Autumn purchases on AliExpress.
Autumn purchases on AliExpress.

Far East Shopping

When it comes to cycling clothing, it should be stylish, comfortable, and practical, all while being reasonably priced. The brand is not important as long as it meets these standards. I don't have a loyal attachment to any particular brand, but if they consistently deliver, they may earn my repeat business. For years, I relied on DHB, which is sold by Wiggle, for my cycling apparel after returning to Switzerland from Northern California.

However, the future of several online bike retailers is uncertain. When the pandemic hit, factories in the Far East closed, sea ports slowed operations, and the entire supply chain collapsed. People were sent to home office, were no longer able to go to the gym or yoga class, and suddenly discovered cycling. Bike stores, both online and physical, struggled to keep up with the surging demand for bikes and parts. The bike industry collectively saw the post-pandemic years through rose-tinted glasses. They cranked up production and filled inventories. When inflation rose, prices climbed while real wages dropped. Cyclists, both new and seasoned, are feeling the pinch and have not returned to the shops. As 2023 draws to a close, inventories are overflowing with unwanted merchandise, and the industry is offering massive discounts to stay afloat.

Wiggle, Chain Reaction Cycles, Probikeshop, Bikester, and have had another wrench thrown into their spokes. They are all part of an umbrella company called Internetstores GmbH. Internetstores GmbH is the European subsidiary of Signa Sport United, which recently filed for bankruptcy. Signa Sports United, in turn, is part of Signa Holding, a debt-ridden Austrian property empire that is unraveling as we speak. As a result of the turmoil, WiggleCRC has announced that its international e-commerce platforms, which only made up 15% of the business’s revenue, will be shutting down in the coming weeks to focus their efforts solely on the UK market. This means I will no longer be able to shop there.

Last year, I began browsing for cycling apparel on AliExpress. During the autumn season, I revisited the website to search for cycling jackets, long-sleeved jerseys, vests, and bib shorts. I found two brands, Spexcel from Shenzhen and My Kilometre Sports from Wuhan, China, that offer up-to-date designs and high-quality materials. Both brands have their own online stores on AliExpress. I purchased several windproof vests from Spexcel that are perfect for chilly rides. The vests are made with advanced materials and clever construction. The same can be said about their bib shorts, which provide a lot of value for the price. The long-sleeved jerseys from My Kilometre Sports are equally impressive, with stylish cuts, excellent craftsmanship, and meticulous attention to detail.

Every once in a while, I receive a DM on Instagram from @EPNsupplements with an offer to become a sponsored athlete. With my measly 305 followers, I guess my circle of influence is large enough to qualify as an ambassador for supplements. What the heck do I need supplements for? It’s not like I have ever switched on my coffee maker in the morning, still half-asleep, with the thought that I needed to supplement my cup of Joe with a dose of multivitamins. And when I am out on a long bike ride, my stomach has never screamed out for a silly protein powder. I do, however, often look forward to a cold, post-ride beer. Research on exercise supplements shows that these products are a useless waste of money and can be potentially toxic to your body. Such supplements only do one thing: fill the pockets of those who sell them.