Thursday, April 21, 2011

So what do you really get...

I was perusing my usual morning web browsing of cycling sites with my coffee this morning when I had one of those moments that makes you go "huh?" and scratch your head. Now, honestly, I do know the reasons, but that still doesn't make any difference.

So here's the deal. Reading's story on Easton's new carbon mountain bike wheelset got me thinking "can you buy a carbon framed 29" wheel mountain bike for $2600 (the cost of the Easton wheels)? You know, the whole bike complete with gears, not a single-speed. The whole bike with a suspension fork. The whole bike with its own 29" wheels and tires. The whole bike.

The answer is yes. It didn't take much time to find one either. I only searched for carbon 29"ers from three different companies. The first bike company I looked up was Specialized (soft spot in my cyclist's heart for Specialized) and I found the Stumpjumper Comp Carbon 29er that was a bit more than the $2600 wheels at $2900. Close, but I wanted to find something at or below $2600.

Next on my search was Giant. Giant always has bikes priced fairly aggressively. And they did not disappoint. Their XTC Composite 29er 1 was priced a full Franklin below the price of the Easton wheels. $2500 complete bike with carbon frame, Fox fork, and a press fit bottom bracket! Holy cow!

At face value, it seems pretty ridiculous that a set of wheels cost as much or more than a really nice complete bike. And honestly, I've built wheels that cost more than a lot of bikes. And at face value, in this comparison, I tried to compare a bike with carbon frame complete with all the shifters, derailleurs, suspension fork, crankset, brakes...with a set of carbon wheels that only have two rims, two hubs, spokes. Maybe what this really shows is how much bike one can get.

(What's playing: Dolly Parton Jolene)


Guitar Ted said...

Well, it does seem rather absurd that two rims made from carbon could run up the costs of a wheel set so much. I'm not privy to the engineering problems that go into a rim made from carbon fiber, but I am guessing that a secure hook bead made at a very precise tolerance isn't all that easy.

Then, you can also argue that carbon rims would outlast the components on the carbon mtb frame by a large factor, balancing the scales again somewhat.

I don't know that it justifies any of these very spendy carbon wheels, but those are things to consider, I think.

blackmountaincycles said...

And then that also begs the question if so much goes into making the rims, what does that say about the frame? But, rims are probably where frames were several years ago. Carbon fiber is becoming quite the commodity bike material.

Guitar Ted said...

Commodity indeed! I just saw Performance Bicycles carbon 29"ers, which definitely fit the criteria for your search at well below $2500 for a couple of the models. Then there was an announcement for a Sette 29"er in carbon the other day from on-line retailer, Price Point.

It is going to drive prices downward on carbon mountain bikes, just like it has on carbon road bikes. I don't see an end in the near future to this trend.

blackmountaincycles said...

I thought the 29"er frames did such a great service to the frame material known as steel by creating a whole new group of cyclists embracing steel. Now it's going to be all about carbon.