Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Framework

I guess for starters, I don't believe this for a second. Hopefully Jared is actually riding those, though. Long live 1" grip tubes! (Also, please learn to count, Federal. Those are EIGHT-piece bars.)

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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.

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59 comments:

Lettusdude said...

You bought your STA on my 13th birthday haha! I've also always wondered why BMX frames are so cheap, or rather MTB frames are more expensive. Ah well, I'm just glad I got a new frame on sale for $140. College makes me broke. I'd like more than anything to get a nice custom S&M, but it's just not going to happen.

VxD said...

The Federal post said he liked 4 piece bars, but instead this did this to be more old school, not that those are 4 piece.

I'd ride 8 piece bars.

Russ said...

If those aren't Hoffman bars I'll eat them.

Jerry From Poland said...

Who in the right mind would spend 220 dollars on that corey jarman contraption ? Who in the right mind would even WANT that repulsive thing.
And you have to be stone cold fucknuts to want to pay 440 for the hell stalion.

Lettusdude said...

I'm holding you to that, Russ! Not that you would eat them cause those are definitely the old Hoffman bars...but maybe not. When I was a kid a friend of mine had a brother with those bars...I thought they were the coolest thing ever haha.

I wouldn't run those bars. I like my Scerbos, thank you.

Russ said...

I've got a pair of Love Handles on Project: Tank. I'm not sure how anyone in their right mind could ride them nowadays, but I suppose that's besides the point.

Psmith. said...

"how will will i make, i wont thats how"

just some more fine words from big L referring to the currents market's status.

Psmithsucksatspelling said...

"How will I make it, I wont thats how."

Lettusdude said...

I think I've read about Project: Tank somewhere on your blog before. I assume it's a bike you're trying to make as heavy as possible? When's it going to be done(if it's not already?) You had better post pictures of it eventually!

Russ said...

It's sort of done? It doesn't have brakes at the moment, and it could really use a second set of El Guapos. Maybe I'll post it tomorrow with a parts rundown. I'm sure it could be heavier, but it's pretty monstrous as is.

Anonymous said...

Who in the right mind would even WANT that repulsive thing.

Six-foot flatlanders, or low-flying tall skinny guys who are all about dinky tech stuff.

Similar frames (St. Martin Class X, Suelo Simple, Mankind Alive) max out at 19". It comes in 21".

Everything's for somebody -- usually not who it's advertised to.

Anonymous said...

all you old men dont even want any of those new frames so whats the point in bitching about the price of them? oh wait, too much time on yer hands. go ride and have fun riding your 98 standard instead of bitching about bikes all the time. if they bother you so much, get out!

Lettusdude said...

I'm 20 years old and considered an old man? Wow...Russ is a smart guy and I agree with him alot when it comes to bikes.

That being said, I'm looking forward to the Tank post. While we're on the topic of bars and such I thought I'd bring this up.

http://animalbikes.com/blog/news/new-bob-and-piff-bars

You're probably already aware, Russ, but Animal DID release the new butted Scerbos. 24.5 oz... They're heat treated, which is a plus, but butted tubing scares me...

t.f.a. said...

when are those "Anonymous is Hatin" shirts gonna be done?

Dr. Awesome said...

My LTF was 699.99 full candain retail. I paid just over 525 tax in. I don't know what a "440$" frame is actually worth to me, but it seems as though as your economy fall upon itself, your dollar gets weaker, and mine gets stronger. I don't know what minimun wage is in america(if it is state by state) but i belive ours is high, i think in an attempt to collect more taxes upon it.

Now, if you can buy American made Terrible One for less than a Tiwanese made frame, think about that staement. Terrible one sucks, or at least ion the last 3 years, they made a stem. EVERYONES frames are made in tiwan. The exceptions are S&m, Fit, T-1, and some randoms.

I work in a MTB and roadie shop(with bmx(thank god)) and it cost THOUSANDS for a steel road frame, and FBM can make on for 699canadian.

Can we credit this to steve crandal? for finding a local with such cheap rent? Or credit this to bob haro and matt hoffman so being the guys who really set the prices back then (85-95), and finding ways to keep prices down over the last few years(15)?

Look at every industry in the Uniter States of Go Fuck Yourself, Banks cant even stay open, and that Leman Brothers bank...owns half a bike company(Sram(which owns companies)), or the automakers, who don't want us owning bikes. or any stupid red neck that lives in hurricane alley. You people are morons, get out of the south and save your country billions!

Bob and Mat and anyone else who 'markets' these bikes to 'teens' are geniuses. they have managed, for the most part, to accel in everywhich way with our technologies, and metals, without having to pay out of the ass to keep it up. The price increase will only show who the real players are, and i think all the big names will be there. But danscomp frame choices won't be three-arms lengths long, but i think a rise in the number TRUE'signature' frames will occure.

I saw a sunday ian swartz with brake mounts. WHY?a signature frame is one size one color one option package, do questions. not the 6 sizes of mike aitken frames 3 colors, ad random limiteds that they never ride. STOP RUINING BMX!

Russ said...

I think on the one hand I'm surprised the Colony frames are so expensive comparatively and on the other hand I'm surprised most American-made frames are so cheap.

Anonymous said...

Dr Awesome,

I think I speak for everyone reading this when I say:-

Eh?!?!?

bobby p said...

big L rest in peace.

Colin Williams said...

I think it's just that the American-made frames are on there way out to make room for all the new Taiwanese-made frames so we're seeing liquidation-style prices. I, just a month ago, got my Americana T-1 Barcode for $250. I think they're going for about $200 now. T-1 has been consistently shelling out quality, light, durable, American-made frames, so I don't know why they suck, Dr Awesome.

And those Federal bars have got to be a joke...

pdxbmx said...

"I saw a sunday ian swartz with brake mounts. WHY?a signature frame is one size one color one option package, do questions. not the 6 sizes of mike aitken frames 3 colors, ad random limiteds that they never ride. STOP RUINING BMX!"

Ruining BMX?

Michael Jordan wears a size 13 shoe. So his shoe should have only been released in 13's by your reasoning. Makes sense. Wait, no it doesn't.

People like to support their favorite riders so they buy their signature products. Not every fan of every rider rides the same set up, so you give them options. The product can then be purchased and that person Ian or Mikey in this example get a little extra money. I see nothing wrong with that. If supporting good people in BMX to you is ruining IT, then it seems you need a new activity.

Russ said...

Vinnie frames with mounts still weird me out. And sizes seem so arbitrary sometimes—why isn't there a 21" Hamilton frame?

dr. jesus awesome said...

i think i speak for everyone else and say

dear dr. awesome. stay in canada where we hate you just the same. we know our country sucks. and we deal with it. go worship your queen or whatever the fuck you do up there. you are a dumb canadian that makes me hate canadians that much more. you are giving canada a bad rep. and its all your fault.

and for the record, the south is way sweeter than canada. have been to many parts of both.

Anonymous said...

Hey guys, didn't Treach from Naughty By Nature say that way before Big L? In "Ghetto Bastard/Everything's Gonna Be Alright" from 1991?

AFL

skidmark said...

I think there is a slightly better build quality on road frames, compared to BMX. Some BMX frame builder will want to smack me for that. Compare an Independent Fabrications track frame to a FBM "fixie", the IF just looks better, way better.

Brew makes BMX, MTN, and Road/Track and the road frames are more expensive than the others.

Jason said...

I think it's time I email Moeller, as I must have gotten gipped on my Holmes OS kit back in 1996...

I received everything you listed, short of the Pad Set, which I still want to this day.

Just imagine the price of something similar today. It was one of the best product packages ever offered.

skidmark again said...

Also a lugged frame has about twice the labor as a tig'd one: the lugs have to be filed, pinned, and cleaned up afterwards, as well as the tubes being mitered. Brazing takes longer too.

BTW a Surly Steamroller is $410 frame&fork, so there's an example of an affordable track frame that is tig'd.

Russ said...

Jason: I got mine for wholesale, I believe. It was when I was living above Switch in Newark, DE. Wonder if that place is still there?

skidmark: I was referring to tig frames, not lugged. A while back I found a brochure I got from Bontrager back in the early '90s—their Race Lite frame was $1,000. Nothing fancy, just lightweight chromoly.

pdxbmx said...

"Hey guys, didn't Treach from Naughty By Nature say that way before Big L? In "Ghetto Bastard/Everything's Gonna Be Alright" from 1991?"

Indeed sir.

Anonymous said...

Canadian bmx company Seshin, Shithawk frames are still $229.99 shipped to your door in the states, now that's a deal. Check it out for yourself. They have only gone down in price since i bought mine two years ago.

http://www.seshinbikes.com

Hagbard said...

Are BMX frames underpriced, or are race and track frames overpriced? I know I'm generalizing, but the fixie hipsters seem willing to drop a lot of cash for a frame for no apparent reason other than the name, even if its used.

Josh said...

I know that I'm coming late to the party and many of us already commented about this on a previous post but I believe that much like anything else, companies are "testing the market limits."

There have been certain "ceilings" in bmx for years. What I mean is that there have always been that amount that a person will pay for a certain product. Oil executives admit to artificially inflating gas prices several years ago just to see if consumers would keep buying. Analysts said that no one would ever pay $2.50 for a gallon of gas. Then is was $3.00 and then it was $3.50. Consumption never went down so gas companies kept selling at the inflated price.

Similarly, I think that companies are trying to figure out exactly what people will pay for a given product. Almost all Taiwanese frames are built in the same three factories so the vast discrepancy in price can't be from higher raw material, labor, or shipping cost. For years, no one thought that a bmx rider would pay $400 for a frame, especially a non-American made frame. But as long as they sell, prices will continue to rise. It is only when the supply at that price exceeds the demand that companies with stabilize or even lower prices. I have no problem spending $300 or even $400 on a frame, but I will never drop 6 bills on a frame, especially if it's being made for $40 in Taiwan.

ryan said...

Sunday

Anonymous said...

"Similarly, I think that companies are trying to figure out exactly what people will pay for a given product. Almost all Taiwanese frames are built in the same three factories so the vast discrepancy in price can't be from higher raw material, labor, or shipping cost. For years, no one thought that a bmx rider would pay $400 for a frame, especially a non-American made frame. But as long as they sell, prices will continue to rise. It is only when the supply at that price exceeds the demand that companies with stabilize or even lower prices. I have no problem spending $300 or even $400 on a frame, but I will never drop 6 bills on a frame, especially if it's being made for $40 in Taiwan."

Margins aren't being increased by any companies. All the frames you are probably comparing were made at different intervals over the past year, with different price increases coming every month. Very, very few aftermarket frames are $40, and the ones that are come directly from $500 100% cr-mo completes.

Anonymous said...

"Almost all Taiwanese frames are built in the same three factories so the vast discrepancy in price can't be from higher raw material, labor, or shipping cost."

No one gets a price break due to higher quantities? What about the currency you are buying in and exchange rates?

Anonymous said...

What happened to the FAQ?

Al Kayda said...

Nothing says "Hell Stallion" like some pansyass little scooter.

Ted from seshin said...

Hey guys, I wanted to add some shit to the shit-storm.

Most people think frames should be going up for many many reasons.

From my point of view, we got a price quote from our agent in Taiwan about 3 days ago, and the quote was cheaper than what we would have payed years ago for the same price.

In reality, the more BMX brands making BMX frames, the more the manufacturing companies have to keep prices down to attract BMX brands to do business with them.

The only price BMX companies are paying more for is shipping costs. My shipping costs went up a significant amount over the last few years. However, I don't see how most brands can justify price hikes of such heights. Our prices jumped about $30 per frame from 2007 to 2008. Some brands are jumping $100, it's crazy.

In closing, BMX is taking kids for a ride, a rip off ride.

peglessEBCo said...

"Vinnie frames with mounts still weird me out."

I have one in near mint condition sitting on my shelf right now. i got it for 50 bucks with a bottom bracket.


take that frame prices.

Anonymous said...

BMX is gonna take a dive in the bin any time now. And the majority of the dipshit companies this blog calls out. Hella-lujah! Ha!

Anonymous said...

"someone's getting screwed"

it's fair to say that no one runs a bmx company with the express intention of not making money ('cept maybe RW), and none of the distributors, manufacturers and shops are gonna try to operate at a loss either. maybe no one's getting screwed, maybe economies of scale, improved efficency or some shit like that is responsible for the prices being what they are/were. the fact that they have started to go up now the economy has shit the bed kinda proves it, no?

Russ said...

Thanks for that, Ted.

Mexican John said...

I'd like to know how a new S & M challenger stem costs £69.99 in the UK? That would be about $120 for a stem? mmmmm.

Anonymous said...

You dudes realize that a 100% heat treated frame costs more to make than a non-heat treated frame right?

ted from seshin said...

Hey, I wanted to add about the heat treating process.

Besides Quamen and 41 thermal, most heat treatments are totally the same. Stock post weld treatments.

In most cases, to post treat a frame it costs only a few dollars to post treat a frame. And if you are doing big batches like most brands are in BMX right now, it would cost less then a few dollars.

Post treating DOES cost more, but not nearly enough to justify such big price hikes.

brien said...

If you want to compare the prices increases in US and Taiwanese:

The few US made framesets left have jumped from the $325 to $390 range in the past 5 years.

Taiwainese frames, however, have jumped from the $230-$330 range to $300-$450 range in that same period.

You can't tell me that a full-chromoly frame that comes on a $400complete differs enough from a $440Taiwanese frame to warrant that kind of price discrepancy.

You can't tell me that fuel increases have upped the price that much. If that's the case, why not just find a US manufacturer?

Something's not right.

blarrrrrrrded said...

ill tel you wats funny,colony are fucking rubbish taiwan crap,and half there frames comes back on warantee,there not worth 50 bucks let alone 400+ thats just fucking funny as.
not only is that geomtry ass backwards,but it wil probably crack straight off in the first month like the hundreds that crack every month in australia.
RUBISHHHH!!!!

brien said...

Also, I almost want to get a Seshin now merely based on the Shithawk name. I'm sure Jim Lahey would be proud.

Ted, make one with CS brakes and we'll talk.

Josh said...

When I said that a frame is being made in Taiwan for $40, I meant that the frame is being made in Taiwan for $40. I of course did not take into account for shipping costs in that $40, which are the only real costs that can justify an increase. As the price of oil goes up, so does transportation of goods, including the ships that transport BMX products. But does that account for the average price of a Taiwanese frame going from $200 to $300? If we go by that way of thinking then right now oil prices are down; so why aren't the prices of overseas BMX products going down?

As far as exchange rates, the Taiwanese dollar is still trading at .03088 of the American dollar. I'd say that we (as Americans) are still doing pretty well.

What I'm trying to say is that there is obviously a lot of factors that go into determining the price of a product. I just don't think that it is to far gone to think that company heads are seeing a small raise in their shipping costs as justification for a 50% increase in their retail sales presentation.

I recently shipped out two identical forks; one to Carlsbad, California and one to Bristol in the UK. The difference in shipping was $11.00. Does that give me the right to sell the fork for $100 to the guy in the UK vs. $60 to the guy in Cali? I just don't get the thought process.

Anonymous said...

A frame from Taiwan is not made for $40, at least not a decent one with all the latest technologies. Also post weld heat treating does not only cost a few dollars extra per frame. Also Ted sells direct to kids, thus cutting out distros and shops enabling him to have large margins. Everyone need to make a decent margin to stay in business, roughly double, add in a distro, shop and then the consumer then things add up. Bmx companies aren't trying to fuck over the consumer? Why would they? What do they have to gain? They're just trying to keep their heads above water and enable them to sponsor riders and do cool shit that people appreciate. Material costs have gone up as well as other factors along the way. Things like paint, stickers, packaging and shipping all factor in. If people fight the price increases, which aren't unreasonable, it will only be harmful for bmx in the long term.

ted from seshin said...

Hey, like you said. Many many reason go into a decision like this.

However to blame it on the dollar is crap. I know of a large number of brands who hiked prices when the USA dollar was strong.

P.S. Manufacturers in Taiwan only take USD funds. So it's not rational to blame the price hikes on the USA dollar.

Russ, do a post on frame prices, and include e-mails from Key companies. I'd like to see how they try and explain the price hikes on Taiwan made frames.

ted from seshin said...

"A frame from Taiwan is not made for $40, at least not a decent one with all the latest technologies. Also post weld heat treating does not only cost a few dollars extra per frame."

Ummm, think again bro. Most companies are buying a good frame for about $40, depending on the quantity they buy.

How do you know how much post heat treating costs on a frame when you are doing large numbers, even medium sized numbers? It's change in your pocket.

I'm not saying BMX is out to screw the industry.... sorry if it came out that way. However I do think companies are hiking prices too high at this point.

I can't help but think about the prices we were paying for BMX frames in Canada back in 2002. $420-600 or more.

Take it easy.

Anonymous said...

"From my point of view, we got a price quote from our agent in Taiwan about 3 days ago, and the quote was cheaper than what we would have payed years ago for the same price."

I assume you meant to say "payed years ago for the same product". I'm not calling you a liar, but you are fucking full of shit. EVERYTHING on the Goddamn planet has increased in price in the past year. You mean to tell me you are the one motherfucker on Earth who hasn't received price increases for products you are having manufactured? Get fucked...liar.

ted from seshin said...

Calm down man. My invoices speak for themselves. I have an agent in Taiwan getting me good deals, pushing for better prices.

If you think I am a lier, then that's up to you, but the fact that our frame have gone down in price over $100 per frame from 2003-2008 is proof that we are getting sick deals in Taiwan. We came out of the gate selling for $350 for our first frame, now our frames are $230.

It does not seem logical, but in our case it's true, and since our frames are made by the same guys who make all the big boys like Macneil, WTP.... they must be getting good prices as well.

I guess we will have to chalk it up to an increased in shipping prices then.

peace

Anonymous said...

So Seshin sells a frame that he says costs $40 for $229 direct...that's a hefty margin for a guy with zero overhead running a company out of his parent's basement. Who's ripping off who here?

ted said...

ok here we go.

I'm not giving into your games.

I Never said we get frame for $40. Our cost more becuase we do small runs.

The fact that we sell of cheaper than everyone else still means we are ripping people off? Ok whatever.

Have a good day.

Anonymous said...

are you french canadian? your english sucks.

Anonymous said...

It all started with Sunday. They built a frame in Taiwan and added all kinds of features like butted tubes, post weld heat treatment, hollow dropouts, wavey downtube, post weld machinning of BB and headset seats that obviously pushed put the price up and other companies have seen that you can sell a Taiwan frame for this kind of money and bumped their prices to.. even though they maybe just added removable mounts or whatever

Jerry From Poland said...

Anonymous Is Hating On Ted From Seshin...

Anonymous said...

everyone hates ted from seshin - even his team riders