Archive for the ‘Bike’ Category

Dear Local Bike Shop…

Monday, March 14th, 2011

I’d like to take a minute of my time to congratulate you on the enviable position of willingly turning away paying customers.  It’s 2011, the economy is still pretty rough and apparently, buyers of several thousand dollar mountain bikes are all beating your doors down.  I have the audacity to show up or call you on the phone, merely asking for a minimal discount,  and the prospect of not getting at minimum, MSRP, serves to agitate you more than a customer asking you to fix a flat before closing time.  Sales must be great, where are the customers?

Many might question why I deserve any discount.  First off, I’d like to point out that we live in a free market, we are free to shop on price.  Secondly, while some shops offer great before and after sale service, none of that is of any value to me.  All I want is a bike in a box.  I’m sure you claim your mechanics are the best, but when you say that, you are thinking of your one good mechanic, not the other three stoners.  I want my bike in the box, in fact, please don’t even open it. I won’t be back for any work unless I crack the frame.  If anything else breaks, I’ll replace it myself thanks.

Wait, what sort of discount are you looking for, you say?  Well, most shops I called, I didn’t even throw out a price, the mere mention of discount set them off.  So how exactly did I do my wheeling and dealing, I mean, I must have been rude and crass, right?  Umm, not exactly.  This was pretty much my call:

“Hi, I’m interested in a new mountain bike, I want Brand X, Model Y in size L.  I’m calling around to local shops to find the best deal.  I know you will have to order the bike, I don’t need any help with it, all I want is the bike in the box, if you insist on putting it together, that is fine.  I’m not in any particular hurry, but I am looking for an attractive price.”

The most laughable calls were when I was actually quoted the actual MSRP.  As if I was calling for a price quote.  Just be honest and say, we don’t deal.  What would someone interested in a narrow market, high end MTB need you to quote the price for?  Your customer knows more than you about the bike!  In fact I had researched bikes for quite a while before I narrowed my selection down.  I know what the mail order prices are.  Shops are selling these same bikes for 20-30% less than you are, and somehow it appears their businesses are flourishing.  I would have been happy with 10-15%.

But instead, you missed one important point.  There is no limit on these bikes, in fact, there are leftovers from last year.  The bikes aren’t scarce, you can have another one in your shop with a few clicks.  How easy is it to find another schlep willing to spend what buys you a good second hand car?   When I walk, you not only lost a customer, you gave your competitor the sale.  You totally closed off any opportunity by refusing to discuss price.

And that is what has me writing this post, I am totally confused at this fact, how is $427.50 so much worse than zero?  That’s right, even if you were so liberal as to offer me 15% off, you’d still turn a profit of over $400.  But what about overhead, and “expert” assembly?  Unless you are at full sales capacity, more sales doesn’t cost you more overhead.  That expert assembly, I’ve been around bike shops long enough to see 5-6 bikes being built an hour by the average bike mechanic.   In fact, there is more labor involved assembling those $299 specials than the bike I wanted.

So yes, I’m curious as to why you hate me, the guy that buys the pricey stuff, wants a few bits chipped off and will be back to you for another bike in three years.  Instead you seem to enjoy helping your worst nightmare, the customers that keep bringing in their ratty rust machines for their yearly tune-up.  Your mechanic spends over an hour on each one and you bill out 30 minutes of time, every time another one comes in, you get further behind.  I’ll spare you my rant on how you can’t seem to make money on service, because I don’t want to kick you while you are down.

Sure is sad you turned down my money, because Bob didn’t.  He’s cool with shipping me the bike in the box.  That whole thing about not selling bikes to out-of-towners, yeah, he’s got that figured out too.  See, Bob knows business.  He knows that customers that come in the front door might pay full price, but he won’t let the ones that refuse to pay full price go, without a fight.  He knows that once a customer leaves, he’s not coming back.

Felt F5 – Routing the front derailleur

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

I’ve had a few requests to post up how to route the front derailleur cable and how I used a teflon liner.  I think the pics speak for themselves.

Jake the Snake Buildup, part 1

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

I had a real hard time finding a cyclocross frame I was happy with.  There are very few currently available framesets that have carbon forks, aluminum tubing and rack mounts.  The choices were down to the Kona Jake the Snake for $399 or the Motobecane Fantom Cross for just under $300.  It was an easy choice, $100 more for a name brand bike, and with better looking paint/graphics.  Finding one was hard.  It seems that Kona only made one batch of framsets and local dealers could not get anymore.  I tried to work with a local shop but they could not get one.  I ended up ordering from bikeman.com .  They were very easy to work with and I’d have no issue using them again.

I’m going to be moving most of my parts from my Scattante R-650 over to the Jake.  The only new bits are :

  • New wheels – the Korso’s on the 650 will not be up for offroading
  • New Bars – I’m going with 44 for more leverage
  • New Seat and Post – the ones on the 650 clash bad with green
  • New Ultegra bottom bracket – the old MegaExo is toast

In the pictures above, I’ve put on the Kenda Kwik Roller Holidays – 700×38 to  check for clearance.

Yet another new one…

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

So how do all of these bike purchases start?  I think I’m finally starting to see a connection. I buy things because I don’t have time to enjoy them as much as I want.  Its certainly true for other hobbies of mine, so I guess it applies to bikes.

How did I end up with a ridig 29er when I’ve been all about full suspension? My first mountain bike was an 1990 (I think) Specialized Rock Hopper Comp.  Suspension, even front, at the time was a dream.  I had so much fun with that bike.  I beat it into the ground and it always came back for more.  When the price of full suspension bikes dropped, I ended up getting rid of the rockhopper and going with a full suspension Trek 9100.

Flash forward to a few weeks ago and an itch to look around the performance website. Poking around, the GT Peace Multi looks interesting.  Rigid, decent components (all shimano and easton stuff) and the price is good.   $599.  A coupon drops it another 10%.  Team Points, another 10%.  How tempting.  I read a few reviews and everyone seems to like the bike.  So I ordered.

The bike arrived at my performance in less than a week.  I have to say I am very impressed at the quality of the parts and the frame.  GT does a very nice job of not putting junk parts on their bikes.  Even the hubs and cranks are Shimano, quite rare these days, especially at this price point.

Too much snow so the first real ride will have to wait.

Felt F5 buildup – Finished

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

So I finished the Felt F5 buildup, I hurried and didn’t snap pix along the way, anyway, its done, here is the damage:

Dura Ace BB 34.34
FC-R700 Cranks 119.95
FSA IS2 Headset 29.99
Ritchey Pro Peloton 59.49
Neuvation R28 299
DuraAce Bits 508.90
(shifters, brakes, cables, and deraulleurs)
BBB FiberRoad 31.25
Ultegra 12-27 59.40
KMC Chain 27.99
Bar Tape 4.99
Cables 16
Fizik Aireone 60
Michelin Pro 2 52
Tubes 9
Grand Total 2062.29

Felt F5 buildup, part 1

Monday, September 15th, 2008

After having my Scattante R-650 for a year, have started to get bored of it. Its a great bike, does everything well and is pretty comfortable. However after a year of riding, I wanted something new, so I picked up a 2008 Felt F5 Frame off ebay. While the frameset came with a headset, it was a junker, so I went looking for something else. Apparently there are 50 different headset standard these days, so finding something that worked was almost maddening. So IS-2 headsets are supposed to be tool free installations. Except that you need a tool to press the crown race on. The tool needed is pretty pricey but 10 feet of SCD40 PVC pipe in 1/1/4 diameter is not. I threw the crown race into some very boiling water. Fearing regular grease might compromise the carbon, I used crisco as lube. I used a 4 foot section of the pipe and put the forks in upside down. Two whacks of the pipe on the ground and it was on. I couldn’t believe how easily it went on, I was expecting a fight.

Crown race installed on felt fork

Crown race installed on felt fork

So now the frame and forks and bars are installed. Next step is the shifters and cables. Shimano has some nice docs online, I’ll be using those for reference.

starting to look like a bike...

starting to look like a bike...

For those curious, the size 58 frame weighs in at 1320g and the fork at a porky 470g.  I hope its stiff for all it weighs.