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The bubble is upon us?

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

The bubble is upon us?

Old 01-13-22, 09:19 AM
  #51  
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
Eh. I don't work at an LBS, but I've worked customer service, and I've done worse to make a ****** customer walk. I'm not saying that it's typical, or even likely, simply that it's within the realm of possibility, but that there's probably a story behind it.
Store owner is a guy I ride with semi-frequently. I have purchased two bikes at his shop in the past two years and had planned to buy a third but they couldn't get it (mainly bought from them because they are the only dealer for the brands I wanted in the area, not because I like the shop). I am hardly a "difficult customer", but thanks for the assumption that I'm a prick. I just got screwed.

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Old 01-13-22, 09:20 AM
  #52  
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
There's hyperbole, and then there's bs. That story is bs. It undercuts the poster's point...Makes it laughable, really.
I'm a laughable liar, apparently.
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Old 01-13-22, 09:28 AM
  #53  
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Originally Posted by Hiro11 View Post
Store owner is a guy I ride with semi-frequently. I have purchased two bikes at his shop in the past two years and had planned to buy a third but they couldn't get it (mainly because they are the only dealer for the brands I wanted in the area, not because I like the shop). I am hardly a "difficult customer", but thanks for the assumption that I'm a prick. I just got screwed.
So you're saying that this is their normal pricing on replacing a broken spoke? Or were they talking about a replacing a spoke and completely going over the wheel with a truing/tensioning session?
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Old 01-13-22, 09:39 AM
  #54  
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Here's what you wrote:
Originally Posted by Hiro11 View Post
The other part of me is annoyed that something simple like fixing a broken spoke costs $95, takes ten days,
As it turns out, it was much more than "something simple like fixing a broken spoke":
Originally Posted by Hiro11 View Post
Spoke broken on an ENVE SES AR. They had the spoke in stock. They charged me for replacement and a "major truing". Tire mounted tubeless and required removal and retaping. In fairness, it was a lot of work for a broken spoke but I still got ripped.
Hence:
Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
That story is bs.
The last time I actually had "something simple like fixing a broken spoke" done at a shop, it cost me 10 minutes and $20. Your story is something very, very different.

And by the way: how could you get "screwed" on a voluntary transaction? You chose to have them do the work, and could've/should've asked the price in advance.
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Old 01-13-22, 09:43 AM
  #55  
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Originally Posted by Hiro11 View Post
I'm a laughable liar, apparently.
Pretty close. I'd call it gross misrepresentation, almost lying by omission.
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Old 01-13-22, 09:52 AM
  #56  
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
So you're saying that this is their normal pricing on replacing a broken spoke? Or were they talking about a replacing a spoke and completely going over the wheel with a truing/tensioning session?
I'm saying I brought a wheel in with a broken spoke and 10 days and $95 later I walked out with the wheel fixed.
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Old 01-13-22, 09:53 AM
  #57  
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
Pretty close. I'd call it gross misrepresentation, almost lying by omission.
I'm terribly sorry Senator for "lying by omission".
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Old 01-13-22, 09:56 AM
  #58  
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
I simply don't believe this anecdote.
I do. That is the going rate for a spoke/truing job where I live. An LBS 60 miles north would charge half that.....when they were in business (they folded last year).
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Old 01-13-22, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Hiro11 View Post
I'm saying I brought a wheel in with a broken spoke and 10 days and $95 later I walked out with the wheel fixed.
Tubeless tire and tape removed, sealant cleaned from the rim, spoke replaced and wheel trued (probably checked tension on all spokes, from the sound of it...?), new rim tape applied, tire re-mounted and (I'm guessing) new sealant put in the tire.

$95 seems about right. Certainly nothing to complain about.

Pretty funny that someone with a $2500 wheelset is complaining about $95 for a fair bit of work on said wheel.
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Old 01-13-22, 09:58 AM
  #60  
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
The last time I actually had "something simple like fixing a broken spoke" done at a shop, it cost me 10 minutes and $20. Your story is something very, very different.
"Very very different?" In that I had a broken spoke and it required $95 and 10 days to fix? That is exactly what happened. Also, having a broken spoke on a tubeless wheel is something fairly common these days and not some wildly niche procedure. Again, what part did I "lie" about? How did this render my post "laughable"? You made a bunch of wrong assumptions and pointlessly attacked me.
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Old 01-13-22, 10:04 AM
  #61  
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
Tubeless tire and tape removed, sealant cleaned from the rim, spoke replaced and wheel trued (probably checked tension on all spokes, from the sound of it...?), new rim tape applied, tire re-mounted and (I'm guessing) new sealant put in the tire.

$95 seems about right. Certainly nothing to complain about.

Pretty funny that someone with a $2500 wheelset is complaining about $95 for a fair bit of work on said wheel.
Nice goalpost shifting. Now you agree that what I said wasn't a "lie" and have moved on to your opinions on what's "about right" and value judgments about me "complaining" (note: complaining here, not to the shop).
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Old 01-13-22, 10:06 AM
  #62  
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Originally Posted by Hiro11 View Post
Spoke broken on an ENVE SES AR. They had the spoke in stock. They charged me for replacement and a "major truing". Tire mounted tubeless and required removal and retaping. In fairness, it was a lot of work for a broken spoke but I still got ripped.
In my shop - the spoke would have been ~$3.50. The truing most likely $15. The re-tape and tubeless setup would be about $35. ...but you implied this wouldn't be able to be repaired in an independent shop? I don't know if you intentionally flipped that or did it by accident but I assure you I am one of the only ones that can do repairs like that around here - as an independent service only and wheel builder shop. I usually get the stuff the big brand shops can't fix. They often don't have the mechanical depth of knowledge because of the model they use.

Also I undercharge. My rates and my knowledge combined have created a solid customer base of massive enthusiasts and then racers from all over the greater Chicagoland area and Southern Wisconsin that will take the time to get in a car and drive the 45 minutes-1.5 hours needed to get to me each way. In my experience the independents and more specifically the service only shops have way more technical knowledge and skill. We have to work on more stuff. Those guys can be like, "Yeah that seems like a warranty issue with Specialized. We're a Trek shop. You should take it to _____" whereas we have to actually fix it.
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Old 01-13-22, 10:07 AM
  #63  
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Originally Posted by Hiro11 View Post
Nice goalpost shifting. Now you agree that what I said wasn't a "lie" and have moved on to your opinions on what's "about right" and value judgments about me "complaining" (note: complaining here, not to the shop).
You shifted the goalposts when your $95 'simple spoke replacement' turned out to be something much, much more involved. Something for which a $95 price is hardly a screwing.
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Old 01-13-22, 10:11 AM
  #64  
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Originally Posted by eduskator View Post
That's what people said two years ago when this great adventure began.

On my end, I'm currently not able to put my hand on a set of tires. While I understand that consumerism is a source of pollution, it's needed. Overconsumption isn't. When someone is not even able to buy the 2 tires of his preference, there is a problem.

On a similar note, I tried to reserve a gravel bike in advance (called in November 2021 hoping to get one by April-May 2022) and only 1 LBS was able to put my name on a waiting list for a potential delivery in November 2022. It is insane.
Lots of gravel bikes out there you can buy right now. Same goes for tires. Unless for some reason you are devoted to one brand.

The sky isn't falling people. Jeepers.
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Old 01-13-22, 10:35 AM
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On the other side of the coin, Trek bought a bunch of local stores this past year, including the previously independent store that is close to me. I bent the derailleur hanger on my Domane, and stopped to see if they could fix it for me. I expected to have to leave the bike for a bit.

But, here's what happened: They fixed it while I waited in all of 10 minutes or so. They retuned the derailleur. They gave it back to me and charged $7 labor plus the price of the hanger.

Another time I took my Specialized to them because I had some clicking sounds coming from the front spokes. They fixed that while I waited, and didn't charge me a dime.

Never bought a bike from that store, and have maybe spent $1,000 there over the years.
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Old 01-13-22, 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Mojo31 View Post
On the other side of the coin, Trek bought a bunch of local stores this past year, including the previously independent store that is close to me. I bent the derailleur hanger on my Domane, and stopped to see if they could fix it for me. I expected to have to leave the bike for a bit.

But, here's what happened: They fixed it while I waited in all of 10 minutes or so. They retuned the derailleur. They gave it back to me and charged $7 labor plus the price of the hanger.

Another time I took my Specialized to them because I had some clicking sounds coming from the front spokes. They fixed that while I waited, and didn't charge me a dime.

Never bought a bike from that store, and have maybe spent $1,000 there over the years.
My local Trek store said they were raising their labor rates to $75/hour. Those are auto mechanic rates. I laughed. Even though I bought my Domane from them, they will no longer get any of my service work.

Bikes are simple machines. Not complicated machinery like autos.
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Old 01-13-22, 10:43 AM
  #67  
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Originally Posted by City Guy View Post
Hi All,

Fascinating perspective from Psimet, he definitely knows what he is talking about and presents an excellent high level viewpoint. I would like to know Psimet's opinion of what I would consider the "sleeping giant'.

Several China based bicycle manufactures are selling bikes and carbon wheels consumer direct at prices much lower than the Big Three. I would suggest that if these manufacturers get their marketing act together to build their brand and open up more USA based warehouses (i.e. ICAN), and possibly even retail outlets, the Big Three would face some very serious competition. I would tend to think the Big Three have considered this possibility and could be concerned if this were to actually happen.

I wonder what Psimet would think of this?

City Guy
TBH nothing has actually changed except for maybe your perception of Chinese direct and how prevalent it is. I started importing open mold rims and building custom wheels like 14 years ago. They were coming from Taiwan. At the time we had the big brands, the baby brands (wheel only but larger marketing so more name recognition), Smaller importer/builders like myself, and then the DTC guys from Taiwan chasing the market down to the smallest dollar. Even then there were guys on the rides who were showing off their "no-name" wheels, frames, bars, etc on the rides. It's always been there. The only thing that has changed is that they are coming from China now.

In the mean time the big 3 have realized they can almost match or beat their bike sales by adding wheel sales. They all invested heavily. "You guys" - the market - have just settled in with them. Nothing is more warm, comfortable and inviting than just buying the wheels from the company that also made my bike - syndrome.

Deep enthusiasts, like most on this forum, will always want to push to find "something new". It's that sort of "I am more dedicated than everyone else because I spend all day reading forums and find that one place that sells OK stuff at a massively low price and everyone who is cool says they're great" route of thinking. Then that easily grows into this feeling that "everyone else will do this too once they find out about it". That is never really what happens next. The reality is far easier than that:

1. People are not as motivated to look for other options as you might think. Most will read stuff on forums but only as a distraction to their work day. Some of it is intriguing but in real life they have a few people they know and trust. those people are often times a revered mechanic in a local shop or the veteran on the group ride they do. It's easier to go to them for the guidance than a bunch of no-names on the internet. This same effect applies to finding local contractors, car dealers, etc. You're going to trust your neighbors or friends more than some posts online.

2. People are addicted to brands.

3. Chinese direct brands will always miss the mark in the US. Having lived in Taiwan as a kid I can assure you there is a fundamental gap between culture and ways of life between traditional Chinese culture and the US. Those gaps will always "rub" some US customers the wrong way subconsciously.

4. Everyone knows this so many of those "Chinese" brands you are thinking of are actually just production houses for the OEM's. That's where they're getting their rims for their OE bikes and aftermarket upgrades. That doesn't mean you can buy the "same thing at low price" from the same factory, because you can't. By them bringing up their integrity and quality to the tiny level above reprehensible they have now been handcuffed by those OEM's in to not selling the same stuff DTC. Their DTC stuff is more their own designs. That's great...but they don't have the same riding and enthusiast culture we have. These are designed by a guy who most likely hadn't been on a long bike ride, let alone rode a performance bike for years. The opposite exists in the US for the smaller brands. That makes a big difference.

5. Their "rush to the bottom" has stratified the market. They know the only way to gain market share and overcome the obvious flaws is to simply dump price and try to address whatever obstacles they believe exist in the customer's mind. That will always appeal to that deep enthusiast that I described above. That doesn't appeal at all to the PCads of the world.

6. Aftermarket doesn't make the industry. As enthusiasts we always think we are super important. I mean we're the ones that use this stuff all the time. We love the newest stuff. Spend "so much" on things that all these companies should bend over backwards to gain our dollar. Well as many in this thread have said - have you seen new bike prices lately? it only takes a couple of bikes out of one shop to far eclipse most enthusiasts annual spends. When shops are turning hundreds, thousands, to tens of thousands of bikes out every year and this is repeated in something like 600-800 LBSs throughout the nation...it starts to become apparent that the aftermarket, while fun, sexy and somewhat important. does not make the industry.

All this to say that while those specific brands are gaining traction the general trend of buying OEM wheel upgrades has still been increasing at an even higher rate, yet there is a solid defined market for the baby brands (Rolf, HED, Hunt, Boyd), and the smaller custom builders, such as myself, have been even more in demand after what had been a large drop.

That drop was from OEM's getting into aftermarket wheel upgrades, putting better wheels on higher price point builds to start with, and the fact that so much tech had changed that instead of buying a wheel upgrade people were having to buy a whole new bike. Now enough people have had their "Electric disc bike" long enough to actually be starting to look into next level upgrades.
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Old 01-13-22, 10:51 AM
  #68  
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Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
My local Trek store said they were raising their labor rates to $75/hour. Those are auto mechanic rates.
Last Chevy dealer I worked at was $185 per hour labor rate. Some dealers are $200 per hour. These are not exotics.
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Old 01-13-22, 11:00 AM
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The supply chain situation is a bit like drinking from a fire hose.

Maybe our shop is unique. We got in early & had the resources to pay cash. When the semi truck shows up with 200 bikes, they were already paid for. 20211213_145308 by Richard Mozzarella, on Flickr
Then another truck showed up. 20210823_100054 by Richard Mozzarella, on Flickr
Then another. Yes, a bunch were fall-out from the Mike's bikes thing. But at least other companies send us a dozen or so, maybe 20 at a time & call it good.

As cool as Spesh was making good on our order they've done a few things that really rub us a bit wrongly. The hard-nosed take everything we can send now or lose it all attitude was a bit of a challenge. We spent/this cost us tens of thousands of dollars to expand a warehouse to accept it all or lose out.

Then we discovered they deprecated the specs on some rockhoppers & told us to stuff-it when we complained it wasn't what we ordered. (The bikes we ordered had hydraulic brakes, now have mechanical but the price hasn't changed & to the consumer the difference in price is understandably unjustified.)

Spesh cut a bit out of our margins, & some wheels/bikes are not available to us but are readily available DTC or "elite" level shops. When a consumer buys off the website & have it shipped to us, Specialized gets about 80% meaning we get basically assemble the bike for free. (Hyperbole, of course but not really enough to be excited about.)

In addition to cutting our margins, Spesh jacked up prices. Kids bike are $700 now. I don't care who you are, $700 for a Jett kids bike is a tough ask. In all reality, the kid usually ends up with a Giant ATX or Precaliber, Wahoo, or anything else not $700

The corporate Trek store 25 miles away OTOH: The manager calls us on the phone to find out if we have a bike, then puts the phone in the customers hand so the customer can read us the credit card number & be on their way to pick up their new bike. I find this amazing every time. That any given Trek builds up nice with less labor hours than the others of the Big 3 is nice, too.

Over the pandemic, we picked up 2 e-bike brands. Gazelle & Benno. Gazelle also does regular bikes, but we already have that taken care of. We added Benno bikes so that we have a quality alternative to the ubiquitous Rad that is 25 miles away.

Our first Orbea Orca showed up yesterday. It's a nice bike.

We have Transitions in stock.

We're super pleased with Salsa. We haven't sold as many Warbirds as we'd hoped. Cutthroats don't stay on the rack very long.

Santa Cruz Spires & Hightowers & Blurs fill our racks.

We have a handful of Dahon folders. Some other full size step-over Boardwalk single-speeds cruisers.

At this point with the supply thing it's not so much an issue of: "Do we have a bike?" & more of: "Do we have the specific bike you want & do we have it in your size?"

The brand new ski shop we built over the summer is humming along briskly. We will be doubling our rental fleet next year.

All this is to say: Times are good right now. If you own what you own, all that inventory is not overhead, it's assets. It's future sales & survival in the bank. We feel that the upcoming glut of bubble bust that is 2022/2023 isn't going to affect our survival at all. A shop can survive on just service. We are well prepared to do so again.
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Old 01-13-22, 11:02 AM
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Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
My local Trek store said they were raising their labor rates to $75/hour. Those are auto mechanic rates. I laughed. Even though I bought my Domane from them, they will no longer get any of my service work.

Bikes are simple machines. Not complicated machinery like autos.
HAHAHAHAHAHAaaaaa.....

Yeah.

OK - Normal shop rates for bike shops have been in the $60/hr range for at least 20 years. I still charge $60/hr and I'm on the low end. As many also know - that rate is almost always just applied to standard book rate for specific jobs. meaning "headset service" might be in their book at .3 hours meaning that work is still coming out to $18 even though it might actually take them 45 minutes to get it done because they got interrupted 100 times with phone calls from guys getting indignant about their shop rates.

You're suffering from the "it's a simple machine and child's toy" syndrome. It's this same line of thinking that causes drivers to not view us as human beings on the road. It's not a good path to go down.

Those who self profess as being extremely knowledgeable and who can do all their repairs at home in the "I'm an engineer" way of thinking - usually have the MOST f'd up bikes when they finally mess it up enough to bring it in. They are so disconnected from the reality of the nuances that can turn a simple machine into a complex solution that our industry has multiple hidden forums and groups where they share all sorts of pictures of how messed up it is so everyone can laugh.

Funny you mention auto industry. They face the same issues and have just as many forums.

Also the auto industry - most shops have gone from being mechanics to being techs who can swap parts. Similar to our industry. Big difference is the parts are heavier.

You don't pay for the job - you pay for the knowledge and skill. Your tube swap might only take me 3 minutes but you're still paying me $10 because it took me 30 years to be that quick at finding the root cause (that you missed) and fixing it.

Prices will continue to go up. Just the way it is.

There will always be a need....all of us are backed up beyond belief. Turns out the enthusiasts who think these are simple machines who think we overcharge...aren't our customers or the people we are trying to make our customers. our customers overwhelmingly are the moms who have 5 bikes in the famil who want to make sure that when they pull them out to ride to school or go to get ice cream as a family that they aren't going to die. Sure they may just need air and a cleaning and a few tweaks, but they pay for my knowledgeable eye to go over every part of it and make sure their Amazon special isn't actually cracked and that the grill assembler who put it together has the fork on the right direction and the skewer actually closed. That takes time and I get paid for my time. As I should.

So your rant, while mildly entertaining in the same way that someone who stands in the middle of a road yelling at cars that this is their road too, it seems to miss the realities of the world in that "one person does not represent even a small portion of the market".
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Old 01-13-22, 11:02 AM
  #71  
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Originally Posted by big john View Post
Last Chevy dealer I worked at was $185 per hour labor rate. Some dealers are $200 per hour. These are not exotics.
HAHAHA I was hoping you'd come in here on this one!
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Old 01-13-22, 11:07 AM
  #72  
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Originally Posted by Hiro11 View Post
I'm saying I brought a wheel in with a broken spoke and 10 days and $95 later I walked out with the wheel fixed.
Yeah, this is a horse of a different color -

Originally Posted by Hiro11 View Post
Spoke broken on an ENVE SES AR. They had the spoke in stock. They charged me for replacement and a "major truing". Tire mounted tubeless and required removal and retaping. In fairness, it was a lot of work for a broken spoke but I still got ripped.
....so yeah, when I said, "there's probably a story behind it," the above absolutely qualifies.

Originally Posted by Hiro11 View Post
... but thanks for the assumption that I'm a prick.
Oh, and, uh, that kind of misrepresentation? A bit of a prick move.
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Old 01-13-22, 11:13 AM
  #73  
GhostRider62
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Originally Posted by big john View Post
Last Chevy dealer I worked at was $185 per hour labor rate. Some dealers are $200 per hour. These are not exotics.
I was going to say. I have not seen $75/hr at a dealership in 2 decades. Closer to $200/hr
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Old 01-13-22, 11:17 AM
  #74  
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Originally Posted by N2deep View Post
Great point and that’s why a lot of us are fishing the used pond for components or building outside of the conventional markets. The whole situation is ridiculous as bike prices pre-pandemic were grossly over inflated, a premium bike is not worth the $5k tag, that now has risen to $7k if you can find one. A lot of this stupidity is engrained in the industry practices and sales model.
Bike prices were historically absurdly low in the U.S. Until the 1960s, most bikes in this country were sold by toy distributors and were predominantly single-speed, coaster brake bikes sold in department stores or auto parts stores such as Western Auto. Since very little skill or time was needed to assemble such bikes, the profit margin was as low as that for all the other toys sold by the distributors.

Ironically, the profit margins for toys steadily increased over the next decades, while those for bikes remained low, even as more-complicated 10-speed bikes started selling in signficant numbers. Note that even now, when profits on bikes have finally increased to the point where it's theoretically possible to make a decent living selling them, the guy you quoted, Psimet, has given up on stocking bikes and runs a service-only shop.

The bike business is still extremely competitive. No bike retailer is making a killing selling bikes. I worked in five different bike shops in three states over the years, and the only shop I worked in that was significantly profitable was run by, not a bike enthusiast, but a businessman who obsessively monitored his costs. (He once boasted to me that he'd had his best year ever, netting a profit of around 4%.)

The current "industry practices and sales model," which is finally capable of generating decent profits for at least some businesses, is far from stupid. Ruthless, maybe.

Last edited by Trakhak; 01-13-22 at 11:20 AM.
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Old 01-13-22, 11:32 AM
  #75  
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
You don't pay for the job - you pay for the knowledge and skill. Your tube swap might only take me 3 minutes but you're still paying me $10 because it took me 30 years to be that quick at finding the root cause (that you missed) and fixing it.
Some great photographer - it may have been Ansel Adams - was once asked how long it took him to make a photo. He answered something like, "1/30th of a second, and 30 years."

The market rewards human capital. It has to...Otherwise people would have no incentive to acquire that human capital.
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