The Why and The How

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One of the risks you face in doing a project like the Nimbus Ti is that people will be skeptical of prices that are "too low." We're all conditioned to believe that price and quality exist in a positive relationship, and that spending more is better and that ultimately "you get what you pay for." I had what was ultimately a pretty surreal conversation on Facebook about this yesterday (in itself worthy of a whole different conversation), so let's take a few minutes to discuss the why and the how. 

Why did we price the Nimbus Ti alloy wheels like we did? Short answer is because we had to. There are a million different options on the market, everything from "overpriced and bad" to "quite good but still overpriced" to "bad and cheap" to "holy crap, how do they sell those for that?" The first three compose the meat of the madding crowd within the market, but it's the foourth that's the ultimate threat. Whether they're grey market or overstock closeouts or loss leaders or whatever they are, there are always offers out there that demand your notice. 

I've never seen any of these showstopper deals that are, in my opinion, the near equivalent of what we are offering with Nimbus Ti builds, but when people can get a halfway decent set of wheels delivered for $300, that's what fancy people call "disruptive market forces." So here we are, sitting in between our two primary market edges - expensive, heavily marketed, regular channel wheels, and these super low price ones. Of course, we weren't alone where we are - our little corner of the fishbowl was plenty crowded with places doing similar products at not terribly different prices. And for a whole host of strategic reasons, we are firmly committed to being really really good at the alloy wheel business. So the cut that long story down to a much shorter one, the "why" is really simple: because we had to.  

Now the "how." The first piece of the puzzle is the Nimbus Ti hubs. Biggest thing is that they simplify the hub game for us - one color, the minimum number of fully relevant drilling options, and a product that works every bit as well for the guy/girl who's starting to ride more and getting into his/her first group rides/races/centuries as it does for a WorldTour team. When the one wheel product that you find yourself ALWAYS recommending is available as a part that you can get as an OEM product and make a centerpiece of your product strategy, you simply do it. The product attributes are all 100% there, same as the original, but the rules around OEM are slightly different and advantageous to our strategy. 

Another big piece of the how is Laser spokes. They're well under half the cost of CX Rays, for what is for all intents and purposes zero dimunition of performance. Lasers cost you a few seconds versus CX Rays in the 40k TT, but the wheels we're using them in aren't really focused on the pointy end of the TT results sheet. The business economics of them work brilliantly for wheel builders, as they are expensive and easier to build with, but the customer doesn't see benefit in line with that. 

Rims are, of course, another arrow in the quiver. We use the best off the shelf rims available, which gives us a ton of flexibility in how we use our money and buy and stock them. With some of the rims we use, we can turn our inventory 100x/year if needed. Conversely, we can buy huge and turn it 3x/year at a lower part cost but higher cost of money. Flexibility f-ing rules. 

There's a lot of romance around wheel building, and it's pretty easy to see some hip bank of credit card commercial with a mainstream-friendly hipster (oxymoron, I know) building wheels and scream out "hey, that's what I do!" but the actual reality is very different. We aren't that well groomed, our coffees aren't that transcendent, and we're busting nut for long hours to fit it all into the day. We chase efficiencies like they were gold, and basically work really really hard for what most people would call not a lot of money, but it's what we do, we like it, we're good at it, and we want to keep doing it. 


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  • PC Mountain on

    Makes sense to me but personally I never questioned the low price. You guys are offering an awesome deal, nuff said.

  • kimbo305 on

    > and we're busting nut for long hoursWhere I'm from, "busting nut" has a pretty specific meaning unrelated to "working hard" :)

  • Triston on

    Great article. I do find it highly amusing to continue seeing posts defending a great product to a sect of potential purchasers who might have fewer misgivings about plunking down double or more the cost of a set of Rail Tis or Nimbus Tis simply because they were sold on the overmarketed promises of marginal gains over the rest of the field. With that said, I think your patience in explaining what awesome work you are doing is admirable.I've had a set of Rail 52s with Nimbus Tis for a couple months now, and I love them, full stop. I've owned and raced a number of wheels, including Firecrest 303s, Roval CLX 40s, and notably, an older set of FSW 23s. In my opinion, my Rail 52s ride just as well as 303s, and are a head above Roval CLX 40s. Those comparisons I attribute the profile of the Rail, but just as much the new Nimbus hubs. The Rails are surefooted, swift, and confidence-inspiring. I think it is worth mentioning, though, that my older FSW 23s inspire similar confidence, not a small part of which I attribute to the knowledge and care of the folks building them.Could you squeak out marginal gains on a lighter wheelset sold by someone with a massive marketing purse? Sure. But I wouldn't say you can find a better engineered and built product at the pricepoint where the new Rail or Nimbus alloys now sit.A note on the new Nimbus Alloys: a friend of mine was recently considering buying a set of Chinese carbon wheels, but had misgivings about what, exactly, he would get in terms of quality, safety, and engineering. He is currently making the jump from casual every now and then rider to joining more group rides and centuries, with an eye towards the possibility of racing in the future. After a few talks, he purchased a set of Nimbus alloys with the new Pacenti SL23v2s, and he can't stop talking about how dramatically the new wheels changed the feel of his bike and the enjoyment he gets out of climbing now. And after helping him mount them, I think I need a set as well.


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