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  1. #1
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    Brompton prices - really?

    Just browsing spare parts and I see that an alloy seat post costs a whopping 60. . . and that's without saddle clamp. This is, is it not, an aluminium tube?

    Why is the standard seat post steel in the first place?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Foldable Two's Avatar
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    Kind of like buying accessories for your Ipod as far as pricing goes.

    Lou

  3. #3
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    Brompton parts are really expensive IMO i have spend 200+ pounds on renewing my brompton just for some mudgurads, trnasport wheels, folding pedals, but all that cost is worth it, at the end of the day your bromie is going to benfit from it and this bike really last with a little bit of care. I my self own 3 bromptons, the oldest one which is 18 years old, i have only spend 200 pounds on parts and maintainence so far!

  4. #4
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    You including VAT? I got a Steel Extended post, for extra beef. stuck a SAP on the top for more setback.
    you want lighter weight parts , just have to pony up the extra costs .

    The TI posts cost even More.

    having all the options on the order list in the 1st place would be less...

  5. #5
    Senior Member Russcoles11's Avatar
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    I heard they discontinued the titanium posts as the guy in russia who made em could only manage 4 a day.

  6. #6
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    To quote Henry Royce "The quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten".



  7. #7
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    The quality of an aluminium tube?

  8. #8
    tcs
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    I recently designed a little sheet metal bracket. We sent it out for fabrication quotes, and for a quantity of five the price was $280 (effectively $56 each). My boss said it was too expensive. I pointed out the quote for a quantity of 25 was $300 - that is, each of the next 20 were just $1 a piece to fabricate. If the part was absolutely free to fabricate, it would still have cost us $275 to order some! What gives?

    Of course the fabricator needed to make a profit on the order, and then the rest of the cost was what's called "non-recuring": the cost of accepting the order, scheduling, creating the shop routers, pulling the ticket, pulling the raw material, moving the material internal to the shop, setting-up/programing the cutter, setting-up/programing the folder, setting-up to mark the part number, the cost of packing and shipping the parts, etc.

    Now understand, Bromptons' factory is in one of the highest cost locations in the world, so any non-recuring process steps in acquiring quantity one aluminum seat post are expensive. Then the company needs a substantial gross profit margin to be able to operate in such a location. So you take an aluminum tube with a recuring fabrication cost of 2, and the customer that wants a quantity of "1" pays 60.
    "When man first set woman on two wheels with a pair of pedals, did he know, I wonder, that he had rent the veil of the harem in twain? A woman on a bicycle has all the world before her where to choose; she can go where she will, no man hindering." The Typewriter Girl, 1899.

    "Every so often a bird gets up and flies some place it's drawn to. I don't suppose it could tell you why, but it does it anyway." Ian Hibell, 1934-2008

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    tcs
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    Quote Originally Posted by chagzuki View Post
    Why is the standard seat post steel in the first place?
    I've never understood that, or why the frame isn't stronger, thinner gage chromoly steel. The small impact of the increase in creation cost would hardly be seen by customer (since so little of the money spent actually goes towards raw material and fabrication) and the bike would be lighter (= better).
    Last edited by tcs; 10-18-10 at 07:58 AM.
    "When man first set woman on two wheels with a pair of pedals, did he know, I wonder, that he had rent the veil of the harem in twain? A woman on a bicycle has all the world before her where to choose; she can go where she will, no man hindering." The Typewriter Girl, 1899.

    "Every so often a bird gets up and flies some place it's drawn to. I don't suppose it could tell you why, but it does it anyway." Ian Hibell, 1934-2008

  10. #10
    tcs
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lewis Butler View Post
    To quote Henry Royce "The quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten".
    Some people feel like the more they pay, the higher the quality. Marketing departments and ad agencies love these people.
    "When man first set woman on two wheels with a pair of pedals, did he know, I wonder, that he had rent the veil of the harem in twain? A woman on a bicycle has all the world before her where to choose; she can go where she will, no man hindering." The Typewriter Girl, 1899.

    "Every so often a bird gets up and flies some place it's drawn to. I don't suppose it could tell you why, but it does it anyway." Ian Hibell, 1934-2008

  11. #11
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    I don't understand intellectual property rights particularly; I've seen it stated that the Brompton patents expired many years ago. Perhaps the folding design is still in some way covered by intellectual property rights? Otherwise I can't understand why there isn't more competition in this area.

    The cost of raw materials is bound to rise, it seems to me, therefore there'll likely be many more price hikes in the bicycle market like the one a couple of years back, at least for western consumers. Maybe Brompton prices will become more competitive as sterling weakens, Asian currencies strenghthen and Far Eastern wages rise. . . perhaps that'll counter the rise in raw material costs.

  12. #12
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    Actually the folding bike market in general is perplexing to me; there seem to be so many openings for innovative products. I'm considering trying to formalize a couple of design ideas for components; I'll have to look into the cost of having prototypes made.

  13. #13
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chagzuki View Post
    I don't understand intellectual property rights particularly; I've seen it stated that the Brompton patents expired many years ago. Perhaps the folding design is still in some way covered by intellectual property rights? Otherwise I can't understand why there isn't more competition in this area.
    This has been discussed at length here. Brompton copyrighted the "look" and claimed that Neobike/Scoop infringed on it when they made their bike identical in appearance. I always assumed that is why the Flamingo looks different.

    Found at http://www.bikebiz.co.uk/daily-news/article.php?id=4692

    Friday 24th September 2004
    Brompton swoops on Scoop
    Earlier this year, a consignment of 250+ folding bicycles was imported into Holland by Neobike Europe, a Dutch firm who distribute Taiwanese folding bikes in Europe. The bikes were branded Scoop, and, said Brompton, were based "almost exactly on the Brompton design." Brompton launched a lawsuit: and has just won it.

    Brompton charged Neobike Europe with breach of copyright and/or authorship rights. Brompton's case was successful, with a judgement ruling that the Scoop bikes did indeed infringe Brompton's copyright: this ruling was made in Groningen on February 26th but details were not released until today.

    Brompton also obtained an interim attachment order relating to the goods, and the bikes are now impounded, pending a final decision on their disposal.

    Although Brompton's original patent covering the principle of folding has elapsed, the design and styling of the Brompton nonetheless have copyright protection, and this has been confirmed by the Groningen judgement.

    "Many other excellent and original new designs of folder have also appeared in recent years, and we welcome such competition: it genuinely serves to generate interest in the concept," said Brompton's founder Andrew Ritchie.

    "But we are not happy to see products with styling contrived to be similar to that of the Brompton: this confuses the consumer, and can do damage to the marque, especially if performance and/or quality is not as good. Brompton has pioneered many refinements that make a portable bike a pleasure to own and use, and our designs involve great attention to detail and an unrivalled understanding of how such bikes are used. This is what has secured our success, and naturally we do not wish to see this undermined by copiers with little feel for how a quality portable bike should perform."

    Translation from Dutch of the key point (section 4.1) of the Groningen judgement:

    Firstly in this case one must clarify whether the Brompton does in fact - as Brompton c.s. have maintained - possess an original character and bear an original mark of the maker, thus allowing the Brompton to enjoy copyright protection.
    ?One must conclude that this is indeed the case here. While it is undoubtedly true, as Van Ellen c.s. [Neobike Europe] have asserted, that the Brompton features various elements which, taken individually, can also be found in other foldable bicycle models, the specific combination of the folding technique, the design of the bicycle in the form of an "H" and the form of the handlebars in the form of a "U", all in combination with the bent horizontal frame tube, nevertheless mean that the Brompton, taken in its totality, can clearly be regarded as an original work with a personal mark of the maker.

  14. #14
    Senior Member
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    Thanks, very interesting. Of course it begs the question of how far one would have to deviate from those characteristics before the copyright was no longer infringed, which I suppose must really be arbitrary.

  15. #15
    It's got electrolytes! chucky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chagzuki View Post
    I don't understand intellectual property rights particularly; I've seen it stated that the Brompton patents expired many years ago. Perhaps the folding design is still in some way covered by intellectual property rights? Otherwise I can't understand why there isn't more competition in this area.
    As is often the case when it comes to intellectual property rights, it doesn't matter who has the patents or what the law is. It only matters who can afford to hire more lawyers.

    What would you do if someone started bombarding you with legal threats? Spend all your profits on a court cases or walk away, cut your loses, and keep what you have?

    Quote Originally Posted by chagzuki View Post
    Actually the folding bike market in general is perplexing to me; there seem to be so many openings for innovative products. I'm considering trying to formalize a couple of design ideas for components; I'll have to look into the cost of having prototypes made.
    IMHO, the reason it's perplexing is because there's no money to be made. Therefore, it's not driven by the laws of supply and demand but rather the passion of a few eccentrics who don't walk away like the rational investors.

    In fact, I believe this is the nature of all utility bicycles. They're just too useful to fit into the capitalist economy which requires never ending expansion...often via upgrades and replacements.

  16. #16
    Newly Foldered wellton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chucky View Post
    IMHO, the reason it's perplexing is because there's no money to be made. Therefore, it's not driven by the laws of supply and demand but rather the passion of a few eccentrics who don't walk away like the rational investors.
    that describes me to a T. But living in nyc and watching how much interest my own folding bike generates, I have to believe that folding bikes potentially have huge markets they can address in large cities. I think its the manufacterers who are being slow in addressing that potential market. I think there's a lot of room in this market for a creative company to grab tons of new market share. But it'll take work and the established companies are sitting on their laurels. Brompton has already proven how much people are willing to pay for a product that works well.


    In fact, I believe this is the nature of all utility bicycles. They're just too useful to fit into the capitalist economy which requires never ending expansion...often via upgrades and replacements.
    that same system of upgrades and replacements gave us the folding bike in the first place, and produces often startling productivity enhancements with each iteration.

    I dont mind paying the brompton premium. Whats the alternative? supporting some dictatorial regime with absymal environmental and labor laws? The brompton price is probably far closer to the 'real' price of materials, manufacture, labor.
    I can get a 200 buck bike at walmart if I dont mind the externalized costs all the way up and down that chain.
    Last edited by wellton; 10-18-10 at 11:45 AM.

  17. #17
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Labor in London needs to be paid more than in people in China..

    markups are probably a higher % on Dahons .

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by chucky View Post
    IMHO, the reason it's perplexing is because there's no money to be made. Therefore, it's not driven by the laws of supply and demand but rather the passion of a few eccentrics who don't walk away like the rational investors.
    The market must be fairly large, over the last 3 years the number of Bromptons and Dahons I see in central london has multiplied by such a factor. . . particularly Bromptons; they're ubiquitous now. Perhaps the new london cycle scheme will hurt folding bike sales but probably not as it doesn't extend far enough out from central london.

  19. #19
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chagzuki View Post
    Thanks, very interesting. Of course it begs the question of how far one would have to deviate from those characteristics before the copyright was no longer infringed, which I suppose must really be arbitrary.
    Perhaps it is sort of like pornography ... hard to define but easy to recognize?

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by chagzuki View Post
    The quality of an aluminium tube?
    Yes, swaged at one end and flared at the other. Hard anodised I believe and graduated with height markings.

    Quote Originally Posted by chagzuki View Post
    Why is the standard seat post steel in the first place?
    I've been hoping this superlight experiment will allow Brompton to lighten their whole range. The aluminium seatpost is the next obvious trickle-down.

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