117 – Expert Cycles – Helping Support Their Local MTB Community
Alfie Wallace – Founder and Owner of Expert Cycles
On episode #117 we chat with Alfie Wallace the founder and owner of Expert Cycles based out of Rathfarnham, Dublin. Expert Cycles has been open for around fifteen years and have been providing their local mountain bike scene with top brands and excellent service since that time. Alfie decided to open the shop due to the recession hitting. Now you may think this is a strange time to be opening a new business but things were changing in Ireland due to the recession and Alfie decided the time was right to make a move and do something he was passionate about.
Alfie got hooked on mountain biking a number of years before this and when the time was right to make that life change, Alfie jumped in with both feet. This was not going to be a side project or something to do at the weekends, Alfie was in it to make a career while providing the local mountain bike community with great products, advise and a reliable maintenance service.
I had known of Expert Cycles because of them stocking the brand Yeti and normally when I meet somebody on the trail riding a Yeti I always end up asking the question, ‘where did you get that?’. So it wasn’t long until I had heard Expert Cycles name being mentioned a few times. But it wasn’t until I had Harry Byrne on the podcast in episode #110 (listen here) and how Harry was so thankful to Alfie and Expert Cycles for sponsoring him and helping him over the years that I knew I had to get Alfie on the show to chat about this and other bike store related topics.
So tune in as we chat to Alfie about brands, maintenance, e-bikes, trail networks, the mountain bike community, sponsoring riders and the health of your local bike shop and the industry as a whole.
Enjoy the show!
- When Alfie started mountain biking
- Why he got immediately hooked
- The group of guys that were about at that time
- Why Alfie decided to open a mountain bike bike shop
- What brands Expert Cycles stock
- Why they concentrate on off road and stay away from road
- How big a part their maintenance service plays in their business
- Why maintaining direct to customer brands does not bother Alfie
- The great crew working at Expert Cycles
- Why Alfie thinks it is important to help local kids through sponsorship
- The role Expert Cycles and Alfie’s local club, Epic MTB play in helping develop young talent
- Why Alfie believes the great selection of trail centres in Ireland is making a massive difference
- How Alfie sees the future for the mountain bike industry
- How to get in contact with Expert Cycles
Over the last several years we have seen the number of mountain bikers on the trails grow, there are more trail centres, more bike brands and more product on the market than ever before, so why are we seeing more and more local bike shops closing their doors? Well, we all look at the internet as the major reason. It is hard for your small local shop to not only compete on price but also on variety and depth of stock, so more and more of us are simply taking our business online, but is this the correct thing to do? Alfie understands that this is simply the way things are and has no problem with somebody bringing a YT or Canyon in to get fixed or upgraded, its all part of the service and this is where Expert Cycles stands out…it’s customer service.
Alfie believes that by providing great customer service, quality products and brands and of course a friendly atmosphere, things will be just fine. And they have been. As bike stores in Ireland have sadly been closing their doors Alfie and Expert Cycles have been standing steading. I would say that this is down to a number of things we have mentioned but one very important asset that Expert Cycles has built over the years that no online business can have is a sense of community. People love dropping into the shop to have a chat, a coffee and spending a little time around bikes. Eventually this helps create a customer base of loyal patrons and whether they make a purchase on that day or not you will have their custom for a number of years down the line.
Alfie is a great believer in getting the youth involved in the sport and keeping them involved. There has never been a better time for young kids (and old!) to get out on their bikes and enjoy the awesome trail parks that Ireland has to offer and its only going to get better. Of course local bike clubs are very important in helping this happen and Alfie’s local, Epic MTB is one such club. The club has between four and five spins per week depending on the time of year and even has a kids night spin over the summer months.
Alfie has taken this one step further by running an Expert Cycles race team, which of course Harry Byrne is a part of. When chatting to Alfie about this and the reason behind starting a race team, it is plain to see that Alfie is just keen to get kids started in the correct direction and get them that little bit of support they need to keep them on their bikes and racing.
There for sure is no monetary reason behind this for Alfie or Expert Cycles, yes the shop may get a little exposure and be shown to support their local scene and riders but as far as making money from this, it simply doesn’t happen. It is the opposite, it costs money, time and effort to make happen but this is what great local bike stores do, they support their local biking community everyway they can, they are passionate about their area and the health of their local scene.
So please remember this when you are looking for your next purchase and when you can give that little bit back and show your local shop owners that you do appreciate what they do for their local area and that you are happy to shop and spend your money with them. After all when you want a friendly chat and a coffee while looking at and trying amazing bikes the online space simply doesn’t cut it.
So put your feet up, hit play and listen to how Expert Cycles is helping out their local riding scene, what bikes they sell, if Santa Cruz is making an e-bike and why mountain biking will be a passion forever.
Thanks for tuning in. Enjoy the show.
To Connect with Alfie & Expert Cycles:
Phone: (+44) 01 442 5841
Resources in this Episode:
Epic MTB Ireland Club: epic_mtb_ireland
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Thanks so much to Alfie for coming on the show and sharing his story about Expert Cycles and his love for mountain biking.
And thank you once again for Listening!
Join me next week for another MTB TRIBE Podcast show!