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Have bike makers gone mad?

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Mar 13, 2009
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Tour magazine uses test jigs to measure stiffness etc.
Some people end up believing that the higher the stiffness the better.
It's all fairly pointless. Some German manufacturers seem to build bikes just to test well in Tour magazine.
My point about hard evidence is that it really is academic. The real test is getting on the bike and riding it and then finding the one that has the ride and geometry that you feel comfortable with.
Just don't get sucked into the marketing of the high end "Euro" bikes (that are often made in Asia) and are not any better than the Asian branded equivalent.

Expensive bikes aren't just the domain of the "euro's" though, I noticed that Giant has an Advanced SL with Di2 at a cool $17k aud. Now that is just silly.:eek:
 
May 11, 2009
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Consumer Reports for bicycles? (I wonder if the editors at cyclingnews read these things?)

There seems to be a desire for head to head teastable bike reviews, at least for those of us who love cycling but are neither Bill Gates nor particularly fond of living on credit.

Obviously, stiffness is just one aspect of a good bike, as if relative comfort, handling, and I am sure there are a few others. Nevertheless, I would love to see comparative analysis of bikes side by side and see how they stack up and whether or not that $6500 bike is really that much better than a $3500 bike. Is the 'new carbon' really any thinner or stiffer, or we headed into the ultra-light aluminum frames that got wobbly? About whether Zipp wheels are 'really' more aero, or whether Campy 'Super' Record is really that much better at shifting.

For those who are saying that this data is out there, I will be the first to say that Colnago, Pinarello, etc. are great bikes, but there really isn't any data to back up their claims of 'being better' when cheaper high end frames have exactly the same bells and whistles, and seem to be winning more bike races. For example, if Taiwan makes bad frames, why did Menchov just win his first Giro stage on a Giant and not on a Colnago?

The only danger for the editors is that they must get there add revenue from the manufactuers, and I am fairly certain that most bike makers aren't going to pile money into a forum that just trashed thier product (of course, after it is poorly reviewed, it is a fairly safe bet that most of us won't be buying their product anyway.)

Despite this, I would neverthless love to see the head to head comparative anaylsis of bikes and components by the same riders on the same course, and then backed up by test results for the technical features to verify what is hype and what is reality.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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gree0232 said:
Consumer Reports for bicycles? (I wonder if the editors at cyclingnews read these things?)

I would hope for something less biased than Consumer Reports! But definitely something on those grounds.

gree0232 said:
For those who are saying that this data is out there, I will be the first to say that Colnago, Pinarello, etc. are great bikes, but there really isn't any data to back up their claims of 'being better' when cheaper high end frames have exactly the same bells and whistles, and seem to be winning more bike races. For example, if Taiwan makes bad frames, why did Menchov just win his first Giro stage on a Giant and not on a Colnago?

Exactly, all those makers only throw out words and comparisons pointing at words but never hard numbers. Everything trickles down but the prices for the products just 1% better are marked up 200%!

At this point most of us know all the carbon frames are manufactured in China (ok 90%), just visiting Bike Show at Vegas every year you will eventually if you are honest to yourself visit the Chinese booths and see for your self that anything is possible if you order 500 items (I think I remember that number, could be more) and have the frame labeld with your own name. Further discussions and you can get copy-cat designs of your favorite frame with small modifications so they're not exactly alike and keeps the big names away legally.

gree0232 said:
The only danger for the editors is that they must get there add revenue from the manufactuers, and I am fairly certain that most bike makers aren't going to pile money into a forum that just trashed thier product (of course, after it is poorly reviewed, it is a fairly safe bet that most of us won't be buying their product anyway.)

Right, most of us know if you read something you have to follow the trail (full ad for the product on the next page :rolleyes:). That alone discredits any review to me.

gree0232 said:
Despite this, I would neverthless love to see the head to head comparative anaylsis of bikes and components by the same riders on the same course, and then backed up by test results for the technical features to verify what is hype and what is reality.

I think that type of comparison/tests are a far reach of this forum, both financially and technically, there are a few sites that are getting close though but like most they suffer from lack of funds to test everything. At the moment they're concentrating on high end wheels, well some not so high end.
 
Mar 19, 2009
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BroDeal said:
The actual Ferrari is already dealing with a large number of sports sedans that cost much less, often much much less, but have equal or nearly equal performance and are more practical.

I disagree on the 'equal or nearly equal' performance. Sure you can get a taxi to do 0-100 in 5sec if you throw enough money at it, but does that make it perform as well as a Ferrari?

I've driven a ferrari 355 spider in Vegas and thought it was crap/not worth the money until i took it on a windy cliff edge road and was doing 50mph comfortably around corners, while a C06 Vet on the same rd was rolling around like a truck (me and friends hired both of em :D )

my point - if you want to measure a $10K plus bike than you have to ride to take advantage of what it was designed for.

i know i wouldn't be able to ride something like that to it's limits, infact my $6k valued bike (paid 50%) is above my abilities.
 
Yeah definitely. Bicycle prices are insane. This might not be a problem for pro racers or old guys riding 5000 dollar bikes in local masters racers.

However it is a major problem for young riders trying to get started.

I wonder if that is part of why track racing seems to be getting more popular.

Track bikes are relatively cheap.
 
mherm79 said:
I disagree on the 'equal or nearly equal' performance. Sure you can get a taxi to do 0-100 in 5sec if you throw enough money at it, but does that make it perform as well as a Ferrari?

I've driven a ferrari 355 spider in Vegas and thought it was crap/not worth the money until i took it on a windy cliff edge road and was doing 50mph comfortably around corners, while a C06 Vet on the same rd was rolling around like a truck (me and friends hired both of em :D )

my point - if you want to measure a $10K plus bike than you have to ride to take advantage of what it was designed for.

i know i wouldn't be able to ride something like that to it's limits, infact my $6k valued bike (paid 50%) is above my abilities.

I have driven an F355 coupe *many* times, and you are just flat out wrong. As much as it pains me to say it, current corvette is easily its match. The Corvette only has about one tenth the status--if that--so it's all good in the end. :)
 
BroDeal said:
As much as it pains me to say it, current corvette is easily its match. The Corvette only has about one tenth the status--if that--so it's all good in the end.

That is true, except people who spend their money on super expensive street cars are seen as losers by auto racers. For the cost of a Ferrari, you could spend a year racing Formula (Star) Mazda or get involved with other smaller Formula (open wheel, single seater) series. Or you could buy a Corvette or Porsche and race it a whole season.

The point I am making is that with racing cars and racing bicycles, if you are worried about status then you are probably a loser.

There are people racing Corvettes and other cheaper sports cars that could easily drive Ferraris on the street if they stopped racing. Some of them drive around old beaters as daily drivers. The cost of race tires, race fuel, and constant rebuilds are insane.

However to a true racer, racing is everything. A true racer is willing to sacrifice "prestige" in order to race. Driving a Ferrari on the street pales in comparison to racing an equally fast (or faster), yet less prestigious, car on the track.
 
Jun 16, 2009
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The problem with reviews is what are you evaluating?
Some bikes do not age well, and yet i do not recall someone reviewing a bike after 5 years. Since the cost is so high i would imagine alot of people would want to know.
We know Pros get their equipment provided so as long as something does not break during the race durability is not an issue. So when i hear someone say
"Its what the Pros ride, i always smile" I remember years ago in the Tour Du Pont Coors Light was using the specialized Tri spokes and the roads were killing them, Luckily the other teams loaned them wheels to finish the race.
At the same time LA Sheriffs was using the new Zipp 340 with 28 spokes and didn't break one wheel on the same roads. Apparently the Zipps were overbuilt and eventually Zipp went lighter on the spokes & carbon. I have a set from that era and a much newer set and the old ones are a little heavier but much stiffer. Since you have to finsih a race to win i would go with a more durable wheel and if they had their druthers i am sure many racers would do the same.
I have alot of spare parts and i decided to pick up some frames and now i have 4 giant tcr aluminum racing bikes, basically set up the same w old campy 8 speed and i race them and do quite well. the bikes cost me between
400 to 700 dollars each to build including my original cost of parts including wheels(some zipp some handbuilt)
Basically they are the same as what ONCE was riding in the Tour 6 years ago but i could crash all of them and still have spent less than a new TCR.
Even on a hilly road race i have plenty of gear selection and my frame was the lightest production frame & fork at the time(lighter than any litespeed) so i think all these guys who show up on bikes costing 10-15 times more than mine are just nuts.
 
Jun 23, 2009
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I believe most pricing is driven by the market. I agree with other posters, most guys who I see out riding are midde-aged and on expensive bikes.

I ride a Trek 5200. I love this frame, but am reaching a point where I am ready for a new one. I would like to buy another Trek but they seem to be 100% more expensive than when I got mine back in 2004. I am shopping around to find the best value. I want carbon and race geometry, but any manufacturers entry level frame will be more than I need.

If you want an expensive bike you should buy one. I love cycling so I have no problems spending money on my hobby, I just want to feel that the extra cash is worth it. Road cycling seems to cost about $1 per gram for components and about $3-4 per gram for frames.
 
The only sector that seems to have responded to the crazy prices is the track bike market. Most of them aren't used on the track, so lets call it the single speed road bike market. The bikes with a flip-flop hub with a fixed gear on one side and a freewheel on the other. They usually have a front brake or a pair of brakes.

In the city those bikes are all over. All the young hipsters are riding them. They are only around 600 dollars. I will probably get one. Before I do that I am trying to get one of the last domestically built Cannondale CAAD 9 frames and will throw a Campy group on it.

Seriously, why would anybody pay so much money for dura ace?

I don't want a company that builds fishing rods to build the stuff on my bike. I really don't like Shimano at all. They ran Suntour, and all the smaller Euro companies like Modolo, Stronglight, etc out of business.
 
Jun 28, 2009
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I believe that a lot of bicycles are overpriced. My bike was fairly expensive in 2004 when I purchased it but I owned and rode my old steel rig for 14 years. So, in 2004 I bought what I thought was an expensive bike, as did my family and friends who all think I am totally nuts, but I bought the bike because I like the way it rides and I also considered longevity, endurance, and quality.

I have to agree with a previous poster that with some of the more expensive bikes you are paying for the price. I think it's funny when you read bike reviews how the reviewer sometimes comments on little things about the price and how a bike in that price range performs as expected because of its price. S**t, I would like to see some blind tests on non-badged one color bikes and see what comments the testers come up with. Most things in life are overpriced nowadays, bicycles included. Oh well, until people stop buying into the marketing crap and paying for some of these overpriced items, the prices will remain as is.
 
Mar 11, 2009
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Advancedone said:
Please show me the hard data? Better than what, and how so?
Race results mean nothing, you can stick a juiced up rider on anything and they'll win.

Anyone who thinks that a Pina or Colnago is somehow better though has simply bought into the whole marketing thing. It will help with resale though.

Yes bikes are too expensive. The retailer will often have a 50% or more mark up on top line bikes, so will the distributors. Once everyone takes their cut (including government taxes), the $10000 bike is really only worth $3000.

Reality here. "Markups" on bicycles, called the 'margin' is the lowest on bicycles in the bike shop, highest on soft goods(clothes and such). and on labor/service(the very highest by a lot).

That doesn't even take into account the $ spent on labor building it, setting it up, service after the sale, etc. That expense is not rolled into the price of the bicycle. Just the raw margin, which is normally about 35 points(divide the cost by the margin, .65 in this case. Cost of $750, divide by .65, retail price is $1153.84. BUt like I said, doesn't take nto accont the labor paid to assemble, sell, etc. And when the weather gets cool or the makers roll out the 2010 in the MIDDLE of the year, discounting occurs which means a lot of times you actually lose money when you sell a bike(Most bike shops know you need an overall margin of about 35 points to just break even, no net profits).
 
Pietro said:
Reality here. "Markups" on bicycles, called the 'margin' is the lowest on bicycles in the bike shop, highest on soft goods(clothes and such). and on labor/service(the very highest by a lot).

That doesn't even take into account the $ spent on labor building it, setting it up, service after the sale, etc. That expense is not rolled into the price of the bicycle. Just the raw margin, which is normally about 35 points(divide the cost by the margin, .65 in this case. Cost of $750, divide by .65, retail price is $1153.84.

Yeah most of what you said is true. However, the 35% margin only applies to the production line bikes that come out of a box. It takes about 1 hour to set them up. I have also worked in a bike shop for years. The cranks and bottom bracket come installed, so does the fork and the headset. True the wheels, set up the brakes and the shifting, install the bars and the saddle, and you are ready to go. ;)

The "pro" bikes where you buy the frame, the groupset, the wheels, and basically everything separately have a much higher margin.

Anyway, that doesn't really matter. I don't think most people are complaining about bike shops.

It is the bicycle manufacturers that are out of control on the pricing.
 
Mar 11, 2009
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SlantParallelogram said:
Yeah most of what you said is true. However, the 35% margin only applies to the production line bikes that come out of a box. It takes about 1 hour to set them up. I have also worked in a bike shop for years. The cranks and bottom bracket come installed, so does the fork and the headset. True the wheels, set up the brakes and the shifting, install the bars and the saddle, and you are ready to go. ;)

The "pro" bikes where you buy the frame, the groupset, the wheels, and basically everything separately have a much higher margin.

Anyway, that doesn't really matter. I don't think most people are complaining about bike shops.

It is the bicycle manufacturers that are out of control on the pricing.

Correctly building any bike out of a box takes more than an hour. Can some lizard, who gets paid piece work, slap a bike together n less time that that? Sure, happens in 'anybikeshop-USA' everyday.

Properly taking BB out, overhauling/greasing headset, adding grease to the hubs, truing the wheels off the buke, tires off, etc.

Bike shops that start with a frame, after **** a fit, still use the 35 point margin for the bike. Gotta compete with the likes of R and A, Competitive Cyclist, etc. And it still doesn't take into account the build and service after the sale.
 
Jun 16, 2009
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Haven't read all of this thread, so apologies if I'm repeating something that's been said before ...

My belief is that pricing bears little or no relationship to cost ... This is based in part on my experience with my current roadie - which is a Cannondale Six13. Oh, and pricing details are from when I still lived in New Zealand - but Cannondale pricing is pretty consistent globally, so I guess comments could apply elsewhere - and, I would suggest, to every other brand.

Anyhow, when I got my frame/fork, the Six13 was the top of the line roadie. A fully kitted top of the line model (Dura Ace, Ksyriums, etc) went for NZ$11k or thereabouts. This pricing stayed about the same level for two years until Cannondale released the System Six - which then became the top model bike. At that stage, the price on the top of the line Six13 - still with basically the same kit out (save details like seat and bars) dropped to about NZ$8k. Same bike ... just now number two in the pecking order of frames. All good for another year or so until the first of the Six (ie., full carbon frames) came out. Then the price on the Six13 - still with D-A and Kysriums - dropped to about NZ$5k. The only material thing that changed throughout this time was the place of the Six13 frame in Cannondale's model range.

Similar issues arise when you check out pricing on 'cross bikes and the equialvently speced roadie (cross bikes are much better value) ... or roadies vs a similar level MTB (where you pay over the odds for the dirt bike)

As I say, Cannondale aren't alone in this kind of pricing behaviour - I have simply chosen them as an illustration because my bikes are Cannondales (and, despite what may be perceived as a criticism by my posting, I'd recommend them as a manufacturer to anybody). Also, the bike industry isn't alone in this. Check out outdoor gear - putting the word "alpine" or "ski" in front of "jacket", "pants" or "pack" can add up to 25% compared to the equivalent item with the word "hiking" in front of it ...

To those who talk about recouping costs of development over a product's commercial life, I ask the following three questions:
- if that is the case and if the Cannondale example I gave reflects mature product pricing, why weren't the previous model Campag Record and Shimano DuraAce groupsets going for less than $1000 (arbitrary price level for the sake of illustration) after the first 5 or so years of their "life"?
- how can manufacturers really justify the gouging that goes on for top of the line equipment? Case in point is with the Campag that I run - the difference between the Chorus and Record rear mechs that I run is one bolt, which adds about $100 to the price of the Record derailleur. Similarly, according to Campag's spare parts lists, the Veloce levers I just put on my cross bike only differ from Super Record in the 10 speed/11 speed ratchet in the right lever and the brake lever blade ... and the price tag ....
- really, how much development cost - other than marketing bulls**t - is there? I mean, for all of the curvy seat stays and top tubes, the design on bikes hasn't changed for over 100 years. The location and nature of frame stresses during use are well known. Throw in a bit of CAD/CAM software and I'm really hard pressed to see how - in anything short of a full suspension MTB with some new fangled set up - much development is required (and that's without factoring in the savings from the outsourced, low labour cost, Taiwanese or Chinese production facility ...)

Over all, I think that the industry is a classic case of largely uninformed customers and suppliers who - quite rightly from their point of view, as they are operating businesses, not charities - pricing to the point that the market will bear rather than to costs. Classic case of "caveat emptor" - let the buyer beware ... or more to the point "be-a-ware" ...
 
Jun 23, 2009
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I agree with kiwirider. However, I know I can buy a mid to lower end frame today that was considered top-of-the range a year or two ago. The different price points today aren`t that different imo but if you have the cash and want to spend it, why not?

I don`t buy the bike shop bs that it takes a huge effort to build a bike. Most come with stock pre-built wheels. If a shop is claiming to be injecting grease into cartridge bearings and having to true wheels then they are fos in the vast majority of builds that they do.

I don`t want to rant against bike shops as the ones I have been in are just trying to be profitable. I would bet most people reading this forum probably ride a lot and know how to install their groupset, so know what is involved.
 
Mar 18, 2009
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Do you know if the previous top of the line model is also a previous year? For instance, in kiwirider's example, is the Cannondale Six13 that is now $5K a 2009 model like the Cannondale Six carbon frame, or is it a 2006-2008 model? I understand your point if it is a 2009 model, but if it is an older model then it is likely that they are just trying to clear stock and make some money from the older surplus bikes.
 
Jun 16, 2009
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elapid said:
Do you know if the previous top of the line model is also a previous year? For instance, in kiwirider's example, is the Cannondale Six13 that is now $5K a 2009 model like the Cannondale Six carbon frame, or is it a 2006-2008 model? I understand your point if it is a 2009 model, but if it is an older model then it is likely that they are just trying to clear stock and make some money from the older surplus bikes.
For some reason, the forum doesn't like my reply ... third time's a charm ...:)

Should've been clear, the pricing I was talking about was manufacturer's recommended price for the current model in each year. No shop based reductions in there.

I also don't think that Cannondale would've been specialing the bikes out - partly 'cos I've tried to get old models before at model change and was told that Cannondale don't do that sort of thing. Also, the Six13 is based on the CAAD9 that is still in production (they cut out sections of the CAAD9 and replace them with carbon tubes) and I think is produced in batch runs, which implies little need for close outs.

To come back to the original question - and expand on my last diatribe ... I mean post, I think that the "problems" with bike pricing are that manufacturers are just responding rationally (in an economic or business sense) to consumer demand and expectations. Put another way, I think that consumers are the ones who have gone mad!

I mean, all consumers of all products have expectations of pricing based on brand/materials/perceived technology/country of manufacturer/perceived level in model range/etc. Put another way, most consumers would expect that a Colnago should cost more than a Decathlon (as a "department store brand") - even if it turned out that they came out of the same factory in China.

But I think the bit where consumers shoot themselves in the foot is in their expectation that "today's diamond is tomorrow's lump of coal". The bike industry is nearly as "change focused" as the IT and phone industry. (I use the word "change" as I believe that there are more "changes" than "improvements".) One result of this attitude is that manufacturers need to be seen to be constantly turning out new products (I remember seeing a review by one of the tech contributors on this site criticising Shimano for not changing anything on Dura Ace for years - after saying how well it had performed for an equal number of years!) The other result is that there is an ever willing group of punters who can be enticed to make a purchase of a new product that has limited or no improvement over the products it replaces - or even performs more poorly - simply because it is new.

I actually believe that manufacturers don't enjoy this aspect of the market. Why? Because of the law of diminishing returns. Put another way, every change to a mature product like bikes makes it harder to make the next change. That's why we're seeing increasingly less functional changes (eg., the little cut outs on the Super Record levers that "justify" the premium over Chorus - or even over Veloce), products that appear to have been rushed to market (eg., all of my friends who either ride or work on new DuraAce say that it performs really badly) or provide an expensive solution to a problem that may not exist (eg., pretty much the claimed weight savings from the XX can be achieved with the same gear ratio range as XX by staying on X.0 and fitting a 9 speed 12-27 road cassette). Manufacturers who don't play the consumer's game risk being labelled dinosaurs and consigned to the margins. Another option is to build in room for improvement to new products - but that runs the risk of manufacturers turning out flawed products that can also cost market share.
 
Jun 16, 2009
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KIWIRIDER that was spot on.
My friend who owns a bike shop showed me a nice $10,000 machine he special ordered for a customer. It was nice but come on, then he gave me a great explanation.
"the guy is a surgeon, cycling is his passion. He doesn't race but he buys a high end bike every year. Riding the latest and most expensive gear gives him a little rush and helps him forget about work."
It made sense, he had plenty of money, it didn't matter that he had reached the point of diminshing returns, his bike was fun to him, as much to ride as to chat about.
While i could never be able to afford that, the manufacturers would be stupid to ignore that consumer.
 
Jun 22, 2009
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...and today my fav shop has 7800 series Dura Ace wheels for six hundred dollars and 7800 Dura Ace shifters for two hundred. No, I can't afford that stuff when it's current, but I think I might just go buy that stuff for when I upgrade the 5.2 Madone, which by the way, are also being deeply discounted to make way for the 2010 models. It makes me sorry that I didn't wait to buy mine, but I thought US $3300 wasn't bad for a made in the US full carbon Ultegra SL bike (and I didn't put any of it on my credit card:D).
 
Mar 19, 2009
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runninboy said:
KIWIRIDER that was spot on.
My friend who owns a bike shop showed me a nice $10,000 machine he special ordered for a customer. It was nice but come on, then he gave me a great explanation.
"the guy is a surgeon, cycling is his passion. He doesn't race but he buys a high end bike every year. Riding the latest and most expensive gear gives him a little rush and helps him forget about work."
It made sense, he had plenty of money, it didn't matter that he had reached the point of diminshing returns, his bike was fun to him, as much to ride as to chat about.
While i could never be able to afford that, the manufacturers would be stupid to ignore that consumer.

we get loads of those mid-life-crisis cyclists in melbourne. its the new golf
 
Jun 16, 2009
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Black Dog said:
Up here in Canada we are also calling Cycling the new golf. It looks like this surge will pass and golf will once again become the new golf.

Here's hoping!! But I'm not holding my breath ... just been for a ride through the Gats (MTB, so thankfully not that long on the parkways) and I can tell you that there are still a hell of a lot of golfers out there!!! :rolleyes:

That said - at least they're out there exercising ... back in my native NZ they'd be sitting in front of the box watching the 15th replay of the previous night's rugby international, resting a greasy fry up on their beer gut and calling the ref a blind idiot! :eek: