Purchasing Bikes: What to Keep in Mind
Ann Glor and Aida Johnson-Rapp share tips to keep in mind when purchasing cycling bikes, and how to meet your members’ needs.
Just like all runners need a good pair of shoes, all cyclists need a great bike. If your club is offering indoor cycling classes, it is vital to provide members with the best equipment to fit their needs.
The Wisconsin Athletic Club – Lake Country (WAC – Lake Country), one of the company’s eight locations, purchased brand-new bikes in 2018. When they initiated the search, they focused on high-quality, durable products with updated technology. Another focus for the club was the amount of maintenance the product would need and their relationship with the vendor.
“Our cycle classes not only vary in the format itself, but also in the members who take the classes,” said Ann Glor, the general manager for WAC – Lake Country. “We needed to ensure we met the needs of the wide array of riders in our club. We have many participants who are avid outdoor cyclists who want the bike to feel like a road bike. But we also have participants who only take indoor cycle and SPRINT classes, where the bike needs to have the necessary technology and metrics to lead them in the best class experience.”
Overall, the club’s goal was to enhance the teaching experience of the instructors leading the class and increase member engagement. Glor said they felt strongly they needed a product that provided their instructors with the technology to lead various types of rides, create unique programming and provide metrics to keep challenging their members. Ultimately, they ended up with the Matrix CXP cycle. “For us, it ticked the most boxes and we have a great relationship with the vendor,” she said.
Choosing the right bike for your club and your members is no easy task. The East Bank Club in Chicago, Illinois, researched different options over the course of four years. They wanted bikes that could provide data to members both during the ride and after so participants could track their progress.
Eventually, East Bank Club decided to go with Stages Indoor Cycling bikes after spending a day with the development team in their headquarters in Boulder, Colorado. This in-person research convinced the East Bank staff of Stages’ commitment to their product.
“We chose Stages bikes for several reasons,” said Aida Johnson-Rapp, the director of group exercise for East Bank Club. “Stages had great market penetration, meaning these bikes are being used in multiple facilities in our city as well as around the country. This means a lot in terms of recruiting new instructors who have already been through the basic Stages instructor training as it saves us time and resources.”
There are a lot of factors to take into consideration when purchasing indoor cycling bikes. A great place to start is with what your club wants.
East Bank Club wanted a bike with interactive features that could engage a group of riders and create friendly competition. Johnson-Rapp said Stages Flight gamifies the indoor cycling experience and met their needs.
Another factor to take into consideration when purchasing is the durability and maintenance upkeep of the bikes. Glor said the bikes at WAC – Lake Country get used frequently, so the ease of cleaning and maintenance was critical. It was also important the maintenance could be managed in-house if issues arose, and the warranty on the bikes and its parts was crucial as well.
“In determining quality, we spent time on all of the bikes we were considering, both riding them and taking them apart to see the inner workings,” explained Glor. “Our search process involved numerous team members with varying degrees of knowledge. We included our group fitness manager, fitness manager, two instructors and a maintenance team member in our bike search to assure we had a different perspective on the quality. Finally, once we had narrowed the search to our top three bikes, we brought each of the cycles to demo in our studio. In those demo timeframes we had instructors and members ride the bikes and gathered a ton of feedback.”
While purchasing the perfect bike for your members can seem overwhelming due to the amount of options in the industry, Johnson-Rapp’s advice on what club operators should look for in a bike equipment manufacturer is a good place for fitness professionals to start.
“Look for the ease of use for participants — setup and adjustments, interactive features like a console, and personal device applications,” she said. “Also look at support plans for maintenance, instructor training, planned technology updates and length of warranties.”