to botique or not botique, that is the question

bonefishjake

Strong like bull, smart like tractor
Team MTBNJ Halter's
everytime i start looking at high-end bikes, i scratch my head.

is there REALLY something that special about them that warrants such a high price tag?

really, i guess, jdog's announcement about bringing on niner is what really got me thinking about this. as a marketing professional of 12ish years, i know sure as the sky is blue (it is blue b/c i tell you it is, btw :D) that 99% of it is marketing hype. take beer for instance, something i happen to know a lot about. drinking it. marketing it. etc. anyway, do you know what the REAL difference between say, heineken and bud are? i mean the real difference? ok, apples to apples? how about bud to miller. that's a little better. the answer (other than they both suck and we all know who the beer snobs around here are anyway) is marketing. sure, the recipies are a tick different, but marketing is what really determines it. how about the difference betweeen say, bacardi and the other rums? yup, marketing. ask me how i know that one for a fact.

anyway, this gets me thinking about my current next bike choices: the "big" guys, haro and fisher. the not so big guys, niner, van dessel. ok, so the van dessel has some carbon stays and it's an NJ company. they get big points there. plus, i live in NJ and damnit, i should ride a Jersey Devil even if edwin doesn't return my emails. but thats' not the point. the point is, these are all STEEL bikes. not ti, not even aluminum. hell, steel bikes at walmart are, what, $200? complete? before every LBS guy sends me a PM asking me what the hell i'm doing, i am NOT, under ANY circumstances advocating anyone purchase a bike from walmart. laundry detergent sure. pet food, fine. a bike one is planning on riding real fast down a narrow path between trees? uh, not so much.

anyway, back to my off topic topic: is there REALLY a difference? or does it come down to the look what i'm riding game? is there no 'soul' in the mass produced and craft is where it's at or is it quality control at its finest? i'm not sure. yeah, angles are different to one or two degrees, along with top tube lengths, bottom bracket heights, names, colors etd. but does it really matter? i mean really?
 

hardtale70

She's Gone From Suck to Blow
Shop Keep
Personal preference my friend.There's no difference in an overall sense.Pluses and minuses in any choice you make,so just do what makes you happy cause its your money......................
 

jdog

Shop: Halter's Cycles
Shop Keep
For me it comes down to having a bike built for YOU vs a bike built for the masses.

I have had a few custom bikes and they usually have been well worth the trouble.

Off the shelf bikes are so good now that you can usually get away with a stock bike as long as you don't have an odd build.

A good example is the Haro Mary. Is this $850 bike that much worse than a $800 niner frame?? Doubt it. But if you want it a bit lighter and if you want it YOUR way you might end up on something like the niner. Hence my decision to stock them.

Sean mike speak to this as he rode a Surly for a long time.


J_
 

bonefishjake

Strong like bull, smart like tractor
Team MTBNJ Halter's
nah, i agree on all of this. i guess that's part of the problem, and sorta what i ran into with my trek...the whole bike for the masses thing.

and yes, brett, you're right. it's my cake and i'll eat it how i want.
 

elzoller

El Guac-Oh
just remember all those dents & scratches will "hurt" a lot more on a $5,000+ ride than on a $1,000 ride.....especially when those $5,000+ took a lot of hard work to save :)
Now if money is not an issue, well....of course get the NINER!!! (you know you want it :p )
 

hardtale70

She's Gone From Suck to Blow
Shop Keep
I'm all about gutting the build on a "masses" bike and selling it off to others then building back my way,immediately or over time.Probably not to cost effiecient if you aren't shop affiliated though..............
 

bonefishjake

Strong like bull, smart like tractor
Team MTBNJ Halter's
there is no way i could spend $5,000 on a bike. i don't think, anyway. well, ok, not all at one time? i'm HOPING to keep the geared hardtail build around $2000. ok, $2500. do i hear $3000?
 

Norm

Mayor McCheese
Team MTBNJ Halter's
I think you also need to take into account that your riding style changes over time, and thus a bike built today might not feel as good in 2 years. Or you could be happy on whatever you buy. I used to work for a liquor store and yes, the various vodkas were the same exact thing but with different labels and different prices.

In summary, I am a proponent of the Majorska brand bike.
 

The Kalmyk

Well-Known Member
OK OK OK

My new beer of choice....Narrangasett Lite
My new wine of choice....Anything in a box

Bike of choice....Steel bike from Walmart
 

Wazu

New Member
Jakester...Don't get an expensive bike. It's not neccesary. Get a less expensive bike/frame with a geometry you like and spend all that extra money on stiff light wheels for it. Replace all your average parts with great parts as they break. They will. I had a 6500 dollar Titanium Merlin XLM and I loved it BUT the lighter the frame the more dings it gets and the more money you lose when it's time to sell. Never again a bike even half that price. What, to trash it like crazy on boulders in Allamuchy and still get passed by riders with bikes half as much? DNA always wins. Oh, and stay away from bikes that look like contraptions with too many pivot points. Energy stealers. My three cents.:p
 

Fogerson

Former Resident Nerd
Personal preference my friend.There's no difference in an overall sense.Pluses and minuses in any choice you make,so just do what makes you happy cause its your money......................

I agree.

If a boutique bike is what makes your heart go thumpity-thump, and you don't want to (or can't) spend $5K, do what I did...be patient and find a clean used one.

I bought a '05 Turner 5-spot, in very good condition, for less than one third what it would cost to build new and for $700 less than a new Stumpjumper FSR Comp!. It was well cared for, chocked full of decent parts (Chris King hubs, Mavic UST rims, X9 drive-train, etc.), and the frame only had a little cable rub! There were some nicks on the rear triangle, forks, and rims, but an hour with a black sharpee took care of most of that ;) I'll admit I spent a few hundred bucks changing out a few things (tires, fork spring, saddle, grips, etc.)...but I'm sure I would've have done a thing or two to the Stumpy as well.

Yeah, it was tough to buy a bike that wasn't new and pristine. But I figure that in six months, that new non boutique bike I might have bought instead ain't gonna' be so perfect anymore either.

Does it have the latest trick-dick suspension components on it? No. Though, for my 200lb outta' shape rusty ridin' butt the Romic shock and Vanilla 125mm forks will take care of me just fine--especially after coming off of a 1993 Stumpy hard tail with 2" of front fork travel. And if the Romic and Vanilla don't don't ultimately cut it, I can go up to fleabay and easily fix that problem with the $$ I saved.

There are ways to satisfy boutique lust w/o dropping $5K...you just need to make a few compromises (and maybe take a little risk) that, for me, didn't seem to be as huge as I originally thought they would be...

Now if that heavy fork spring would come in I'd be golden, damnit!
 

bonefishjake

Strong like bull, smart like tractor
Team MTBNJ Halter's
this wasn't meant to be a long winded diatribe on my personal belief that the marketing spin is really all that differentiates the perceived "goodness" of the boutique frame vs. the mass produced. i really want to know...is there a difference? is it marketing? my guess is no, but i'd like to think there's a little something extra going into those frames.
 

MarcLewis

New Member
Is there a difference...

To answer your question to whether there is really a difference between a boutique bike and a mass produced bike, and of course this is just my opinion.
I have ridden many, many different bikes over the years, from my first carbon Univega, to my latest Titus, and so much in between. I always felt that Specialized was one of the best " out of the box " bikes you could buy. I had sold many FSR's over the years, many S-Works, and raced on them too. I always sold what I rode, simple as that. And I would still recommend a Specialized for a mountain bike. But like anything, there is always a compromise somewhere, be it in the components or the wieght, when choosing a bike out of the box.
Can a bike have soul ? Well I've never been attached to a bike before, I would race them for a season, then sell them off at the end. Then start new for the next season.
I've now had my Racer X since 2003, its done everything including 4x 24 hours of Allamuchy ( 9th ,6th, 3rd and 2nd, 2 man team ) I wouldn't want to do an endurance event on anything else. My Titus HCR hardtail is nearly 4 years old, and every time I ride it, it still puts a smile on my face. I've loved every mile on them and wouldn't trade either one for anything else. I think that is what you would call soul....
I've never felt that on any of the regular bikes that I have raced or ridden. Yes they do the job, and absolutely the person riding it makes more of a difference than the name of the bike. But just go try out some high end bikes and see for yourself.
Anyways, check out Ebay for some slightly used boutique bikes, good deals are out there, you just have to be patient and wait for the right bike to come along. At the beginning of this season I found a new Titus Solera frameset, the retail is $2700, Employee Purchase was $1700, I got it for $1300 shipped....
Good luck with your decision, and again, just my 2 cents !
 

pixychick

JORBA: Ringwood
JORBA.ORG
this wasn't meant to be a long winded diatribe on my personal belief that the marketing spin is really all that differentiates the perceived "goodness" of the boutique frame vs. the mass produced. i really want to know...is there a difference? is it marketing? my guess is no, but i'd like to think there's a little something extra going into those frames.

There is a differennce, but it may not be a difference that YOU need or want. For example, years back my shop offered trek. Trek did not make a top end bike in my size. They sized for the masses. Anyone under 5'4" would have to buy a level down. Although Mr pixy was very happy with his trek, it did not work for me. I did some research and got a yeti, which did a lot more than get the job done that year. In the end it is you that must love your bike, and spending more money does not guarantee that, but for some they can get that little extra something that was not found in the bike for everyone.

Just for the record my favorite bike: custom titus racerx. and mr pixy now rides and prefers a yeti over trek. So I guess that makes us happy boutique bike buyers. .:whoopdedo
 

NJ-XC-Justin

KY-DH-Freddy
We drop a lot of money on our bikes in proportion to our income, and at some point you want to feel good about what you're buying. Does your money go far with Giant? You bet. You're getting 97% of the quality of a boutique at half the price (and their service is probably better). Do you feel as warm, appreciated and inclusive buying a Giant as you do with a Voodoo or Seven? Not a chance. But is brand awareness just marketing or is it instinctual?
 

Norm

Mayor McCheese
Team MTBNJ Halter's
this wasn't meant to be a long winded diatribe on my personal belief that the marketing spin is really all that differentiates the perceived "goodness" of the boutique frame vs. the mass produced. i really want to know...is there a difference? is it marketing? my guess is no, but i'd like to think there's a little something extra going into those frames.

To be sure, components are at least half the battle, if not more. You take a set of SLRs and put them on a Walmart bike and I bet you make it go faster than you though possible. Or maybe not. Point being, if you go custom you usually don't say, "Oh just put on the cheapest wheelset you have" when you build it up. In terms of the weight & reliability of wheels, marketing has little to do with it. If you can drop the $$ and get a FS bike down to 21 pounds, you'll feel a difference. You put a lot of money into it, buy cheap components, and end up with a 30 pound bike, well...? The bike isn't an item, it's a collection of items, each of which contributes some part in the whole.

So are you speaking about a frame, or a bike? What's a great frame on shit components? What's a shit bike on great components? Great on great? Shit on shit? Shit on a shingle? Rye toast, butter please. Yes, refill my coffee would be great. Thanks.
 

bonefishjake

Strong like bull, smart like tractor
Team MTBNJ Halter's
i guess we should refine this to frames only. we're all acutely familiar (or should be, since we're discussing, more or less, the finer points of XTR vs. deore vs. walmart) that componets, wheelsets and various other high end doo-dads complete picture. the frame on the matisse, if you will. i say, take the components and related nicecities out of the equation. put the frames alone on equal turf. does my $400 (approx) haro mary frame have the same craftsmanship as the niner frame at twice it's cost? or the van dessel? trust me, with my background i can argue either point all day. but, i also know that, based on my now 2.5ish years of actual riding (i'm still hesitant to refer to myself as a cyclist, since that renders images of the matchy-matchy ectomorphic body types the likes of chrisg and graveyardman and i ebb more toward the middle linebacker side of the equation) i know i'm going to require, how shall we say it, certain specialized parts to compensate for the mashing i do.

rye to rye, not to wheat, white or multigrain. one lump or two, norm?
 

Norm

Mayor McCheese
Team MTBNJ Halter's
Always 1 lump.

Where I would disagree with the above is that the Blue Nude is in fact the wheelset, not the bike frame. I would say the other gadgets are the picture frame, but the wheelset is as important as anything. Plus a lot of how you feel on the bike is the cockpit, which is not terribly specific to the frame unless you buy something really poorly sized.

Still, the frame discussion comes into play. I think the real question is this. Does that $400 Mary frame differ much from a $2000 frame? I find it hard to believe unless it weighs about 1.5 pounds.
 

bonefishjake

Strong like bull, smart like tractor
Team MTBNJ Halter's
the more i mull this, the more i think the wheelset AND the frame are the blue nude. more or less, of course.

i'm not even talking about a $2,000 frame. i think that's just cracked out. unless of course it's a moots. then it's a-otay.

i'm thinking more along the lines of fisher v. van dessel; haro v. niner. nuns v. school girls. steak v. shrimp. i like mine on the 'barby personally.
 
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