Learning to speak bike as a second language.
The joy of buying new parts for your bike is diminished by the difficulty of knowing exactly which parts fit your specific bike. With over 1000+ different fitment standards it can be a bit of a minefield when shopping online. The challenge that customers face, is also faced by the eCommerce platform selling these parts. For those at the top end of the game, countless hours are spent custom writing descriptions to provide the customer with as much useful information as possible, the hope being to lead them towards selecting the correct component without leaving their website. They go to the level of detailing model numbers of multiple brake calipers on brake pad listings, this is done in the hope that the customer is able to locate the model of their brake caliper and then searches for brake pads based on this. This is fine when the customer is looking at a Shimano caliper with a clearly printed model number, such as BR-R8170, but customers aren't always that lucky. See if you can identify each brake calliper model below?
With edgy-marketing-style-writing, brands stamp calipers with difficult to read model names that do not allude to Model Number or Year. No wonder customers have trouble determining exactly which calliper they have!
Take this one step further and say you have a SRAM Code caliper (pictured top middle), this caliper underwent a change in 2011, the brake pad shape differs between the 2010 and 2011+ models, how is the consumer to know which replacement pads to chose if the website does not denote the year model? Or they list several models, some with year models, others without... Even more confusing, the brand Avid and SRAM are synonymous within the industry but this is not known to customers and pads are routinely listed under the Avid brand for a number of SRAM brakes! The challenge continues with product listings on a website needing to be kept constantly up to date to keep inline with new products that have been released. With larger sites having 20,000-100,000 parts for sale this can be a massive task to stay on top of. When it comes to wear components consumers are in luck as there is often a reference point, a model number or a bearing reference. When it comes to direct replacement components however, say a broken derailleur, it becomes impossible for a site to then point the customer to the correct option that suits their bicycle frame, their cassette, their chain, and their shifter. The website relies on the customer knowing this information and being able to filter down their selection. For example, a customer needs a replacement rear derailleur for a Trek Marlin 5 2021 because they had a crash. Looking at the specifications for this bike on Trek, it has a Shimano Tourney TY300 Rear Derailleur. This is really helpful because now the customer can look for the direct model number, however, there are two fitment types for this derailleur which are not interchangeable, this can be easily over looked or mistaken. In addition, this derailleur is not stocked on all sites or in all countries so then an alternate option must be found. Alternate options throw another series of questions into the mix, do they need short, mid or long cage, what is the overall tooth capacity, what is the cassette max tooth count?
Read the following description to determine if you can work out if this is suitable for a bike running a 7-speed cassette with a max 32T cog. "The Altus RD-M310 is a light action MTB rear derailleur for 7/8-speed shifting systems. It features a low profile concept with double servo-pantograph technology that improves adjustability and resists weather and contamination"
Or "The RD-TX800 rear derailleur for 7/8-speed features Shimano's double servo-pantograph technology that improves adjustability and resists weather and contamination. The derailleur always keeps close to the cassette sprockets, allowing smooth and effortless gear changing. The overall capacity amounts to 43 teeth."
This reference to 'capacity' requires the customer to then understand the difference between the highest and lowest cogs on their cassette and the biggest and smallest cog on their front chainring. For most customers this will mean navigating away from the site they are looking at and spending 30+ minutes researching prior to purchase. The main reason for this is, that no matter just how detailed a website is, it can not confirm for the customer if the part will fit their given bike.
Websites can to try their to best narrow down components for customers by providing them with filtering options, but they are still reliant on the customer to understand what the filters refer to and to then use these effectively. Websites can also offer really good customer service via email or chat bots for limited hours of the day, with staff assisting the customer to find what they need. But even still, descriptions, filtering and customer service are not always enough support for customers to find the correct components for their bike. But....if we add Bike Matrix into the mix, and we have the customer select their bike brand, make and year model they instantly see only the parts that fit their bike! No need from them to navigate away from the main site, no need to procrastinate or debate what will or won't fit, just instant compatibility. Bike Matrix will empower customers to select parts with confidence.