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Old 01-15-13, 04:38 PM   #1
chaadster
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Is "annual production" a dirty word in the bicycle biz?

So, I fancy myself an enthusiast, in the general sense. The things I like, I enjoy getting deep into and knowing about. As a result, I assign value to things for different reasons than most people, probably, but in very much the same way as Enthusiasts do everywhere.

Take wine, for example, which is both my avocation and my profession. It's part-and-parcel of the wine enthusiast's game to want to know exactly how a wine was made, where the grapes come from, and how it was aged. I can scarcely think of any minutiae that doesn't fall under the purview of the wine enthusiast, and certainly not production figures. It's a matter of fact, and often a badge of honor and point of distinction, for producers to cite how much of any given wine they produce. Whether 333 cases or 1m cases, those numbers are used to help assign value to each wine; not necessarily monetary value, though often, but also collectibility and interest value.

It's the same in the watch world, another hobby of mine. So what's up with bicycles? Why is it so hard to find out how many, for example, Crown Jewels Independent Fabrication makes each year? I can't recall ever seeing a bike labeled "#32 of 200" or some such.

Maybe I've been looking in all the wrong places, but whereas I can imagine why a megaproducer like Trek doesn't bother to promote Madone figures, I cannot understand why a micro producer like, say, Serotta, wouldn't promote their limited production numbers as a way of reinforcing their scarcity, hand-made quality, and company ethos.

Call me a snob, but I can only see this as a failure of the industry. I was shopping for a bike recently, and this was one of those pieces of info that I would have like to see and that would-- or could-- have helped me make my decision.

As it turned out, I made my purchase decision absent that info, but after inquiring directly with the manufacturer, I was surprised and delighted to learn that the Breezer Venturi I'm having built up is one of only 150 (149 frames for public sale; Joe Breeze himself got #150) produced in the inaugural (well, of Breezer's modern era) 2012 model year. Just as book collectors get excited to acquire first editions, so too was I to learn about the rarity of this bike, or at least relative rarity; I have no idea how many of other bikes are produced, which is of course my point!

What about the rest of you? Are you an enthusiast? Do you wish production info was readily available? Does it matter to you? Why do you think production numbers are absent in the bike biz?

Oh, and thanks for reading my semi-rant!
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Old 01-15-13, 06:57 PM   #2
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(sigh) I guess that by the time I get finished fussing over any given bike - it probably doesn't resemble any other bike made by that manufacturer anyway - so never really gave it much of a thought.

I do understand your train of thought though and actually dig up NOS items that were extremely well designed but not a marketing success because most consumers weren't willing to pay the price. Now some are both affordable AND collectable.

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Old 01-15-13, 08:10 PM   #3
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Giving a number like 3 of 100 is more common in art printmaking than bicycles,
they have a serial number instead..

if a limited edition Batch, then at the beginning they know how many total are to be made.


do you know exacactly what you will be doing in December 2013.?

Veterans Knew the end of their Hitch .. it has a fixed date, and you counted the days ..

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Old 01-15-13, 08:48 PM   #4
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doesn't read like a rant to me.
when a car maker puts LE (limited edition)on a car, or SE (special edition) i rather cynically
feel they are 'limited' to how many they can con folks into buying. we all wanna feel 'special'.

as for x of xxxxx, wouldn't that put the price way up? and you might have a time keeping it
in original issue parts at some point. or be afraid to ride it for fear of value loss (or stolen).

ford sold a buncha early mustangs and they still have value, particularly the 64 1/2 and fastback
models. same with gm and it's camaros and early 60s corvettes.

whoops, showing my age.
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Old 01-15-13, 09:09 PM   #5
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I look at bikes like i look at cars. If you.can narrow down how many were made with what, it doesnt mean itll be worth somethig
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Old 01-15-13, 09:44 PM   #6
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What a nice topic you´ve come up with Chaadster. I believe that bike manufacturers only go for labeling their bikes when they do offer some extra value that is embraced by a small part of the market. For example: Colnago´s c59 ottanta edition, which has some details that Ernesto Colnago himself might consider close to his heart (such as the retro logo and painting), you can also take a look at BMC´s impec lamborghini edition, which meant the commercial cooperation between the famous italian super car manufacturer and the high tech swiss company. There are some other examples such as Specialized´s Mclaren Venge, etc. Those all are excelent bikes, and there is some people, that could consider paying "some extra" for having a differentiated goodie.

Of course you have to consider that by putting a "X of 60" label doesn´t mean that you got the best of the best. There are other small manufacturers that could go fully custom and literally make the bike of your dreams for a price (it might be cheaper than buying most of the bikes I just mentioned): Perfect fit geometry, paint scheme designed by you, picky componentry selection and so on...

However it is up to the customer´s own idea of what his/her bike should be like. Some of us just like the bling of a pro-team looking bike, while others have a more conservative approach. But hey, I´ve just been writing about what comes out of the box when you get any bike.

Lets think about the value that non-monetary value that we give to our rides. For example, I have 3 bikes and the first one I bought represents 7.5% of the cost of the three machines (invoice value). I´m not planning to get rid off that first bike because I´ve done a lot of crazy stuff while on it, from falling for the first time going clipless to travelling overseas and getting to know some really nice buddies (priceless). Well, I have to admit that I do like the other 2 bikes but meh.... I might sell them if I feel like it some time.

For me is not the most important thing to have a bike that states that you are one of those XX number of pals, but to enjoy the process of choosing the bike, enjoying the experiences that turn around it and generating that personal value that no manufacturer could provide.

... But hey... If you got the money and fancy those labeled bikes you nailed it, enjoy the breezer venturi and post some pics dude!
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Old 01-15-13, 11:26 PM   #7
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doesn't read like a rant to me.
when a car maker puts LE (limited edition)on a car, or SE (special edition) i rather cynically
feel they are 'limited' to how many they can con folks into buying. we all wanna feel 'special'.

as for x of xxxxx, wouldn't that put the price way up? and you might have a time keeping it
in original issue parts at some point. or be afraid to ride it for fear of value loss (or stolen).

ford sold a buncha early mustangs and they still have value, particularly the 64 1/2 and fastback
models. same with gm and it's camaros and early 60s corvettes.

whoops, showing my age.
I have a Porsche 928, and in 928 circles, we know exactly how many of each model were produced when, exported where, and with what option packages. Knowing the specifics is a point of interest. Being interested to know particulars, or assigning intellectual value to them, does not stop us from changing the wheels, redoing interiors, customizing bodywork, or even modding the motors. We also drive them.

My point, of course, is that knowing production voumes does not detract from enjoyment, but enhances it and feeds the enthusiast culture.
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Old 01-15-13, 11:27 PM   #8
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I look at bikes like i look at cars. If you.can narrow down how many were made with what, it doesnt mean itll be worth somethig
Of course not necessarily, but it may.
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Old 01-15-13, 11:38 PM   #9
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There are other small manufacturers that could go fully custom and literally make the bike of your dreams for a price (it might be cheaper than buying most of the bikes I just mentioned): Perfect fit geometry, paint scheme designed by you, picky componentry selection and so on...

Because fully custom bikes are available to people who want them, bicycles are unlike wine and porches, which are only made in batches and you have no real say as to the design or process that goes into it. If it really matters to me the tubing thickness of my bicycle, or what type of brazing rod was used, then I can get it done exactly the way I want.
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Old 01-15-13, 11:46 PM   #10
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What a nice topic you´ve come up with Chaadster. I believe that bike manufacturers only go for labeling their bikes when they do offer some extra value that is embraced by a small part of the market. For example: Colnago´s c59 ottanta edition, which has some details that Ernesto Colnago himself might consider close to his heart (such as the retro logo and painting), you can also take a look at BMC´s impec lamborghini edition, which meant the commercial cooperation between the famous italian super car manufacturer and the high tech swiss company. There are some other examples such as Specialized´s Mclaren Venge, etc. Those all are excelent bikes, and there is some people, that could consider paying "some extra" for having a differentiated goodie.

Of course you have to consider that by putting a "X of 60" label doesn´t mean that you got the best of the best. There are other small manufacturers that could go fully custom and literally make the bike of your dreams for a price (it might be cheaper than buying most of the bikes I just mentioned): Perfect fit geometry, paint scheme designed by you, picky componentry selection and so on...

However it is up to the customer´s own idea of what his/her bike should be like. Some of us just like the bling of a pro-team looking bike, while others have a more conservative approach. But hey, I´ve just been writing about what comes out of the box when you get any bike.

Lets think about the value that non-monetary value that we give to our rides. For example, I have 3 bikes and the first one I bought represents 7.5% of the cost of the three machines (invoice value). I´m not planning to get rid off that first bike because I´ve done a lot of crazy stuff while on it, from falling for the first time going clipless to travelling overseas and getting to know some really nice buddies (priceless). Well, I have to admit that I do like the other 2 bikes but meh.... I might sell them if I feel like it some time.

For me is not the most important thing to have a bike that states that you are one of those XX number of pals, but to enjoy the process of choosing the bike, enjoying the experiences that turn around it and generating that personal value that no manufacturer could provide.

... But hey... If you got the money and fancy those labeled bikes you nailed it, enjoy the breezer venturi and post some pics dude!
I'm not talking about the "best of the best" or paying extra. I'm simply talking about stating facts. The producers know how many they built, or plan to build, or are able to build, so why don't they just say as much?
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Old 01-16-13, 01:25 AM   #11
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Nobody cares.

You can't compete in a numbers game for exclusivity, when the competition is "custom".

For example who cares if you bought a COTS Moots, when they also do full custom to you.

Carbon is very expensive to make due to the mold costs, and needing to make molds for every size frame. While the carbon material is relatively cheap, the molds can be $25k+ each for each size of bike. You need to make enough bikes to cover everything.

And the carbon bikes win races.

Custom doesn't
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Old 01-16-13, 06:25 AM   #12
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Nobody cares.

You can't compete in a numbers game for exclusivity, when the competition is "custom".
Interesting possibility, which I hadn't thought of.

Thinking about it, though, the same is true in the watch world, but that doesn't stop manufacturers from doing lots of small batch, numbered editions, even at the lower priced end of the spectrum (e.g. Christopher Ward).

Even watchmakers who do customs, e.g. RGM, usually offer numbered limited editions, so why would the dynamic be any different for bikes?

i also cannot imagine that I'm the guy who cares! I've met some pretty geeky, obsessive cyclists!
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Old 01-16-13, 07:26 AM   #13
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Giving a number like 3 of 100 is more common in art printmaking than bicycles,
they have a serial number instead..

if a limited edition Batch, then at the beginning they know how many total are to be made.


do you know exacactly what you will be doing in December 2013.?

Veterans Knew the end of their Hitch .. it has a fixed date, and you counted the days ..
Yes, of course some smaller producers-- the real, handmade producers-- don't know how many frames they will make, and are reliant on orders and/or their own ability to get them built. Fine, maybe they don't say precisely "x of xx", because they can't, and just stick to serial numbers and a website statement like "we make about 200 frames per year" or whatever the typical number is.

Or maybe they start thinking and working in numbered LEs (limited editions); dunno, might not be possible, might be a pain in the ass, but might drive up their status with collector types.

Contract producers, like the aforementioned Breezer, probably know exactly how many they will make...it's in the contract, I'm sure!
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Old 01-16-13, 08:28 AM   #14
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Maybe it's because generally bikes don't age the same way wines or cars do. That is their values don't increase over times just because it's limited production.
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Old 01-16-13, 08:40 AM   #15
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Not a bad question, really...

Chaadster -
Your question goes back to your particular personality and interests. Lifestyle factors into this also, as does world view.

There's nothing wrong with being interested in the rarity of the things that you collect. But I'd guess that you'd find a wide range of how deeply folks feel about this. Not judging, mind you, but for me bikes are just to be ridden.

I don't look at them, and I don't hang them on the wall. I ride them, maintain them, and enjoy them. I like mid-level bikes because value, performance and function line up pretty well. But there's nothing "special" about any one of them, except (of course) that they're mine and I like to ride them a lot.

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Old 01-16-13, 08:44 AM   #16
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Maybe it's because generally bikes don't age the same way wines or cars do. That is their values don't increase over times just because it's limited production.
That's just the market, though, and is a chicken-and-egg thing, meaning, would bikes have more value if we knew one was a first edition, or 1 of 50, or made on a specific date and by whom?

My primary concern is not residual value, however, just the ability to indulge the "collector impulse" in the bike world. If the collector market develops, prices will go where they may, and has been noted upthread, that may be nowhere.

Relatedly, I represent a young, premium corkscrew producer, Code 38 (www.code38.com), which are arguably the finest corkscrews made. Jeff started out producing these in his shop, assembling them just as quickly as he could by hand. As his product spread, he began to hear that his clients wanted to know how many had been made, and where theirs fell in the model development. This has lead to serialization of the corkscrew, because the collector market-- the type of people who'd spend $200-$400 on a corkscrew-- was interested and involved in the product at such a level.

If it happens in watches, art, wine, and even corkscrews, I'm really puzzled as to why it's largely absent in the bike world.
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Old 01-16-13, 08:50 AM   #17
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Chaadster -
Your question goes back to your particular personality and interests. Lifestyle factors into this also, as does world view.

There's nothing wrong with being interested in the rarity of the things that you collect. But I'd guess that you'd find a wide range of how deeply folks feel about this. Not judging, mind you, but for me bikes are just to be ridden.

I don't look at them, and I don't hang them on the wall. I ride them, maintain them, and enjoy them. I like mid-level bikes because value, performance and function line up pretty well. But there's nothing "special" about any one of them, except (of course) that they're mine and I like to ride them a lot.

Phil G>
Thanks, Phil, and of course, you're absolutely correct.

However, production numbers do not detract from your enjoyment of your bikes, do they? Your bikes are # x of xxx, right, but you just don't know. Would knowing make a negative difference to you?

I don't think these things are mutually exclusive, and I don't see a downside to producers being up front about production numbers.
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Old 01-16-13, 08:54 AM   #18
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Honestly, Chaad, knowing the production number of any of my bikes wouldn't affect me one way or the other. I'd likely forget the number soon after I found it out. I guess that I could write it down somewhere so that it could be recalled if anyone asked...

As for negatively influencing me...maybe. If I discovered that I somehow had stumbled onto something valuable or rare, I'd likely sell it immediately and hand my wife the money. But that's just me.

Phil

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Old 01-16-13, 09:32 AM   #19
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Have you checked in on the Classic and Vintage board? Most bikes do have a serial number and some people have gone to great lengths to decode and quantify them.
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Old 01-16-13, 09:58 AM   #20
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I don't think these things are mutually exclusive, and I don't see a downside to producers being up front about production numbers.
What is in it for the producer to reveal production information to the curious?
Producers may not wish to divulge proprietary production information for their competitors' use. Especially when their customers and potential customers who actually give a darn about such information may be few and far between.
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Old 01-16-13, 10:19 AM   #21
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What is in it for the producer to reveal production information to the curious?
Producers may not wish to divulge proprietary production information for their competitors' use. Especially when their customers and potential customers who actually give a darn about such information may be few and far between.
As I detailed upthread, revealing production numbers may engage and stimulate buyers who are looking for more infomation on which to base their purchasing decisions. In other words, it may drive sales.

There may, indeed, be strategic reasons a bike firm may not want to disclose that info, particularly in a situation where they're charging premium prices for wildly mass produced bikes, but I'm not saying that production #s should, or need, to be revealed universally. For the right bikes, though, I think it would be a useful # to list.

Are those who would be positively responsive to those #s few and far between? In the grand scheme, sure, but if we're talking about a couple hundred boutique, but reasonably priced frames, I think the assessment changes dramatically.
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Old 01-16-13, 10:43 AM   #22
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If I discovered that I somehow had stumbled onto something valuable or rare, I'd likely sell it immediately and hand my wife the money. But that's just me.

Phil
Haha! You're a good man!

To be clear, neither production numbers nor scarcity necessarily lead to increased resale value.

Anway, if you unwittingly bought something for significantly less than market value, felt compelled to resell it, and gave your wife the money, I don't think anyone would consider that a bad thing!
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Old 01-16-13, 08:42 PM   #23
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What is in it for the producer to reveal production information to the curious?
Producers may not wish to divulge proprietary production information for their competitors' use. Especially when their customers and potential customers who actually give a darn about such information may be few and far between.
I agree, think that bigger brands are the ones that could get negative effects by publishing such information for their whole production.

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Old 01-16-13, 09:00 PM   #24
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Hi Chaadster,

I´m still thinking about it and maybe bike manufacturers are really cautious and hermetic with their information because as carazy as it might sound, the development and level of innovation for the industry has been sieged by international regulation bodies that stick to some pretty much fixed designs (mtb and road bikes). I mean, the shape of the frames hasn´t changed for lots of time, manufacturers don´t put their money on "out of the box" R+D.

In the case of wine and watches, which I also love, producers have the option to play a lot with a lot of variables. Maybe bike manufacturers have just been grabbed by the nuts. It makes sense... if you are restricted to develop a product and not being able to amazingly differentiate your offering, you just have to try to keep your position on the market or hopefully grow.

That´s just my personal thoughts.

Ronaldo
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Old 01-17-13, 08:11 AM   #25
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Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Bikes: '15 Kinesis Racelight 4S, '76 Motebecane Gran Jubilée
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Originally Posted by rho View Post
Hi Chaadster,

I´m still thinking about it and maybe bike manufacturers are really cautious and hermetic with their information because as carazy as it might sound, the development and level of innovation for the industry has been sieged by international regulation bodies that stick to some pretty much fixed designs (mtb and road bikes). I mean, the shape of the frames hasn´t changed for lots of time, manufacturers don´t put their money on "out of the box" R+D.

In the case of wine and watches, which I also love, producers have the option to play a lot with a lot of variables. Maybe bike manufacturers have just been grabbed by the nuts. It makes sense... if you are restricted to develop a product and not being able to amazingly differentiate your offering, you just have to try to keep your position on the market or hopefully grow.

That´s just my personal thoughts.

Ronaldo
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Ronaldo. I can understand your point that regulation can strangle innovation, but do not see how listed production #s impedes the desire of companies to keep their position in the market, or works against hopes of growing. I still think, as I said upthread, that doing so would positively engage a segment of the market, and energize the company's efforts to reach those goals.

Perhaps if the regulation caused those working in the industry to lose the desire to achieve or to promote their product,-- i.e. if the regulation crushed their passion-- then yes, I can understand why they would make no efforts to distinguish their products, but I see no evidence that is true, and in fact, see quite a lot to suggest the industry is filled with people very passionate about bikes and their work.

I'm thinking that maybe some of the explanation I'm looking for is in what BigJeff was saying, that perhaps producers feel that the segment of buyers with what I'll call the "collector impulse," are fully engaged by custom frames, and there is no point to do limited edition production bikes, or state total numbers for serial production frames.

Of course, based on my own experience, I think they're wrong. While I myself would love a custom build, I cannot afford it, and so look for points of differentiation and distinction among the offerings I can afford, and limited runs of production frames would certainly be one of those points were the information available. I'll readily concede that I am some kind of freak weirdo, but I'm sure I'm not alone in this!
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