Is "perfectly nice" the new buzzword? Some of the stuff I'm reading lately reminds me of a Victorian romance novel - "I DO find you ever so agreeable."
Take, for example, the recent CyclingNews review of the Canyon SLX. Is it even possible that they've read this site and realized what a joke review verbiage has become? They even take it out of invented acronyms.
Canyon's been doing what they do for a while, and it isn't just out of the blue that they are prominent to the point of sponsoring a ProTour team (at an approximate cost to the consumer of about $350 a bike - a pittance to pay to ride the same bike as my man-crush Phillipe Gilbert - or not). Their bikes are still rather expensive ($1900 for the SLX, and $1160 for their lower tier Ultimate CF), and there's the small matter of them not being available in the US.
As a windsurfer, I'm interested to see major windsurfing equipment supplier Neil Pryde get in on the act. In windsurfing, NP is the 800 pound gorilla, the Trek of the market. They absolutely define the sponsorship market, and win an outsized percentage of the races - because they sponsor the majority of the fleet. They've adopted the direct-to-consumer model for their frames, which are actually designed from the ground up and not out of an open mold. Time will tell if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Another interesting thing to note is that Pryde was far and away the first sailing company to go to far eastern manufacturing for their products, and are themselves based in Hong Kong. With all that said, they're still well north of $2,000 for their frames. I don't see it.
Clearly, there are more than a few brands out there that see the benefit of selling directly to knowledgeable consumers, and the press may even be waking up to the fact that there really aren't too many new ways to talk about bikes that are really quite nice, just about as nice as a bunch of other ones out there. Maybe they'll start talking about innovative business models that sharply focus product offerings to specific consumer needs, and strip out any extraneous costs to deliver the product to the consumer at the lowest possible price? Maybe when we start buying display ads (and pigs start flying around).