Why is a wheel company selling bikes without wheels?

Before I answer the question in the title here's some relevant data on the dojo pre order (which remains open through today so is subject to change a bit):


  • Framesets by themselves were less popular than frames plus a gruppo, build kit, and/or wheels - only 26% of dojo buyers bought just a frame.
  • Of those who did buy more than a frame, only 20% included wheels.
  • Of those who did include wheels, 100% opted for Rails with 0% choosing our alloy FSWs.


Let's unpack these a bit and see what's going on here.

The first one - on the preference for frames+ instead of frames only - was the only one that surprised us. Our pre orders are normally pretty heavy with frame only buyers - always over 50% and as high as 70% in the past. My guess is that the wholesale conversion of gruppos to 11 speed this year lured more people to start fresh with their builds - exactly as most brands and retailers in the industry like it. Planned obsolescence is alive and well.

Are you surprised that so few people add wheels to their dojo? If you saw the number of dojo customers in the pre-order list who know about us after having bought a set of our wheels you wouldn't be. That is the heart of our decision to make bikes without wheels available, even though we have as much leverage as other brands when selling a bike to force the inclusion of wheels, and the incremental profit they yield.

But the other driver of the decision to make wheels optional is a function more of our mission and philosophy than customer analytics. When you set out to deliver value in unique ways, you necessarily have to examine every product decision to see where there is consumer waste. That's a very different approach than looking at product launches as opportunities for incremental revenues and profits. Because we have sold both bikes and wheels since our outset, we know first hand that people buy wheels hella more frequently than bikes. And based on eBay and Craigslist and other secondary markets, we know that OEM wheels shoehorned into a new bike purchase get jettisoned pretty quickly. Instead of trying to capture a piece of that well-established waste for ourselves, we set out to reduce it. Don't waste money on shit you don't need. That philosophy drives me and Dave as people as well as November as a brand.

The data suggests that our customers like the flexibility that results from our philosophy, as it creates a custom buying experience at a less superficial level than choosing your paint and decal colors on the bike that includes wheels and a cockpit whether you need them or not. It is also borne out by the last data point - that 100% of dojo buyers who did opt for wheels went to the highest end and rolled in some Rails. If you don't waste money on shit you don't need, it's easier to afford more upmarket versions of the stuff you've decided you really want.

We're not yet sure how these data and insights will impact our frame and bike business in the future. But they're interesting to us in that they validate our philosophy (anything that tells us we did something right is interesting to us), and also speak towards the market opportunity for greater degrees of customization. As people pay more attention to how they spend their money, "precisely right" begins to win out over "good enough." I frankly have no idea yet what we'll do with that nugget, but we're hanging onto it regardless.

Back to blog


Todd – ThanksJoe – We had a couple of Joes sneak under the wire. You?Kevin – The pre-production round is in our hands today. A couple of weeks with those, and then we'll open it. Our original timeline had pre-order start on 2/15. We'll be ahead of that in all likelihood.


Speaking of wheels, when will the Rail 34 pre-order be opening?


This is killing me, although I keep telling myself that the Dojo can't be as awesome as all the testers say. And I'd love to go 11 speed. But I'd have to go for a frame only because a complete bike is equal to a semester of dorm/cafeteria for one of my kids in college. Doesn't help that in the last 4 months, I've replaced my MTB, cross bike,and added a SS MTB (sold some too, to remain at the magic (S-1) number, where S is he number of bikes that triggers a divorce). Guess I'd better decide pretty quicklyl!


Giving consumers more options is never a bad thing. Kudos for sticking to your philosophy (because it is good).


Joe – Not phenomenal but good. Dave


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