We think about prices all the time - ours, and everybody else's. Our own prices are constantly tugged, nudged and jostled by market forces. Materials and shipping expenses and rising labor costs (including our own) conspire to drive prices up. At the same time, even at our prices we're not immune to competition applying downward pressure, particularly in bikes, where the scale of bigger companies affords some operational advantages that are harder for us to match (like having enough lead time for bikes to be fully assembled in Taiwan with OEM parts bought there instead of here, and having enough of them to fill complete and even multiple shipping containers). Next to tire pressure and craft beer, price may well be the leading topic of conversation between me and Dave.
Prices, like pelotons, are elastic. We try to avoid changing them because it's confusing to customers and creates more work for us. But sometimes the elastic snaps and we have no choice but to lower our prices even further. I don't know if that metaphor allows us to escape the front of the peloton or if we've just been spit out the back. It doesn't much matter though because it's cross season and we're riding our own race.
If you haven't noticed, our fall Pre-Order (November 7th deadline) is now open. Click the red square in the left column of every page on the site to open up our new store and see what's going on in the pre-order. The pricing changes may not be easily apparent but there are some. Here's what we've changed for this year:
1. Wheelhouse Frameset is $40 less. When we launched last year the pre-order price for the Wheelhouse was $785, which threw off enough cash for us to feel sufficiently rewarded for our efforts and initiative. But then over the course of the year we noticed something awesome about our Wheelhouse customers - almost all of them came back and ordered wheels or something else from us. Either they really liked the frame, thought we didn't suck too bad, or maybe just realized they'd win more races on the bike if it had wheels. Either way they came back. We'd like more people to buy Wheelhouses this year, and then come back to buy wheels later (please), so we're lowering the price of the Wheelhouse by $40. And we've lowered shipping by $10 so that's $50 off the top right there. Plus we've added a local pickup option for anyone who wants to drive to Bethesda, MD which lops off another $40. (We've done this with wheelsets also, saving $35 for local folks.) The frame is exactly the same as last year's with two exceptions: 1) It's a BB30 this year (we make an adapter and bearings available), 2) In addition to the murdered out matte black it's also available in gleaming gloss white for a $75 upcharge. Otherwise, as last year, the Wheelhouse frameset comes with everything you need: frame, fork, headset, compression plug, cable guide, seatpost clamp, headset spacers, chainstay protector, VeloShine bike wipes and a couple of November water bottles. There is as much "set" as there is "frame" in our frameset.
2. RFSC pre-orders are $40 more. Previously our RFSC pre-order price was $140 off the in-stock price. For the RFSW tubulars, however, it has always been a delta of just $100. We decided to bring the RFSC discount down to match the RFSWs for a few reasons. First, it simplifies things. We know our whole deal is a little complicated so simplifying whenever possible is important. Secondly, the value proposition has improved. Our rim supplier has been killing it lately, and we've taken stock of hubs well in advance of rim orders, conditions which shorten the lead-time from pre-order to delivery. The other part of the value proposition affected by inventory is that for most of 2011 the only way to get a set of RFSC 38s or 58s was to pre-order them, as we would sell out before shipments even arrived. So the bigger pre-order discount was about $40 worth of apology for the inconvenience. But now we're better at keeping them in stock. And in fact right this very minute you can buy any of our in-stock wheelsets right out of our existing stock. Yep, we've got them all - 38s, 38 SOBs, 58s, 85s, even asymmetrical 58/85 pairs. So pre-order if you want to save $100, or buy them now if you prefer not to wait.
3. Wheelhouse Max Perkins upgrades wheels, holds price. The Max Perkins last year was $2285, with almost an identical spec to this year's Max Perkins. There are a few differences. The first is that the standard wheels are now the FSW 23s, upgraded from the FSW 27s from last year. The wheels cost $54 more but you don't see that cost in the price. Second, we've switched the seatpost from the Thompson Masterpiece to our own carbon post. We love the Thompson but the location of the setback in the post itself instead of the clamp left it unusable on some smaller bikes where the post needed to be run further down. Our new post (pictured here) is a 1-post design with a traditional clamp setback of about 20mm, weighing in about 195g. It's matte black with a 3k weave, same as the Wheelhouse. We've limited this year's to a single cockpit instead of a choice of 4, but it's a really nice one - Ritchey WCS Curve bars and a WCS 4-Axis stem. The bars and stem color will match the frameset color you choose, and you get your choice of bartape and saddle color. Oh, the saddle is new too - we're going with the Prologo Kappa, which comes in your choice of a men's or women's model. (Does that mean we can claim the Wheelhouse Max Perkins is now a Women's Specific Design?)
Our new shopping cart makes it easy for you to adorn your Max Perkins with any of our wheelsets, and even upgrade to premium hubs and a Quarq powermeter crank.
If you think you can build a bike better than the Max Perkins you're welcome to try. We're adding custom configurators to allow you to set up a SRAM, Shimano or Campagnolo build exactly the way you want it. They'll be up next week.
4. Frugal Fridays gets Frugaler. We know that even with the money you save, waiting for your stuff to arrive can be a bummer. So as soon as you place your pre-order for a frame, bike or wheelset we'll issue you your own personal coupon code good for an additional 5% off any and all Frugal Fridays purchases you make until your stuff ships. I know 5% isn't huge, but just think - if we get our hands on a truckload of $4400 Venge frames you could save yourself an extra $200 for each one you buy. That can start to really add up.