While we’re not the first to break this news – it's been featured in recent months in at least half a dozen national and international cycling publications – we are perhaps the most excited. Rotorua’s mountain biking scene is world-renowned so to have a couple of Rotorua locals develop a ground-breaking software solution for bike mechanics and everyday riders alike is, as they say, sick! Introducing Bike Matrix.
When two bike mechanics with a combined 25 years of experience fess up that “buying parts for your bike is actually really hard,” you can imagine the collective sigh of relief from those who have tried.
“As avid cyclists, we have a penchant for not keeping bikes standard for very long; we swap parts out, we customise,” says Adam Townsend, one of the founders of Bike Matrix.
Of course, repairs and replacement components are part and parcel of bike ownership, as well.
“As a rider, finding the information you need to determine which part is the right part for your bike can be really difficult and time-consuming, and we come from a background working as workshop managers and mechanics in the bike industry (me for 15 years; Lyndal for 10).
“We in the industry take it for granted, and it wasn't until Lyndal and I started working in customer service for an e-commerce retailer of bike parts, that we started seeing the true volume of customers asking us questions about which parts they needed for their bike.”
This got Adam and Lyndal Bailey thinking. And researching. They soon discovered that nobody was solving this problem successfully – for riders or retailers – so they took matters into their own hands and created Bike Matrix from their newly built headquarters on their property in Waikite Valley, Rotorua.
Put simply, Bike Matrix is building a piece of software that houses a large database of bikes and components which will plug into the back end of everyone else’s software globally, from point-of-sales systems within bike shops, to e-commerce platforms, and workshop platforms which are often used for invoicing and scheduling the servicing of bikes.
For the everyday rider, this software will allow them to hop onto any bike retailer’s website, select which bike they own, then only see the parts that will fit their bike. Eliminating incompatible parts “takes away the noise,” co-founder Lyndal says.
Consumers will have a similar experience when visiting a bike shop. Where before, the retailers might need a customer to bring their bike to the shop, now the shop or mechanics can check online which parts will work and then see if they have them in stock.
“Unfortunately the industry, mainly off the back of Covid, lost a lot of skilled staff so it’s really suffering from a lack of knowledgeable people and you end up with sales staff that don’t always have the same knowledge base as maybe what was there previously, or just in general.”
Bike Matrix will take the guesswork and time out of the transactions, and give consumers, retailers and even mechanics more confidence in their selections.
Adam says, “Essentially, we’re creating a bike garage kind of like what you do for your car at Supercheap Auto.
“This is us wanting to help people understand more about their bikes. As a mechanic, I would always talk to the customer to help them understand what was going on with their bike and how. And it’s empowering as well as educating people around the world to buy bike parts with confidence.
“We have a working product now and we just built our production database so we’re now in the process of ingesting thousands of bikes and components to populate the database. Customisation was always on the cards, and we’ve shown that that works. It’s essentially just a matter of building it now.”
Enter Bike Matrix’s tech co-founder, software developer Adam Barnes.
Adam Townsend says, “I’m the bike guy, and ‘other Adam’ is the code guy [other Adam happens to be an avid rider, as well], so I’ve essentially devised the system of assessing whether something is compatible or not; there are 217 different tables. And we’ve developed this system of what we call ‘fitment codes’ and have turned that into a system that Adam Barnes can turn into a working product.”
The team hopes to launch their product by midyear 2024, and keen interest from seven out of 10 of the world’s largest e-commerce platforms in the bike industry is keeping the motivation high.
We've also got 45 globally recognised brands who have provided us with their information so that's them showing us support.
“There's a lot of manufacturers who have said, ‘once you build that, we want it on our site’.
“What we’re finding is that anyone in the bicycle industry, whether they’re retailers or manufacturers or in sales, if they deal with the customer and answer the customer's questions about what part fits their bike, they understand the value of our product and they want it.”
The team has recently gone live with two strategic beta-testers, frictivemtb.co.nz and cycleways.co.nz, and are currently looking for their next round of beta-test customers to weigh in on product development, and they continue to build. You can see more information on their website at bikematrix.io or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
With several global manufacturers on board, and recent investment received from the bike industry, the team at Bike Matrix looks set to go from start-up to rock stars.
Above: The Bike Matrix team, Adam Barnes, Lyndal Bailey, Adam Townsend