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litespeed sales down since they quit selling frames alone?(48 posts)

litespeed sales down since they quit selling frames alone?tarwheel
Jun 6, 2003 6:41 AM
Just curious. For those familiar with bike shops, are the sales down for litespeeds and merlins since they decided to sell only total bikes and not frames alone? Seems like an odd business decision to me. I've got some nice components on my existing bikes and may upgrade the frames at some point. However, I couldn't buy a litespeed or merlin frame under their current policy -- at least the way I understand it.
Hard to say, perfectly,TJeanloz
Jun 6, 2003 6:50 AM
The shop with which I am most familiar has sold a couple fewer Litespeeds than in the past - but this hasn't exactly been a Litespeed economy. On the whole, I think the policy has helped smaller shops, because we've been willing to sell the frames and take the parts into inventory. Being small gives you that flexibility.
I would never buy a high end bike that wayDougSloan
Jun 6, 2003 6:55 AM
I'm not going to spend upwards of five grand on a bike and not get exactly what I want. Seems like a pushy cram down to me. Can't be any legitimate reason to do this. What if I have a complete bike and I want to switch parts over to a new frame?

I suppose a shop might be willing to swap out or delete parts, though. While that could ameliorate the situation, I still would not buy from a company attempting this. Pure BS in my book.

Doug
The policy is widely misunderstood,TJeanloz
Jun 6, 2003 7:17 AM
Litespeed only sells complete bikes. But you can deviate from their recommended build kits as much or as little as you want. If you want something weird, Litespeed will accomodate that request. The customer gets exactly what they want.
The policy is widely misunderstood,Ye Olde Balde One
Jun 6, 2003 7:23 AM
So if I want a bare frame, I can get one?

Actually, only Litespeed I want is a Palmares without the curved seat stays in the light blue paint that they did with nude polished stays, downtube lever mounts, and an external 1 1/8" head tube.
UnlessDCP
Jun 6, 2003 7:23 AM
they want to build the bike with parts they already have.
that helps, butDougSloan
Jun 6, 2003 7:25 AM
Normally I like to build myself, and buy the parts I want over a period of time or switch over from an existing bike.

What's the reasoning behind this, anyway? Have they stated one?

Doug
ReasonIan
Jun 6, 2003 7:35 AM
Litespeed could not control what prices catalog companies charged for build kits, and that de-valued their bicycles. For example, Colorado Cyclist might sell a frame for full retail of $2,000, but then thrown in a D/A build kit for $1,000. That would then undercut a LBS who would have to sell the same bike for $4,000 total. Now that they only sell complete bikes, all retailers are on a level playing field as far as price is concerned. And to whether or not it was a good business decision, I believe their sales are up about 20% in the past year, so I would say it was a good move.

Ian
Total sales? Or Titanium sales?Fez
Jun 6, 2003 7:41 AM
As you know, Litespeed has expanded their offerings quite a bit and they also have increased marketing and buying power due to the acquisition of many other bike companies.

IF their sales are up from the past year, it is probably due to more and more aluminum bike sales, which are sold at lower price points.

I seriously doubt they are selling more titanium bikes.
how helped sales?DougSloan
Jun 6, 2003 7:58 AM
I could only see it hurting sales, even if it helps local shops. How could this policy help to get even one more sale they otherwise would not have made?

Doug
how helped sales?Ian
Jun 6, 2003 9:17 AM
Because now their bikes are in front of a much larger audience. There were many, many LBS's that would not carry Litespeed because they could not compete on price. Or, if they did carry them, they were usually frames, not complete bikes. It is fairly hard to sell a frame in most LBS's. Most customers are going to want to at least take the bike for a parking lot spin. Litespeed now has many more dealers, many more bikes to ride, and therefore, many more customers. We have to remember that this forum and the type of people who frequent it are in the minority. The vast majority of consumers would have no idea where to begin in buying a bike through a catalog or on-line. They go to their LBS becasue they want, and need, service and help.

As far as aluminum sales accounting for the increase, it may be part of it. But, I am pretty sure titanium still accounts for a bit of that growth. I know that titanium sales have not went down.

Ian
Yes, but at what cost?Fez
Jun 6, 2003 7:34 AM
Under the old policy, the customer just gets reamed by Litespeed for a frame and can order the right components from a store like Excel that accomodates custom spec choices.

With the new policy, the customer has to pay outrageous MSRP for the frame, fork, wheelset and every other component. And the upgrade charges make it even more costly (for example, a $200+ upcharge for an Ouzo Pro fork on top of the $200+ you already paid for the standard fork).

I wouldn't be surprised if they change the policy again if Titanium sales are flat for 2003.
MSRP is a joke...TJeanloz
Jun 6, 2003 7:43 AM
Litespeed, and everybody elses, MSRPs have always been laughably high. The price that Litespeed charges (the dealer) for all parts is similar or even less than QBP pricing. How much the dealer chooses to mark them up is the dealer's business. And I won't lie to you - the dealer isn't afraid to mark up parts more on a high-end Litespeed than on a lower-end bike.
Great, now bike buying is like car buying...Fez
Jun 6, 2003 7:48 AM
Great, now I have to expect to haggle when buying a bike now. At least when buying a car, dealer cost is common knowledge. There is no internet resource on what bike dealer cost is (although I do know what it is from a bike shop contact).

Come on, Litespeed, keep it real. Build em nice and just charge a fair price. Everyone is tired of having to wait until the end of the year to buy your bikes.
always was that wayDougSloan
Jun 6, 2003 8:01 AM
I never paid msrp for a bike. I either have bought discounted online prices or from an LBS, where I ask them "how much", regardless of some msrp even price on the tag on the bike. They always give me a lower price. Now, that could be because I buy an average of 2 bikes a year and tons of equipment...

Doug
Yeah, but keeping it simple is the best way...Fez
Jun 6, 2003 8:19 AM
The Litespeed frame-only policy was just one item you had to buy. This new complete bike with 9 substitutions or upgrades really clouds the buying process and usually does not provide great value to the customer. Or, it becomes an intense haggling process over the cost of every item upgraded, something I will NOT do.

But speaking of haggling, I think lots of folks are penny wise and pound foolish.

I've seen people ferociously negotiate the price of a car to pennies over invoice, and then buy the dealer alarm system, rustproofing, extended warranty, sunroof visor, mudflaps, door edge guards, wheel locks, pinstriping, etc. They just got a bunch of crap and gave the dealer $3,000 of pure profit.

Also, I've seen people at the electronics store bargain down the price of a $99 DVD player by $10 by talking to the manager. Then they add a $59 extended warranty to it.

You're lucky, Doug, that your LBS is pretty much a straight shooter to you. I mainly go to big chain stores so its never the same people to remember me.
people make all the differenceDougSloan
Jun 6, 2003 8:27 AM
I've bought about 10 bikes and $20k of parts from the same guy, going back to 1980. He's honest and straightforward with me. He tells me his cost and what he'll charge me. Not certain, but I could well be his best all time customer. I suppose that helps. Nonetheless, I know he gives good deals to others, too. The only things you really get hosed on there are Campy parts. They are about a full third higher than mail order.

Shops that offer only MSRP, I usually won't deal with. It would kill me to buy a C40 at $3800 and then see it discounted a year later at $2800.

Doug
most high end bike customersColnagoFE
Jun 6, 2003 8:10 AM
they already have wheelsets and parts that they can transfer to a new frame. buying a complete bike would be a waste of money to a lot of people.
volume dealersfiltersweep
Jun 6, 2003 8:19 AM
I agree that it is a joke- however, Litespeed is often found at the volume dealers that do NOT carry Merlin, Seven, etc... and my guess is they sell more to rather ignorant affluent customers. Or customers that don't want to educate themselves about what exact stem they desire.

It really isn't that different than buying a Trek. Ever try to swap out parts on a new Trek at a dealer? Or actually buy a bare frame? The mere conversation pushed me to find an alternative brand. But there are no shortage of OCLV riders out there.
oclv frameandy02
Jun 6, 2003 8:55 AM
you should have no problem getting a HIGH end trek frame. I was going to do just that but the shop offered me a deal that was too good not to get a full bike. And they swapped anything I needed to get the fit right. But that should be standard at a good shop!
I have more of a problem withFez
Jun 6, 2003 7:25 AM
I have more of a problem with the not so spectacular component choices on the 2003 models.

They want $5,000 MSRP for an Ultegra Vortex with a fork, wheelset, bar and stem that looks at home on a $2,000 bike.

Or how about $6,000 MSRP for a Dura Ace Vortex version that still comes with Ksyrium Elite wheels?

Hey, its one thing to sell only complete bikes. Its another to sell them at highway robbery prices and still leave it to the customer to want to replace a handful of parts that are pretty unspectacular.

I'll bet a lot of those small shops are quite unwilling to upgrade those parts for just the price differential and have to take those parts into inventory. They will probably fear they will never sell them. So it will probably cost the customer as much to upgrade those parts as it would to just buy them online and install them himself.
Litespeed is the "Schwinn " of the 21 centuryMR_GRUMPY
Jun 6, 2003 8:08 AM
If someone shows up for a ride with a Litespeed, it's no big deal. It's a little like Trek or Giant. The bikes may be good, but the name is so common.
Litespeed is the "Schwinn " of the 21 centuryPEDDLEFOOT
Jun 6, 2003 8:27 AM
I guess I'll keep riding my Croll at the group rides instead of my Trek. :-)
Litespeed is the "Schwinn " of the 21 centuryMR_GRUMPY
Jun 6, 2003 8:36 AM
I've got a TCR as my #2 bike, so I'm in the "common" club also.
Is the Gunnar #1 (nm)PEDDLEFOOT
Jun 6, 2003 9:01 AM
YesMR_GRUMPY
Jun 6, 2003 9:43 AM
I use my old Bianchi for TT's
Funny you should mention CrollMel Erickson
Jun 6, 2003 9:45 AM
Just saw two of them at the Sierra Century ride. I pointed them out to several buddies who were very puzzled, as most would be. I had never seen one in the flesh before.
Funny you should mention CrollPEDDLEFOOT
Jun 6, 2003 10:21 AM
The LBS I go to got a good deal on some frames.The owner built the bike for me and a few others that ride in our group.It's a very smooth riding frame.I love it.Very comfortable on long rides.
Litespeed is the "Schwinn " of the 21 centurynoveread
Jun 6, 2003 8:34 AM
Having something unique or rare is cool. But it is not enough to sway a bike purchase for me. If a manufacturer has exactly what I want in a ride, then that's what I am going to get.

And my two main rides are a schwinn and a litespeed! So I'm covered for both centuries! Ha-ha!

But if we're talking an Ice-Axe bike, well, that's something completely different... :)

Noveread
Ice-Axes and Stingraysninelittlepiggies
Jun 6, 2003 10:26 AM
Unique and rare is cool, but Schwinns are cool too. The Ice Axe has lost it's virginity, and the miles are racking up. I'm having so much fun on it.
My Schwinn Stingray doesn't want to get a complex though. I laced up a old (new to me) SA internal 3 spd hub for it, and put on that cool stick shift (complete with drilled pool ball) that mounts to the top tube. Chicks dig the banana seat
So if the bikes are good, what's the problem?Eug
Jun 6, 2003 10:09 AM
Exactly, MORE RIDICULOUS LOGICLazywriter
Jun 6, 2003 2:31 PM
People continue to feel that if the bike is rare, it is better. My Litespeeds are everything that a smaller boutique bike is except fot the sense of exclusivity. Actually, my Vortex is actually a "rare" bike when you look at the figures. Colnagos c40s are much more common in my experience than a Vortex but they don't get the same criticism because "THEY ARE ITALIAN WORKS OF ART", bullsh%$. I ride my Litespeeds because they are functional and I am not looking for a response from others. I am not riding for some histrionic agenda.
From a functional standpoint, the carbon Giants are the best bike for the $$$$. I personally don't like them, but they are by far the racer's choice in my area.
I agree that I hate the new Litespeed policy and wouldn't buy one under these circumstances.
Dunno...noveread
Jun 6, 2003 8:31 AM
But I had dreamed of getting an '03 Sirius but like others have mentioned, I wanted to put my own parts on it. Got lucky and was able to find just a frame+fork. Whew.

Noveread
Very few of you have any real clue.Zonic Man
Jun 6, 2003 8:31 AM
1. Colorado Cyclist, et al was screwing over your LBS' by totally killing the prices. Ever try getting service from a mail order place like Colorado? It sucks. I want attention to detail from my lbs.

2. There isn't very much money made on ANY bikes new. Do you see any bike shop owners (LBS owners) driving around in BMWs? Most Litespeed buyers are....

3. Merlin and Litespeed are the same company.

4. You can upgrade/swap/change any component around. The bikes are fully customizable. The prices reflect the difference between each other AT MSRP.

If you want an upgrade or downgrade here or there, you can ask the LBS to do it at whatever price you want, just be reasonable about it, right?

I recently got a Litespeed from my LBS, and they allowed me to swap/change/get the bike for me at a reasonable price. I am a good customer, go in a lot, and ride with the guys. I think that can help a lot in your buying position as well.
Yeah, actually...merckx56
Jun 6, 2003 8:58 AM
The guy who owns the local "pro" shop does drive a 2002 BMW 528 wagon, with the sport package no less! And the Head wrench drives a Benz!
For someone who claims to know whats going on in the business, you actually know very little. Average margin on a new bike sale, regardless of price is about 30%. Most pro bikes that are sold here in town, are sold to guys with $$ who really don't care what it costs. I've seen Merlins and Litespeeds go out the door at 50% margins to people who don't know better. Everyone knows that Merlin and Litespeed are owned by the same group of investors, but thats where the similarities end and the distinction is drawn. They have completely different target customer groups, different marketing, and are run as two separate entities. They don't use the same jigs, equipment, design ideas or even welders!
Granted, the money goes in the same pot at the end of the quarter, but they aren't the same company.
An LBS is in it for the money, not to stroke every customer. Everyone is proud of you for buying a Litespeed and getting a good deal, but remember, the other 19 Litespeed-riding guys on the group ride may not have had your experience. I sell lots of bikes and parts to folks that have had completely negative experiences with the LBS and won't return because of it. There will be a day when one of the pee-ons at your beloved shop pisses you off, or dicks up your bike and your tune won't be so sweet! It happens to everyone!
To clarify:Zonic Man
Jun 6, 2003 10:43 AM
The AVERAGE LBS doesn't make much money. Note the 11% of shops closing doors last year.

30 points is NOTHING. Factor in shipping costs and build costs on a pro bike ($25 shipping, $80 building ($10 hour/8 hours for a full pro build estimated, with fine tuning, test riding, fitting) and you lose $100 there.

Litespeed and Merlin are serviced by the same rep, same basic corporate structure, same sourcing on Ti, etc.

I'm glad your online retailing is working out for you.
8 hours to build the bike?Fez
Jun 6, 2003 10:57 AM
I can agree that there is time spent answering questions, testriding, and fine tuning the final bike for the customer, but 8 hours to build it?

Usually the highend bikes are always built by the top wrenches, who are better and quicker than an inexperienced mechanic.
Yep.Zonic Man
Jun 6, 2003 12:03 PM
Including time changing out stuff, re-wrapping tape, etc. Most pro bikes have to be done piece by piece...they're all in individual boxes waiting to get done, not pre-built like lower end ones.

Factor in the odd flat tire change or other customer to detract you from your work, and there you have it.
in 8 hours...DougSloan
Jun 6, 2003 12:18 PM
In 8 hours I could build the bike, including the wheels, and still get in a century ride, and I am a pure amateur (with lots of tools, though).

$80 seems pretty cheap, nonetheless.

Doug
If my LBS took 8 hours, I'd go elsewhere...Eug
Jun 6, 2003 7:34 PM
...because either they'd be either EXTREMELY meticulous (for no real reason), or else they'd be totally inept.

99 times out of 100 it'd be the latter.

And no, I don't buy my bikes mail order. (I buy a lot of parts mail order though.)
If it takes 8 hours for a shop to build up a bike...merckx56
Jun 6, 2003 1:57 PM
they should go out of business. It takes me about 4 hours from start to finish, including touching up the wheels, if they came with the group. And shipping...pass that cost on to the customer. NO LBS takes that hit!
I sell about 50% online and 50% to the folks that don't want to be condescended to and treated like sh*t at the LBS, so don't assume that I'm the one who is ruining the bike business. I came to realize long ago that there was too much fat in the shop. The reason most shops go under is poor business planning and failure to control overhead and payroll. The local pro shop pays $4000 a month for rent! That's starting your year $50k in the whole. And people wonder why shops die?
I agree with a lot of what you have said....Zonic Man
Jun 6, 2003 8:20 PM
The "8" hours I was referring to was the time of the build, the time of the fitting (swaps, re-tapes, etc), the time of the initial test ride, blah blah blah.

total man hours to build a pro bike=8 hours I think.
Local LBS does well, & friend got Litespeed Campy for $1500.Eug
Jun 6, 2003 10:00 AM
You said: "2. There isn't very much money made on ANY bikes new. Do you see any bike shop owners (LBS owners) driving around in BMWs? Most Litespeed buyers are.... "

A friend of mine got a reasonable aluminum/carbon Litespeed (Campy Centaur with Campy Proton wheels) from my local store for about US$1500, including free tuneups. (I believe it was the Litespeed Atlas.) Pretty reasonable if you ask me, and the owner isn't begging for change on the corner.

In fact, I've seen the owner in the store only once. It seems he does quite a lot of travelling.

My friend does drive a BMW though. ;)
Very few of you have any real clue.268generation
Jun 6, 2003 10:43 AM
Actually you can get very good service from CC if youre local. If youre not local youre pretty much screwed. Its amazing how many BMW, Audi's and Saab parked outside CC.
That was the point, Dingle...merckx56
Jun 7, 2003 5:18 AM
that UNLESS you lived close to CC, you were screwed on service. Those guys that drive those whips that are parked outside CC are probably "trustfundians". $8/hr at CC will not a 330i buy!
Very few of you have any real clue.268generation
Jun 6, 2003 10:49 AM
Actually you can get very good service from CC if youre local. If youre not local youre pretty much screwed. Its amazing how many BMW, Audi's and Saab parked outside CC.
Not a problem.AaronL
Jun 6, 2003 8:31 AM
I just ordered a LS Tuscany (See "Happy Birhtday to Me", thread) and I got only the frameset.

First, I called LS and the rep said that most shops have no problem selling only the frameset and keeping the build kit and if my LBS would not do that, then she would give me a list of shops that would.

My LBS had no problem with selling me just the frameset and keeping the build kit. The owner told me that he basically orders a build kit for any other existing order becuase the cost from LS is cheaper than what he can get them from his distributor. LS ships the frame unbuilt (is that a word?) and the parts seperate. I see it as a win-win situation.

AL
that makes sensetarwheel
Jun 6, 2003 9:43 AM
I just wonder if all, or most, local bike shops would do that.