“ Evans Cycles. Bicycle, helmets, bike gadgets and sporting wear retailer. „
I wanted to get back into cycling as a way of getting fit, but needed a new bike. This is where Evans Cycles comes in. When spending quite a bit of money on an item, I want to be sure I'm using a reputable company and I'd heard of Evans Cycles before, so I thought I'd check out their website - Evanscycles.com. The fact that they're on Quidco too was a bonus!
Evans Cycles have stores all over the UK, from Glasgow to Brighton, though living in Mid Wales means none of them are near me... My nearest would be a couple of hours away in Birmingham or Liverpool, this is where the website comes in handy for me.
Evans Cycles sell a range of bikes including mountain bikes, road bikes, hybrid bikes, BMX bikes, kids bikes, folding bikes, electric bikes, touring bikes, triathlon bikes, tricycles... You name it bike-wise and Evans Cycles probably sell it! They don't just sell bikes though, they sell many other items relating to bikes such as the ever-important helmet, cycle clothing, cycle computers, trailers, lights, cameras, racks, bags, panniers, body armour, first aid kits, tools, workstands, training products, maps and much, much more. As I've said, you name it bike-wise and they've probably got it or can source it for you.
The website looks good and, most importantly, is easy to use. Products are easy to find... If you know what you are after then you can use the search box, or you can use the menu to browse through the categories. Once you are in a certain category, you can either browse through the products (if you're not quite sure what you want) or you can use the side bar on the left-hand side to select certain features such as brand, wheel size, number of gears, brake type etc, to whittle down the number of products to a select few.
When I ordered my bike, Evans Cycles had a sale on. In fact, they continually seem to have some kind of sale on, so it's always worth checking the website to see what deal can be had.
Even before I went to the website, I knew what brand bike I wanted. As a kid and a teenager, I always had Raleigh bikes and never had a problem with them. The next question was what type of bike to get. My last bike had been a mountain bike, but did I really need a mountain bike when I'd primarily be cycling on roads (albeit some of them rough roads!)? I decided on what's known as a hybrid bike - It's the best bits of a mountain bike and a road bike all in one bike.
Each product page gives you not only a description of the bike or product, but also a list of details such as what type of frame it has, grips, rims, hubs, gears, tyres etc... everything you need to know about the product. This is especially important when choosing a bike. Not only did I want a Raleigh bike, but I also wanted a bike with a particular kind of gear system.
I chose the Raleigh Voyager Deluxe 2011 Hybrid Bike at £299 (with a saving of around £35 off the original price), but as I was ordering a bike from a website, I needed to know if the frame size would fit me (most bikes give you a choice of 2 or 3 different frame sizes). Using Evans Cycles help pages, I'd worked out what frame I thought would suit my height and leg length, but thought I'd better check with them before I ordered the bike. So I fired off a message to them using the form on their website. I sent the message at 3.34pm on a Saturday afternoon and received an automatic reply stating that most emails receive a response within 48 hours and was given a reference number for my email. At 3.41pm, just 7 minutes after I'd sent my message, I received a reply saying that my particular frame size choice was perfect for my height. So I set about ordering the bike.
Ordering the bike was simple and I knew I'd got the best price for the bike at that time. Evans Cycles offer a Price Match commitment where if you find the bike cheaper elsewhere they'll match it. Also, if you find the bike cheaper after you've purchased the bike from them, they'll refund the difference within 7 days. I'd already done my homework and searched, but couldn't find the bike I wanted any cheaper anywhere else.
Evans Cycles accept debit and credit cards, as well as PayPal. If you order by phone or in store they also accept finance and Ride2Work vouchers.
UK standard delivery (3-5 days for clothing and accessories, 5-7 days for bikes and other large orders) is free, as is Ship2Store delivery (whereby you can order your bike or accessories online and pick them up from your local store). If you require your bike or accessories sooner, then Evans Cycles offers Priority UK delivery at £15 per bike and £3.99 per order of clothes and accessories. They also offer Saturday delivery at £30 per bike and £15 per order of clothes and accessories. International delivery is also available. I didn't need my bike in a hurry so chose the free standard delivery.
Once I'd gone through the ordering process, I received an order confirmation email with my order details.
Having ordered my bike on a Saturday with free delivery, I didn't expect my bike to arrive until after the following weekend. However, my bike arrived on the following Friday, so arrived on the 5th working day. One issue though was that I hadn't received a dispatch notice (so I hadn't been expecting the bike and nobody was home to receive it - and the courier left the bike in front of the garage without being signed for... Good thing I live in a quiet area!) and didn't receive the dispatch note until some days after I'd received the bike (so I had to contact them to make sure they hadn't sent out a second bike!).
The bike was carefully packaged in a sturdy box and adequately protected from any damage should the box be knocked about. Evans Cycles assemble and test the bike before delivery, so all I had to do was turn the handles to the correct position and attach the foot peddles. Then I was ready to go out on my brand new bike.
Would I recommend them?
Evans Cycles have a wide and varied range of cycling products at competitive prices. Ordering is simple and straightforward and their customer service is swift, helpful and friendly. I'm already looking at ordering some accessories from them and they'd be the first place I'd go to to buy another bike should I need to.
Until 4 weeks ago I'd never brought a new bike and had only ever owned second hand ones which were heavy lumps of metal with wheels.
Having started a new job in January though I found myself living within 5 miles of work and thought that it was the right time to start riding to work. After a few weeks of riding a heavy mountain bike I decided I needed something a bit easier and I was told I could buy a bike through the works cycle to work scheme where you rent the bike back from them over 12 months.
Anyway after visiting a few cycle shops that were local I found roughly what I wanted and then went in search of the best price. I found that I could get the spec of bike I found in the local shop for about £80 less from Evanscycles.com.
The Web site was well laid out and browsing through the mountains of bikes that they had listed was a breeze. I eventually settled on a bike from Felt (qx65) for £279 which was £20 better than I could find it anywhere else. I also picked some lights and a jacket and placed the order. Delivery was free as standard.
After ordering I recieved an email outlining the expected delivery date and I could log on to the system to see what stage of the order the bike was in. I was informed on the email that the bike would be built as far as posible with the exception of a few items that would need fitting together.
After 5 days the bike arrived packaged in a good box with all the Items plus a free mini tool (similar to a swiss army knife) that allowed me to fit the handle bars, peddles, and adjust the seat. At this point I found there was a rather sizable scratch on the stem which led me to think that paying the bit extra in the shop might have been worth it. Instead though I phoned the number on the box and spoke a helpful person who asked me to email a picture of the damage. After 20 mins of emailing the picture he called me back and offered me either a replacement stem or £25 worth of vouchers to spend with them online ( i took the vouchers and painted over the damage).
Overall the website and after care service from evans cycles was really good and even with the small problem I would highly recoment them to anyone else (although visiting a local bike shop first to get an idea what you are after is worth it)
The bike's been great aswell.
****Who are Evans Cycles?****
Evans Cycles is a chain of shops that sell bicycles and all thing cycle related, from lights to tools to clothing to spares to 'trick' bits. You name it and Evans is likely to sell it.
The chain consists of 31 shops and whilst most of them are centred round London and the South East there are shops further a field with one in York (which is the shop furthest North) and Bristol (which is the shop furthest West).
Being such a large market player Evans has the buying power to obtain significant discounts from suppliers, which are subsequently passed on to the customers, meaning Evans are often the cheapest place to buy cycling apparel. As well as good prices Evans offers a great delivery service and exceptional after sales and customer support desk adding to the shopping experience.
In the past unless you lived near a store or was able to visit a store the only way of buying goods from Evans was mail order, which meant requesting a catalogue and waiting for it to be delivered, ordering the products (either by phone or completing an order form and posting it off), and then waiting for the goods to be delivered.
If it was not possible to order goods over the phone because it was not possible to get to a phone during the opening hours, or you didn't have a credit/debit card, then the whole process could easily take up to a month.
With the popularity of the internet Evans opened up an online shop which runs a lot more efficiently and is much quicker.
****The Evans Website****
The website is easy on the eye and is very easy to navigate round. It loads up quickly and there are no noticeable time delays or lags. When looking for products there is a product list on the left hand side of the web page. This is a step by step menu allowing you to highlight the area you are interested in and then gradually drill down to a list of products that match your criteria.
The above is more than acceptable if you are not looking for anything specific. For example, if you just wanted to buy a new pair of cycle shorts the drilling down technique would allow you to see all shorts that matched your specific criteria, however if you are looking for a specific item then this is a different matter.
If looking for a specific item the search facility is not that useful since if you put in the phrase then many different sorts of products are displayed, often running in to lots of pages that need to be trawled through. This is a total waste of time. If you have a reference number then the search facility is great.
I find the best way of using the Evans website is to request a catalogue (free of charge) read through it and identify exactly what you want, note down the reference number and then proceed to order and pay for it online.
When purchasing a product you have to be a member, like many websites. Whilst this does not bother me since I make many purchases from this site I would feel aggrieved if I was only going to make a single purchase since once the retailer has your details you are going to get peppered with their newsletters, details of special offers and other junk emails.
****The checkout procedure and payment****
Once you are a member the checkout procedure is very simple. Once all items are in the virtual basket proceed to checkout.
You are offered the option of ship2store or free delivery.
Since I do not live anywhere near an Evans store I have never used the ship2store service so I am unable to comment upon what it is like.
The free delivery is a recent new initiative. Delivery used to be £4.95 for accessories or free once the amount exceeded £50, and £19.95 for cycle deliveries regardless of the cost of the cycle. The free delivery is excellent, although delivery times are 5 - 7 working days which is not that great if you require something urgently.
Previously, it was possible to get express delivery (at an additional cost) and this guaranteed delivery within 2 - 3 working days, providing the items were in stock. Evans does not appear to offer this service anymore, which is a shame.
Once you have selected the free delivery option you need to input the delivery address details, and the billing address details. If these are the same then you only need to input the address once and tick the relevant box. This is a great time saving function.
Next you have to enter your card details. Evans accepts all major credit cards, except for American Express, which is not great if, like me, you have a Nectar American Express card. However, all is not lost since Evans is a Nectar retailer and if you access the site via the Nectar website you will get some Nectar points on the purchase.
All payments are fully encrypted through a secure server in an attempt to ensure that confidentiality is maintained and the transaction will not be susceptible to fraud. This, of course, cannot be guaranteed but then I have never had any problems nor have any of my friends in the cycling club.
Once the payment has been made a receipt is displayed on screen giving you the chance to print this off, although there is no need to do this since you can either do a file and save as, or get the receipt from your inbox when Evans sends it through, which is generally a couple of minutes after the transaction has completed.
Throughout the checkout process there is the option to amend your basket or cancel the transaction.
The website states 5 - 7 days for delivery and in my experience they have always managed to deliver in this time scale. Normally, delivery is quicker than this, which is good. Many retailers over promise and under deliver whereas Evans appear to under promise and over deliver. This is a good ethos to have.
****Other features of the website****
As well as the purchasing page the website offers more including:
A stores tab detailing the location of all the individual stores, including a map, contact details and opening times.
A news and events tab detailing relevant cycling related news as well as details of up and coming events around the UK. This is a nice feature for those interested in the world of cycling, but it is of no use to me since I am merely a leisure cyclist.
A Buying guides tab which gives advice and assistance on all sorts of cycling products. This page includes downloadable PDF guides on items such as maintenance, winter riding, family cycling and hydration and nutrition amongst many others as well as a short paragraph on all other products.
A servicing tab detailing the maintenance and servicing requirements of different cycles. This page also provides a link to the Evans stores (these provides cycle servicing requirements as well as serving as a retailer) and their opening times.
An insurance tab that offers specific cycle insurance. Most household policies cover cycles to the value of £300 and with many cycles costing much more than this separate cover is needed.
A ride it! tab providing details of rides around the UK.
A ride2Work tab providing details of the Government's ride2work initiative and how Evans is a member of this scheme.
There are sizing charts for both clothing and cycles available on the site to ensure that you get the right size. It should be noted that cycle clothing manufacturers do not have consistent sizes and whilst you may be a medium for, say Northwave, you may be a large for, say Castello. The sizing guides overcomes this by taking each manufacturer and states their individual sizing.
****Customer and after sales service****
I have always found the after sales service and customer service teams to be very helpful. Whilst it may take a while to get to speak to someone, I always seem to be put on hold (but I find this is the same for all organisations, especially utility companies), they are great when you finally do get through.
Evans offers a no quibble money back guarantee or replacement service. Whilst the consumer is responsible for the return postage, I would always recommend sending it special delivery and ensure that it is insured, Evans will pay for the delivery of the replacement product.
****Ordering by phone****
If you are still uncomfortable with ordering items over the internet then Evans still offer their purchasing over the phone service. I cannot comment on how good this is, although if the service is as good as their general customer services or their after sales service then I can guess that there will be no issues.
The only issue I have ever had with Evans online is in respect of their sales page. They had an item advertised, a Garmin speed sensor, for £7.99. The normal RRP of these are £29.99 so it was a massive saving. I ordered 3 (that's all I could get) with the intention of keeping one and putting the other 2 on Ebay. I placed the order and paid for them.
I got a call from Evans stating that the items were not for the complete sensor kit but for the magnets only and the RRP for these were £8.99 and these would have been no use for me since I required the sensor.
I did have a bit of a discussion and said to the bloke that the order should be honoured (quoting sale of goods act etc) and the fact that they messed up was not my fault. The response was read the small print disclaimer on the bottom of the website which clearly states they are under no obligation to provide goods at the stated price, hence protecting them if there was an error - such as in this case.
I had to admit defeat and cancelled the order. I did get a refund and a £5 voucher to apologise for the error, which did sweeten it a bit but I would have much preferred my order to be satisfied!!
The above has been a one off and I have never had any problems with Evans at all.
Evans is a great shop and is my shop of choice for cycling accessories. The search facility is crap but I always order the catalogue on line and then use that as a basis to make my order.
The website is very user friendly and the checkout process is very straightforward with a secure and encrypted payment system. Whilst the delivery is not the fastest they always deliver within the stated time scale and it is now free, regardless of the size of the order.
The prices are always competitive, probably due to the buying power they have and the fact that these discounts are actually passed on to the consumers instead of being used to increase the profits of the company, and the after sales and customer services teams are very friendly and willing to sort out any issues you may have.