I did something crazy, I signed up for an Ironman 2023. I don’t like swimming in open water and I’m clueless about bikes. Ironman is one of the toughest races on planet earth. It consists of 3.8 km of swimming in open water, 180 brutal km of riding on a bike and after all that, you have to run 42.2 km on those legs. Everything must be done before the cut-off time (16 hours). I will get into Ironman maybe in another article.
Because I’m clueless about bikes I started doing my research online, I started asking questions—”What bike should I get?”, “How much does a road bike costs?”, “What is the best bike for beginners?” and many other questions.
I decided to go and speak with humans in bike stores. I prefer going in-store for purchases like this. I first went into Evans Cycle which was the closest to me and asked for a recommendation. I told the salesperson that I’m looking for a bike to do an Ironman, I have no idea about bikes and my budget is £1,000 for the bike give or take.
The first guy in Evans Cycle couldn’t care less. He recommended a bike that they didn’t have in stock (online and offline). Then he told me that there is a second option — a Trek bike that I could get. He left to help some other clients and a lady came after a couple of minutes and asked if I needed help. I told her the same thing as I told the guy. She was more helpful and explained more things to me. She told me to seat on the bike and try it out.
I was feeling a bit anxious as there are so many things to consider and you don’t really want to think about your decision when you are doing a race like that.
I joined a group on Facebook called Ironman Journey Uk and posted a question about the bike that was recommended to me. Oh boy, I got around 54 comments with opinions about different brands and different bikes. None recommended the bike the Evans Cycle recommended. I started doing more research and based on recommendations I decided to find other stores to go and try more bikes. So I found another local store here in Camden called Camden Cycles.
I went and spoke to the guy (I believe he owns the store). I told him exactly what I told Evans Cycle staff. He didn’t seem to care much and he didn’t really know what an Ironman was. He showed me one used bike for £500 and one for £1000. I liked the £1000 pure on design. When I asked him what extras I will need he told me a helmet. (Which I found out was not the only thing I needed)
I thought I will go to another local store, so I went to Giant Camden and spoke to the gentleman there. Again, I told him what I told the other guys. The gentleman recommended a bike to me, a Giant AR4 for £1050. He asked me about my experience, shared some insights and was part of a triathlon club in Hamstead Heath. He recommended a Cycle-To-Work Scheme to look into (Green Commute Initiative) and told me that I will need an extra £500 for gear on top of the bike.
I didn’t love the design of the bike initially but thought I will look around. I discovered another shop called Balfes. It was close to me, in Islington. I was exhausted because I wanted to get it over with, I just wanted a bike.
I went there and told exactly the same thing that I told the previous salespeople. The salesperson recommended a Trek bike for £877. I asked him about a bike that I liked the design of and he said it’s way overpriced for what they give you. Then I asked about a Giant AR4 (as they have different brands I thought he will be give me an honest opinion). He told me that the way you look at bikes is you see at their specs. It makes sense right?
So he said the specs of Giant AR4 are exactly the same as a Trek Domane AL2 bike which was £877. So why pay 20% more to get a Giant AR4 for £1050? It makes no logical sense. I asked if I can try the Trek bike he said they don’t have it in stock at their store but they do have one in Notting Hill. Guess what? I went there.
When I arrived 40 minutes later I asked the salesperson the exact same question and he recommended some bikes, I don’t even remember what he said as it was so vague that it made no sense. Then I asked him about Trek bike and that the store in Islington told me to come here to try it. He said it’s closed in a box somewhere and I can’t try it. He mentioned that they should have informed them before I come down. But anyway, who cares right?
I made my decision when I left the store that I will get the Giant AR4 bike and pay 20% more. But why?
The answer is very simple. Trust and caring. I felt that the gentleman at the Giant store in Camden cared a bit more, he explained more things to me and he was a cyclist that was a member in a triathlon club. I felt a bit safer because the store is close to me, so for service, or anything I needed I would be able to get help from him. Plus the brand itself Giant is a global brand that manufactures bikes for other bike companies.
I ended up paying 117% more yesterday with all the gear that I needed (shoes, clippers, helmet etc) who knew?
So I paid £1900 in total to get my basic set up to become a cyclist and start training for Ironman.
Nick, was the person in Giant Camden and he did one small little thing that I believe made a difference; he gave me a business card, wrote his name on it, and included the model of the bike. It’s something small but I had that card in front of my screen for the whole time I was doing my research.
Nick from Giant made me feel different from the other 3 salespeople. That’s the keyword; feel. He made me feel different because he cared slightly more, he become slightly interested in me and what was my goal. He understood the task. He understands sales; it’s all about the other person, how we can help the other person that is looking to solve a problem. He recommended two triathlon clubs as well; Tri London and Hamstead Triathlon Club.
There are three lessons we can all learn here:
- People don’t buy purely on price. There are a lot of factors involved. One of the most important things we need to consider is how we make people feel. People buy things with their hearts and justify the purchase with their minds. When we buy things purely on price and we look for the cheapest it means we don’t really care about that particular category.
- Care about what you do. This is so important, if we truly care about what we do, about serving the customer, helping another human being people will feel it. People will see it. We might not have the best product in the world but if people can see that we care it can go a long way.
- Know your stuff. This goes a long way, if we sell bikes, we should know everything about bikes. I mean you might not do triathlons or run, but if you sell shoes at least know the basics. I’ve experienced twice at Nike store two salespeople not really knowing about trail running and they recommended me the wrong shoes. The gentleman at the Cycle Camden store had no idea about Ironmans or triathlons but he didn’t even care to ask or learn.
I might paid 117% more, I could have gone with a cheaper (second-hand) bike and paid £500 for it but at the end of the day, I feel confident with my decision and I feel happy that I got the bike. Because you see for me one of the most important values in this purchase was and is to buy something that will help me train and most importantly finish Ironman Bolton 2023.