Years ago, a long-time friend and long-distance mentor of mine, Marc Sani (author of our Letter from America column), taught me a lesson I’ve always tried to implement.
“Your readers don’t care what you think, they just want to know the facts! So just report the facts and keep your opinions to yourself.”
Or to personalise Marc’s lesson, just because this newsletter bears my name, doesn’t make it a good idea for me to be continually trying to ram ideas down your throat.
Therefore, I think carefully before publishing opinion pieces. In fact, I’ve just looked back to see that I’ve only written a dozen in the first three years of The Latz Report.
What is so compelling that I’m adding to this tally today? Let’s start with some background…
Imagine a continuum comprising every form of transport. At the farthest left of that spectrum would be the slowest, smallest, simplest, cheapest form of transport – walking. At the very right end would be the fastest, biggest, most complex, most expensive forms of transport – jumbo jets, rockets etc.
Somewhere near the left end would be traditional bicycles. Some distance to the right of that would be motorcycles, then cars.
The recent arrival and mass adoption of e-bikes has certainly shaken up that continuum, sitting just to the right of traditional bikes.
They’re only slightly closer to where motorcycles and cars sit on the line. But look at the massive market that has emerged for this new form of bikes.
In between e-bikes and motorbikes sits a spectrum of vehicles offering a range of transport solutions, being developed by innovators but yet to gain a substantial level of traction in the market. Two formats in this space that are already growing markets, particularly overseas, are e-cargo bikes and e-mopeds.
What else is going to come along to fill that gap? Not just in a token way, but new transport sectors that create serious new markets. I think there will be some serious business opportunities for those who fill this gap with the right new devices.
And which industry is going to capitalise on these new devices and take the sales and profits? The bicycle industry? The motorcycle industry? The car industry? New players that don’t currently exist?
I don’t know the answers to these questions but I’m pretty sure about a few things …
Whatever form they take, these commercially successful transport options will be electric – sometimes in combination with human propulsion but, in most cases, powered by electricity alone.
They’ll initially be ridiculed or ignored by sections of the media and industry and hampered by government regulations, until they reach a tipping point and suddenly become mainstream.
There will be large financial rewards for companies that successfully embrace these new technologies long before that tipping point is reached. Those companies will often be new players with no vested interest in keeping the status quo.
Just look at Tesla, which is now worth far more than Toyota, Mercedes or any of the conservative traditional manufacturers who clung to their old technology. Another Kodak moment.
Closer to home for us in the bike industry, it’s not the decades-old traditional component companies that lead the e-bike drive system market, but new players to our industry.
All these considerations were at least part of my motivation for co-founding the 2022 Micromobility Conference & Expo, being held at Sydney’s Royal Randwick Racecourse on the 25th and 26th of November.
Please don’t be put off by the name. For some, the term micromobility suggests transport options of the future, the micro-cars and light electric vehicle segment that is still comparatively in its infancy.
But most of the 40 or so exhibitors you’ll see at the expo will be displaying e-bikes you can sell right now. For them, micromobility is most definitely the here and now – and much greater business rewards are just on the horizon.
There will be other products on display and on the test tracks that aren’t (yet) legal in all States. But now is the time to start positioning yourself for when they are.
There’s an old proverb that says: “Any enterprise is built by wise planning, becomes strong through common sense and profits wonderfully by keeping abreast of the facts.”
In my opinion, even if you consider yourself to be the owner or employee of a ‘traditional’ bike shop with no interest in micromobility, you’ll benefit from attending the Micromobility Conference & Expo because it will help you to keep abreast of the facts. You can only make the best business decisions when you have the best information.
The expo will bring you face to face with some of your current suppliers and introduce you to potential new ones. You’ll be able to test ride a wide range of new e-bikes and other products. Even the conference is relevant to dealers looking to get a first-hand feel for bigger picture trends that will shape our industry over the coming years.
I know it’s very hard to get enough good staff at the moment, so time is tight and it’s hard to get away for a day, especially a month before Christmas.
But ultimately, it’s not the time you spend working in your business, but on your business, that brings long-term benefits. Attending the Micromobility Conference & Expo is a great example of working on your business, not just in it.
I used to hear the same arguments years ago with our former Bicycling Australia Show. It was always too hard for some dealers to attend, even when it was in their home city. Our best attendance was, from memory, just over 1,100 trade members representing 458 shops – about half of the total Australian bike shops at the time.
But interestingly, the more successful shops were almost all there. Just like the more senior people in the better bike shops are far more likely to read The Latz Report newsletter than more junior members and less successful shops.
Coincidence? I don’t think so.
The more you learn, the more you earn.
The more you learn, the more you earn.