It’s certainly not a news item that in the last few years the traditional world of bicycle sales has swiftly deviated from what we would call normal. Apart from the COVID-crazed impact in 2020 and 2021, the consumer-direct sales model has quickly accelerated some of these changes.
Where the German brand Canyon is all by counts responsible for fomenting the consumer-direct sales model that’s so greatly impacted (and altered) the industry’s historical reliance on local bike shops to sell bikes, American builder Litespeed has embraced their own path.
The basis for the Kitzuma operation is a nationwide system of hubs that act as both a collection and delivery outpost for bikes being sent from the factory to consumers. A key element to the enterprise is that no bike is ever disassembled and put into a box. They are fully built and tuned at the factory before being shipped in a specially outfitted van to its destination.
Although the actual delivery person could be someone other than the person who began the journey, each driver is also a trained mechanic, so that when the bike is delivered, it can be finished off with a degree of expertise.
When Litespeed offered us the service to deliver our Watia test bike, we readily agreed to the $300 option. And so began our bike’s cross-country odyssey that began with the bike being assembled, prepped and tuned by the team at American Bicycle Group.
The bike was then handed off to Kitzuma Cycling Logistics, who loaded the bike, with each piece getting a specific bar code that, in our case, meant the front wheel, the bike and small parts bag each come with individual bar codes to ensure everything is tracked. Days before delivery, we received emails and text messages letting us know the ETA of our bike.
When the van finally arrived (Kitzuma says every bike will have a 1–7-day delivery time), the driver set up a work stand, attached the front wheel, checked the saddle height, lubed the chain and can install the pedals as well. Once we signed off on the bike, it was ready to ride.
OFF TO THE RACES?
Previous to the creation of Kitzuma, the company founders were part of a company that specialized in delivering customer bikes to triathlons. Although right now they are focusing on the delivery of new bikes from both factories and bike shops, we could see their service returning to the races for big events like the Sea Otter where competitors would prefer an easier process than the shipping of bikes through airports.
While the benefit of minimizing shipping damage is key, another benefit is that your bike arrives ready to ride with no need to hire an outside service to assemble it or have to lug the box over to a shop to have them assemble it. This is good for you, the consumer and ABG, as it lowers the risk of liability since they know it left their facility ready to ride. ABG also offers a seven-day satisfaction guarantee and, if needed, will have the bike picked up if you need a different size or are not happy; no need to pack a bike.
As you can guess, the majority of our test bikes arrive in boxes, and everyone does it a bit differently. Some arrive completely disassembled, and some are about 10-percent disassembled, and then both are stuffed into a cardboard box as a shared reality. Still, they are at the mercy of FedEx or UPS, and many show up with a bent derailleur hanger or dinged frame. Other than when a brand representative stops in to hand off a bike in person, we think Kitzuma’s home delivery service is a good option, and it’s available to everyone.