Tuesday, July 8, 2008

No Limit Soldiers


This seat has never really appealed to me. The whole all-over print streetwear aesthetic just strikes me as being tired, and aimed at a group that I've never been a part of. I'm not so hot on the automatic weapons motif, either. Which isn't even necessarily about being outside the demographic—I know plenty of people (riders and not) younger than I am who never got into the whole hypebeast mentality either. However, seeing that this is the second version of this seat—in four different colorways, no less—someone out there must like it. Nope, stuff like this is just a symptom of something bigger.

BMX bicycles, frames and parts are marketed more like streetwear than they are bicycles. It makes sense, of course: a) companies need to actually sell things to stay in business, b) if people only replaced parts when they broke or there were distinctly better options available, everyone would go out of business, and c) BMX definitely has a long-established tendency to go with style over substance. Hence "limited edition" parts and colorways, heinous all-over print seats and the $2,000 Mirraco (which, um, isn't even identical to Dave's actual bike).

Whatever works, I guess. The economy is headed for disaster, prices for raw materials are going through the roof, and I'm sure there are countless companies struggling to just stay afloat. Maybe limited products help them survive. Lifetime warranties don't make things any easier—if you can buy one fork or pair of bars that will be replaced in perpetuity, you'd need a damn good reason to ever buy another set. Gotta give people a reason to buy something new. And if you believe some of what was said in yesterday's marathon comments, things will only get worse. Prices will go up (high-end BMX frames are absurdly cheap when compared to those for any other discipline), and soon everything in BMX might be limited edition. (Of course everything is limited in the literal sense—I don't think there's an infinite amount of any bike parts out there, except for maybe Primo Walls.)

There is no easy answer, and I'm not foolish enough to think I can present one. But focusing on limited edition stuff just seems to make things hard for the retailer and the consumer. If you're the retailer, you need to stock untold colors and risk taking a hit if one doesn't take off. And if you're the consumer, you're stepping on a merry-go-round that never stops. What's this week's new is next week's old, and if you want to stay ahead of the curve, you have to move fast and spend a lot. Which is why I feel, generally speaking, it's best to take the advice of John Cutter:

Always bet on black.

38 comments:

Si said...

I've been forced into getting "limited edition" Guacamole Green Odsy Civilian Svelte bars as I broke my Animals last night and need something to ride with. There wasn't anything else with good geometry down the shop. The owner took pity on me and i got them for £30.

I noticed on the warranty form it asked me what colour the part was and also what colour I wanted the part to be (Black - I'll be spraying it). So I guess it's down to the responsibility of the buyers to let the companies know what they want.

todd from albe's said...

all the colors options have (at least near our shop) made it easier for the all purpose family cycle center (read as "very little BMX inventory") to compete with us when they couldn't before. word has it that some have been sending "secret shoppers" into our place to ask for things, then ask "what other colors do you have?", reporting back, then that shop will stock the opposites of what we carry. fine with us, it's keeping more of the local scene alive, i guess. and we've never tried to put anyone out of business or hope for the demise of our competitors...we're just happy to make enough money to pay the bills and have a few bucks left over to buy myself a sixer of Dos Equis Lager every once in a while. but if this shop ever got put down i'm screwed because no one's ever gonna give my sorry ass a job.

bobby p said...

you should do a post on the amount of kids afraid of spray-painting bike parts. "back in the day..." when we wanted colored parts we got out the rattle can and got our Picasso on. "well, i want to ride that part, but it doesn't come in blue. so i'm going to have to get this part instead." why are kids so damn afraid of the spray paint!?!? black and polished. i remember when those were the color choices. black and polished.

and think of the IBD's (independent bike shop) out there. lets use fly brakes as an example. 8 different colors, 2 different angles of brake arms. that is 16 pairs of brakes a shop has to stock just to have "all the fly brakes" in stock. thats only $1,120(aprox) worth of brakes in your inventory. thats not too much for one part is it?

bobby p said...

todd, i heard a certain sales rep at a certain bmx distribution company just bought a huge mansion. word on the street is he needs a head grounds keeper. i might be able to get you in....fair warning. we drug test.

Stephen said...

I just want to know when I can expect my next Mental Jimmy's catalog.

I am working on making some of those rubber wristbands that say "Toddstrong" on them. All proceeds go towards helping Todd keep from having to buy sixers of Milwaukee's Best. Because if that is the best Milwaukee has, Detroit should just invade.

I have no point here. I will say that I am not a fan of the "automatic rifle all over print rob and big bullshit" stuff. I like my coalition seat like I like my coffee and women...black and easy on my ass.

BALLS DEEP said...

Grandmaison is shitting his pants over on the comedown because this blog is actually alright, and his place is a piece of shit.

Hey Russ, if I speak the truth will you ban my IP? Nope, didn't think so, that's why you get a FUCK YEAH BABY!

Russ said...

I wouldn't know how to ban an IP if you gave me 500 years.

Some people do still use spraypaint. Bonus points for painting the whole bike at once without masking anything.

Jeremy said...

Russ, I've seen bits of this conversation floating around SPRFLS both in your posts and the comments. It is something I've wondered about, especially in the context of bmx/freestyle history, and especially now with the vintage guys building/collecting old bikes.

Wasn't it a similar mentality that lead bike shops to having massive amounts of inventory during the late 80s, that now lead to guys with major "scores" of NOS (new old stock) bright green Skyway pegs, dug out of these shops? Granted, there were few things that were "limited edition" back then (help me out with some examples, OS guys), but even still, to Bobby P's point - how many sets of DiaCompe Nippon calipers did a dealer have to carry when they were manufacturing SO many colors?

I don't work in the industry or run a shop, but as I've dug in to my BMX past, I see the struggles of the industry and wonder how it can learn from its past. However, as some have said - yeah, you're still dealing with a primary consumer that is between 12-17 years old (though probably pushing higher in the past few years, I would guess), wants to roll on the latest trends, and even as the economy suffers, will have the expendable income to drive what might ultimately sit on the shop shelves.

Also, Bobby - funny you mention spraypaint - any quick dig on the bikeguide gallery will show how often kids do paint their frames and bars (not so much parts)...

Anonymous said...

Odyssey is the only company n BMX that really pushed the whole LTd. Edition deal and they are still doing so with 1,000s of plastic pedals in every color. It seems there is obviously a demand for it or they would stop. This seat however is terrible.... The print is gross.

Russ said...

From what I remember, I think in the '80s it was a matter of virtually EVERY part being made in ridiculous colors. So when all of a sudden white parts went out of style, or later when neon and pastel died out, shops were stuck with a lot of inventory.

But it was more than just a matter of colors. There was also the matter of companies producing all sorts of bolt-on pegs and platforms and bars with double crossbars and seats with pop-out handles. But within a fairly short period of time street became the predominant style, which is why you can still find flip-up fork pegs at some of old shops. Most of that stuff is gone by now, either sold at a tremendous loss or cleared out years later by collectors.

This isn't nearly that bad, I don't think.

Smitty said...

Not nearly that bad, but there are other factors at work today. Now while there are more companies in the game, the minimum orders from the Taiwan factories have dropped tremendously, and the people running the companies and the shops are guys like us who lived thru the 80's. So they are watching inventories better on both the manufacturer's side, the distributor's side, and on the shop side. I don't think that too many of these LTD ED. parts will be available for the scoring in 10 years, but surely some of them, perhaps including the DUO seat spotlighted today, will one day bring big money on ebay, just like an NOS Redline-labeled Elina MX would today.

Anonymous said...

NER you wrote something once somewhere about rare sneakers and how nike a hammmering the new limited edition stuff, forcing them to be rare. I dont know where im going with this.

Jeremy said...

True, functionality became a secondary thought with a lot of those parts. BTW, I realize I took this discussion a bit OT, regarding the limited editions, etc.

Smitty said...

Yeah, speaking of Nike and Limited Editions...why only 2500 copies of the Freestylin' Book? As my friend WDS said, "Thanks, Nike."

Russ said...

I wrote about it once as it pertained to sneakers, yes. Basically saying that sneaker companies were following the old baseball card model, which of course led to the collapse of the baseball card market. Thirteen different rookie cards (or, for that matter, 30) weren't necessarily better than one. Instead of one rare item that was worth a lot, you wound up with 30 "rare" items that weren't worth the paper they were printed on.

Sneakers were the same way. Old Jordans, for example, were selling for exorbitant amounts of money because not many pairs survived in unworn condition. But that's not something you can duplicate by simply producing only 30 or 40 pairs of a particular shoe. Well, OK, you CAN, but only so many times. It's killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. I keep waiting for the sneaker bubble to pop. Not that people will stop buying them completely, but I expect there to be a backlash against the "limited" nonsense, especially when it's just an excuse to charge a premium.

I wrote that for Mass Appeal a long time ago—I should just re-run it here since MA has sadly ceased publication.

todd from albe's said...

don't think distributors are getting stuck with all the limited edition colors becuase of smaller run quantities from Taiwan, huh? call Seattle Bike Supply today (an Odyssey Distro) and order as many Guacamole, purple and Camo forks as you want...i've got a couple dozen of each stashed away over at the International House Of Todd that each one of you are gonna pay through your asses for about tweny five years from now. at least i hope so or i have blown any chance of a retirement fund and i'm destined to die old & bitter standing behind a counter in this place.

Russ said...

I suppose that's the one positive (or neutral) with all the "limited edition" parts produced by Odyssey and the like—they don't gouge the consumer simply because they're limited. Even those numbered purple Animal stems sold for the same price as "normal" Jumpoffs, if I remember correctly.

Another aspect of the whole thing that I thought about mentioning was the feeling that, after a point, there is such thing as too many choices. Consumers can get paralyzed. If you just Google that phrase, there are a couple of good articles about it.

If you count colorways and brands, I wonder how many different seats are currently available.

Russ said...

The neon stuff all sold out, huh?

CONFESSION: I have neon Wombolts and Race Classics on my bike.

OUCHTOWN POPULATION YOU BRO said...

I watched the 20x20 cricket last night in my local and a guy was on there whose favourite band was Linking Park.

I nearly shat my pants.

Smitty said...

I said they were doing it better...didn't mean to imply that everybody gets it right all the time. The Guac color was a swing-and-a-miss for Odsy.

todd from albe's said...

bobby p...i can pass any drug test put in front of me. couldn't have said that some years ago but drop a cup under me and i'll fill 'er to the brim with confidence...what i can't pass is a beer test, sarcasm test, weird sense of humor test, smarmy test or a tallest guy in the room test.

uncle sam said...

the economy's fine. have more faith in the christian work ethic that put the european culture on top.

son we ain't going nowhere so give us dem toobs or we'll never make a friends movie or any more oc

Duncan said...

I think you've got the "limited sneaker" thing wrong, Russ:

"Old Jordans, for example, were selling for exorbitant amounts of money because not many pairs survived in unworn condition. But that's not something you can duplicate by simply producing only 30 or 40 pairs of a particular shoe."

Sure, the bottom might be dropping out of the resale market for kicks, but sneaker freaks now have that many more pairs of shoes to buy. So instead of just selling one pair of red and black Jordans to a guy who will wear them out and buy one new pair, they're selling 25 different pairs of Air Force Ones to Johnny Streetwear who, oblivious to the law of diminishing utility, will buy a new set as soon as the next "x" collabo comes out or teal swoosh is sewn on. I ride down Haight St in SF to get to work, and a couple times a week people are line up, waiting for True to open so they can get limited edition Nikes. Seriously...lined up to buy shoes. It's more retarded than the Cabbage Patch run in the '80s.

Now, flash forward 20, 30 years. Maybe, since there were so many limited versions, these shoes won't have any resale when the collectors realize they have 500 pairs of Nikes and feel like idiots. However, there will be people still into collecting them. They might not go for $1000 a pair, since there is such a glut, but when you've got a few hundred pairs to sell, you'll still do all right...it'll just cut the profit margin on each limited edition pair.

I really dig your blog, but I've got to say, sometimes it seems that you're just closing your eyes and punching. To wit: you're running limited edition parts in fluorescent colors, with plastic pegs and pedals, and, at the same time, setting this stuff up as the downfall of BMX. The problem with limited runs, it seems to me, might lie in manufacturers cutting down their profit margins by paying for smaller runs. Unless you're doing your annodizing or powdercoating in house, the per item profit has got to be reduced, which leaves your company making more products and less money. Of course, if a company is only making black and silver in 2008, though, they're completely screwed.

Russ said...

It's going to be interesting to see whether anyone has spare cash to spend on limited edition sneakers in 20 or 30 years. Then again, I may be a bit of a pessimist.

For the record, my plastic pedal experiment lasted roughly two days, and I've since gone back to steel pegs. And I've never said that I wasn't part of the problem.

Duncan said...

Yeah, I keep wanting to like plastic pedals, but grinding on them doesn't feel right. It's like skating with copers on your trucks. And they don't grip worth a shit. I've got plastic pegs for skateparks, to encourage skaters to shut their pie-holes with the "you wreck the coping" b.s.

Drew K said...

All this industry stuff is getting depressing. Im gunna go out riding.

Anonymous said...

Plastic pegs and pedals are evidence of the infiltration of skate "culture" into bmx. Tony Hawk is licking his lips right now, drooling on his Boom boom huck jam bmx bikes! Ha ha! FOOLS! Don't you realized how they got us in the palms of their hands? Have we "Fallen" for their tricks? Are we "Toy"s for their "Machine"?. Is this really the united states of "Emerica"? I Feel like a "Girl". Take your stupid ass skate inspired Luc-E Grind and Pop shove it. Were Skate company sheep and we don't even know it!! I'm gunna monogram a vagina on my pinner slammed seat and see if the kids think it's Phresh!

Russ said...

I won't stop you.

Anonymous said...

Hi, my name is Hugo. I have been riding long enough to notice most of the observations you point out and agree with about 85% of the content in your articles. However, I would like to make a suggestion to address that missing 15%: when spending more time staring at our bike leaning against the wall we tend to focus on the dirt build-up messing up the look of the frame instead of spotting our landing to pull that gap and wash away all our worries.

myspace.com/hlrodas35

Duncan said...

I fail to see how plegs and plastic pedals have anything to do with skate culture. There are no plastic parts on a skateboard (unless you count urethane). I've got no beef with plastic parts, they just don't feel the same when you grind...there's something less satisfying about a silent peg "slide" then a raspy, metal grind.

Loop said...

You make some salient points about the current state and future of the industry but there is one thing which concerns me when it comes to the consumer side.

Namely, that you don't realise how lucky you've got it in the US. Ok, I guess most of the market share is in the United States but though bmx is worldwide, the prices are by no means universal.

For example; I could buy an FBM Howler from Albes for $349.95 but the same frame would cost me £299.99 from Alans (that's $590.71).

I have a feeling this is why the who American made thing made less of an impact over here (or to put it another why we were quicker to except Taiwanese made parts as the norm).

I don't mean to pull you up on this or anything but I think it's an important point to think about when you start to grumble about an increase in prices.

That said there is still a thriving bmx scene in the UK even if we do sometimes have to pay through the nose.

Loop said...

Oh yeah, I forgot, as regards the actual subject of the post..

I like the print design from an purely aesthetic point of view but I hate it due to the nature of the subject (ie I'm not into the guns).

This is Rogue Status' only half decent design and over time they've pretty much whored it to death.

The original edition of the seat was pretty cool with the black on black, embossed pattern because it was something different. Something a bit more grown up using texture rather than just being purely visual.

It was cool because it wasn't just another wacky colourway on and old design. This edition is exactly that which is why it sucks.

Cory from DUO said...

I knew this seat would make it up...and I'll have to admit, I was once a Master P fan. Nice title.

Smitty said...

How cool that a product owner can accept some critical discussion of his design without going ape shit. Any other industry heads paying attention?

sererfe said...

uuuunngh

yeah boy, that's gangsturd!

Gun print shit is cream filled. BMX gear or street wear, no matter. Straight tweenkie!

We call that model of seat the queef huffer round the way, cause it's soo bitch. Hermaphrodites who rock that shit couldn't peel a cap back if it was a size 14 fitted.

Russ said...

Cory: I actually saw "I Got The Hook-Up" in the theater. Pretty sure it was a screening, but it's still embarassing.

Thanks for reading (and not blowing up).

Anonymous said...

empire sells skateboards. sellouts!

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