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OK, GVH fanatics: I'm prepared to be flamed but(24 posts)

OK, GVH fanatics: I'm prepared to be flamed butscottfree
Jun 13, 2002 6:57 AM
I don't get it.

Gary's great low-end deal that everyone steers newby or low-end buyers to is the 'best $1295 Ultegra deal in the country,' or however it's advertised. The Viner.

OK, let's think: You pay $1295 for the 'complete' bike that you have never ridden or even laid eyes on. As I understand it, the 'complete' bike has no pedals. Let's conservatively add 65 bucks for low-end Looks. That gets the price to $1360. Then you want a carbon fork -- that's an extra $100, which gets the price to $1460. And THEN, if you live in the east, you add $40 for shipping, for a grand total of $1500.

Fot 1500 bucks, you get a not-quite-assembled bike that a newby (or even an experienced rider) may have to take to a LBS to finish assembling/check out, and probably pay another $30-40. Even if not, you've paid $1500 for a bike with NO 30-day tuneup or local support if (when) you have problems with it. You gotta pack it up and ship it all the way across the country. I'm sure Gary will set things right, but still ...

Know what? I believe you can find a real nice Ultegra bike with carbon fork and pedals right in your hometown, even at inflated LBS prices, for less than $1500 -- tax included -- and you'll get to test ride the thing, have it fit for you in person, and get the 30-day tuneup (and maybe other deals)and local support.

I think it's time SOMEBODY pointed that out.
Jun 13, 2002 7:18 AM
I have enough trouble buying shorts or shoes over the internet that fit.

I would rather buy the bike locally, fit is so critical. So is follow up service.
No Flame enclosedt-bill
Jun 13, 2002 7:22 AM
Gary appears to have some good deals, but I would agree that GVH is not the best option for a newby.
however...namir in SoCal
Jun 13, 2002 7:30 AM
if the knowledgeable newbie got the info on the frame geometry in the 2 sizes they may be considering and took that info to a cool local shop that has a serotta fit-bike, they'll be able to dial in the geometry for several different sizes/models/manufacturers and see what feels good. granted, this is not as good as test riding it, but at least a new rider would be able to tell if the bike they're considering buying online would work for them.
It's going to be more a flicker than a flame...Lone Gunman
Jun 13, 2002 7:43 AM
"Everyone" does not include me. I would not steer a newby towards buying site unseen. Low end, maybe if he knows what he is doing and wants in frame size and components. The majority of the bikes that I look at @ GVH are exotics (debateable) that the average LBS does not and will not carry because the market for those bikes is so small it does not pay LBS to carry. I also peek at GVH as the yardstick to get a ballpark idea of what something costs. LBS in my area means Local Bullsh1t. I have to travel at least 1 hour to get to a shop that might have available a complete bike on hand that I want, and that is a BIG might. If you want a Trek, Cannondale or Lemond shop local. If you want a Cinelli, Viner, Moser, Pinarello, Pegoretti I will never find that bike in the local shop, even the best one. Those are going to be the site unseen untest ridden buys.

For what it is worth, I bought my Lemond without test riding; I knew the components were near the best, I took my old bike in and got a measurement for the top tube and ordered and the new bike had a CF fork. I paid full retail because it was the first year out for that bike and everyone wanted one. Very little difference in the manner that I bought my bike as opposed to buying from GVH.
re: No flame here.... Im a newbie and called Garycyclejim
Jun 13, 2002 7:44 AM
I'm a road newbie and was looking for my first road bike. I did a ton of research and had a fairly good idea of what I wanted. I called Gary to ask just a few clarifying questions and to be honest, I felt like he was annoyed with my questions and he was pretty short with me. In the end I decided against buying a bike from him because of the way I felt during the pre-sale call. I definitely feel like he is more for the person who knows exactly what they want and won't waste any of his time ordering it. Just my two cents.
that's really frustrating. nm.namir in SoCal
Jun 13, 2002 7:46 AM
re: OK, GVH fanatics: I'm prepared to be flamed butS-U-B
Jun 13, 2002 7:50 AM
I would not consider myself a GVH Fanatic, but I hae purchased a full bike, and a seperae Dura Ace build Kit from him and have been happy with his service. I bought my wife a lemond Zurich, 1999 frame never ridden, with full ultegra and Ksyrium SL's for 1550, of course the Ksyriums are on my bike not hers. You probably can find an occasional Ultegra bike at a LBS for 1500 on a closeout etc.. but I think most bikes in this range cost between 1700-2200 dollars. One good thing about GVH, is the ability to upgrade individual components with small upgrade fees, rather than having to replace parts that you dont want on a LBS bike. As far as putting the bike together, I think a chimp could put it together once it gets to your house, it has full instructions, basically you need to attach the bars and wheels. I agree that you do not get local bike shop service, so if this is high on your priority list it's a problem, but this is true of anything your purchase over the net.
don't buy build kits from rip-off comparednamir in SoCal
Jun 13, 2002 7:59 AM
abici has deals that put a full dura-ace build kit at about 1/2 the price of one from gvh, if i remember correctly. abici has dura-ace kits for $725. obviously, no wheels and hubs, but whatever. buy a set of ksyriums on ebay and you've already saved yourself hundreds over retail and even over gvh.
perhaps look at the bigger picture.....(or even think a little)Spirito
Jun 13, 2002 12:57 PM
GVH is not interested in selling build kits as that isnt a good way for him to make some coin. he'll never be able to compete an doesn't even plan to.

buy your build kit at abici.
buy your k's on ebay
buy your frame from excel
pay shipping from your 3 different sources
have your bike built

the cost then works out a little differently

gvh offers the lot for a reasonable coin and the conveinience of one transaction and one person to deal with isnt that much of a hassle for some and makes it attractive for most that buy from him.

there will always be cheaper stuff but it depends on how much time and effort you are prepared to spend. i can buy $3 + shipping for brake hoods from Holland or pay $10 + tax at a local store. am i wasting $5 bucks for my convenience and unwillingness for the hassle and effort - NO - in my mind it just makes "cents" to spend a few more coins. keep in mind that is probably all i would be prepared to spend at my LBS.

discrediting a business by the prices they charge is like calling an multiple amputee a jerk - not sport in my books and incredulous. if you think his prices are high don't buy anything from him - no sweat, no hassle - let you money talk and decide.
Geez, I dunno ...pmf1
Jun 13, 2002 7:52 AM
I'm constantly amazed at the low end stuff I see on bikes costing $1500 at a LBS. Typically an aluminium frame and pretty low end components. Definitely not Ultegra. As for the 30 day "free tune-up", its worth about what you paid for it. Nothing on a new bike should need tuning up after 30 days if it is built correctly. Cables don't stretch these days. Wheels should not come out of true. Most LBS who claim free lifetime maintenence will end up charging you if a part is onvolved or if the repair is substantial.

Most bikes at LBS do not come with clipless pedals either. And as far as installation goes when it arrives, there is very little to do.

I do think that there are plenty of bargains out there in the $1500 range and GVH isn't the only show in town. I also think that LBS prices are definitely higher. You should get some service that you do not get from mailorder in return.
re: OK, GVH fanatics: I'm prepared to be flamed buttarwheel
Jun 13, 2002 8:30 AM
You make some good points, but not everyone has access to good bike shops that carry the kinds of frames and groups that GVH routinely stocks. I live in a fairly large metro area, yet few of the shops carry quality steel frames anymore. The only steel bike I could find were LeMonds, which don't fit me. My other options were Specialized, Trek or Cannondale aluminum bikes -- which were also not the ideal geometry -- and I knew from experience that I preferred steel over aluminum.

I haven't bought a bike from GVH but came real close to ordering a Colnago Crystal with Chorus group. The closest thing I could have found to this was the Colnago Classic, which one of the LBS could have ordered and built for about $500 more than what GVH charges. You do the math -- is it worth $500 for that free 30-day tuneup? In the end, I ended up buying a Gios from Excelsports (over the phone) in part because Gary Hobbs went on a 2-week vacation right when I was ready to order and I couldn't wait. To make sure I was buying the right size, I paid one of the local shops for a professional fitting (Serotta). I ordered the bike, saved $500, and received it in a week -- when it could have taken a month or more to special order a Colnago. I have had a few minor problems crop up, but the money I saved more than covered the expense or hassle. One of my wheels came out of true about a month after buying, due to a loose spoke, and it cost me $10 to have the wheel retrued. I paid my LBS about $30 to cut the steerer tube and install a new stem once I got the handlebar height/stem length dialed in. The only "serious" problem was the bottom bracket coming unscrewed during a ride 6-weeks after I got the bike, which scored the left crank. Excel not only replaced the crank for free, but paid for the labor to have it replaced.

Bottom line: I would order on-line or over the phone again -- particularly if the local bike shops continue to stock only aluminum bikes or ti and carbon models that are too expensive for my budget.
in addition ...tarwheel
Jun 13, 2002 10:19 AM
I would also add that Gary Hobbs patiently answered a number of questions I sent him via e-mail. I also talked to him on the phone and he was polite and helpful. Some people might have better relationships with their local bike shops, who cut them special deals, etc. For most of us, it's strictly retail with limited service and assistance. I have no serious complaints with my LBS, but they cannot come close to providing the selection or price that you can get by shopping around on-line. It's sad but true. I occasionally order parts from my LBS just to give them some business. I usually ending up paying about 20-50% more than I would on line and they frequently don't have the parts in stock and have to order them, which takes anywhere from 7-14 days. What's the incentive for me?
re: His C'Dale deals look very good next to local shops. nmdzrider
Jun 13, 2002 8:55 AM
Last year's CAAD-5 with Ultegra is, depending on what you do for pedals, about $300-$400 cheaper than closeouts at shops in my area. I found the assembly on the bike from GVH to take about as long as it took to get the bike out of its box. Not a big deal at all. It was, when I looked, the least expensive place to find a specific combination of bike and components that I wanted.
Put things in perspective...elviento
Jun 13, 2002 9:39 AM
GVH is a business and what sets it apart from other bike shops is that it's less costly to run, plus Gary splits the otherwise state sales tax revenue with UPS. He probably runs on a slightly lower margin than your LBS. The downsides are the typical ones of mailordering a bike. Best for semi newbies, because real newbies will need more tech support/service, and a real connoisseur wouldn't use LBS prices as reference.
re: OK, GVH fanatics: I'm prepared to be flamed butJS Haiku Shop
Jun 13, 2002 10:08 AM
IME, 30 and 60 day tune-ups (on the three bikes i've bought from LBSs) include tightening cables, adjusting derailleurs & brakes, putting a light true on wheels, and going over all the bolts and things that might need tightening. i can do this stuff myself. i've posted in the past and still stick to the opinion that most shops (at least 'round here) use the 30/60-day tune-ups as a chance to (#1) make a bike sale, and (#2) get the customer back in the shop and in front of more accessories.

$1500. i will happily eat my hat if you can show me one LBS that sells a handmade italian steel frame with full ultegra kit and open pros for $1500, with carbon fork, with pedals, including tax.

assembly. assembly includes putting the stem into the head tube, the seatpost into the seat tube, the front wheel into the fork, and mounting your own pedals (unless the bike came with pedals). five minutes, max, and do-able by most anyone.

problems. i can only think of one problem that might require you to send the bike back: frame failure. otherwise, it can be fixed at a local shop and you can be reimbursed. otherwise, parts fail--i've had two 105 shifters fail in the last 3 years. one from a LBS, one from gary. the LBS took more than a week to warranty replace it, and returned my bike with tool marks in the rear triangle. GVH cross-shipped a stock shifter and i was back on the road in a few days (way less than a week). then, recently, i suffered a major gatorskin sidewall tear in the first 400 miles, and gary gladly replaced it...a shop might not have. better service and attention than i've EVER had from a LBS.

that said, i've not purchased a viner from him. but, it seems he's the only viner source in the US (is this right?). if so, if his prices WERE higher, he'd have the viner market cornered (if there was a great demand for viner).

on his personality, i'm not one to talk. literally. in the last two bike purchases from him, i've talked to him a total of one time on the phone, maybe for four minutes. on the most recent one, not at all. when i did talk to him, he was dry and to the point, all business, and frankly, that's how i prefer it. no sales bullsh*t, no "how's the weather", no sugar-coating or beating 'round the bush. otoh, he's quick to answer and frequently checks e-mail, and i've sent him MANY DOZENS of questions and inquiries, all of which were patiently answered to my satisfaction.

I have recently been considering a higher-end aluminum frame. the particular brand i wanted was not to be had in town. the closest retailer was 200+ miles away (~3 hours). they quoted me $2850, plus tax (plus >6 hours in the car), for the bike with full ultegra and open pros. GVH came in over $1000 less on the SAME FRAME with FULL CHORUS, from the SAME DISTRIBUTOR supplying the bike shop...including shipping (and, of course, no tax). no thought required.

on my first purchase from gary, i had my concerns, but only before the bike arrived. that's all about faith in another person, and taking someone at their reputation. on the second purchase, i was only concerned about fit. gary worked with me carefully on my other bikes' dimensions, and the last one arrived dialed-in 100% perfectly. on the next purchase, i have no reservations.
Wow, even the flames were polite & lukewarm.scottfree
Jun 13, 2002 10:46 AM
Clearly, some of you who had great experiences were the type of buyers who SHOULD go to Gary (or other mail/online sources). You know bikes, know what you want, know the right questions to ask about fit etc. Don't need an LBS to babysit you.

Mt original post was more about newbies and low-end buyers who want a decent cheap bike, and keep getting directed to GVH.

And JS Haiku, wouldn't want you to eat your hat. I didn't realize Viners were 'handmade,' although I knew they were Italian. Cain't point out NO handmade Eyetalian bikes for sale at any LBS here in Kentucky. But I can point out several that will sell you a Reynolds 853/Ultegra/Bontrager/carbon-fork-with-pedals bike for less than $1500. Maybe the economy's just depressed dowm here!
we couldn't have gotten that in a haiku?! ;-)~loop
Jun 13, 2002 10:58 AM
a haiku or 2 ;-)~dzrider
Jun 13, 2002 11:30 AM
how can we be sure
the V in GVH bikes
don't stand for Viner?

a Marinoni
with full Chorus, Open Pros
Where is my 2 grand
second one--ROTFLMAOloop
Jun 13, 2002 11:41 AM
hit the nail on the head....Spirito
Jun 13, 2002 12:43 PM
haiku baby is right in saying that not a lot of LBS offer what gary does and its hard to compare.

as a matter of fact the merckx haiku bought isnt available anymore or anywhere else for that matter and was a VERY reasonable price when considering the step in price to a new similar type by the same manufacturer, when comparing it to similar used frames by the same manufacturer on ebay and even when comparing it to similar level steel frames offered in lbs.

if GVH wasnt meeting the satisfaction of most of his customers as well as offering generally good value he wouldnt be in business. from what i know he has many more satisfied customers than not. he does alright for himself and ill soon let you know what my experience with ordering from his is like. ill also add that some people can never be pleased as he does offer more than reasonable options if you are not satisfied. buying unseen is risky - always will be.

perhaps im a communist or something but i can think of many bigger fish to bash than GVH ... the entire spectrum of LBS in my hood would be the first id start with. the prices they ask, what they offer and the level of service are ridiculous and i would rather they be out of business than than sell bikes to cyclists who dont know better. where possible ill let them know about it and if GVH does good by me then in my book - one good turn deserves another. whats unfair about that?

just to add some flavour the best (highest recommended) LBS where i live charges $80 (without tax) to fit a new bottom braket - you want that tapped and faced ...sure it costs extra. having ridden with a few of their mechanics i know they pay them fxxx all and even if you pay the 30% premium over what you could buy the same BB at say CC or excel (+ tax) they still dont give you a discount on fitting it. and yes i know them and have been a good customer (or so i thought to the tune of $6k+ in the last few years). ill take a "risk" and drop cheese with GVH anyday.

overheads is one thing - the LBS pissing in my pocket is something that doesn't become me - my LBS will die and ill keep building and servicing my and my friends rides and be all the better for it as a result.


re: OK, GVH fanatics: I'm prepared to be flamed butPhatMatt
Jun 13, 2002 2:19 PM
My first and only dealings with gary have been great. I do have a Viner. I purchased teh Viner Evolution on the winter sale. I recieved the bike full ultegra carbon fork and pedal + shipping for 1350.00 Could not even come close locally. I was very nervious with ordering over the net or by phone on a complete bike, after my e-mails and phone calls I felt very comfortable. The bike runs great. It was a sinch to put togather. I will go back if Ihave to buy a new bike. And I am sure I will, some day I will switch to carbon/combo or stell. But for now I like the AL bike.

I concur!tmguy
Jun 14, 2002 8:31 AM
My experience with GVH was very similar. I bought a Pinarello Opera with Record and Neutrons. His price was at least $400-900 dollars less than any one else, he is an authorized dealer (so no warranty problems), and his service was great.

He bent over backward to get the bike to me on my 40th birthday. He got the wrond fr. dr. from the distributor so he shippped at his own expense a new one from someone else which arrived prior to delivery, for me to install. It came with the med cage rr. der., which I did not want, so he immediately sent me a new one agian by overnight express with a new chain and I sent the old one back. He even followed up with carbon spacers that I requested to replace the al ones that came with the bike. My only complaints were that the assembly was not up to my standards (all bolts greased before insertion), and the BB shell was not faced so it backed out on the drive side, a pain in the ass out on the road which caused me to lose some paint on the non-drive side from the crank arm.

Sure he is not great on the phone, but you cant make a sale if you are chit chatting to long to someone who may or may not buy a bike. By e-mail he is extremely responsive. Once we made the sale, he was very happy to talk further.

Again, I agree not for the inexperienced (i did have to install some things, and do some follow-up work) but if you know what you want his prices are excellent.

I agreevoodoo-1
Jun 16, 2002 6:46 PM
You couldn't beat the prices, and he tries hard to get you what you want when you need it.

On the downside, after only having my bike that was built up by him for only a few days now, it has already needed to go into the LBS for work. It seems that he doesn't do the best job on the build. . .No grease on the BB, so it started creaking, and on an aluminum frame it probably would have siezed in there for good if I hadn't decided to take it in. The hubs are loose, and I need to get them fixed, and overall what I thought was a pretty good job, was pretty slack after only a couple hundred miles of riding (and this isn't because things get loose, it's because they weren't right in the first place).

Pretty disappointing to buy a full Record bike and not have it put together well. . .hopefully it'll be alright after another trip to the LBS (needed the bike to get home, otherwise it would still be there).