MEC to sell bikes

2008-10-21

in Economics, The environment

It seems that Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) is getting into the business of making and selling bikes. This seems like good news for three major reasons:

  1. MEC is distinguished by having an excellent and knowledgeable staff concerned with finding the best option for you, rather than earning a commission or even maximizing the profits of the store.
  2. MEC has a history of developing their own products, which are generally of good quality and excellent value. They aren’t as good as top-of-the-line equipment from certain other manufacturers, but they are often nearly as good and half the price.
  3. MEC seems to take ethical and environmental issues into consideration very seriously.

In short, I look forward to seeing what they produce (not that I need a bike right now. I am still delighted with my Trek 7.3 hybrid).

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Padraic October 21, 2008 at 8:05 pm

No trackback to Cycling in Ottawa? Let’s give credit where credit is due.. ;)

Milan October 21, 2008 at 8:11 pm

The original post had a link, but it got eaten by the script that turns emails into posts.

Thanks for reminding me.

Tristan October 21, 2008 at 11:31 pm

This is interesting. I hope the bike’s they sell are of good quality, and I hope to see an emphasis on simplicity rather than simply copying what’s being offered everywhere else. I think there is a good chance that MEC will try to sell bikes that can be more easily maintained by people on their own than is usual.

(Specifically, I’m referring to things like click-shifters, which make the bike slightly more convenient to use but much more difficult to work on.)

Tristan October 21, 2008 at 11:34 pm

On the notion of quality, Milan, have you ever read “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”?

Alena Prazak October 22, 2008 at 12:01 am

I am curious to see what mix of bikes MEC carries. I expect they will be of sound quality and practical. I expect to see a fair number of hybrids. For years the market was flooded with mountain bikes (I think around 80% of the market) although most people would be well-off with hybrids. MEC has had the opportunity to see the trends and carry what makes the most sense. Oleh

Tristan October 22, 2008 at 1:45 am

I’m still skeptical about the designation “hybrid”. If Emily’s bike is a hybrid, and your bike is a hybrid, then “hybrid” it seems can’t really mean anything other than “not a road bike nor a mountain bike nor a traditional town bike”.

Usually a kind of bike has a distinctive body position – mountain bikes have a body position that is characteristic of them, and so do road bikes, and so do traditional “upright” town bikes.

Do you think hybrids have a distinctive body position, at all?

Milan October 22, 2008 at 9:00 am

Specifically, I’m referring to things like click-shifters, which make the bike slightly more convenient to use but much more difficult to work on.

These days, people probably expect click-shifters. I certainly wouldn’t have to go back to analog levers, and I don’t mind having to take my bike for maintenance a couple of times a year.

On the notion of quality, Milan, have you ever read “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”?

No, though I have had it recommended to me several times. Right now, I am working on getting through some of the books I’ve already started.

Do you think hybrids have a distinctive body position, at all?

I think it is a recognizable category. They definitely don’t feel like road bikes (which I dislike). They are probably more akin to mountain bikes, though riding one certainly reminds you of the ways in which a hybrid feels different. In my experience, they feel a lot thinner and more rigid than fat-tubed mountain bikes. Hybrids are definitely better on hard surfaces, but don’t really handle loose materials well (especially gravel and ice).

Milan October 22, 2008 at 9:02 am

Dad,

I agree that it will be interesting to see. As a company just starting in the business of making bikes, perhaps some variants are easier to make than others. That being said, they will probably be sourcing the bikes from essentially the same factories where Trek, Giant, etc. components are made.

On a side note, it is very easy to change the name that appears with your comments. Just replace the ‘Alena Prazak’ that is being remembered by default on the comment form.

Tristan October 24, 2008 at 1:44 am

I’m not convinced that skinny tires are so much worse on loose surfaces than wide ones. Certainly they are worse on soft surfaces (I’ve had to carry my road bike over sand enough to know this), but on the other hand, surfaces less soft than sand seem to be fine so long as you avoid a puncture.

On snow and ice, I can’t see how having a wider tire would equal more stability. If we’re talking about riding on fresh snow, then sure, you need massively thick tires – far beyond what we normally find on “mountain bikes”, and they need to be lowered to 15psi. When we say “snow” we usually mean intermittent snow in the city, brief moments when you might lose traction. In these cases, I think the absolute amount of traction available, which probably is no more for mountain bikes anyway, is much less important than your ability to react to the loss of traction and avoid a fall. It seems to me that road bikes offer the best body position to be immediately aware of losses in traction. Also, in slush snow, logically the skinniest tire should offer the best traction because it will do the best job at pushing snow out of the way and getting down to the hard surface underneath.

This logic is not different from standard automobile tire logic – if you need to drive on top of soft snow you need enormous tires with hardly any tire pressure. If you need to drive on roads covered in snow you need the skinniest tires you can get away with.

Also, on the idea of click shifters as an “improvement”, certainly the market agrees with you. However, I dislike click shifters because it makes me feel more disconnected from the machinery, less attuned to what’s going on with the cogs. For me, feeling all the bits of the bike function as I ride along is a big part of the thrill of riding at all.

Milan October 24, 2008 at 8:55 am

My tires rapidly turn deadly on ice or gravel. Suddenly, you have no traction at all. I only rode across a little tongue of snow, about 3cm wide and 1cm deep, and very nearly ended up smashing my whole body into the pavement.

It’s the combination of smooth surface and high tire pressure that does it. If you are even the slightest bit off vertical (and therefore have the potential to slide along the horizontal surface), you start sliding uncontrollably almost instantly.

On click shifters, I find it very satisfying when they are properly calibrated and therefore shift perfectly smoothly.

bs November 5, 2008 at 11:40 pm

“click shifters” the proper term is “indexed shifter” I ride ultegra sti on my road and cross bikes and I have the deore equivilent on my mountain bike… you get what you pay for for the most part, maintenance is very important, a floor pump is a must for even casual riders (I ride a cervelo soloist, best value road bike) I for one hope they have single speed stuff available…

Milan December 5, 2008 at 6:05 pm

The MEC ‘Sweet Spots’ outdoor video contest has announced some winners for 2008:

First: Scrambling with Sasquatches
Second: Earn your turns Garibaldi Neve Traverse
Third: Night Sessions

Atoosa Nezakaty February 5, 2009 at 12:08 am

Hello Alena,

Im Atoosa, we meet at North Shore Multicultural center in the summer of 05. You bought some carpets from me. I unfortunately lost your number and email adress so i was unable to contact you. If you read this please send me an email or call me.

Phone number: 6049133486
or
7783223486

Email: atoosa@raminandsons.com

thank you

Sincerely Atoosa

. October 27, 2009 at 5:04 pm

MEC rolls out bikes?
By Mike on MEC

From the comments on a post that is still getting new comments, which is worth highlighting 0n the main page:

“I just dropped by the MEC downtown Toronto and… I see the bikes! They have some really nice models, I like what I see. (I’m liking the hub gear ones and they even have fixie.) Based on the prices and the models I saw, they are competing with mid to high-end small bike shops, like the local bikes shops that sell nicer Trek, Devinci, or nicer Norcos.”

Milan November 2, 2009 at 12:44 pm

I asked about this at the Ottawa MEC a few days ago. Apparently, only the larger stores will be carrying bikes, at least to begin with.

. November 4, 2009 at 9:47 am

Mountain Equipment Co-op raises ire of bicycle industry

Marina Strauss

Globe and Mail Update Published on Tuesday, Nov. 03, 2009 10:00PM EST Last updated on Wednesday, Nov. 04, 2009 8:05AM EST

Mountain Equipment Co-op, which has built its retailing reputation on a feel-good image of environmental and social responsibility, has ignited anger in an unlikely place – the bicycle industry.

Its foray this month into bike selling has been criticized by rival specialty retailers for everything from unfair competition because of its tax-exempt status, to a Wal-Mart-style money grab, to unethical sourcing.

Bike enthusiasts’ ire toward MEC intensified when an executive at the non-profit chain slammed the bike industry in a blog on the company’s website, calling it “grey, dusty and dirty.” The blog entry was later removed.

Some bike-parts suppliers have even refused to ship to MEC, while one Quebec distributor last month dropped a major Canadian parts manufacturer from its roster because the supplier is selling to MEC.

. November 4, 2009 at 9:47 am

“Mr. Labistour said MEC has tried to be as transparent as possible about its cycling moves. It is facing increasing competition in its core outdoor sporting goods business, and has to find ways to keep co-op membership strong by encouraging outdoor activities.

The bikes, which are priced at $650 to $1,400, are made in Taiwan under MEC’s own private label. But MEC has said it will strive to improve conditions in factories that produce its bicycles. It is targeting $4-million of bike sales in its first year.”

Chris March 26, 2010 at 10:07 am

Are they at least made in Canada?

Chris March 26, 2010 at 10:10 am

… nope, just had a look.

They’re either made in Taiwan or China. And they still have a friggin price tag like it was made in Canada. What a rip off. Forget it!

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