From The Vault: Eurobike News

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One of the things that Mike and I bat around but never actually get to is figuring out how to make info in the blog archive more accessible. It's a regular thing that someone will ask a direct question or post something on a forum, and there's already been a post with a complete answer to the question. A freakish amount of the time, we'll actually remember the post right off, and have some touchstone to be able to find it. Today's Throwback Thursday is not one of those. Though it addresses a forum thread where I wasted time that I'll never get back, I didn't remember this relevant post at all. 

Originally posted 9/7/2010

Now that I'm a big fancy pants bicycle company executive, I follow the trade coverage more closely than I did before.  One item that stuck out among the write-ups about the recently completed EuroBike show was the news that the major carbon suppliers were passing along a pretty striking price increase for the coming year; something on the order of 60%.  Time to buy your new bike right now and beat that price increase, right?  Maybe. 

Have you ever noticed how immediately gas prices go up when oil prices climb, and then they settle back down more slowly, to a level above what was considered "par" before?  I'm not accusing bike brands of profiteering in the way that oil companies do (Congress doesn't seem to have the same proclivity for rhetoric about "windfall taxes" when they talk about the bike industry), but there's a similar dynamic that goes on with news like this. 

The price of raw materials is but one component of the price you pay for a fancy new carbon toy.  Take a pretty standard frame, and let's say that it weighs 1100g.  In that weight, you have aluminum dropouts, BB shell, maybe some stops riveted on, etc.  Let's say that there are 150g of aluminum in the frame.  That brings the net weight down to 950g for the actual carbon bits of the frame.  Now, the "carbon bits" are really "carbon and epoxy matrix bits," of which somewhere around 60% to 70% by volume is carbon.  But while epoxy is sold by volume, carbon is sold by weight.  Epoxy's way heavier than carbon.  So by weight (and keep in mind this is a well educated guesstimation designed to make advance a point, not to provide laser accuracy), your 1100g frame has maybe a half pound of carbon in it.  When you're talking about something as expensive as carbon, it certainly makes a difference, but in the context of a $3,000 frame, it's not that big a deal. 

THINGS THAT ARE DEFINITELY A BIGGER COMPONENT OF THE PRICE YOU PAY FOR A FRAME THAN CARBON:

1. Marketing

2. Inventory

3. Labor

4. Engineering

5. Supply chain markups

6. Floor plan financing

THINGS THAT ARE PRETTY SIMILAR TO THE COST OF CARBON AS COMPONENTS OF THE PRICE YOU PAY:

1. Manufacturing overhead

2. Graphics and paint

3. Boxing and shipping

So, yes, any time raw material input costs rise, it puts upward pressure on the price of finished products.  Don't, however, be fooled into equating a price increase in raw materials with a corresponsing increase in finished goods pricing.   Yes, everything adds up.  When I wear my product manager hat, I see that in as clear a light as you can imagine.  Every penny saved is a good thing.  We've stripped as many of the Big 6 costs down to zero as we can, so we're actually less insulated from raw material increases than others are.  I'm far more concerned about the state of global shipping than I am about the cost of carbon. 

Prices do rise over time, we know this.  Central bankers call 2% inflation "price stability."  But if there's a story that the price of carbon bikes and wheels is going up 5% this year because the price of carbon went up, it's BS.  There, I said it. 


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  • Dave Kirkpatrick on

    Nobody Does It Better? One of my favorite Bond movies. Thanks!

  • 1stCycle on

    Uh-oh! I think Carly Simon wrote a song about this misunderstanding. I tried to avoid this by using "us" and "we" in regards to those of us on the forums. Having said this, let me go on record in saying my dealings with November have been excellent and will not use another builder so long as it fits within your offerings. I apologize for wasting your time…

  • Dave on

    Telling us we don't engage and answer questions to exhaustion is like telling the ocean it isn't wet.

  • 1stCycle on

    Isn't every question asked of us, be it novel or previously answered, an opportunity to display our worth, gain the asker's trust, and potentially sell them our product or service? Further, isn't there a certain uniqueness to every rider's question based on that person's style, geography and landscape, physicality, and so forth? That said, if the aforementioned characteristics truly do not apply to a more straightforward question, do we not have the opportunity to make that person feel unique and, dare I say, special? At the very least, we should avoid backhanded help. These wasted opportunities tend to reveal our own shortcomings rather than those of others. It is only a waste of time if we merely post a link rather than engaging an individual.

  • Scott on

    I always appreciate your company's honesty, integrity, and transparency!!It's quite interesting, but not surprising to me, how much the money involved in bicycles is so very similar to the costs re: commercial health insurance… I'm not in the insurance industry, I'm a firefighter. And a past Union President, and we restructured the way we buy insurance to control the same things that you guys have with bicycle stuff…Keep up the good work!!



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