still in Ballyclare, a small village just outside Belfast, to take a look behind the scenes are what goes into serving a truly global market.
[PI=13556653 width=window][Each package is stamped and heads for shipping./PI]