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roadie conservativism -- seeking value vs playing it safe?(29 posts)

roadie conservativism -- seeking value vs playing it safe?lanternrouge
Aug 23, 2002 6:43 AM
My original post on a Martec carbon bike for $1250 w/Ultegra generated a full range of comments from negative to positive. (One owner said he gets lots of positive comments on the Mango color that a number of posters on this board said looked awful.)

I wonder how much of the negative comments are due to what Leisure described as "roadie conservativism in the interests of playing it safe."

Or, is there a bias against asian manufacturers?

Or, are roadies being duped as consumers? Bikes & bike parts made in asia are OEMed under a number of different names: Argon 18, LOOK 286, 241, 231, and 221, BP Stealth, Scattante, Leader....and so on.

A lot of people post asking, "what is the best bike for around $1000?" It seems to me there is value in thinking out of the box.

Assuming you can get a decent ride & fit, do you want value, regardless of origin, or, do you want name brand? Do you want to be safe and ride what everyone else rides, or, are you willing to think out of the box?
Well...jtolleson
Aug 23, 2002 7:07 AM
your question assumes that we are all shallow lemmings who perhaps can't think critically.

Doesn't sound fair to me.

I think what you describe as an unwillingness to "think outside the box" is also influenced by some realities that we've learned over the years. Those lessons include:

that unusual and innovative (non-traditional) frame styles are sometimes gimmicks with performance and/or weight issues (Cannondale's lefty mtb shock, Trek's Y-Foil roadbike) that have disappeared like yesterdays news. Before I drop real money on some sui generis frame construction, I'm gonna await the reviews;

that some mass production companies in foreign lands HAVE produced bikes for which their are frame failure risks and no reasonably-accessible warranty protection; and

that at this time of year, known quantities of all kinds can be had at the kind of price you are talking about.

To say that just because some folks grimace at a mango-orange bike that they lack creativity also oversimplifies. Witness the popularity of Landshark's wild (and sometimes garish) custom paint.
Well...lanternrouge
Aug 23, 2002 7:24 AM
With all due respect, conservative and shallow are different. I did not mean to imply shallow.

However, your reply does suggest conservatism: "unusual and innovative (non-traditional) frame styles are sometimes gimmicks with performance and/or weight issues" and "Before I drop real money on some sui generis frame construction, I'm gonna await the reviews."

There is nothing wrong with being conservative. What I take from your response is that to you value means not buying something that is unproven. That is to say, you don't want to spend a $1000 bucks on something if it isn't proven. Would you spend $2000 or $3000 if it was proven?

My point is that to get value, sometimes you need to take a risk on something that is unproven. (You also stated there are all kinds of known quantities that can be had at the same price - not to argue, but, where can you get a known carbon frame w/ultegra for $1250?)
Well...MXL02
Aug 23, 2002 7:28 AM
J- I think you are taking this a little personally...did you read the thread from yesterday? Some of the comments were pretty snobbish without being based on fact or experience. It may have been due to the slow day on the board and people just getting cantankerous near the end of the week. I think lantern has a legitimate question here, considering how people responded to his post yesterday.
No, no, not personal at alljtolleson
Aug 23, 2002 8:46 AM
if fact I come into the issue pretty blindly; I don't think I even posted on yesterday's thread.

But although the question was not intended to imply that others were shallow, it did implicitly criticize those who are merely riding what "everyone else rides" and not "thinking outside the box." I thought that the distinction that the original question drew was pretty value laden, and my only thought was that it wasn't necessarily a fair distinction in values to make.

But no, I don't feel particularly invested in the issue.
Trek Y-FoilAjayM
Aug 23, 2002 7:48 AM
Wasn't the Trek dropped from the lineup because of the UCI making the frame illegal? And they made it illegal because it had a considerable advantage over the regular double diamond road frame? They certainly get a pretty price for a frameset for such a gimmick.

Also look at items like the softride (road bike, popular with the Tri guys), same deal. A non-traditional frameset, yet is very popular and pretty quick.

Personally I think the original poster hit the nail pretty close to the head. A whole bunch of these "unknown" frame makers get a bad rap for no other reason than they have no name. It doesn't matter if the no-name frame maker is also selling frames to "big name" companies. I've seen people on this board slam a frame which is exactly the same as the frame from a big name maker who get's universal praise (ie the the big name guy is buying them from the OEM who is also selling them somewhere on the net).
The Martec is also illegallanternrouge
Aug 23, 2002 8:07 AM
The UCI made this frame illegal as well for the same reasons as the Trek Y-Foil.

I too find it ironic at how quick people are to slam something because it doesn't have a name or is different yet at the same time say you need to spend several thousand dollars to get a name brand bike that is OEMed from the same manufacturer.

I think we are duped by marketing hype.
gimmicks?Jekyll
Aug 23, 2002 8:27 AM
Not sure on the Y-foil being gimmicky or not but the Lefty works, does not seem to be in any danger of being discontinued and seems to receive generally rave reviews (including mine).
Manufacturers slice and dice the same basic 100 year+ old design annually as a marketing ploy with an occasional and rare valid improvement tossed in for good measure.
Sometimes, a new design is indeed better - sometimes its killed by dinosaurs like UCI or a rather conservative riding public.
re: roadie conservativism -- seeking value vs playing it safe?MXL02
Aug 23, 2002 7:37 AM
I think it is a combination of things. First there is a bit of roadie snobbishness which pervades much of what is said and done...road biking is a social sport for the most part and having a "socially acceptable" bike is part of it.
Second, most people do not have a great deal of money to spend on a bike, but they don't want to buy something that has no warranty or support in case of a problem. Buying a name brand bike gives them a sense of security...and I don't mean that as a bad thing. If you get a carbon fiber bike for $1200 and the frame breaks after only a few hundred miles, did you really get a good deal? As opposed to paying $500-$600 more, and get a Trek with a lifetime warranty?

I think ultimately you need to make your own decision on things. If you like the Martec and have the money, and you don't care what other riders might think about the non-classic design, then get it. But understand that if there is a problem, you will pretty much be on your own.
thx for the replylanternrouge
Aug 23, 2002 7:57 AM
My question here is not about buying the Martec, it is more about the issue of "roadie conservativism" that was raised in my original post.

You brought up several good points:

name brands provide security & warranty -- this is important to a lot of people, so it makes sense to pay more

discretionay money - a $1000 bucks or so is still a lot to most roadies (but there seem to be a lot of people who post here with bikes that cost 3 times as much)

social acceptance - is important to a lot of people

All of this seems pretty conservative to me, which underscores Leisure's comment of "roadie conservativism in the interests of playing it safe."

None of my friends think of themselves as being conservative and I doubt whether most people who post here think of themselves as being conservative.

I find there is a certain irony in all of this.
thx for the replyMXL02
Aug 23, 2002 8:26 AM
Yeah, in that light, I think you are right, roadies are a conservative bunch, but probably few if any think of themselves in that light. I think it is also due to an appreciation of the history and legacy of the equipment and sport, eg: the popularity of retro bikes. One can readily see how this appreciation can go one step further into snobbishness, ie, if you do not appreciate classic designs or marques, then you really do not appreciate the sport, etc.

It is interesting because after your post yesterday, I was thinking that maybe what we need to talk about on this board is how little you need to spend to really get into the sport...so many of the threads here concern "dream bikes" which most people either can't afford or really have no business riding.

Rather than focusing on how much we can spend, how about focusing on how little we can spend and still get a nice solid road bike.
That was my original motivation...lanternrouge
Aug 23, 2002 8:45 AM
To see how much bike I could get and spend as little as possible. But in asking for opinions, a lot of cross-currents were raised. Nothing wrong with that, but my original post did seem to touch on some of the underlying sentiments around legacy, history, appreciation of the sport, conservatism, et al.

I just thought it would be fun to build a "dream" bike for as little as possible. Yeah, that would make a good post...

"I was thinking that maybe what we need to talk about on this board is how little you need to spend to really get into the sport...so many of the threads here concern "dream bikes" which most people either can't afford or really have no business riding.

Rather than focusing on how much we can spend, how about focusing on how little we can spend and still get a nice solid road bike."
"Dream bike" ?filtersweep
Aug 23, 2002 10:22 AM
"I just thought it would be fun to build a "dream" bike for as little as possible. "

Are not these two issues mutually incompatible? To me, a dream bike has as few compromises as possible- especially with the frameset!

Getting an entire bike for $1250 with Ultegra tips its hand to how much the frame "actually costs"- and to my eyes, it doesn't look pretty. It seems that up to maybe $3500, you really get what you pay for... above that you start gilding the lily... others may have different experiences.

Finally- it has been said over and over, but how many people spend more money trying to save money?

And finally, finally- it wasn't really even a "road frame"- I'd expect a backlash ;)

If I could find a bike with the performance I currently have at half its price, I'd be all over it. Buying a frame without seeing it in front of me IS a major risk. How much advise here is about FIT, FIT, FIT... and get thee to your LBS to TEST RIDE the bike. There is a lot more at stake here than just "risking it" on "an unproven frame."
re: roadie conservativism -- seeking value vs playing it safe?Carbon fiber fanatik
Aug 23, 2002 6:07 PM
i live in michigan where the use of road salt during the too long winters just loves to chew up roads. I have a martec.. (see my response to yesterday) The frame has over 3 thousand miles on it now and is still perfect. I'm sure it will continue to be perfect for another billion miles. Most people love to hate my bike, but they are the same ones i tend to drop all the time...
Why do you ask?Spoke Wrench
Aug 23, 2002 8:09 AM
You asked for opinions.
People gave you their opinions based upon whatever was important to them.
Now it sounds to me like you're asking permission to disregard the opinions that didn't match what you wanted to hear.

I'm the kind of guy who tends to buy stuff and keep it forever. Consequently, I value name brands and I won't buy anything that's a color I don't like. I'm willing to pay extra for that and it's OK because the extra cost will be spread over many years. Other people who I know, tend to replace their bikes much more frequently, they are more likely "think outside of the box" than I am. They're OK with that because, if it turns out to be a mistake, They'll just get what they can out of it and buy something else.

Here's the interesting part. The only losers are the people who either don't know themselves or who aren't true to themselves.
Why do you ask?lanternrouge
Aug 23, 2002 8:29 AM
My question has nothing to do with "asking permission to disregard the opinions that didn't match what [I] wanted to hear." I will make my own decision on that matter.

I raise the question here because, in my opinion, most people here perceive themselves as non-conservative thinking individuals, yet, there seems to be a conservative bias against asian manufacturers, non-name brands, etc. And, as has been pointed out, that same name brand item you pay 2 or 3 times as much for is OEMed from some asian manufacturer.
Why do you ask?Spoke Wrench
Aug 23, 2002 9:12 AM
Personally, I question both premises, but even assuming that is all true, how could that possibly impact you?
Pro LogoTJeanloz
Aug 23, 2002 9:01 AM
People gravitate towards brands in cycling for the same reason they gravitate towards brands in everything else. A good brand stands for something. It is in a manufacturers best interest to protect their brand by building bikes that exceed expectations. We buy brands because we have more information about what we are getting in the deal. I can tell you that Trek will not produce a POS (or at least hasn't since that VRX mountain bike), while I have no information about a company like Martec.

This idea that people have a bias about where their bike comes from is true to a degree, but is not entirely. Giant is the worlds largest manufacturer, based in Asia, and has widespread acceptance here. The difference with the name brand vs. generic is that if Martec builds a frame and sells it to you, the assurance that it's a good bike isn't that great. If Martec builds a frame, OEMs it to Look, and Look says in effect: "We approve of this frame enough to put our name on it" we trust Look more (even for the same exact frame) because they have a reputation riding on their endorsement. And we have no assurance that Martec isn't selling their defects from the Look production run with their own name- it introduces new risks into the transaction.

A lot of people say: "so-and-so OEM's for [insert major company] so their generic product must be just as good." That's a pretty bold assumption, that the quality of everything they produce is equal. I know that in every job I've ever had, there were differences in quality of the product I produced. Anything can be built well, and anything can be built badly; both by the same person. There's no reason to believe that just because something came out of the same factory that it's the same quality.

The question you ask puts value and name brand as mutual exclusives; they are not, name brands drive value. Unless you can be sure that you are getting EXACTLY the same product, you can't judge the effect of the branding, and even if they are exactly the same, you'd have to normalize for warranty and service differences.
Good argument for name brandslanternrouge
Aug 23, 2002 9:49 AM
and warranty/service

Which is probably sound advice for mainstream buyers. Nothing wrong at all with this.

As for dumping defects...hadn't thought of that. How likely do you think that would be?

Bottomline? A buyer of a generic frame is taking on an added risk. So, it makes it all the more important to get references & favorable reviews, not to mention a test ride. Let's say the references do check out favorably, does that then make it a good value? I would say yes. Would this be something for the mainstream? Probably not.
Favorable reviews do not compensate for risk...TJeanloz
Aug 23, 2002 9:59 AM
The way that we compensate for taking on the additional risk, is by demanding a lower price. Note that generics are typically priced much lower than name brands.

On dumping defects, I know that it happens from time to time. Usually it's a 'cosmetic' defect, or the company built them with italian bottom bracket shells instead of English, or they forgot to weld a cable stop on. Nothing serious, but it happens.

Is it a good value to get a good bike for a good price? Obviously yes. But you be better assured that you're getting a good bike by buying the name brand. Yes, if there are several good reviews, it might make sense. But at what point does it become a name brand? Macalu was once a generic nobody, and now is a generally mainstream brand...
Here's thinking outside the box...Uncle Tim
Aug 23, 2002 9:45 AM
I almost take it as as insult to be considered "conservative" in any area of thinking. Buying a bike based on the lowest price tag and frame material is the very epitime of conservative thinking. There is a huge difference among carbon frames. All are not created equal.

If you want to go out and buy a cheap bike, just go out and do it. Go buy a Made in China Huffy frame, bolt some drop handlebars on it, then come back here and tell us how great it fits and how wonderful it rides. Most of us will see through that.

A lot of discussion centers around "profit margins", as if US bike producers are ripping people off by making obscene profits. This is ridiculous. It is well-known fact that so many bikes are made in Taiwan and China, not because they are better quality, but because their labor costs are so much cheaper there. That's why so many bicycle manufacturers are outsourcing their frame fabrication there.

People who think outside the box consider this.

The folks who buy bicycles that are stamped with Italian and French sounding brands are being deceived. I bet a good number of buyers are lured towards, say, Scattante because they think it is an Italian brand. And if the famous French bicycle maker Look is outsourcing its work out to Taiwan - as Litespeed is starting to do - then it is very close to deception. The websites sure won't tell you this information.

Out of the box thinkers are just crazy enough to consider this. For instance, a recent poster was asking about the "Made in Australia" EPX frame. Theya re made in Taiwan. That kind of deceptive marketing is wrong, at least to those of us who think out of the box.

By the way, how nice will a Tiagra equipped EPX frame ride? How else can a bike with bargain basement fork and heavy components ride? I don't expect to see any at the front of any peloton near me.

Two quotes come to mind: "You get what you pay for", and "caveat emptor".
I once knew a guy who could averageMXL02
Aug 23, 2002 9:52 AM
25 mph over an hour ride on a Schwinn Varsity. Now he may not be at the front of the peloton with you, but I was sure impressed...it's the quality of the motor, not the bike, that is most important.
"You get what you pay for"lanternrouge
Aug 23, 2002 10:08 AM
I agree, usually, but not always. You imply the frame is inferior. My assertion is that the frame would be of good quality. I also assert it is possible to build a high quality bike for a reasonable price. The Martec was, in my opinion, an example of that. I am sure there are other examples of high quality bikes that could be built.

However, to do so may take a person out of the mainstream which brings other risks like warranty/service, as has been pointed out above.

Whether this is conservative thinking or not is up to you.
You do get what you pay for....AjayM
Aug 23, 2002 11:02 AM
In this case it sounds like he's buying the frame at closeout (he mentions frame/fork cost of $380). In which case he's getting a helluva deal.

Bulltek sells that same exact frame for $1100.
BPStealth sells that frame for $700 with no fork.
PedalForce sells that frame for $700 with no fork.

And in the peleton's near you, are you saying that magically that the bike is more important than the rider? Are you saying that somebody like a Euro-pro level rider on that Tiagra EPX wouldn't be able to keep up with that peleton near you?

I didn't know that price and brand name would magically make me that much faster.
Market Hypevitusdude
Aug 23, 2002 10:01 AM
Bought a $100 dollar used frameset on ebay. Sunk a couple hundred into it. Scavenged some parts. Voila--a fine road bike. Roadies are incredible snobs. Don't worry about the label or the material. Read Sheldon Brown--ride mostly comes down to design and your tires. In my experience longish chainstays will work wonders for a cush ride. Don't worry-- just ride.
I hear 'yalanternrouge
Aug 23, 2002 10:41 AM
I could buy just the frame for $380, get the wheels for $300 and scavenge parts too. Maybe, I'll try your route as well.

thx.
Seeking Values versus Seeking Bargainsdjg
Aug 23, 2002 1:06 PM
I don't know when thinking about a new bike becomes conservative or liberal, restrictive or liberating, "inside" or "outside-the-box." Frankly, I don't think that buying something because it looks like a shiny bargain in a supergo ad is an example of creative thinking. To be fair, I don't think that ordering a custom frame from Richard Sachs (or buying the bike I happen to have myself, a CT1) is all that creative either. These are consumer purchases, right? If buying a bike from a small or poorly known (or elite and expensive) builder is one of the more innovative things you do . . . well, I'm sorry.

Does speed have much more to do with the legs and lungs than the particular road bike you ride. You bet, so long as it's rideable. Does that mean that there aren't differences between bikes folks might reasonably appreciate and pay for? No way. We've been through this all before, right?

Buying a frame that's a total unknown is a way of buying an unknown quantity. That's either more or less of a gamble, depending on what it costs and depending on what you expect. Knowing the frame MATERIAL will not answer all (or, to my mind, even most) of the reasonable questions you might have about what you are getting. Can we narrow things down a bit, by having a competent offshore manufacturer deal with a known, high-tech tubeset. Yes we can. Does that tell us exactly what we are getting? No it does not. So what? You pays your money and you takes your chances. The more you don't know about what you are getting, the more you are gambling on getting something you don't want. OTOH, if you don't much care what you get, or only care about, say, weight, you might be easy to please.

Personally, I might recommend that people check out all kinds of things that are available for inspection and test ride. But I'm not going to suggest that somebody just order something I know nothing about.
Seeking Values versus Seeking BargainsCORONADO FLYER
Aug 23, 2002 7:39 PM
This is why Road Bike Review exists. Read the reviews then judge for yourself.

One of the most important factors in a bike is Customer Service. I would only buy a frame with lifetime warranty. Ok who knows if they will be here in five years. Who knows if Trek will be here in five. We all gamble with our purchases.

Food for thought.
re: roadie conservativism -- seeking value vs playing it safe?Leisure
Aug 23, 2002 9:39 PM
Well, you caught my drift, which was intended not to endorse anything one way or the other, and say that yes, some people dismiss different products simply because they're different. Sometimes I do think it gets extended into different sorts of snobbishness. But putting things in the least accusatory perspective, I think at the heart of it all it's about what people feel safe with purchasing against how much risk and effort goes into researching alternative "out of the box" products. It is a risk investing in things for which you have little information, and more of a risk when the design is deemed exceedingly novel. My point is that I'm very willing to think out of the box, but to invest in it I would have to do a LOT of research about the design itself. Reviews, test-rides, all that stuff. If you do that and after judicious liberal investigation find yourself convinced that things look really good and best satisfies what you want, then I say go for it. I've made decisions in both directions in different hobbies, and I've been happy with essentially everything. At the heart of it all though I would like to think that I am not focused on getting something for being either the same or different from what everyone else is doing, but that I am truly focused on getting the best product. And it happens by researching thoroughly, balancing open-mindedness against intense scrutiny in the context of admittedly relentless materialism. ;-)