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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The big bike companies do everything to convince us that they make the best bikes. I started shopping around for bikes last year. I noticed that carbon fiber bikes from Specialized, Cannondale, and Trek equipped with 105 or Rival might be paired with cheap shimano wheels, tektro brakes, or a lesser crank set.

I test rode a Specialized roubaix with Apex a week ago, and enjoyed trying out a SRAM equipped bike for the first time. I'm assuming this is a 2011 model, forgot to ask, since Apex is pretty new. The bike was priced at $2000. I looked closer at all the components and was surprised that the crankset and brakes were not Apex. The wheels, crankset, and brakes had no branding what so ever on them. I didn't pay attention but I wouldn't be suprised if the handlebars or stem were no names as well. As I drove home I was disgusted that they didn't fit the bike with the full Apex group, which isn't too pricy, and that the fill in components were so cheap that they had no logo on them.

I guess Specialized feels that their frames are so freaking awesome that I should feel lucky to walk away with a new one for $2000.

The sales staff spewed out the marketing drivel "this will get your foot in the door...a frame almost identical to what the pros use on the cobbles...blah blah."

Is this a trend that is getting worse year after year?

I've just about decided to buy used and/or buy new components via ebay and pay a friend, who builds up a lot of bikes, to help put it together.
 

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In researching my first-ever road bike purchase over the past month, this phenomenon really struck me as strange too. Coming from a bottom-end Giant hybrid with frustrating, no-name components, my highest priority for a new bike was high-quality shifters, brakes, etc., MUCH more than a super-lightweight, high-performance frame. I'm riding to get in shape and lose weight, not dominate my local racing circuit, and I just want stuff that works.

If you think about it, Trek's long-term marketing strategy is about building cachet for the name on the FRAME, not the components. Dura-Ace or SRAM Red hardware is great stuff, but it can't differentiate a Specialized from a Giant, because all manufacturers have the same access to that gear. The ultimate mission for the big manufacturers is to convince the customer to pay a premium for the BRAND, and if they can do that, it creates opportunities to let the brand move units without having to share your margin with your suppliers.

This is what really drew me to (gulp) bikesdirect - their brands don't have the cachet or "cool" factor of the major manufacturers, so they offer configurations that are spec'd WAY up compared to a similarly-priced Trek/Giant/whatever. Since I care more about the gear than the frame or the "cool" factor, that really appeals to me. I just ordered a $1k bike online that has Ultegra 6700 brifters, FD, RD, chain and cassette. $1k at my local Trek store would get me no-name or Sora gear on a cool-looking bike with a recognizable brand decal on the downtube. It's all about what your customers value.

You can bet, though, that if BD ever builds (say) Motobecane back into a major brand, their prices will come up to Trek levels real quick-like, and you'll see $1500 Motobecanes with no-name gear.
 

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It's not so complicated. If a company has to hit a profit margin, and they have to put out bikes at $1000, $1300,$1600, $2000, they will be forced to use equipment that fits that price point.
Just as you may have $1500 to spend max, you cannot buy a $3000 bike. They choose the best equipment they can (making deals with their suppliers along the way) with the restriction of how much cost they can put into an assembled bike. They aren't trying to screw the general public.
 

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Agree withAlexCad5 but also would like to point out that the frame is vastly more important than anything else on the bike. Having Dura-Ace or Red does not make a bike handle well, have a dialed in geometry, or be stiff and responsive. The frame will dictate the level of comfort and performance found on a bike, not the shifters. Case in point a week or so ago a kid walked in to the shop where I work with a full carbon bike with Dura-Ace that he had bought from an internet retailer that is well known. He asked us to tune the bike for him and we decided to weigh it. The bike weighed 21.3 pounds, which is absurdly heavy considering its spec. Why? Because the frame was a piece but like so many others, the consumer heard Dura-Ace and instantly assumed awesome bike. Bottom line:Frame first, then wheels, then componentry.
 

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it's called meeting a price point. No one is forcing you to buy it - why are you complaining about it. If you don't like that bike move on - the marketplace will decide.
 

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I never understood that kind of move. Cheap brakes are really a bummer. Two months down the road and they'll be squealing like a department store bike.
 

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Hooben said:
I never understood that kind of move. Cheap brakes are really a bummer. Two months down the road and they'll be squealing like a department store bike.
Off-brand does not always mean poor performing. I have a set of Tektro brakes on a bike and they work just fine. The bike is otherwise mostly Campy Record components, and I've considered replacing the brakes, but when I see the price of high-end brakes, I balk. The Tektros work just as well as the Dura Ace and Ultegra brakes that I've also owned. I'd gladly save the $100 or $200 and get the off-brand component that works as well and weigh the same as the "name brand" component.

This is certainly not always the case. However, don't always assume that "off-brand" is poor quality.

And as the others said, it's about meeting a price point. If company wants to sell a bike at $2000, they can not spec it as top of the line, so they need to make compromises. Some companies may offer a full 105 bike to meet the price. Others may offer Ultegra (which cost more than 105) so they have to control the price by offering less expensive components somewhere else. Bars, stems, seat posts, saddles, bottom brackets, and hubs are the places where you'll post often see lower speced items used to offset high-priced more visible components.
 

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canthidefromme said:
My no-name brakes that came with my $2000 bike are lighter than 105s. Just saying.
Brakes are the number one component where I value performance higher than weight and that's only because I don't give a sh*t about how much my tires weigh.
 

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I am starting to research bikes. I am actually looking for a VERY well built, light frame with a super warranty. Unlike the OP, I would prefer lower end components, because quite frankly parts, are just that; parts.

My current ride is a Giant OCR 2. Aluminum frame, tiagra shifter and sora derailleurs. I have never had any problems whatsoever with my parts (after almost 4,000 miles). I started doing group rides and my bike does fine keeping up with the 20.5 mph pace for 25 to 30 miles. I have considered new wheels, not because mine don't roll well; it would be an easy place to shave a pound or so without busting the bank (BWW wheels).

My peeve has to do with the fact that many manufacturers also have different quality frames in their lineup. So the only way to get the better frame would be to buy the bike with the upgraded components. Given the luck I have had with my current parts, I would be happy to simply upgrade to 105s and be done with it.

Giant appears to use the same frames in their lineup. I have had great luck with my OCR2, so I am currently leaning towards the Defy or TCR.
 

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I bought my first high end frame 30 years ago and had it built up with Campy Record. Since then, I have NEVER bought a pre-built bike. I always build up a frame. That way I have the frame, wheels and components I want and can afford instead of something somebody else decides to meet some pricepoint.

I've just about decided to buy used and/or buy new components via ebay and pay a friend, who builds up a lot of bikes, to help put it together.
That's what I would do. Search ebay for drive train and search online shops for stem, bars, seatpost, saddle. I actually got a real good deal on Red from a shop in Texas when Red first came out. I also got decent deals on the rest of the components. It just depends how much time and effort you want to put into it.
 

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jimmythekidd said:
Bottom line:Frame first, then wheels, then componentry.

Yep. You can always replace the other stuff when money allows or when it wears out(and it will wear out), but a good, well-built frame is the basis for any good bike.
 

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i frown upon semi-groupos with crap thrown in the mix also. (take the CD Synapse carbon 4) Rival groupset with FSA Gossamer crank (EW) and Tektro brakes (EW)

although it was cheaper than the bike i ended up getting, i was more satisfied with the one with the full groupo (Sram Rival) and the bike and ended up spending more for it.
 

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Most of the no-name, dual pivot brakes (usually made by Tektro or Promax) will perform very nicely with a cheap upgrade to Koolstop (or other top-notch pads). If they have those crappy "one piece" pads, get some $10 Clarks and replace the pads with Shimano compatible Koolstops - another $10. $40 front and rear is a lot cheaper than, say, an Ultegra set which doesn't perform substantially better.

Like another poster said, the frame and fork are the heart and soul of the bike. Most of the "parts" are "consumables", including the wheels. Heck, I've worn out a couple of 7400 series DuraAce rear derailleurs back in the day.

When I'm dealing with a customer who's "budget constrained", I try to get them on the best fitting, best quality frame and f**k the components. If they fall in love with cycling, they can always upgrade bit by bit.

And with some judicious "shopping", some upgrades can be done quite reasonably. E.G., I found a Centaur UT crankset with the better machined chainrings from Nashbar for $20 cheaper than the new version with the crappy stamped rings from our wholesale suppliers.

And you know what - those "Quickshift Brifters" work better and are more ergonomic than the similarly priced Soras.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks for the responses. I just want to clarify that by no-name I mean painted black with no logos or decals. I like to mentally rank a bikes components.

No idea what kind of profit margin they are obtaining. With Andy and Alberto (and Fabian) riding Specialized, I'm sure they are going for a higher profit margin.

Also I road a Tarmac (not sure which version) with Dura-ace and better wheels the same day. It didn't have a price tag on it and I was afraid to ask. I noted that the Tarmac was just as comfortable as the Roubaix, I could tell the difference in the wheels, and the Dura-ace brakes had more stopping power. Both test rides were short so i don't think I sould say much more.

I guess I would rather them just use the full groupo and charge more, but they can't charge much more cause the full Apex groupo sells for less than $700 on ebay. I can't even find this bike on Specialized's website so maybe it is a shop build.

I agree that a good frame is important. I'm sure I would do fine on a bike with 105, Rival, or Apex. No need for high end stuff except I like a decent wheel set like Mavic Aksium. I am wanting to give longer cranks, 177.5 or 180 mm, a go. I've only seen cranks this long with Apex, Red, or Dura-ace
 

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Inside knowledge

bdawe said:
there's no reason the top shelf stuff should cost so much.
I take it you have access to the information that allows you to make this unequivocal statement? You must know something in detail both about the cost of manufacture/distribution AND the market forces at play such that you know that prices are higher than they "should be." Please share!
 

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It does seem to be more and more of a trend in recent years to have a 'mixed' components spec even on some of the now-pricey 'midrange' bikes (i.e. $1400 to 2000-ish).... i.e. some 105 or Rival or what have you, with a dreaded el cheapo FSA crank and some no-name brakes and hubs tossed in.

I can only assume that either component pricing or exchange rates (or both) have become increasingly unfavorable to the bike manufacturers, forcing them to cut more corners.

Heck, even that cheap Chinese labor force is starting to ask for pay raises these days- and they're getting 'em, too.

Seems like a trend that's gonna continue and intensify.
.
 

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SilverStretch said:
In researching my first-ever road bike purchase over the past month, this phenomenon really struck me as strange too. Coming from a bottom-end Giant hybrid with frustrating, no-name components, my highest priority for a new bike was high-quality shifters, brakes, etc., MUCH more than a super-lightweight, high-performance frame. I'm riding to get in shape and lose weight, not dominate my local racing circuit, and I just want stuff that works.

If you think about it, Trek's long-term marketing strategy is about building cachet for the name on the FRAME, not the components. Dura-Ace or SRAM Red hardware is great stuff, but it can't differentiate a Specialized from a Giant, because all manufacturers have the same access to that gear. The ultimate mission for the big manufacturers is to convince the customer to pay a premium for the BRAND, and if they can do that, it creates opportunities to let the brand move units without having to share your margin with your suppliers.

This is what really drew me to (gulp) bikesdirect - their brands don't have the cachet or "cool" factor of the major manufacturers, so they offer configurations that are spec'd WAY up compared to a similarly-priced Trek/Giant/whatever. Since I care more about the gear than the frame or the "cool" factor, that really appeals to me. I just ordered a $1k bike online that has Ultegra 6700 brifters, FD, RD, chain and cassette. $1k at my local Trek store would get me no-name or Sora gear on a cool-looking bike with a recognizable brand decal on the downtube. It's all about what your customers value.

You can bet, though, that if BD ever builds (say) Motobecane back into a major brand, their prices will come up to Trek levels real quick-like, and you'll see $1500 Motobecanes with no-name gear.
Your ideology is pretty backwards, the frame is most important part of the bike, components are easily replaced but the frame is the most essential part of the bike. It dictates the stiffness, comfort and a host of other factors.
 
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