But what I really wanted to get into today was rising prices. Not sure whether you've noticed, but it's happening already. MirraCos are $380. FBM's new SuperTherm frames are $400. United's post-weld heat treated frames are $410. And now there's a new leader—Colony, with their $440 post-weld heat treated joints, including the Hell Stallion:
For half that you could—not that I'm suggesting it, mind you—get a Killorado, if you really want a super low-slung ride. And somehow USA-made Terrible Ones are cheaper than any of those frames mentioned above, which seems to imply that T1 is trying to be classified as a non-profit for tax purposes.
Trust me, I'm not saying that higher prices aren't justified. They absolutely are. And it seems to me they should have gone up a long time ago. Road and mountain bike frames made from the same tubesets have long been twice as expensive (at least) as BMX frames, and they certainly don't use twice the materials or twice the labor. The only difference, best I can tell, is the market. High-end steel road and mountain bikes are sold to comparably affluent adults, while BMX frames are marketed to kids. It's a gross generalization, I know, but what else is different? SuperTherm tubing is SuperTherm tubing. Why are (to pick two examples at random) FBMs so much cheaper than Independent Fabrications? Why were Waterford-built Standards so much cheaper than any other frame that came out of that facility? Does a headtube badge and a bunch of cable braze-0ns make that much of a difference? Or is it that BMX framebuilding is supposed to be charity work?
I bought my first R-Model STA from Trend on December 30, 2000. (Yes, I still have the receipt.*) It was $389. And with all the economic disasters that have befallen the country and the world since then, the price for a new 250L has skyrocketed all the way to $400. Something doesn't add up. Someone's getting screwed, and it isn't us.
Costs are just gonna keep going up. Raw materials, transportation, labor. And the big question is (as I see it), is how the BMX market will respond. Will prices go up to reflect costs in order to keep the margins the same? What happens when the average frame is $400 and some exceed $500? Or, will prices stay artificially low at the cost to the companies that make or import them? If that's the case, maybe sales will stay the same but companies will go under anyway.
* I also still have the receipt for the first "real" frameset I ever bought, an oversized S&M Dirt Bike kit. That would be frame (olive green) , Pitchfork (chrome), Redneck (red), Dia-Compe Aheadset and 990 brake, and S&M padset. I bought it on September 13th, 1995, and including shipping it was $237.09.