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Merlin Quality 2001 and earlier vs. 2002+(19 posts)

Merlin Quality 2001 and earlier vs. 2002+waynebo
Jan 16, 2003 2:13 PM
I've heard that many of the top welders at Merlin have departed since Litespeed took over. Evidently, 2001 framesets still have high quality but 2002 saw degradation of quality. Is this rumour or factual?
All of the top welders departed,TJeanloz
Jan 16, 2003 2:42 PM
None of Merlin's employees from Cambridge moved down to Chattanooga to weld bikes. Hence, no "Old Merlin" welders remain at the current company. Anybody who tells you that 2002 bikes are worse than 2001 is blowing smoke and probably trying to sell you a 2001 frame without discounting it. If anything, I would say the Post-Litespeed quality has been better than the late-model Saucony Merlins were. People have this idea of Pre-Litespeed Merlin as a bicycle building utopia, when in reality, it was a division of a major sporting goods manufacturer that cared way more about profitability than about bikes. After Seven was established (in what, 1997 or so?), almost all the good welders left Merlin. If it were me, I would prefer one built in Chattanooga to one built in Cambridge.
Interesting information...fbg111
Jan 16, 2003 4:46 PM
What company(s) is/are the top titanium bike wielders now?
Interesting information...davet
Jan 16, 2003 4:53 PM
Serotta, and the guy at Merlin that welds for Spectrum.
Tom Kellogg. I read his posts on the Spectrum owners board. nmfbg111
Jan 16, 2003 6:44 PM
Two morePicshooter
Jan 16, 2003 5:09 PM
Two good ones.... Carl Strong and Bill Holland.
Who do they work for? nmfbg111
Jan 16, 2003 6:45 PM
Who do they work for? Themselves............nmdavet
Jan 16, 2003 7:28 PM
Who do they work for? Themselves............nmJosh-at-excelsports
Jan 16, 2003 8:26 PM
Some went to Seven

The real question is why are they not selling Frame only anymore... :(
Revenge of the overpriced LBSes....Niwot
Jan 16, 2003 11:12 PM
Apparently the LBSes convinced Litespeed and Merlin's parent company, American Bicycle Group, to only allow dealers to sell complete bikes at a set price consistent with the inflated prices some LBSes like to charge.

(Speaking of inflated, I was just in a shop this evening that sells the Flite Ti saddle for $99.99, but I digress.)

The LBSes hate it when catalog outfits like Excel or Colorado Cyclist sell Litespeeds or Merlins for $500 to $1000 less than the prices LBSes like to charge. Now, the LBSes have gotten Litespeed and Merlin to force the catalog companies, and every other dealer, to charge the same sky-high prices that LBSes always dream of charging to customers who don't care about price.
Which is no different than Trek, Bianchi, Specialized, Giant...TJeanloz
Jan 17, 2003 5:51 AM
ABG merely brought Litespeed and Merlin's price structure into line with the majority of the industry. If they had it there way, they wouldn't even let people mail order the bikes, period, except that CC and Excel are the biggest dealers for both lines, and they can't afford to live without them.
Will they still be the biggest dealers?Niwot
Jan 17, 2003 11:40 AM
CC will probably sell many fewer Litespeeds under the new price structure, for the obvious reason that buying a Tuscany (for example) for $3200 is a lot more attractive than buying the exact same bike for $4200. The only price advantage CC now has is that they don't charge sales tax (unless you live in Colorado). So in a state with 8% sales tax, the price difference on a $4200 bike is $336 minus the $100 or so that CC charges for shipping a bike.

When the price gap is that small, a lot of potential CC customers will do one of three things: (1) They'll buy the same bike at a LBS where they can touch it, pick it up, and test ride it; (2) If they can't get a Tuscany for $3200, they'll buy another bike for $3200 rather than spending $4200 on a Tuscany; or (3) They won't buy a new bike at all.

Of course, Litespeed might counteract the negative effects of this by using their old standby tactic of slashing new bike prices every September.
Jan 17, 2003 1:38 PM
One of the reasons Litespeed continues to sell to CC and Excel is that there are vast amounts of area that are not covered by their dealer network. Montana has one Litespeed dealer, for example.
Not that simpleColnagoFE
Jan 17, 2003 6:28 AM
Outfits like Excel can buy stuff at greatly reduced prices because of the volume they sell. I doubt a small LBS can compete with them on Shimano components pricewise. It's the components where they make up their money when they sell a complete bike. By forcing them to buy a complete bike to sell they eliminate that wiggle room.
Higher prices don't benefit me as a consumerNiwot
Jan 17, 2003 11:28 AM
I sympathize with the competitive concerns of LBSes, but I don't want to use my not-very-big bank account to subsidize their ability to compete.

Mandatory pricing structures benefit the LBSes by making the marketplace less competitive, but a less competitive marketplace does not benefit consumers who end up paying higher prices for the same products.
What brand(s) do they build for, then?fbg111
Jan 17, 2003 3:23 AM
Themselves.Len J
Jan 17, 2003 6:44 AM
Carl Strong is Strong Cycles
Bill Holland is Holland Cycles in San Diego. He shares space with Joe Bell, one of the renowned bike painters in the country.

Thanks! nmfbg111
Jan 17, 2003 1:23 PM
Moots (nm)LactateIntolerant
Jan 17, 2003 4:02 AM