- When you see that offering plate, please dig deep into your hearts and wallets. These two poor lads are in desperate need of plane tickets to Spain.
- For a team so committed to principles and such, how did the Cervélo Test Team end up with Theo Bos on the squad for 2010? Has been absolved of his reputation as bully extraordinaire?
- A new concept here in the What’s New section: We’ll abbreviate it SIBE, which is short for ‘Shit I’d Buy on Ebay’. We’ll start the tradition with the 2002 Cannondale Silk Road frameset that was ridden to a near-victory at the 2003 Paris-Roubaix (dig this awesome video review of the day) by Dario Pieri of Saeco-Cannondale. I ride a 54cm, in case you see an auction come up…
I wonder what might’ve become of the concept of road bike suspension if Pieri had nosed out Peter van Petegem in the Roubaix velodrome that day. It was a lovely piece of technology at his disposal: 60mm of elastomer-based front suspension with a lockout dial so he could stay rigid on pavement, but get some cush on the pavé. It was an almost-breakthrough machine, made that much more stylish for the fact that the moussed-up Pieri did the whole race sans helmet -- the last Paris-Roubaix rider ever, I believe, who podiumed unencumbered by polystyrene.
- A quick follow up comment on our decision to stop sales of Pegoretti sales here. For starters, we’d like to point out this awesome audio clip that so beautifully captures the personality of the all-knowing customer. And, secondly, we’d like to make it clear that we’re not opposed to custom frames here at Competitive Cyclist. The issue was never stock vs. custom. The critical issue is communication. In order for a custom frame to have the highest likelihood of success, communication should be in one direction (builder = mouth, customer = ears). Furthermore all intermediaries (bike shop, distributor/importer) are best eliminated from the process. What you are paying for with custom is the builder’s experience and know-how. All other voices are distraction.
The bigger question, really, is why are custom frames sold in any way except directly from builder to buyer? It’s all about economies of scale. Look at the NAHBS golden children: Sachs, Kirk, Crumpton, et al. How many frames are they making per year? <500-ish? Unit sales are low, overhead is squeaky tight, reputation in the marketplace is colossal. These guys don't need a sales force to market their bikes. Accidental PR and word of mouth make them royal.
But what about the next tier up in custom unit sales? We all know the brands: Seven, Serotta, IF, and Moots are on the list. How many frames do they make a year? Keeping their international distributors in mind, let’s call it 10x the small guys. In order to accommodate that demand, they’ve gotta make big infrastructure investments. Covering that infrastructure cost means they absolutely, positively need a motivated sales force, i.e. a dealer network. All the meaningful product knowledge resides in-house at the manufacturer. The bike shop is a bullhorn -- disseminating the marketing message and generating sales. Bike shops are a necessity for the financial solidity of the manufacturer; but that role should never be misconstrued as ‘catalyst for great bikes.’ They are sales people, not technical consultants.
Someday the ‘big’ custom brands will wean themselves from their dealer networks. These networks will supplement, but not define, the manufacturers’ income streams. These manufacturers will market and sell their goods directly to customers. That’ll be the golden age to buy a custom frame. An unprecedented wealth of options and expertise will be at the customers’ disposal. With this new, heightened focus on customers (as opposed to the current time spent on the needs of retailers), everything is sure to improve for the customer: Communication, education, and perhaps even price, and turnaround time.
- It’s maybe early in the calendar year to get attuned to the racing season. But the few clips I saw of the Tour Down Under looked fantastic. From here in dark winterland, seeing a mountainside of tanned, drunken, shirtless spectators hit the spot in an unexpected way. The end of this stage was quite good watching --
- Earlier this week a friend forwarded these great photos of the Wilier Triestina facility in Italy and we liked them so much we fully planned on showing them off here. Doing so now, though, takes on unexpected somberness. As many of you have heard, Lino Gastaldello was killed on Saturday during a training ride in San Zenone degli Ezzelini, Italy. Our sincerest condolences go to the Gastaldello family and everyone at Wilier Triestina. In an era where so many formerly great brands in Italian cycling are defunct or otherwise gutted of appeal, Mr. Gastaldello invested greatly in Wilier Triestina and through his heart and hard work re-electrified it to a position of global prominence. Frames like the Cento1 are lusted after by connoisseurs of race bikes, and they stand as the legacy of his work.