Sunday, December 2, 2007

What's Wrong with the Bike Industry, Rant 1

Maybe this isn't limited to the bike industry, but it bugs me: "name brand" and "generic" stuff made by the same company, coming out of the same factory (I presume), and being sold (and bought!) at two wildly divergent price points.

Case in point: Put the Cane Creek SCR-5 brake lever side-by-side with a Tektro R200. Same product being sold under two supposedly different brands, one "boutique" and one "blue collar". (Am I wrong? Those more in the know, please enlighten me.) The Cane Creek gets lizards on its hoods, but that's just more boutique branding to my eye, unless someone's going to honestly claim that the grippier texture is a "feature". A reputable online source where I buy parts lists the Tektro at $27, the Cane Creek at $40. Now, we English majors don't usually do so hot in math, but that's almost a 50% markup for a handful of tiny lizards and the ability to look down on my riding buddies. Seriously?

I want to be wrong on this one, but I also want to believe in the Tooth Fairy, and in the hordes of presidential wannabes glad-handing their way across Iowa. So am I going 0 for 3?

(Sidenote for the fine people at Cane Creektro and their lawyers... I am not trying to disparage one particular vendor and/or its products here. In fact, I only know the SCR-5 versus R200 comparison because the R100 -- shorter-reach sibling to the 200 -- is my favorite brake lever for drop-bar applications, even if the hoity-toity set mocks me for my lack of lizards.)


Steve K. said...

Hey Jason, if it makes you feel any better, it's not just the bike industry doing this stuff. Quite a lot of industries use a handful of manufacturers to create items with various brands on them. Of course, each brand will usually ask for something slightly unique. Hopefully it is something that is a functional difference. Any chance that the Cane Creek parts use better pivot pins, or better paint or plating?

If nothing else, it does prove that people value cosmetic variety, even in something as mundane as a brake lever.

Steve "functional but mundane" Kurt
Peoria, IL

cyclofiend said...

Sorry - brain-stem retailer reptilian response sets in - About a 32% difference... since it's not a comparison to wholesale, you can't really call it a "markup" (or "margin" which h'ain't the same thing...)


-- that being said, there's sometimes a minor difference in finish work - higher polish or more polish where you can't see it, better quality threaded bits, etc. The Silver brakes I have are finished on the seldom-seen-side, whereas the Tektros aren't

The thing I have trouble with is the folks who have bought some of the old names - Dawes, Motobecane, Mercier Windsor as examples - and is just slapping paint-n-different decals on 'em..

Oh well..

Anonymous said...

Not to brag, but I got a set of the Tektro 200A's for $18. I removed the "Tektro" lettering from the blades with some nail polish remover. The "Tektro" logo on the black rubber hoods is visible only if you're close enough to sip out of my water bottle.

The lizards on the Cane Creek items are cute, but not worth the extra $20. Besides, because I think lizards generally are kinda cute, I prefer to see them live!