Gingerparts Bike Finder feature

Often we do things at Gingerparts that we don’t really explain, or even promote. Here’s one example I’d like to remedy in this post – our new Bike Finder functionality.

Our developers at Banjax.com recently updated Bike Finder, as I outlined in an earlier post, integrating it more comprehensively within the website. The development work we did over the past few months has finally enabled us to do some of the things we have been planning for many months.

So how does the updated Bike Finder work?

Well, it still lets you choose your particular bike. The same dropdowns as before, all geared around getting you to a very specific model. As you know, motorcycle parts are complex, often a part will fit a small range of bikes, sometimes a many bikes from many manufacturers, and sometimes just one model in one year.

But now it also lets you filter a category (or department) of products by your specific bike(s) e.g. Motorcycle Exhausts that fit a Honda CBR 600 F7 2007 in the screenshot below.

Gingerparts Bike Finder filter - exhausts

Filtering exhausts category by a particular motorcycle.

Each of the products on Gingerparts are assigned to one or more bike ID (or none, some products are universal). So choosing your particular motorcycle let’s us to serve up the products that fit your bike.

Before, the Bike Finder took you to a particular bike page e.g. Yamaha FZS 600 Fazer 2000. It still does. But now it also allows you to filter a category by your bike.

Also we have added “My Garage” to the website. This is simply a place where all the bikes you add using Bike Finder are stored for ease of reference. They are added automatically and can easily be deleted by you – just click the “x” to the right of the bike name.

Gingerparts My Garage

Gingerparts My Garage

Clicking on a motorcycle name in My Garage (really your garage!) will take you to that bike’s page where you can find a list of all the products that fit your motorcycle. Handy to see everything at a glance. (We have plans for the bike pages, but we can’t say more just yet!)

Your list of bikes will remain throughout your visit to the site and for the remainder of your ‘session’ i.e. as long as we can recognise you on the site.

Gingerparts Bike Finder filter

Gingerparts Bike Finder displaying a user’s bikes that can filter a category of products.

A great tip is to sign in or register on Gingerparts – your bikes will be stored with your account and shown in My Garage when you are logged in.

There is still more to be done, but his will give you a heads up on what is new on the site.

Stuff we are working on:

  • Assigning more existing products to bikes. This is a mammoth task!
  • Adding more products to the site to fit more bikes. Another big task.
  • Making bike pages more useful. Much easier, expect to see these evolve in the coming months.
  • Lots more.

If you have any comments or suggestions about this or any other thing on the website, just add it to the comments below.

Edit:

Now with added prompts.

Gingerparts Bike Finder prompt All Bike

Prompt shows when you haven’t selected your motorcycle.

Gingerparts Bike Finder prompt dimmed

Prompt dims when you haven’t selected your motorcycle but continue on the site.

Gingerparts Bike Finder prompt

Prompt disappears when you have selected your motorcycle.

The Clandestine comedy series

We are very proud to be sponsors of the world’s first biker comedy series – The Clandestine. Watch the show now – just play the video below and when it ends, you can click on the preview of Episode 2, 3, 4 whatever. (Or just go to The Clandestine’s website!)

If you like the show and want more, please share this email with people. Send a Tweet or Facebook message about the show.

And if you like the soundtrack (lots of great new Irish rock bands) or want to buy some show merchandise, check out The Clandestine’s Store.

Find out more:

Running out of excuses

Since my earlier post back in November the weather has started to improve (that big shiny thing in the sky is apparently called a sun) and the days are getting longer. So I am rapidly running out of excuses to put off getting back in the saddle.

Not only that, but Nick at Gingerparts says he has fixed the leak in the 1988 Kawasaki AR 125 B5 we bought for the shoot of The Clandestine. Or as he describes the bike in his inimitable way “Von isar125b004112 so I’m going to say b”… he also says “damn you autocorrect” when he really means “why are my opposable thumbs not working when I type on my phone”.

(See the bike here and here.)

Not having been on a bike for (too) many years, I now need to get my act in gear about lessons and getting some gear. I’m not the slim young man I was (as may be clear to many who know me!) But at least my head hasn’t grown much. Apparently I have a Large head, and a perfect fit for a “Reevu RV FSX1 Satin Black Flip Front Motorcycle Helmet” – so getting a helmet is easily sorted. And there is one sitting on the shelf.

Reevu RV FSX1 flip closed in black

Reevu RV FSX1 flip-front helmet, closed in black

But I need a decent jacket. When you get into your fifties, comfort, safety, and visibility trumps style and street-cred. So I am going to have to visit a few local stores to see what’s on offer (Gingerparts don’t do clothing yet – we have enough on our plate already). My heart say “buy Rukka”, but my head says “what’s cheap and gets the job done?” That’s Saturday taken care of! Gloves and the like I can get through Gingerparts.

I also need to get my act together with the lessons. I’ll make the calls next week and set up my first go at it. My approach will be to do it all i.e. take as many lessons as possible that will teach me how to stay safe. Hey, I got to 50 and want to double that!

Any advice for a second time learner, comment below. :-)

Behind the scenes

We thought it might be interesting for customers to know a little about the work we are doing behind the scenes at Gingerparts – it’s Winter after all, so no bikes on the road!

Well, we’re very busy working on our data models. You know, the stuff that makes the site show the right products in the right way. It’s a much under-rated exercise on most sites, because without good data, mistakes happen. Plus, it keeps us warm all that typing, importing, exporting, associating and checking!

For us, this has been a long drawn-out part of our migration plan from Gingerparts’ earlier e-commerce system. Truth be known, that system was full of technical problems that were holding us back so the move, whilst a complex matrix of issues and decisions, was one of the best things we have done since we started selling online in 2005. (Nick bought the site in 2007, so he’s been at the coalface for 5.5 years now!)

Due to the issues mentioned above, we weren’t able to easily check our products and categories, let alone fix them. So when we moved to our new platform (known as Magento to those in the know) we knew we had a lot of work to do. This included tidying up some issues that crept in when we migrated the site.

Many people think e-commerce is easy… well the truth is not quite that simple! Sure, it’s easy if you have a limited product range – but we have hundred’s of thousands of parts we are adding to the site.

We’ve had to rework how we were doing our product names, update all of our pricing (parts catalogues change at least every year), try to write and reformat our product descriptions, make sure products were in their correct categories, create and assign product attributes (things like ‘exhaust length’ e.g. these stubby stainless steel, round exhausts!), work out how to make useful product associations (see the bit that says “You may also be interested in the following product(s)“, and click “See more”), assign product brands, and design the site to accomodate all sorts of new features we have planned in the coming year. Jake and our content team (frequently includes Nick and Darryl too) have been VERY busy!

Gingerparts product associations

But the biggest part of our work has been on our Bike Finder – the bit on the site below the header that directs you to your very specific bike page e.g. the
Yamaha FZS 600 Fazer 2000 (note the lovely url /bike/yamaha-fzs-600-fazer-2000/!). Motorcycles are complex! Sometimes a part can fit (almost) every bike e.g. a universal tail tidy. Sometimes many bikes. Sometimes only one bike make. Sometimes only a range of a bike make. And sometimes only one specific bike! Easy, eh?

Gingerparts product bike associations

One of the biggest revelations in all this is the realisation that e-commerce systems are generally product based, whereas parts, by definition, are vehicle based! Seems obvious when someone points it out, but believe me, it wasn’t too obvious for a long time!

Gingerparts bike fit

So, starting with a product-based e-commerce system, we’ve had to build, test and integrate a very sophisticated vehicle-based extension to make it work just the way we want it. Again, this sounds easy, but when you break it down to things like  ‘add product(s) to bike(s)’, ‘add bike(s) to product(s)’, and ‘add new bike(s)’ for all the different product/bike combinations mentioned above… well, it’s a bit of a head melter. Luckily we have a great development team at Banjax to work this stuff out with us!

Gingerparts bikes

Some of these things are largely invisible to customers, as it should be. For instance our Bike Finder should be fast – it is now, at least twice as fast as several months ago, and will get faster yet as we optimise our server set up. Many things are discoverable i.e. you only notice them in time as you use the site, then they should also fee, well, obvious, like they belong where they are.

The Gingerparts.com site is a work in progress. We have a very long roadmap for what we want to do to make it easy and pleasurable to buy with confidence. But we’d also like to get your suggestions on how to improve the site. We may not agree (hey, we’re opinionated SOBs!), but if we do, it will help us to add things we hadn’t thought about and prioritise our efforts.

We hope you like what we are doing – there’s a lot more to come!

Just leave a comment below if you want to talk about anything related to how our site works. We’d love to know what you think! Thanks.

Re-learning to ride

I haven’t ridden a motorcycle for over 30 years. There. I said it. Despite a very deep involvement with Gingerparts and a rekindled passion for motorbikes over the past three years, I still haven’t got round to re-learning to ride. Seems crazy, but there simply hasn’t been time. As Nick or Jake will tell you, I work long and hard most days and often in to the  evening. And weekends? Same, but with hoovering, washing cars, walking the dog, and generally trying to wind down.

But I’ve been talking about getting some beginner lessons to get back in the saddle for over a year now!

So I thought I’d write a journal on this blog for two simple reasons – making this public will put the pressure on me to actually get on with it and, heck, why not, there might be small lessons I can share as a born again biker!

Here’s my plan

  1. Research instructors, who best to get lessons from. Nick has a few suggestions (and warnings) about local instructors, so I’ll likely heed his advice.
  2. Book a bunch of lessons, starting with the basics (did I say it’s been 30 years?)
  3. Get a bike. Probably borrow one of Nick’s – he has 11 at last count, in various states from road-ready to “oh my god, what the hell is that!”
  4. Get some gear. Don’t have to look far for that – Gingerparts can get most things I need. What it can’t get, may be an opportunity to add something to the website! What helmet? How to choose the right size and fit? Jacket (I’m thinking bright green luminescent gear – traffic scares me in a car, so a bike is a terrifying prospect)?
  5. Take short rides. Practice what I’m taught, regularly!
  6. Venture further afield. Gingerparts is in Killyleagh, which is 30 minutes from civilisation, where I live.
  7. Group rides. Just read this very interesting post from a former fighter pilot about riding in a group – made me want to start this series of blog posts.
  8. Tomorrow the world. Hey, I watched “The Long Way Round” and wanted to jump back on a bike WITHOUT any instruction!

So let’s see what happens. Stay tuned.

Darryl