As soon as White Industries made their hubs available in colors, we immediately began offering them to our Rail and FSW customers. We learned some stuff:
- Red hubs were the most popular, outselling even black.
- Red and black comprised about 80% of all orders. Blue was a distant third with about 10%. All other colors combined (gold, green, pink, purple, silver) made up the other 10%.
- Most customers who wanted black had zero interest in other colors. Customers who wanted red would sometimes switch to black if it meant faster delivery. Customers who wanted any other color were adamant that it had to be that color - almost as if the availability of a pink or purple or blue hub is what drove the demand in the first place.
- Choosing a hub color doesn't feel like a custom wheel build, even though it since we have been building most of our wheels to spec (ie, after a customer has purchased them and selected hub color). Because it doesn't feel like custom, why the hell do I have to wait 3-4 weeks for it? It only takes a few hours to build my Rail 34s with blue hubs so they'll ship tomorrow, right?
- The uncertainty of what color hubs in which rims would sell this week had a mildly paralyzing effect on production, as we were unwilling to build much ahead of time and risk tying up rim inventory and build resources for stuff that might languish in inventory.
Good lessons, all. We've spent a few months learning and digesting and have made two changes that improve our service levels and offerings pretty considerably. They are:
- Standard Rail 34 and Rail 52 builds: Because most of the Rails we sell are with black and red hubs, we're offering those as standard builds that we build up ahead of time. This means we'll be able to ship them out within 2-5 days of orders most of the time. Visibility into color demand makes it a lot easier to commit resources to building for stock. For now, we are still offering a choice of decal color (silver/red or all silver), though we do see a time where a standard build comes with a standard decal color (since 90% of people choose what would be the standard anyway).
- Rail Custom builds: This is the good stuff. Since we're building a lot of wheels to customer spec anyway, why not let the customer fully spec the wheel and make it feel as custom as it is? Rail Custom allows you to choose rim depth (get your mullet if you really want to), drillings for each rim (20/28? no problem), hub color, spoke color, nipple color, decal color and decal quantity. Some of these options carry an extra cost and anything through the custom process can take up to 4 weeks, but you're getting precisely the wheelset you want and we are building it just for you.
All our PowerTap and disc hub builds are now in the Rail Custom option. In advance of the 8 people about to ask in the comments if we plan on adding other hub options to Rail Custom I can say with certainty that we don't know yet. We're small and want to stay that way so are exceptionally wary of adding complexity that isn't warranted. We're going to see how custom affects demand before looking into other hub options. So a definite possibly. In the meantime, there are plenty of talented wheelbuilders who are building Rails with other hubs, so hit them up.
And before the next bunch of you ask, no you cannot get 7 white spokes laced against black in a pattern that roughly resembles your initials, alternating nipple colors, 3x drive side and radial nds, or other modifications not presented in the store page. That's full custom. We offer November Custom which, like most of what we do, is a little different but thoughtfully so. Again, for the full custom stuff talk to these folks here.
The main reason for these changes is that we realized our product philosophy had become a little watered down. By offering a "standard" build with a lot of options that took a long time to deliver because we were building to spec, we were neither a productized brand nor a custom builder, but were straddling between both. You could argue that we offered the benefits of both but I think the reality is that by not being able to ship wheels out ASAP and by not offering a more complete custom offering, we lacked the advantages of either. With these changes we are both a productized brand AND a custom builder, able to more fully satisfy a couple of different use cases. Provided you like Rails that is.