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The Manual - Roll Into Summer on a Fully Customized Bike from roll:Bicycle Company

The Manual - Roll Into Summer on a Fully Customized Bike from roll:Bicycle Company

Bicycles are eco-friendly, keep you in shape and healthy, hell, they’ve been shown to help protect you from depression. Mountain, road, BMX, cruiser, tandem– all bicycles are awesome. Except Penny-Farthing bikes. If you ride one of those, you’re a tool.

Still, it can be hard to find a bike that fits like a dream, which can lead to strain, fatigue, and far from efficient riding. That’s where the roll: Bicycle Company changes the game. They are a customizable bicycle company that allows you new levels of freedom when it comes to size, features, and design of your new wheels.

You start here: Do you want the City, Sport, or Adventure model? City, as its name suggests, is great for you urban riders. Commuters, grocery store bike-riders, neighborhood rollers are going to love this one that allows you the comfort of sitting up straighter. The Sport is for you fitness bikers– the ones that want greater speed, distance, and exercise. Or, the Adventure bike, which they fittingly call the “Swiss Army” bike can handle any terrain. Each bike starts at just $699.

Now comes the fun. Customize it completely. From colors to finishes, bags, baskets, pedal choices– there’s next to nothing on this bicycle you won’t have had a say in. The seats come in two options, the standard design or the Brooks B17 in leather (black or brown), which is a design so perfect, our nether regions have been loving it since the 1890s. You can choose between seats designed with men and women in mind.

The bike is the edition you need, you’ve picked your colors and add-ons, you’ve got your dream pedals and seat– it looks damn good. Roll: Bicycle Company takes it a step further to make sure the bike also feels damn good. They ask for your preferred riding position– Relaxed so you’re upright, the Neutral position of slightly leaning forward (which is the most efficient) or Athletic where you’re forward leaning. Then they ask for your height (without shoes) the distance from your navel to the floor and then your arm length. With your specific measurements, roll will calculate the size of the bike, optimum height for your saddle, and the handlebar positioning. This is literally your bicycle.

If you’re worried that all this customization leads to a lengthy wait time, go ahead and bust out those bike shorts, friend. Roll can have your bike ready for delivery (or pick up if you live near one of their stores) in about 48 hours. Ride your dream bicycle and if you don’t love it, you have 50 days to return it, thanks to their guarantee.

With summer around the corner, there is no better time to start bicycling– after all, you never forget how. And with roll: Bicycle Company, you can have a reasonably priced, custom-made bicycle built to order and shipped for free. Boom.

Bicycle Retailer - Roll: Bicycle Company begins selling customizable bikes online

Bicycle Retailer - Roll: Bicycle Company begins selling customizable bikes online

COLUMBUS, Ohio (BRAIN) – Following a successful Kickstarter campaign, retailer Stuart Hunter, who owns four Roll: Bicycle Company shops in Ohio, has begun delivery of his new line of custom bikes.

The Roll: Bicycle Company bikes are available online and can be customized to suit the rider's needs and tastes. Each Sport, City or Adventure model can be configured in 12 frame and component color combinations using the online bike-builder tool. Rides can also choose from an array of accessories and upgrades to further tailor their bike to fit their needs and personal style.

Hunter said that through the Roll: brand he hopes to provide a unique customer experience to help alleviate fears and challenges many consumers experience in bicycle retail, and deliver a high-quality and personalized bike.

"What got me into bikes is pretty simple. I loved biking as a kid, and after a successful career in retail design, I was looking to get back into shape," said Hunter, who opened the first Roll: retail store in 2005. "My experience trying to buy a bike for myself wasn't good, and just didn't make any sense to me as a customer or a designer. Building on the experience in our shops and by leveraging technology with the roll: Bicycle Company, we are now able to build the bikes that we want to ride ourselves, and to share that experience in a very personal way with a much wider group of likeminded riders, one bike at a time."

The bikes are also custom fit to the rider via Roll:'s proprietary perfect fit system, which uses three body measurements provided by the customer. Once bike size is determined, the tool then calculates the optimal saddle height and cockpit set up, including handlebar height. The bikes are ready for pick-up at a Roll: retail location or delivery in 48 hours. Each bike is assembled by hand in Ohio and ship for free in the U.S. in a flatpack box. Customers can finish assembly in four steps using a provided tool. Roll:'s bike models start at $699.

Roll: also provides a '50 Days to Ride' guarantee to ensure customers get the exact bike they are looking for.

Forbes - How This Niche Retailer Reinvented The Online Customer Experience, One Bike At A Time

Forbes - How This Niche Retailer Reinvented The Online Customer Experience, One Bike At A Time

It might not sound sporting, but customer experience "appropriation"–borrowing and repurposing what's working for companies in non-competing industries–is a technique I recommend when I’m consulting on customer experience design and innovation. And, happily, the roll: Bicycle Company customer experience borrows unabashedly from noncompetitive companies. It owes debts to Amazon and Zappos for the standards they’ve set in easy shopping/easy returns and to Apple for the glorious MacBook "unboxing" experience, which roll: Bicycle Company has emulated in the way it packages its bikes to improve both shipping and the customer’s experience of receiving a new bicycle.

What follows is my interview with founder Stuart Hunter. Let’s dig in.

Micah Solomon: How did you come up with the idea of selling bicycles online?

Stuart Hunter, CEO: First, I was aware that the consumer experience is shifting toward a tailored, omnichannel experience in other retail sectors, and that this was influencing customer expectations in the bike channel as well. Second, there is a shift happening in the industry right now, as the “Big Bike” brands in the U.S. scramble to retain market share in the face of a flat market, a declining number of stores (from 6,000 down to under 4,000 in ten years), and changing consumer shopping habits. Speaking more personally, nobody was building the type of bikes that I myself wanted to ride every day, bikes that had the same ride qualities and attention to detail as a custom-built race bike, but that didn’t cost a fortune.

Solomon: How have you’ve refined your online customer experience to compensate for the limitations of ecommerce?

Hunter: Fit and road-test are essentials here, so it was important that we build a simple tool–we call it “Perfect Fit”–that people could self-navigate to ensure the correct fit of their bikes. As far as road-test, our “50 days to ride” guarantee is key. And developing our “Flatpack” box for shipping simplifies home assembly [which compensates for the reality that roll: can’t set your bicycle up for you in person, as would a brick-and-mortar-bike shop].


Flatpack Box, after arrival. (Credit: roll: Bicycle Company)

Solomon: Are there ways in which your customer experience is actually superior to the traditional bike shop experience?

Hunter: Our entire online approach distills the experience of buying a bike in the most transparent and compelling way possible, putting the customer in control of the process so that they can design their bike, have it built to order, fit to them, and shipped for free. Having said that, what distinguishes us starts with the bikes themselves. We don’t limit ourselves by following model years; this allows us to make changes and improvements constantly, and we’re personally testing the bikes to destruction, riding them every day, and sweating every component and detail.

Solomon: Tell me about a challenge that stumped you, at least temporarily, when creating roll: Bicycle Company.

Hunter: How to ship bikes is a major challenge, and we’ve invested a lot of time and effort to overcome this. This is a problem that has two faces: “outbound” [the company perspective] and “arrival” [how it appears to the customer upon arrival].  On the outbound side, bikes are large, heavy items that are expensive for us to pack and ship. On the arrival side—seeing this from a customer’s perspective—there’s fear of shipping cost, or of difficulty in assembly, or of what happens if everything’s not quite right. Our solution to both sides of this challenge is our Flatpack box, which is more akin to a laptop case than a traditional bike box. On the logistical, “outbound” side, the Flatpack box represents something that is as compact and efficient as possible. On the arrival/customer side, the Flatpack approach offers a great “unboxing” experience that affords the customer easy assembly at home, using a single tool that’s included in the box. Its compact size also allows us to offer free shipping, removing that final barrier—shipping cost—that has stood in the way of people ordering bikes online in the past.

Solomon: Do you have any final customer experience hints for other entrepreneurs?

Hunter: I see businesses getting lost in focus groups and in the battlefield of fighting for consensus. The important challenge, I think, is much more personal: to figure out what works for a single person. Make your product and experience the best it can possibly be, and then go find enough people who share your vision to connect with and to build your community around. Know that you are your own best customer; if something doesn’t work for you, chances are it won’t work for somebody else either.

Micah Solomon: Author, consultant, keynote speaker, thought leader on customer service, customer experience, corporate culture change, innovation, and hospitality. Email or call 484-343-5881