We've seen some stories about how hard it was to buy bikes last summer as everyone and her brother all of a sudden wanted to go riding (make no mistake - more people on bikes is a good thing), but I haven't seen any coverage of the shortages of higher end parts. It's been a big issue for a while now, and we talked about it last fall. In a lot of cases, things have gotten worse since then. Conti GP5000 tubeless tires haven't been available through US wholesale since the fall, finding Shimano stuff is still a bloodsport.. it's just a mess that's not getting better quickly.
Hub availability is a mess. Chris King asks for 90 days lead time and even then that's not a hard promise. Industry Nine has just pushed their lead time up from 4 weeks to between 7 and 11 weeks. White Industries says 3 to 4 weeks, but generally delivers substantially more quickly than that except if a color or drilling is unavailable. DT's availability is all over the map - it could be to us in 3 days, it could take 6 months. Onyx is at about 3 weeks, and Aivee is at around twice that.
Brands that have hubs made for them or relabel off the peg hubs are just as out of stock as anyone else, and the big wheel brands like Zipp, Enve, Bontrager, Campagnolo, Mavic, etc are quoting longer lead times for standard wheels. So it's a problem all around.
An idea that we have tossed around recently is essentially a version of the Nimbus Ti wheels we used to do. We're not relaunching Nimbus Ti hubs, but the idea would be to keep hubs and rims on hand to be able to do quick turnaround "standard builds." So we'd have carbon and alloy "road builds" which would be HED Belgium+ and Cafe Racer rims, and carbon and alloy "gravel builds" which would be HED Belgium G (née Eroica) in 700c and 650b and All Road 38 and GX24 rims, and only carbon mountain bike builds because finding alloy mountain bike rims right now - good luck with that. The big functional question is which hubs - we'd lean toward White Industries but Aivee could work nicely as well. And the question of is delivery speed enough of a draw to where people are good with a much more limited choice set.
Custom will continue to be the majority of what we do, it's just subject to a sticky market situation. The "ready to wear" builds wouldn't have any price advantage, because there's no cost advantage to us - the stock carrying costs would disadvantage our cost situation. Your advantage would just be delivery speed. And because we'd make the inventory as adaptable as possible, we wouldn't pre-build anything, so while turnaround would be quick, we wouldn't be able to put anything in a box that day except in some miraculous circumstance.
I own several wheelsets, most of them from you folks, so I’m not in the market either. If I was I’d opt for the WI/Belgium+ package as well although you might want to consider reviving the Nimbus Ti option as a go-to. One thing I am waiting for is the revival of the Timoneria frameset. I want a disc version. Hey, that would also mean more wheel sales for you, at least from me :)
Damn, should have ordered the wheels for the new bike ( that I am about to order the parts for) back in December :(
So i’m in the position of already owning 2 sets of your wheels, thus not being in the market at the moment. Were I to suddenly need wheels, and you had black WI hubs with Belgium + rims readily available, that would be a no brainer for me. Even without the product crunch, if it was ‘this set of quality product in one color choice’ vs ‘wait weeks or months for similar products’ I think I’d still opt for the in stock. (Perhaps I learned my lesson waiting for green WI hubs a few years back?)