Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Smells Like Team Spirit

This post is inspired by these, but has nothing to do with them. (One Team Grip story, though: I'm one of those people who always stretches new grips before putting them on. Not sure when this started—probably back in the Jive Handles days—but it's something of a ritual now. So I get these Team Grips, start stretching one, pull a little too hard, and it just pops in half like a cracker. No prize, though. I've since eased back on the grip stretching.)

But anyway, I had no intention of discussing exploding grips. What I wanted to talk about was "team" product. Why isn't there more of it? I understand (I think) that by creating "signature" product, a company can hook a specific rider up with some extra loot. And in some cases a rider really does need or want something unique. But most of the time it seems like it's just a matter of a quarter inch here, or half a degree there, or a rider-specific gusset or brace. I understand that each team rider wants something special. Really, I do. If I were sponsored, I'd want a signature frame, too. Just for the ego boost. But if I were a retailer, why would I want to stock this and this and this? And that's just from one company! When it comes right down to it, what's the big difference between this and this? Wouldn't one of the above suffice? Factor in multiple sizes and multiple colors and I have no idea how shops choose what to stock.

I remain firm in my beliefs that, the more choices you have to choose from, the more you think you need different choices. But this is BMX, not the Tour de France. A quarter inch, half an ounce or degree here or there isn't going to change anything. Is it?

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20 comments:

Mark said...

The amount it matters depends on what you're like personally. There are people who don't care how their bike runs and ride the most haggard bikes possible, but there are those who are perfectionists when it comes to setup. You'll ultimately get used to whatever frame you have to run, but if you can choose to go for a frame you know you'd like rather than one that you'd be 'alright' with, there's no real harm in having that option. Everyone's built differently, so different geometry does make sense, to an extent. Doing a 74.75° head angle just because company X is doing 74.5 and company Y is doing 75 seems stupid, but for stuff like TT length it makes sense.

Equally, if it means that the 'signature' rider can ride a bit more and not have to really worry about getting a job, that seems alright to me. It does mean you get teams like Fit/S&M where they've got a hell of a lot of reasonably similar frames but with different stickers on, but it does benefit the rider, and it is pretty much giving customers what they want. The way people look at frames as more of a disposable part now also probably means it's not so hard for shops to work out what they need anyway, 'cos most riders now do buy more frames than people would have in the past? I don't envy them when there's 4 top-tube sizes and 295 colourways to choose from though, but that's kinda why I agree with companies like WTP who do signature frames in one length - the length the 'signature' rider actually runs.

SeanMurphy said...

Quite frankly, there are very few riders these days who deserve a signature frame in the true sense of it.

Anonymous said...

Why the fuck doesn't Van Homan have a sig frame anymore? Who is Randy Brown? Cam Wood is a badass, though. NOT SCARED!

Jake said...

help me choose between shampoos, tissues, and toilet paper, or maybe computer monitors, tv's, or camera flashes. kitty litter, dog food, matchbox cars. bmx is becoming commercialized

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I feel like S&M/FIT is the equivalent to the Disney Channel in that they acquire an unknown person and market the hell out of that person to be the "IT" thing, let them burn bright and fast and then move on to the next "IT" person after the hype dies down. Of course Van Homan and Foster deserve a signature frame but who will bring S&M/FIT more money? Just like who will bring Disney more money? High School Musical or some out dated Disney phenomenon from last year?

Randy Brown is equal to The Jonas Brothers. A huge marketing campaign.

Beau said...

Why are there 4000 different variations of air-jordans? Are they all fundamentally different? I think you can answer this question with your expertise in both areas Russ. People just want something different than the other kids at the park.

John said...

I think Anonymous has been watching the Disney channel too much. At all being too much.

digahole said...

Just a bit of silent marketing hype. "you want to ride like Dakota buy this frame"

word verification: "hoaxoti".
"hoaxota" would have been something.

youaintno said...

What Beau said...

I can't remember how many times I've heard "I want part X but so and so has it."

I've always thought that was stupid logic. Go to another town, city, state and someone will have your part X.

Most people can't see beyond their own horizons, though.

Michael said...

The Fit Dak and the Hawk V2 are basically the same frame as well. I have a Dak and my friend has a new Hawk and they feel the exact same they even look the same( especially in the raw colorway) pretty much the only difference is the rear end on the Hawk is a tiny bit longer.
By the way if you plan on running brakes on any of the new S&M/Fit frames with removeable brake mounts, forget about it. I have fly brakes on my Dak and they don't even fit right in te frame. I got the frame for Christmas and my brake pads have been rubbing on the rim ever since I got it. But if you're brakeless it's a great feeling frame

t.f.a. said...

someone was in our shop a few weeks ago and bought an Odyseey race fork to replace the existing Odyssey dirt fork solely for the weight savings. nothing wrong with the old one, just too damn heavy. he came back about a week later stoked about how much higher his bunnyhops were with the new front end...yeah, sure...i think we as retailers at this point are selling peace of mind. the rider "thinks" they need a certain part to improve their riding, gets that part then can suddenly come closer to landing that elusive hopwhip or whatever.

SeanMurphy said...

...but when is piece of mind going to turn on retailers and manufacturers with these kids using all this ultra light stuff, it cant last forever, can it?

the market is saturated with companies pumping out a lot of new product. where is it going to go when the wave crests? This reminds me of the late 80's/early 90's and Im not sure how to interpret it.

Anonymous said...

Team Grip=Rich Hirch Grip

t.f.a. said...

i'm not saying i agree with it. personally i miss the days when we had almost every part the industry had to offer. it's been said a million times about this industry: it's a good time to be a rider but a bad time to be a retailer. oh well, there are far worse jobs out there...or no job at all so i'll put up with these little situations.

Anonymous said...

Smells Like Michael Jackson's Corpse

RIP King of Kiddie Fiddlers

Pierre Fucking Pierros 3 said...

signature parts in bmx are pretty ridiculous in most cases, but the industry itself is too, so it doesn't bother me

the market has grown sufficiently large enough to sustain all these companies, new and old. we get new kids in the store every single day, and more than half of the mail-order customers we serve are new to us. obviously, there are a lot of people buying, and BMX seems to have weathered the economy's troubles better than most industries. once everyone accepted Taiwan and China as viable options for manufacturing, production problems seem to have been sorted out. sure, there are delays from time to time, but it seems like anyone with a decent agent in Asia can get pretty much anything they want produced, and at a relatively nice cost. we've forayed into Asian production a few times, and i almost feel like they're not asking for enough money for that they're producing. and we don't even buy stuff in quantities remotely comparable to real companies!

with a lot more companies having the capability to make all the same shit as everyone else, how the hell else are you going to grow your brand? duh, your team and their signature parts. Dak frames killed it when they first came out, then tapered off a bit. we still regularly sell them, but we're not selling out of them like at first, and waiting for Moeller to fire out more. S&M/Fit keeps them regularly stocked, people regularly buy them, nice fucking like you got going there. KABAM! new Hawk frame comes out, fucking sells like it was made of pussy walls. did the Hawk suddenly push the Dak, Eddie, Dehart, etc. frames into obsolescence? nope, but Chase Hawk moves units. you ride that kid to the championship if he's on your team. you would be an idiot not to do it, so i say give every motherfucker a signature product for each day of the week

i used to be confused and alarmed by the number of new brands and new products that show up each month, but it's becoming really fun. we have meetings on how to effectively dodge phone calls, faxes, emails, and unannounced visits from vendors looking to make some sales. when they do break through our defenses, we try to confuse them with constantly changing who is responsible for purchasing decisions, and coming up with new and exciting reasons why we're broke and can't buy anything (other than pallets of Hawk frames)

on the other hand, all brands should participate in a 6 month moratorium on making anything in any color other than black. i'd like to see the sales graph for that period

PP3 said...

SeanMurphy: when the wave crests, it will hopefully only take the shitty brands with it. if the early 90's bmx E.L.E. repeats itself, my hope is that the people who remain riding will be truly down for BMX for the long haul, and they are the ones who usually see beyond the marketing glitz and colorway nonsense. cross your fingers that they will keep the good brands afloat, just like all of us who were in the mix did after the shit hit the fan in the 90's. i know i bought enough Standard axles from Trend to build a small Gatling gun

trask said...

there's an interesting idea, why not make ALL of your products a "signature" product and spread the love through the whole team. maybe the new kids will get a seat or a sprocket, then on to stems, bars, cranks, then frames, forks, etc.

that'd be a wild idea... or skip the whole thing, and just pay the riders more in general w/o commission.

DBZ said...

Pretty sure every single fucking rider on Fit is getting a signature bike for 2010. Personally, I don't give a rat's ass--I'm just bemused by shit like this happening in the current economy... but I doubt Moeller would throw money like that around without good reason.

Russ said...

I should probably just embrace the darkness and push for a signature product from someone. The Alienation x SPRFLS braced layback carbon Pivotal post?