The Entry Bibshort shouldn't exist.
RedWhite Apparel was conceived in 2014 to build bibshorts that help you ride further. Most of my current customers are ultra-distance riders who have no use for a bibshort that's only comfortable for rides below 3 hours long. The Entry Bibshort is an inferior product compared to The BIB range of long distance bibshorts.
To understand why this exists, let me take you back to when I first started cycling.
First love. A 3rd hand road bike.
When I first started back in 2009, my first kit was a second hand pair of tights from a friend. Used tights are disgusting, but I was a broke student and after spending most of my savings on a 3rd hand bicycle, I had little left over for quality clothing. Once finances improved slightly, I transitioned to cheap knockoff bibshorts from China. These cost an average of $30-$40 a pair and I rotated through 3-4 pairs a year.
lining up at a race in university kit and cheap shorts
These shorts rarely lasted long. 4 months of hard riding and the lycra would have worn down (I have large thighs that contact the saddle a lot) or the chamois would have completed flattened. I ran the math and figured spending $70-$90 on just 2 good pairs would last me 1.5 years and give me a much better riding experience.
So I did just that.
Unfortunately, that didn't work well. Surprisingly, the quality difference between the $30-$40 and the $70-$90 shorts was minimal. I rode those 2 new pairs for about half a year before deciding to really step up my kit game. I splurged a lot more for bibshorts from the larger brands.
This is how RedWhite Apparel started. Tired from searching for long-distance bibshorts, and feeling broke after paying a lot for well known brands, I built my own. However, try as I might, I couldn't get the price of our current The BIB range down to that $70-$90 mark.
That changed in 2019 with a shift in thinking. I had read Clayton M. Christensen's "The Innovator's Dilemma" and his second book, "Competing Against Luck". I realised I was focused on the wrong question. My initial question was : "How could I make The BIB more affordable?"
I shifted this to the question : "How can I make a bibshort that non-consumers of RedWhite would want?"
Non-consumers of RedWhite Apparel don't need The BIB. These are mostly new cyclists or cyclists who rarely ride above 3 hours. If their experience is anything like mine, they're probably putting up with sub-par products because they are competitively priced. Why wouldn't these non-consumers just buy The BIB you may ask? This comes down to understanding what "job" these non-consumers are trying to do when "hiring" my products. The job they're trying to do is to stay comfortable on shorter sub 3-hour rides at an affordable price point. They most certainly don't need an overbuilt, more expensive option. This is different from traditional customers of RedWhite Apparel who "hire" The BIB long distance bibshorts to do the "job" of riding long distances in comfort. To better understand this perspective, do take some time to read "Competing Against Luck" by Clayton M. Christensen. Video summary here.
The second insight was understanding the natural next step for these consumers. The natural next step would be going up the price chain to the $70-$90 range where good quality products are strangely scarce. I believe the explanation for this can be found in the book, "The Innovator's Dilemma". As brands grow and seek greater profit, they naturally migrate up the value chain, offering better and better products to their existing customer base. It makes no sense to move down the value chain and seek an entirely new customer base that will also be less profitable. This explains why most brands that usually start in the low end of a market, eventually progress upmarket with higher priced products. The danger of this is you end up underserving potential new customers. Video summary here.
However, being a small business with no imediate pressure to move upmarket, I decided to launch The Entry Bibshort and serve customers who wouldn't typically consider the more expensive and longer-mileage The BIB range. I leveraged my existing supply chain, knowledge of fabrics, the fit and pattern design from The BIB, and developed a bibshort that can carry you for sub 3-hour rides in comfort at the $70-$90 price point. While it certainly is not cheap by any means, I believe it is the perfect step-up on your cycling kit journey.
Is this the right strategy for RedWhite Apparel? I have absolutely no idea. And that's the fun in running a business.
Can The Entry Bibshort be Cheaper?
At the moment, it isn't possible.
Cycling is a niche sport with high barriers to entry. Anyone who needs a bibshort is most likely also able to afford a $500 bicycle. From a pure dollar outlay point of view, this is really high relative to a sport like football (soccer) or tennis.
Because of this high barrier, there aren't enough cyclists to generate the demand necessary to allow me to scale production of The Entry Bibshort. Scale allows me to negotiate lower manufacturing costs. However, this alone isn't enough.
Customers demand speed and the only way to deliver a bibshort quickly is via FedEx or DHL. This is expensive and the product's price has to factor this cost as well. One way around this is to work with a network of fulfilment centres in the US & UK and leveraging local post. However, with post offices moving really slowly during COVID-19, this is also not an option.
I will be exploring ways to deliver this bibshort cheaply worldwide as RedWhite Apparel grows.
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Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
@MIKE KAUSPEDAS : Performance Bike actually had a $99 Ultra bibshort way back in 2012 which was very competitively priced for the time. I wanted to purchase a pair, but they didn’t ship outside the US and certainly not to Singapore. Prices seemed to have crept up since then, which is unavoidable given inflation and rising costs. I’ve actually read some pleasant reviews about the $40 black bibs by the way. Perhaps it’s a mismatch between expectations and what the product is intended for. If you love The BIB, The Entry Bibshort may not please you to be honest. It really is for the customer who wants to step up from $30-$40 bibshorts.
@JOHN PUTMAN : Exactly. As usual, I have my own twist on it. The foam is medium density and firmer compared to most chamois at this price point. You can’t compare it to the chamois in The BIB though. That is an entirely different beast and the price difference reflects that.
@PAUL KIRBY : Most people aren’t. The brand just seems to attract the niche riders who do endurance rides. Obviously, if something works for endurance rides, it will work for short ones as well. The Entry Bibshort is more focused on shorter rides by removing the bangs and whistles and dropping the price. I wouldn’t recommend purchasing it if you love The BIB, but if you’re curious, by all means do! They’re not that expensive for the quality.
I do wish you could have hit that $60 sweet spot, but $80 for a high quality product from a trusted source is not bad at all. Performance bike (RIP) had some $60 bibs that were what you’re describing. I have a pair I still use. But I like the idea. I bought a pair of $40 black bibs and … they suck. I haven’t tried anything else below $60. Vast majority of my rides are actually 3 hours or less. I might have to give these a shot, and will certainly recommend to others based off how well the BIB performs.
So, I understand the pad is different but is it thinner or more like a typical pad?
As much as I want to be a long distance/long duration rider, I’m just not at a place in life where that kind of time is available to me. Thus, these shorts are perfect for me: Affordable bibs from a company I trust (I own a pair of The BIB) and engineered for the riding I’m actually doing.
@GUY : The EU has always been tricky. There’s really no way around VAT since it has to be collected on the value at point of purchase, which would automatically drive prices up 20% or more (depending on what your local VAT rate is). What I do need now is a way to pre-pay VAT for customers which would give you a nice, clean charge on my website and you wouldn’t need to pay VAT separately to the local post office. I’m working on this.
@MARK BISHOP : From a net revenue, absolutely. But from a net income perspective (money after product cost, shipping, taxes and marketing costs), The Entry Bibshort is actually a terrible idea. In order to move the needle, what I ought to be doing is selling more of the current bibshorts and expanding upmarket by producing more feature rich products at higher price points. It’s the reason the boutique cycling clothing market is full of high priced offerings and this is what good business people tend to do. However, there is an underserved market of new cyclists and riders who just don’t need or want high end gear that The Entry Bibshort aims to serve. My bet is that this market gets onto The Entry Bibshort and hopefully upgrades to The BIB range as their riding goals mature and they go further. It’s also possible that these riders chose to not upgrade and buy more expensive bibshorts from other brands. This is discussed in detail in “The Innovator’s Dilemma” which explains why most companies tend to avoid doing what The Entry Bibshort aims to do. Rest assured, I have no plans to phase out The BIB. In fact, prices have largely dropped steadily since I first introduced the range in 2014, thanks to economies of scale and the way I keep the product line tight and focused.
@JER : It’s possible that you had a defective product from Decathlon. I do recommend going back to the store and requesting an exchange. If a RedWhite failed like that, it would be a non questions asked replacement. You’d get a free pair of bibshorts in the mail.
@LEE WAI SING : You may be pleasantly surprised by the quality of $30-$40 bibshorts. I grew up on those and for my budget and phase in life, they were an excellent option. The alternative was not having any bibshorts at all. I always have a fondness for cheap and cheerful things even if they do tend to have limitations. My favourite piece of kit now is a $15 Casio watch that I use everyday for everything. It lasts about 1 year before sweat and moisture kills it (i wear it on swims, runs, and rides) and then I just replace it with something new. I buy that because I tend to lose or damage my watches, so something expensive wouldn’t be a good idea.
I really appreciate your blog posts. There is a flood of information, content and bullshit on the internet, but I do read your blog posts every time. They are sincere, and give a good insight of what a small entreprenuer has to deal with.
I own already 2 ‘The BIB’s’, one of the very best shorts I have ever had, and I’m cycling for over 20 years. If you could find a solution to avoid import taxes for Europe, it would become even more interesting.
Anyhow, keep up the good work!
I brought a cheap pair from Decathlon and a morvelo bib for my Seoul to Busan. The cheap pair was good enough for long rides 6-8hrs but they gave way by the 2nd day. It is not that they are not good but they just dont last. The confidence to wear it and not having it rip on you is important.
The above makes sense. I have quite a few shorts for shorter rides (2-4 hours) while more expensive bib shorts are for longer rides.
I never touch the $30-$40 shorts because I don’t believe they are good enough. Most of my short ride shorts are around the $70-$80 mark.