Wednesday, October 20, 2010

How Much Is Enough?

Anonymous 10:55 made a good point on the 10/15 post: Frame companies aren't offering many differences these days other than image. Basic geometry is set, materials are (for the most part) the same, and (other than Sunday) so is the shape/diameter of tubing. After decades of experimentation, frame design is more or less set. You don't pick an FBM over an S&M because of your style of riding, you pick that way because you're from the East Coast and not the West. Or because you support fire, beer and mayhem. In a way, BMX has finally moved closer to skateboarding, where the main difference between one company and another is the graphics.

Which, if you think about it, doesn't seem like a terribly sustainable model. In skateboarding it is. Decks are disposable -- one might last you a week or a day or at MOST a month or two before you break it. Ideally, even the lightest BMX frame should last six months to a year to a decade, provided you're not hucking yourself down triple sets. And then there's the matter of the lifetime warranty, where every kid -- or at least his mother -- thinks they should only have to buy one frame ever, and that any damage at all is clearly due to manufacturer's defects. ("I was just grinding along and...") Regardless, even the most dedicated BMXer will buy fewer frames in a lifetime than a skater will buy decks in a year.

The answer? I don't know. It's the nature of companies to want to grow, and the nature of riders to start companies. The easiest way to growth is to offer everything, so you can be a one-stop shop and don't lose customers to another company when they want something you don't make. Or expand the product lineup to make up for revenue lost when your big sellers aren't so big anymore, or when other companies infringe on "your" turf. So you get ridiculous overlap, where everyone offers pretty much the same things these days -- plastic pedals, big two-piece bars, one-piece seat/post combos, sprockets, completes. And rather than innovate, (nearly) everyone just follows along, slapping their logo on whatever the next hot craze is, in hopes of shifting units.

I guess it works, or else everyone wouldn't be doing it. But for how much longer?

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

thats what more people buy, so thats why companies make. (logo slapped - plastic pedals, big two-piece bars, one-piece seat/post combos, sprockets, completes)

Most people don't buy that kooky 2-hip stuff etc

Tim said...

There is a set of Wellgo plastic pedals on Dan's Comp right now that are $7.99 per set. You can buy the EXACT SAME DESIGN from United, Snafu and MacNeil at $12.99, $15.99 and $16.99 per set, respectively.

This is just plain sad and is embarrassing for all three of those companies to have their names on the same set of pedals.

Russ, feel free to write a more well-written tirade on this situation.

dayday said...

Personally, I have been riding the same frame for years, because: 1. I don't ride much or hard so it is not broken 2. I cant afford it.

However, buddies of mine swear by subtle geo changes from company to company, or the heat treating process etc. I don't get it, but apparently they do.

Do you think that if image is all it is about, more companies may start supplying $149 basic frames ala Eastern (through their Nitrous line of bikes).

BTW, I ride an S&M with Volume forks. West Coast all day!

Akim said...

The thing is, as the technology evolves and gets more and more honed as far as what works and what doesn't, there will necessarily be designs that are more effective than others.

There's no sustainability and, moreover, no real "point" to make parts that are different just to have them different. Yes, frames nowadays are more like each other, but that's necessary due to the design being the best for the given job. Notice how you hated the Killorado, even though it was different and recognizable. A Sunday is instantly recognizable due to its waved tube and gusset, but aside from that, they're just like any other frame. Some frames have 1 gusset, some have 2, some have none, but they're the same frame.

I totally agree about every brand having their own Wellgos with the brand stamped on them, rebranded Slams, etc.

Anonymous said...

There is still some development going on, but it probably doesn't pay the R&D costs before it is shamelessly copied, yet nobody gets called out on it.

Look at the Bizhouse stem, S&M tried to licence it (but gave up?) and now half a dozen companies use rip off's of it and Profile even tried to patent it!. The T1 Cyclops stem isnt even out yet, but there are already copies emerging (Resist).
Tree brought out the spline drive sprocket and now you can find loads of copies.
Wethepeople blatantly copied the Sunday cruiser even down to the style of the graphics.

But no one says shit, as long as this behaviour carries no stigma and they don't get called out on it, so ultimately it SELLS, they are going to keep doing it...

Anonymous said...

it'll probably continue until Dan's decides it's not worth it to stock everything. Sure as shit, most IBD's can't handle it, and even the "other" mailorders are becoming more & more choosy with their purchasing.

Baby Dick said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Baby Dick said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Baby Dick said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
wade said...

I shit you not: my word verification for this post is
"nonew"

Baby Dick said...

as one distributor succinctly put it: "new stuff sells". it doesn't have to be better or really even different from everything else on the market, it simply needs to be new. who can blame Johnny Bikerider for throwing $10k at Taiwan and starting a bike company, when the distros either are the source of the funds or will have a bidding war to get the brand? the overall market might be growing (or might not be?), but the number of slices in the pie certainly never shrinks. eventually, a critical point is going to be reached where the slices are too small to sustain some brands, and they will start to disappear. i thought this was going to happen 1-2 years ago, but my prognostication is often like my lovemaking: disappointing to everyone but me. and, most everyone is prostate-milking the skateboard marketing plan anyway, so why wouldn't they fully embrace it and give every stiff dick a signature frame, grip, or his own brand? somewhat related, if you're going to make a big deal out of bumping someone up to the "pro team", at least pay him more than $200.00 and a case of Marlboros per month

we've always been choosy about what we sell, and now i can at least blame it on too many available choices. "sorry, with the growing number of players in the field, we just don't have the resources or manpower to give your new brand the support that it so richly deserves"

t.f.a. said...

if i could Facebook style "LIKE" Tom's post i would.

Russ said...

Me too.

Mike said...

"Like" God damn, I just spent a lot of time on this page. Stoked.

My two cents... Someone cut off Bonner before he has all the slices. And, the only slices left to choose from are, pirate decals or mummy decals.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Bonner, those Bonedeth frames look fucking stupid.

Anonymous said...

I vote to bring back standing platforms on frames for us true freestylers.