Bike Builds: Why the Cheapest Bikes Come with Front Derailleurs and the #1 Upgrade to Make

Aaron Abrams is Director of Product for Marin Bicycles and is currently based in Taiwan. The Marin bike brand has been around since 1986 and the company’s slogan says their bikes are “Made For Fun.”

In this episode we talk about how mountain bikes are specced, and how product managers make decisions about which parts to include.

  • When planning out the builds for a bike like the Marin Rift Zone 29 (three options, priced between $2,000 and $3,000), do you start with a set of say 3 price targets and choose the best parts that make those prices work?
  • How important is overall bike weight when it comes to build specs?
  • What is the purpose of speccing house-brand components like bars, saddles, and stems on bike builds? Is there a lot of cost savings by going this route?
  • Why did Marin recently start selling branded aftermarket grips, bars, and stems?  
  • We rarely see full suspension builds that mix and match forks and shocks from different brands. Why is that?
  • How do you know if consumers are going to like a part, say a particular tire model, or if it’s going to perform as well as another competing part choice? 
  • Why do so many entry-level, budget bikes include front derailleurs? Is it because no one is making a cheap 1-by drivetrain, or because buyers at this price point think they want a lot of gears?
  • What is the first component you would personally upgrade when buying an entry-level mountain bike?
  • Why can’t customers choose from a menu of parts when ordering a mountain bike? Why are we still, for the most part, limited to just a few set choices when it comes to builds?
  • Have pandemic-related supply chain issues altered the way brands are thinking about bike builds going forward?
  • Do the athletes you work with weigh in on component choices and build specs for the models they ride? Do outside sponsorships make this tricky?
  • Where do customers tend to get the best value when it comes to buying a complete bike: at the low end, or the high end?

To get a better sense of some of the parts and builds discussed check out marinbikes.com.

A full, automatically-generated transcript of this podcast conversation is available to Singletracks supporters.

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Transcript

Jeff 0:00
Hey everybody, welcome to the single tracks podcast. My name is Jeff and Today, my guest is Aaron Abrams. Aaron is director of product for marine bicycles. And he’s currently based in Taiwan. The Marine bike brand has been around since 1986. And the company’s slogan says their bikes are, quote, made for fun. We’re gonna have some fun today, aren’t we, Erin, thanks for joining us.

Aaron 0:24
Yeah, good times. Thanks, Jeff. Thanks for having me here.

Jeff 0:27
Well, so tell us a bit about your background. How’d you get involved in the bike industry?

Aaron 0:32
Yeah, so as you said, you know, right now, I’m the director of product for marine bikes. I’ve been in this role for probably five, four or five years at this point, and been with marine bikes for almost nine years, going on nine years this summer. My initial start in bikes was basically as as a child, so my father started a bike shop in southern Arizona in 1976. And then I was born about six years later and grew up in that bike shop. So independent bicycle retailer, and, you know, kind of in the boom of mountain bikes, really. So you know, I was basically born at the time that mountain bike started. And by the time I was in the shop, you know, eating ball bearings and chewing on inner tubes, it was like the heyday, you know, going into the early 90s, and then into the 90s, into the 2000s, with all the crazy suspension types, all that stuff. So I was a pretty voracious student of bikes. And like I said, at that time, mountain bikes, and we were riding a lot of bikes at that time, and they have in the mountains too. So fast forward a little bit, I went off to university and figured I would be a lawyer or something and that bikes were behind me and I got into a shop. After kind of exhausting my savings, I ended up getting into a shop in Flagstaff, Arizona, that was full of a bunch of great people and just really reignited my passion around bikes. And I think a big part of that was also more of kind of the counterculture of bikes, and some of the different ways that people are using them and bikes is more fun and less serious, you know, not just about doing a triathlon or the in the fastest, you know, KLM and stuff, but just having a good time on bikes and hanging out with people riding bikes and socially. So that you know, like, so that kind of got me reignited. And then around the time I was finishing school, my dad had been moving on to some commercial real estate and he was shutting down the bike shop and basically told me if you do want it, it’s yours. If not, you know, this kind of family business that’s that’s been with us for more than more than 30 years at that point is just going to cool off and basically shut down because it was hard to find good help and a small town. So I felt like I wasn’t doing enough. So I went back and took over the shop and did that for a couple years and then ended up getting into specialized as a product developer. Okay, so moving from it kind of by accident, really, I just found a cool job posting that I thought was was great. And kind of checked every box for me and applied to it and ended up getting it. So then in 2000, late 2008 Or I actually started middle 2008 I moved out to California and joined specialized and was with them for five years being a product development. And later the product manager for a brand new sub brand called globe that was doing a lot of city urban stuff. Okay, from that point, I bounced over to Marin, they needed a product manager for city urban and I was super interested in being a part of this, this great story brand that was ready to bounce back into the world and you know, start a new team and get a fresh, new, fresh new life. So that’s that’s the project for the last more than eight years at this point is, is trying to try to resurrect Myrin. And yeah, keep it fun and keep it interesting.

Jeff 4:13
Yeah. How long have you been in Taiwan? And what are you doing there? Why, why you need to be in Taiwan for your job.

Aaron 4:21
So I’ve lived in Taiwan two different times. So I lived here for specialized in 2009 to 2011. And I was working on development and that glow brain dimensioned. That was a pretty big and hurried project. Let’s say it was pushed forward pretty fast. So at that time, I came over here to work on the development of everything and just tried to fast track it. And I signed up for staying for a while to try to basically implement more of that inside of their, their team here and internationally. So worked out pretty well and then ended up being stationed back in the US and then For Murrin, the reason I’m here is we needed to get an office built and start moving on some of our basically development and r&d as well. So, you know, started over here in October of 2019, and have gotten a team together with some engineers and some project managers. And it turns out that it’s been just a super good time to be here. Because obviously, travel is limited. And if you don’t have a visa here, you can come here, and Taiwan is the heart of the bicycle industry in the whole world. Right. So with the, a lot of the suppliers are here, and even if parts are made in other places like China, or Southeast Asia, a lot of the headquarters and the development centers are here in Taiwan. Right. So it’s been very good, even, you know, like, we expected to have some good benefit for putting up an office here. But yeah, the the immediate benefit of it, and all of the great stuff we’ve been able to accomplish in the last couple years has been, it’s been fantastic.

Jeff 6:02
Yeah, that’s really interesting. Well, kind of the reason we’re gonna be talking, the main thing we’re gonna be talking about is how bikes are SPECT. And I want to start us off by using one of the marine bikes, the Marine rift zone 29, as an example. And so this is a bike that’s on the Murrin website, at least for us customers, I assume maybe the builds kind of vary depending on what market you’re in. But for us buyers are three builds that this bike, and the prices range from like $2,000 to about $3,000 and is a full suspension bike. So when we’re planning out the builds for a bike like this, do you start with like, a set of three price targets and then choose the best parts that make those prices work? Or what’s what’s kind of the basis for figuring out how those three builds look.

Aaron 6:53
So the rips on Project is an interesting one because it I guess the best way to describe it is that bike has been just huge for us because we build it in a very specific way. So our goal with the rift zone, the especially the entry level version, the rift zone one is to provide everything you need to have a real, true great mountain bike experience. So the goal is give you a great platform that’s upgradable give you the parts that you need to really perform on the trail and in a good way. So that bike is very much driven by what’s what’s required of it to meet that goal. And then the price tiers above that based bike are based on again, what what can you add to that to make it a more valuable bike or a better experience for the trail rider. So there are different bikes where either us or you know or other brands would look at them based on a price point where you basically start with a price point and work backwards. There’s brands out there that only do that, you know that they’re they’re really kind of price oriented. And there’s there’s not a lot of meat behind that as far as the frame development and geometries and you know, customized development of the of the bike. But like I said that that rift zone, it started by seeing that there was a great opportunity to bring a great full suspension bike below where we were seeing it on the market. Yeah, and the reason for that is a lot of big brands are not interested to bring their bikes down that that level. For them, if they keep them a little bit higher, maybe the profit margins a bit higher, or if they’re really, you know, race oriented brand, you know, they might have some feeling like, you know, moving to things like a steel stanchion on a suspension for work, or going down below a 12 speed drive train is things that they’re they’re just not interested in for their brand image. But from the Marine side, you know, we we are more interested in the product performance and the way that the bike rides and really, I guess, you know, sounds a little silly but democratizing mountain biking is letting more more people have what we consider to be you know, the the Great Mountain experience on a bike whether your price points there you know, whether you’re while it’s there or not. And then you know, just being able to really highlight that as kind of a core value for Moran. So a lot of things former in have actually grown from that rift zone. So like are made for fun mantra. And the kind of a lot of our perception in the market and if you follow a lot of our social media and our kind of writer groups, they’ve really taken to that bike and it’s it’s done a lot of what we hoped it would and just kind of build a foundation for the rest of the company for values and and the way that we build buy expect bikes and present ourselves to our riders.

Jeff 9:57
Yeah, well, that’s interesting. I mean, yeah, learning a lot here. So, I mean, I guess it makes sense that you could, you could do one of two things you could start with, like some price targets in mind. Or you could start with specs in mind with like, like you do with the rift zone where you have a certain level of performance that you want. And you kind of work from there. It’s also interesting that you are starting kind of with the lowest spec one, and then kind of seeing how you can improve it. Which, yeah, I guess I mean, is that how other brands do it as well? Do they sometimes maybe start at the high end? And then go down? Does that ever make sense?

Aaron 10:36
Yeah, yeah, it’s kind of like I was saying, a lot of brands do start at the top and move their way down. And they’re more you know, what you consider more entry level or price point bikes are really just kind of thrown together, let’s say. So, you know, my, my opinion is somebody who has been specking bikes for quite a long time is, it’s really easy to spec a high end bike, right. So you know, whatever the latest thing is, from the suspension supplier, whatever the latest thing is from the drive train supplier, and then there’s there’s your bike, right, but to spec a really good bike at an entry level price point, or mid level stuff, that’s where it gets really creative. And being able to look at the components, both from a from a name brand, situation, but also as as really thoroughly as a value proposition. So for instance, let’s say like wide range one by drive trains, that’s something that we’ve been very adamant about for a long time. And looking at how to get a wide range drive train on to as many bikes as possible and that that one by type of group. So when one by itself first came out, it was all tram, it was all their their first generation of stuff. And then there was a lot of hacks being done with people bringing out the ability to put on an extra chain ring, the extra cog on the cassette, change your crank to do one by there’s all these hodgepodge things going on to achieve, essentially a budget way to get in there as a one by, but then there’s all these other groups like MicroShift, bringing out really good groups in the last few years. So basically, we put together some bikes in the, in the midterm that did all of that, you know, we did some creative spec of, of, you know, existing CERAM 10, speed derailleurs. And it tends to be shifter and a one by and this cassette from this guy, and you know, it’s super functional, but not like a group, a group spec, like, like, you might see on some other stuff, and worked out very well. And you know, we test everything to make sure that we can stand behind it before we put it out. But then, you know, basically our vision of where we see this type of bike and this type of riding it, you know, it turns out that it’s actually what people want. And now there’s really good groups for that. So we’re able to bring that down, even further downstream into like, the nine speed and sometimes into eight speed with, with that type of thing. So, you know, again, looking at it more like like value and riding style, rather than strictly a spreadsheet. You know, we can we can build bikes in a spreadsheet and just, you know, being count and look at every penny. And you can you know, as as somebody who specs bikes, I can look and see how somebody did that, like what they did to build that bike that way. And, you know, it makes sense if you’re just looking at it from a, like a robot way, but when you’re looking at it as a value, and what’s really going to give you the best ride. Yeah, that’s a whole different kind of lens to put on it.

Jeff 13:35
How do you know that? Do you do a lot of like component testing? I mean, are you a big rider who’s like always trying new stuff? And you’re like, Okay, this is this is good. This is not good? Or, or how do you use your athletes? Like, how do you know what those those good parts are that people are gonna like? And they’re gonna ride? Well,

Aaron 13:55
Yeah, all of all of the above. So, you know, we ride what we make, you know, that’s, that’s just in my opinion, they have to, you know, we got to get out and use our bikes, we also have to try competitive competitor stuff. So we got to go and ride a bike from somebody else. And especially, you know, we all can look like your, your site and a few other sites out there and get some kind of opinions, you know, from writers, you know, mostly from journalists who are writing, obviously, comment sections in certain places, you know, looking at what people are saying and what the general uptake is on it. Yeah. So that helps, but testing the stuff like, you know, for talking about parts, drive, trains, all that stuff. Yeah, we are always testing things. So there’s a continuous stream of stuff that needs to be tested. And there’s, there’s two product managers at Murrin. So we ride all the stuff that we can and then we’ve got quite a few people inside of the company in our various global offices that we also have read stuff and test stuff for us. And then we’ve also athletes are big for some of that, you know, with athletes, it’s it’s more difficult because they usually have contracts or sponsorships that kind of push them in one way or another for what they’re supposed to be seen using. And then also with athletes, you know, the just depends on who they are and how they’re able to, you know, form the thought about what, you know, how they’re able to form the feedback. Yeah, you know, a lot of athletes are more focused on their speed and their their time and their writing, you know, things more like their personal performance and their body performance, let’s say, whereas, like component performance, if it works, and then it’s fine. And after that, it’s like, well, it just worked. And I was focusing on my other goals. So but then then there’s other ones, and you see them sometimes like, like, especially a lot of athletes who had have been at a high level and are taking a step back for, you know, family, or age or whatever. And they’re able to articulate some really good feedback, and they’re able to bring in more, more good quality feedback, more analytical feedback. So those those guys are rare guys and gals are rare. But very helpful when when you have people like that that you can work with.

Jeff 16:22
It’s interesting, just imagining the testing and the things you have to do to validate various component choices. I mean, part of it is just is it a good product, but I imagine there’s like, so many things, you have to think about? Like, should we put a 2.4 inch tire or a 2.5? Like, what do people want? And you know, that, like, my own preference is one thing and you know, but buyers are going to want another thing? I mean, it seems like, it seems like you’ve got a lot of competing kind of data points out there. And you got to ultimately, you have to make a decision on those is that does it get like overwhelming? Or is it kind of like, you just make changes a little bit at a time, and you’re not like constantly kind of trying to reinvent the bike every season or whatever?

Aaron 17:09
Yeah, I would say a lot of it is iterative. So we’re making changes on things. And you know, there’s some new product and we tested and we’re interested in it, you know, timing has to be right. You know, there’s plenty of times where we get introduced to something that we just love, but we don’t have a place to put it for a model year or two or three sometimes. And then yeah, so it’s not overwhelming, I wouldn’t say it’s, it’s a consistent part of the process. And it’s always it’s always there. And it’s always something that we are, yeah, it’s a big part of the job, I would say. So I think personally, I find it super interesting. And, you know, the differences can be, you know, to some can be splitting hairs. But you know, it’s the difference between a great review on a website and a good review, or, or when we have dealers come to us and they say, Hey, I really appreciate that spec. You know, the other bikes I’m working on from other brands, they take longer for us to assemble, or we just don’t feel as comfortable with the finished product or something. So, you know, when it when it’s when it’s seen and received, you know, and it goes the way that we hope it does, then that’s that’s great. And of course, you know, there’s there’s stuff that we get really passionate about and get behind and put out into the into the market. And it doesn’t, it doesn’t have the reaction that we expect. But I would say that that’s quite rare, you know, between between us being writers and having long term experience. And then a lot of friends and a lot of contacts that we look to to understand what the current kind of perception and situation is with stuff. And then the connection that we have with a lot of our dealers, it’s it’s pretty rare that we have a flat miss. But yeah, I won’t say that it hasn’t happened in my career.

Jeff 18:53
Right. Right. Yeah. has to happen, at least every now and then. Well. So one of the numbers, you know, we talked about price, with Bike Builds, that’s kind of a number that people focus on. And you can kind of boil down a lot of things to that, that number, another number that maybe people aren’t as focused on these days. But you know, maybe at one time, where was the overall bike weight? And we get this question all the time, like when we’re testing a bike, how much does it weigh, you know, and there obviously, so many factors that go into that the size of the frame, and then obviously, the components on it. And then we hear a lot of mountain bikers seem to suspect that brands are specking certain parts to get the bikes weight under a certain level. Does that happen much where you’re like, Oh, we got to get this thing under 35 pounds. And so we’re going to we’re going to put those thin walled tires on there to shave a few grams is that is that something that happens? Is that a concern at all?

Aaron 19:54
So I have a lot of experience through both my past employers, current employers and then knowing other people in the industry and I would say that, yeah, it absolutely happens. However, it depends on the bike, it depends on the category, it depends on the way that it’s going. And then you know, we’re in kind of a not kind of, we’re in a very special situation right now with the availability of stuff. So for the our ability to keep bikes moving, to keep them coming out and, and keep riders on bikes, there have been just all kinds of, of running changes to bikes, just to keep the thing moving. Yeah, so if we take out like this special situation, right now, you know, weight weight is a funny one. Because, you know, when I was a kid, or you know, all the way up until recently, it’s like 25 pounds was was the kind of the weight, like, if you’re under 25 pounds, you got a light bike, and it was 25 pounds, you had a decent bike, and anything more than that you’re riding on some cheap bike or, or you’re, you know, like a nut with a big long suspension fork or something. But now, there’s a lot of things that have increased the weight of bikes that I mean, we could we could go into easily, but bikes are heavier than ever, but they’re also better performing. And the features that people are accepting this increased weight from are very legitimately beneficial, like dropper posts, let’s say, Yeah, or larger volume tire, a wider rim, all of that stuff. So things that we would look at as being some of the best developments in mountain biking in the last, you know, 10 years, they all come at a weight penalty. And the days of like, oh, well, we’ll just make the frame out of carbon. And we’ll do this and that, like, that’s, you can buy all of those things. And you know, you can get up to a $15,000 bike, and it’s still gonna be, you know, 2829 30 pounds with all the right stuff on it. Yeah. So yeah, it’s, I guess, I guess Wait is it depends on the rider and what they’re looking for. And if their goal is a lightweight cross country bike, then it’s certainly attainable. But you also have to think, you know, I guess, I guess from a spec management man standpoint, the very most difficult thing to consider or to do anything about is regional differences for riders. So like, I’m from Arizona, and you couldn’t ride a thinner tire there, you couldn’t ride anything without some kind of a sealant or something that keeps the you know, make sure that the all the thorns and everything going into the tires were good, you know, so like, you know, even as, as in the days of everything being really light, like we were always riding heavier casing tires, and we were always using, you know, either pre pretty tubeless we were using Thorn resistant inner tube sometimes or filling lightweight tubes with slime and or, you know, or if you felt like you could ride light, you can just carry a couple of spares. But then when we compare that to like Pacific Northwest or the Midwest, or you get over to the east, like, not only like bikes back in general, but specifically tires is, there’s just no way to have one tire that works for everything for everybody. So there’s always going to be what some people would consider to be a concession or a weird spec. But it’s based on their region and their writing style. And you know, what’s common there? Versus somewhere else where somebody might think like, oh, wow, they just knocked it out of the park. Like, this is just the best thing that could have come on this bike.

Jeff 23:35
Yeah, that’s interesting. It makes sense to that like only certain styles of bikes like XC bike where obviously the goal is to get the weight as low as possible. You know, those those types of decisions are going to be more common, where you are choosing things that are as light as possible. And the buyers of those bikes, they I’m sure they’re understanding because they have the same poll, and they’re like, Yeah, I’ll run those thinner tires if I can get away with them, because it’s gonna save some weight. But then, you know, for most of us who are buying like trail bikes, or even enduro bikes, you know, it sounds like that’s less common and it’s not it’s not something that’s being done. I mean, how much weight can you really save with a tire change you know, I mean, you get a different age different casing on a tire you’re not saving a pound even probably, I’m guessing I don’t know maybe close to a pound

Aaron 24:27
Yeah, sure. I mean, it’s it depends on which it depends on what you’re comparing it to but if you’re comparing something like what we would expect on an on an E mountain bike now versus a cross country bike like it’s well over a pound retire okay, we’re talking about using basically downhill casing and more sticky tread and a bigger volume you know, like a 2.6 or 27 pi by 2.8. And comparing those two we would put on a let’s say our team Moran like are more XC trail oriented by Like there’s there’s a huge difference there. So and it’s in its rotational mass as well, which, which obviously is really big. But we’re seeing that on, you know, like E mountain bikes or their own beast, but on like enduro stuff, you know, a lot of the Enduro riders, and if they’re in a place with a lot of roots and rocks and things there, they’re specking, really early tires as well. So that’s, that’s a pretty big change in the last few years as people being aware and willing to, you know, bump up the tire weight, and the construction and all of that a lot to avoid punctures and issues, but also, the ride style of a lot of those tires, you know, there, there’s more tire development going on, where they’re bringing those technologies that were developed specifically for downhill or, or really free ride, let’s say, and they’re bringing that into a trail tread application and trail style. And then they’re doing a bit more of like a hybrid approach where they’re beefing up the sidewalls, but leaving the top of the tire more supple, you know, things so like for cornering performance, and all of that having a more stiff sidewall, that engagement and being able to run up a lower pressure where you get excellent traction. So I mean, tires, tires are one of the you can go so deep in them. And I would say and always, always has been the case that tires make a huge difference on the bike. And if you’re looking at an upgrade, getting the right set of tires on the bike, that’s a great upgrade. Yeah, if you hit it, if you hit it right for the tread, and the casing and all the details that are perfect for your area. Like that’s, there’s not much you can do better for your bike than that.

Jeff 26:45
Yeah, awesome. Yeah, I want to talk more about some key upgrades a little bit later. First, I wanted to ask about the branded parts house branded components, like bars and saddles, and stems that seem to be fairly common from most bike brands, they’re going to have some level of, of house branded components on their bikes is what’s the idea behind that? Is it cost savings are those parts going to cost a lot less unless you bring in overall build price a bit lower if you stick with those kinds of house branded parts?

Aaron 27:19
Yeah, so house branded parts, there’s some variety there, there’s some different ways to look and think about stuff and depends on the bike brand A lot of times as well. So, you know, the general situation is, there’s not that many companies that make a lot of different things inside of the bike industry. And there’s a lot of things that have name brands on them that are made by other companies that have name brands on them, right. So from a spec perspective, you know, like as a, as a product manager, if we rewind, rewind to, like the 2000s, and you were seeing quite a bit of name brand stuff on bikes as spec, a lot of times those those companies were doing the work, you know, they’re going to the handlebar and stem and seatpost maker, and they’re taking either open model design or designing something specifically, they’re, they’re putting their name on it, they’re putting their, you know, their brand behind it. And they’re selling that OE e to a brand. And they’re assembling the bike with that. So Oh, you mean so original equipment. And so that was a pretty common style, you know, in the long time ago, yeah. And then essentially, as bike companies grew, and as the their ability to do more and invest more in people and their products has grown, that’s a lot of work that we can do ourselves now. So we have the same contacts, we have the same suppliers. And we can do a lot of that work. And it essentially means that we’re cutting out the middleman, we’re making the parts that we want to have, you know, whether it’s a band on a bar, or an extension on the stand, or this or that, we’re making those parts and we’re putting them on our bikes, and then we make the decision whether we brand it or not. So like from the Marine perspective, we don’t like to brand anything that we don’t put product development energy into. And so if you see our name on something, it’s something that we’re willing to stand behind, rather than something that’s not labeled, I mean, we I should say we’re willing to stand behind everything we put on a bike but as far as something that we want to have attributed to us as as having made or developed. Yeah, so it does cut out costs and it does make it so that we can offer a better bike to the to the rider than if everything was named brand on it. So then looking at those those component companies they’ve changed a lot since then as well. So like, you know a lot of the name brand component groups that we know of they used to put a lot of their a lot of money in their pocket from The OE side. And they could do huge volume. And they, you know, they’re making a little bit on everything, but they’re making a lot of stuff. And so since the OE thing has dried up for most of them, they’ve gone into more of a aftermarket, we would say, direct focus. So when they expect that they’re selling their components directly to a consumer, rather than to like marine baits where we would put it on ours. So they’ve changed a lot to really focus on things from that aftermarket perspective and really doing product development and trying to innovate on on different categories, different stuff. Yeah, so it’s changed a lot of their business. It’s, it’s changed on a lot of our side as the bike brands. But it also means that we can develop stuff specifically for our bikes, and we’re not tied or handcuffed to any other brands or waiting, waiting around for them to do something, or, you know, just be like, Oh, we can’t get exactly what we need. So that’s, that’s a pretty big change in the way that bikes have been SPECT and changing the way that a lot of these companies operate as well. But it’s been that way for a long time. So like, on our side, like we will spec things that have other from from other suppliers, and we’ll spec them where they work well, and where they make sense on our bikes. But you know, if it’s something that we can do ourselves, it’s going to have to have a pretty big reason to be on there from a brand perspective and a product perspective. Because otherwise, we don’t need to spend that money. And we don’t need to ask our ask our riders to spend that money either. Yeah,

Jeff 31:36
yeah, that’s interesting. Because, right, I mean, as a consumer myself, I just assume, it’s mostly about cost cutting, but it also makes sense that you’re able to customize and kind of get exactly the product that you want. If you are working directly with the manufacturer, say on a handlebar or stem or something like that. And notice that MYRIN actually, recently started selling branded aftermarket parts, like grips and bars and stems, what was the idea behind that behind, like, actually going out and letting people buy these not as part of a marine bike.

Aaron 32:13
So that one’s a couple, one, a couple of reasons. You know, the first and biggest reason is just listening to our riders and and, you know, watching the females or the comments come in about stuff and things like grips and, and, and all their their, what we would call consumables and their stuff that you wear out over time. So it’s pretty regular for us to get requests that guy want to replace the grips on my bike, or, you know, this handlebar is cool, I wish I could get it from my other bike, or I saw this on your website, and I already have a bike I love but I wish I could buy this from you. So that’s the biggest push for us. And then the second side is where we are spending time and energy making these components and we want to be able to have people get them. You know, just seeing it on a bike like you shouldn’t have to buy a whole bike to get a pair of grips. Right now we think our grips are that good. But we realize that that’s not a not a real situation.

Jeff 33:15
Yeah, I saw like the handlebar that handlebar you guys have for like, bikepacking. That’s really unique looking. I mean, I don’t I don’t know. I mean, I’ve seen something sort of like that, but not exactly. And it’s like, you know, obviously you guys are looking around, you see what’s out there, and you’re trying to solve a problem. And you did that for I imagine one of your bike builds you’re putting together and then yeah, other people like me see it? And we’re like, oh, that’s kind of cool. But then oh, my hardtail or whatever.

Aaron 33:43
Yeah, 100%. So that that the other part of our aftermarket stuff is almost all of it is stuff that we built specifically to be on our bikes. So like that bar was specifically made for our Pine Mountain, which is our steel, bikepacking 29 or hardtail. And you know, that bar has got a lot of great features, specifically for bikepacking. But then it’s also just cool, cool and interesting looking. Yeah, so yeah, that was that’s definitely that scenario of we made it for the bike, the bikes growing great. It’s very well received. And then we start getting requests of hey, wait, why can I buy this bar? Like I want this bar? Give it to me? Yeah, yeah. So that one, you know, out of that group of stuff, that one is definitely one of the ones so we’ve gotten a lot more direct feedback from customers about wanting it and even you know, same with shops, like shops will come back to us and they’ll say, you know, I’ve got this bike on the floor, and I’ve gotten quite a bit of interest and if I could buy that handlebar I would definitely stock it and

Jeff 34:43
yeah. Like somebody came in and they they bought the handlebar just off the bike. I don’t need another one.

Aaron 34:50
zactly Yeah, that’s happened.

Jeff 34:54
Yeah, it’s a good problem to have, I guess. So getting back to Bike Builds. One of the things I’m always curious about is suspension parts? And so like on a full suspension bike, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen I mean, I’m sure some brands are doing it. But how come the shock always, almost always matches the fork? Is that some kind of like business arrangement? Or is it really like performance reasons for why like you want to run a Fox shock with the fox fork and Rockshox, etcetera? What’s the thinking there? Yeah.

Aaron 35:28
So there is some mixing, it’s kind of all everything that you just described. So there are some, there are some package deals that some of this providers will make, it’s not that common. And I wouldn’t say that, that’s the main driver, the main driver is kind of almost consumer perception. And seeing like, this is a bike with Rockshox, or this is a bike with Fox or Orleans or any of the other groups out there. So the other part is, is level. So those those parts speak the same language as far as as what level they are. So I’m a I’m a select rear, rear shock, and it’s like fork or factory, this factory that. So it’s it’s signals of the level and the performance that are tied. And the other one is kind of market perception. And there’s, there’s certain places where they prefer one thing over another or like, this one’s the champion, that one’s so Yeah, that one’s that one’s a little more different. Like, if you look at an entry level full suspension, you’re almost always going to see a different rear shock than, than the fork. And that’s because some of the rear shock providers, some of them don’t go as far down as far down the line as what we need to spec those bikes at those at those retail prices. And then the same is almost true with forks like, like, you’re not going to see a fox fork on any bike less than like 1000 bucks, or probably 1500 bucks at this point. They just don’t bring their brand down that far. They’re not interested in it, it’s not there. It’s not their wheelhouse, they don’t have to do it. Obviously, you can grow a lot of sales by having lower cost products, but there’s a lot of performance brands that aren’t, aren’t interested in that. So suspension definitely falls into the performance side. And a lot of the work that they’re doing like these, these guys are good, we’re looking at the suspension people, you know, that are benchmarking the other stuff out there, and they are building their stuff to work together, you know, the tunability, and the style of suspension on the rear shocks versus their forks, and then the categories that they’re serving. So I would say that’s, that’s all the stuff added in there as to why you why you don’t see them split up that much.

Jeff 37:53
Yeah, yeah, that makes a lot of sense, too. And I mean, I guess I never really thought about it. But yeah, it’s like, for me, personally, I would want to spend more on the fork and then yet not worry too much about the shock. And it sounds like that’s part of the thinking there is you can get a lower cost shock, and you’re not going to really hurt the performance too much. And then yeah, spend a little more on the on the fork?

Aaron 38:21
Well, it, you know, I would say there’s, I would say that’s probably a common thinking. But rear shock is super important for the overall ride of the bike. And the most important thing for the rear shock performance on the bike is to have it tuned properly, right, so so there’s a there’s internal parts in the shock that are changed during the assembly, or put in different ways during the assembly of the shock. And when we are specking. A shock part of the spec is yes, this is a this brand and this part number. But it’s custom tuned for our bike. And we spend a lot of time and energy getting that custom tuned for the bike. So one thing that we see a lot in the field is people want to upgrade stuff, and they’ll change their rear shock, but they’ll move to something that’s got a completely wrong tune for the bike. So even though you’re spending more money, and yes, it’s a nicer shock. And yes, it’s got a lot of switches and valves and things to play with. If it’s not tuned properly for the kinematic of the bike and the style of the bike, you’re definitely not getting the most out of it. So I think that’s that’s poisoned a lot of the perception of rear shocks and how they how the benefits that you can get as you upgrade stuff, but if you’re working with the good tuning houses, and you can get the shot done properly for your bike, and we can even like as Moran we occasionally provide people with some of the leverage ratios and things so that they can tailor it more properly.

Jeff 39:49
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense that that you’re not going to see those benefits if you’re if you’re upgrading at home because you don’t know what went into that that shock that originally came with the bike, and how it was tuned, I just thought for me, it’s because I can see what the fork is doing when I’m on the trail. And now it’s working like that one works that way. And I can see it in the shock I have no idea was doing most of the time. So we talked earlier about one by drive trains you were mentioning that a little bit. And I’m curious why so many entry level like really low budget bikes still include front derailleurs? Is that because there still aren’t these cheaper options for one by drive trains? Or is it because buyers like true entry level buyers think that they want a lot of gears and so they value like three by nine or three by 10, or whatever it is their spec in these days? Yeah,

Aaron 40:44
it’s, it’s both of those things. So when we get down to the price points of an entry level mountain bike, and when I say entry level, I mean, I mean, the bike level that you would see at a bike shop, there are one by solutions that you can do there. But as you decrease the number of years, the ability to effectively move the range is drops quite a lot. So you know, we know 12 speed, you get a 1051 or 1052, right? By the time we get down to like a seven speed, the widest or even let’s say let’s say an eight speed with a custom or a specifically built for one by situation, you’re going to be at like an 1136 or an 1146. And for a very beginning rider on a an entry level bike, it’s it may not be enough gear range for them.

Jeff 41:39
So is it the cassette then that’s like expensive? I mean, is that the problem? You can’t do it 10 Speed cassette? And that’s at that price point. Yeah,

Aaron 41:48
I mean, the cost for sure. And then just the physical limits of those cogs in that chain. And also what what the acceptable gap between a gear is for a rider you know, so you know, mountain bikes really changed the whole perception of meeting like a really small jump between each gear to keep your performance up, which is something that I think road is still struggling with. But once you start to take a chop out a bunch of the gears in the middle, then to have that same range, your steps become very large. And it generally means that you’re not in the right gear for what you’re doing. Right. It’s you’re just don’t really always have it. So you might hit a sweet spot and feel great, but but those jumps are pretty big. And so yeah, so that part’s really tough. And then the consumer perception is certainly a big one of like, I’m paying more for less. Yeah, you know, like, oh, this bikes got 20 You know, this bikes got 22 gears where this one has a lemon, and you know, somebody who’s not really in the scene and not really understanding it is gonna see it as, as being a problem. And the last part about that is that we see people using those bikes for everything. So it looks like a mountain bike, just like a, you know, an f150 Looks like a truck. But if you’re driving it on the street all day, every day, it’s turning into a different animal. So we get a lot of people on the entry level mountain bikes that see them as everything. It’s a commuter. It’s my weekend fun. It’s, I can go riding with the crew if I if I have the time, and they’re going. So that’s the other part of it. Is it especially again, regionally, internationally? Yeah, they’re used for quite a bit more than just a trail bike.

Jeff 43:37
Yeah, that’s interesting, because yeah, to me, and a lot of I’m sure our listeners who are used to like a one by drive train, it’s just it’s maddening because you’re like you’re paying for like a front derailleur and a front shifter like they could make this entry level bike even cheaper, if it didn’t have all that extra stuff. And you know, I assume that front derailleur is going to be a little more confusing to I don’t know if I would be able to use one these days I think. But yeah, that does make sense though that you need that range. If you are kind of a new writer.

Aaron 44:10
Yeah. And the range the range is a scary thing for a lot of writers and for a lot of you know a lot of us like specking the bikes for people and and fitness level you know, like just the the amount of of like what you can ride when you’ve been a rider and you understand when you need to put the power in and what year you need to be in and how to how to mountain bike you know that’s these people are developing those skills and I my opinion my personal opinion is one BI is fantastic for that because it’s eliminating a whole other thing out of the front just just like you said, so you know I would but I would also say that at least for us where we are specking one buy is also what the split of where we stopped specking one buy front and move to a double front that’s also the split of where I would say this bike is capable of realistic mountain biking, like what we know as as trail riding. Yeah, the other bikes, yes, you can go out and do it, you know, you can you can take out 1989 Moran and ride it on mountain bike trails and all that stuff, but we know the difference. So that’s that’s more of what like those bikes ride as with much better geometry and much more modern geometry, but the suspension performance and overall level of the bike like what that’s like I said, that’s where I would recommend, like, if you’re really interested in mountain biking, that kind of like our Bobcat three or Bobcat fo are like that’s where you should really be focusing. And if you don’t have the cash for that, and you’re or you’re not sure, and you want to just something a little bit more entry level, then you can go below that and you can still get totally excited about mountain biking and get into the sport. But pretty quickly, you’re going to want to jump up to like that, that next level with one buy and a little bit more suspension travel and a little better for and that kind of stuff.

Jeff 46:02
Yeah, for sure. Well, we’re going to take a break real quick, but when we come back we’ll talk about some of those entry level bike upgrades and the challenges involved in offering buyers custom specs. Stay tuned.

Jeff 0:00
And we’re back. So Aaron, you started getting into this. But I wanted to ask you what is the first component? Well, I guess we’ll say the first component after tires that you would personally upgrade when buying an entry level mountain bike?

Aaron 0:15
Dropper post for sure. So if you’re not able to get into a bike with a dropper post, it’s a fantastic upgrade, that’ll give you a lot more confidence and a lot more control. And so yeah, I would, I would definitely put that one in there. You know, we mentioned tires, but specifically going to Bliss. So a great set of tires, and then and then bringing the bike into into tubeless. setup. So at least for my riding, you know, outside of geometry and product nuances, those two things in the last decade or so I think those have been the biggest peripheral changes, things, things that you can add on to your bike and change on your bike pretty easily.

Jeff 0:57
Yeah, yeah. Are you able to? I mean, it’s always interesting. And I’m sure there’s like logistical reasons for this. But it seems like most bikes, even if they are capable of being tubeless, they’re gonna ship with tubes. And is that just to make sure that like, the tires are inflated when the customer gets it? Or is it something else,

Aaron 1:16
it was a couple of things. So you need to protect the wheels, so you need to protect the the wheel of the bike during shipping. So having a tube in there and having that tire inflated, that’s that’s protection. The other part is between the time a bike is assembled, and the time a rider buys it from a shop or online and gets it on the trail, you can be talking a year. So you know, if we say like, we’re gonna set the thing up to Bliss, and we’re gonna put the sealant in it, we’re gonna do everything at the factory. Yeah, it’s not, it’s not going to work out that well, for the end consumer.

Jeff 1:53
Yeah. Yeah. Interesting. Well, so are most of like, are you able to offer the rims like tubeless ready on some of the entry level stuff, or is that still like, slightly more expensive to get that done. So what we offer

Aaron 2:08
is a tubeless ready rim, depending on the level, there’s a certain level that you get to and at that point, you get a tubeless ready rim. And so what that means is you have to add tape and valves and, and you have to have a tubeless tire. And then when we get higher up, we offer a wheel that is a tubeless ready rim, it’s pre taped, the tire is tubeless tubeless compatible, and then we put a tube in it again, to protect it during the shipment. And the valves would be in the box. And then you you basically take out the tubes, put in the valves by sealant and install the sealant. So, you know, gives us that ability to have a very close to ready situation, but the bikes fully protected. And the other part is like sealant tends to be there’s, there’s, again, regional or personal choices and Zealand. And it’s also very available at this point. So the ability to have that done at the shop as you as you’re picking up your bike or do it at home is pretty good these days.

Jeff 3:14
Right? Yeah. Well, that’s, that’s good to know, too. That about the tires being you know, I mean, you mentioned before, it’s a regional thing, as well, where certain tires are going to work better in certain places. And we all have our favorite tire tire preferences. And so, you know, it sounds like that’s one of those things kind of right off the bat. Like, you may want to change out the tires, that may be the first upgrade for a lot of people and, and also like, don’t stress over the build and be like, Oh, this one comes with this tire. And this one comes with a different one. Sounds like that’s one of those minor things that we should all just be prepared to swap those out right away.

Aaron 3:51
Yeah, I would say so. I mean, it’s again, you know, the, if you’re new to riding or if you’re if you’re growing and riding, just you can talk to a lot of the people around you and on the trail or at the shop and they can give you their kind of hot list of the best tires for that region. But yeah, so you know, my, my first point to people would be like ride the bike, feel it, check it out, you know, get familiar with your bike. And then when you start to look at making upgrades you understand what you’re what you’re getting for your upgrade, like you know, your bike, you’re, you’re comfortable and familiar. You change out you know, in this case, let’s say tires, and you see that, that benefit and you can articulate it and you know to yourself, you get it and then the next time you make a change you’re already more educated than than the last and you’re you’re going to wear out your tires if you’re writing you know tires are are an expense so don’t be scared that you don’t have exactly the right tire today. You’ve got another chance and I would also say like when you you mentioned got our favorite tires and all it’s a good thing to keep your mind open about tires as well. Well, because there’s going to be new technologies, new treads, new players on the market. And it’s one of the things that has evolved, you know, even though they look very, very similar, there’s been a lot of evolution. So if you’re just stuck on one spec one style, one thing, you know, you might be doing yourself a disservice by not researching it a bit more when it’s time again. Yeah,

Jeff 5:21
yeah, that’s a really good point. So I’m an old guy back in the 1990s. Dell computer, if anybody remembers, Dell was incredibly successful, in part because customers could spec their computer exactly the way they wanted it. So Dell basically had these like beige boxes, and you go online and tell it like, what size harddrive you want? And how much RAM and all that kind of stuff. So why don’t we have the same thing in the bike industry where we can go online, choose from a menu of parts and order to abike exactly the way we want it, what’s what’s holding us back from that?

Aaron 5:59
Well as I prefer gateway 2000, back in the day, but

Jeff 6:03
I forgot about gateway.

Aaron 6:06
But the you know, it’s, it’s basically the same reason why you don’t see Dell doing that anymore, you know, why they’re offering finished, finished platforms. And there’s variation there, you know, there’s levels there’s, there’s specs that you can choose from, but, but it’s gone out of favor to go and do that. And there’s, you can do that with bikes, you know, you can go to a some parts, houses, you know, their distributors for some bikes and some parts, there’s some premium brands that you can, you can choose the spec, but you’re choosing from a kit, you’re not going to say like, oh, I this is the bearing I want yeah, it’s not like this is the top bearing on the headset, and I want this other bottom bearing on the headset. Yeah. And what it comes down to is logistics and feasibility and the reasoning behind it. So there’s just not enough reason to want to go in and do all these individual specs and compatibilities. And so from a from a perspective, like us, you know, as marine bikes, as a, as a global bike brand, the logistics of doing a custom assembly in our system is just not, it’s just not feasible. And the time that it would take to the cost for us would be high, so the final cost would be higher, and then the time it would take to actually get it finished, you know, get that bike done and get it to you is going to take considerably longer. So yeah, I would say the other part is, is again, value. So what we’re able to do is to bring things to scale and get some benefit, you know, some cost benefits at scale, which we certainly pass on to the to the riders. So if we go and say like, Okay, we’re gonna blow this bike apart, and every, every part is going to be unique. And then we have to have stock, and we have to have all of these, you know, like this kind of Raiders of the Lost Ark warehouse of things that we’re going to pull from, yeah, it just doesn’t work. And that’s what we saw, you know, in probably the 90s and 2000s, there was definitely more of that, you know, more of like bringing in a frame, but the selection of what you would put on it is, is a lot less. So like you might have put like a full x t group on your bike at that point. And it would have been everything, like your seat post would have said X t on it. And, and then like this, you know, this foreign stem, so, yeah, okay, you’ve got four levels, and you’ve got a couple of things here. And, and logistically still difficult, but not like now, where it’s like, okay, well which which of these you know, 15 different parts groups do you want? And then Okay, now we’ve got suspension and this rear shock that fork and the disc brakes and the this this rotor and so yeah, that the offering is much bigger and much more complicated. And but like I said in the beginning, you know, that we can look at these examples of, of kind of extreme customization that happened a long time ago where people that was fresh to them was having having options and having different things they could do with it. And then now, most of that has gone away through through a lot of companies because of the inefficiencies and yeah, everybody got a everybody got a computer and realized how much they were losing on their, on these crazy programs that they were doing.

Jeff 9:26
Yeah, well, I think to the other side of it is like, you know, I think to myself, oftentimes I’m looking at a bill and I’m like, hi, yeah, man, I wish I could swap out that saddle and maybe get some different grips and, you know, there’s that but then at the same time, like I go, there’s like a burger place here in town where you can like choose all the toppings you want on your burger and they’ve got like 20 different things, but then I always end up ordering off the menu that’s like the Western burger where like they choose like, you know, five or six toppings are going to go well together, and I’m hungry. And so I’m like, just, I’m just, I don’t want to make all those choices, you know. So I think, I think you’re right to that, like, consumers, we may think we want that, but then we look at what’s involved in like, coming up with the spec and, and making all those decisions. And it’s like, let’s just trust the experts on this, for the most part.

Aaron 10:21
Yeah. And obviously, you can do it, you know, you can buy a frame, and you can buy the parts, and you can piece it together. And, you know, when I was when I was in shops, that’s that was a very common request, or common idea is to, to custom build a bike. And, I mean, it’s not much different than buying oil, you know, Florida, building a rock Rat Rod, or something, like, you’re going to be a lot more intimate and familiar with your bike after doing that. But if you’re not able to really study a lot of stuff, for me, it’s going to cost you a lot more money, no matter what, and then you might run into some incompatibilities that you didn’t expect, that are going to frustrate you take time, probably cost you more. So, you know, the other side is like we as the industry, as people making mountain bikes, you know, we are testing the stuff and writing it and we’re putting stuff together. And we are, you know, we are very focused on trying to make a good product at that price point or that level that you’re looking at. And I would say in general, like most of the industries do a pretty good job these days. And, you know, if you have a brand that you identify with, and the type of writing that you can do, like you can, you can own in pretty well. And then kind of like you mentioned, like you might you know, every saddles very personal and then tires are based on region. And there might be some component that you just love from your last bike that you got to bring over to this one, but the value that you’re getting by just buying a set bike, and then upgrading where it’s where you have to or where it’s really necessary. That’s way better value than then buying piece by piece, like you’re getting a much bigger discount than you understand buying a full bike together altogether.

Jeff 12:07
For sure. Yeah, yeah. So many, so many reasons why, yeah. Now, obviously, it does make sense why we have to get the bikes the way that that we do as complete builds. And yeah, I mean, ask anybody who’s ever like, tried to build their own custom house or like, even the Bike Builds, man, like, half the people I talked to, that have gone that route, you know, they ended up just feeling frustrated and, and everything by the end and wishing that they had just just stuck with a stock build. So tell us a little bit about how the pandemic related supply chain issues have altered the way that that brands like marine are thinking about, like builds, or rolling spec changes here to stay, for example. I mean, a lot of brands have kind of gotten away with that, you know, they consumers are understanding and are saying, Oh, well, you know, the website says it’s just got this, you know, crankset on it, it’s got a different one. And that’s kind of how it is now are we going to get back to having these, like, set specs that that people can rely on.

Aaron 13:11
So there’s always been a degree of interchangeability in specs, depending on what’s going on. And some of it is visible, some of its very visible and some of its, it’s not. And that’s just the nature of, of production of, you know, a bike. So, you know, our, our biggest challenge is a bike is made of, you know, dozens and dozens of different parts. And they are made of different things themselves. So, on one bicycle, you’ve got something that’s made out of metal, you got something that’s made out of plastic, you have injection rubber stuff, you’ve got textiles, like your saddle, and the way that’s made. So the type and the kind of spiderweb and complexity of these materials, and suppliers, suppliers to suppliers that also have their own supplier. So that spider web blows out really fast, especially when you look at what’s happened in the last couple of years. Yeah, so to your question, I think we have all gotten a lot better at running changes out of necessity. It’s the struggle that we’ve all been going through is basically to maintain the value and to maintain the spirit of the bike through having to make some changes. So you know, in the most simple way to look at it, like we make changes so that you can still have your life. And we don’t make those changes if we just you know, stick a stake in the sand and say that’s it like we’re not going to move on, on whether this. This spoke is a little bit more silver or a little less silver. Yeah, then then there would have been a lot fewer bikes produced in the last last couple of years even fewer oh man, even viewer. Well, don’t don’t mistake it. There’s been more bikes produced in the last couple years than than ever in the history of the world. Wow. It’s The consumption is, is huge, which has also pushed it. So, I mean, it’s I think, I think a lot of the people who have been writing for a long time they think like, oh, there’s a major shortage. The shortage is based on the demand situation.

Jeff 15:15
Yeah, it’s not supply so much. Yeah, at

Aaron 15:19
the beginning, it was a lot of supply. But the way that supply has ramped up, and the amount of bicycles produced in the world in the last couple of years is huge. Yeah, so but anyway, yeah, there’s still it’s still hard to get what you want. And even, even for me here, in the, in the belly of the industry, you know, getting brake pads or finding finding stuff, it’s, it’s harder than ever. So as far as, as far as the spec changes go, it’ll still exist. And I think, based on what we can see, today, it’s we’re going to have challenges into 2023, well into 2023, if not through the year. And we’re gonna do what we can, you know, some models we can’t produce, because the challenges are so, so much that we can’t make it other models we can produce, but we need to make some kind of a substitution or our spec change all together. So you’re going to continue seeing that stuff, and, and there’s going to be more of it. And then in the long term, it’s going to go back to the way that it was in the past, where we would have to make some change occasionally based on a few things. But for the most part, once things stabilize, and once the ability to get the parts goes back to normal lead times and normal planning cycles, then it’s going to be just just like it used to be.

Jeff 16:45
Okay, interesting. Well, the last question I want to ask, gets back to that idea of value and the value in buying a complete bike. So where do customers tend to get the best value? When it comes to buying a complete bike? Is it at the low end? Or the high end? Or are you kind of getting getting the best value no matter what I mean, I guess that’s kind of your goal. But but really, yeah, are we are we getting more value at one end or the other? So

Aaron 17:13
yeah, I mean, like you mentioned, our goal is to build the most value and to each price level, but I would say as a mountain biker, and as somebody looking at a at a new mountain bike, where you’re going to get the most value across the board is going to be mid to upper mid level, where you’re getting all of the components, you’re getting everything, and you’re getting everything and kind of a mid level of quality and function and feature. So what that means, like for us, like when you, I would say, you really start to get into a bite with with everything at like 2500 to 3000 USD, okay, and what that means, like, you’re gonna get a dropper post, you’re gonna get a wide range drive train, nicely performing suspension parts, the weight is what, you know, it’s still going to be heavier at that level. And that’s something you pay for, you know, over, over the increases, you get a lot for your money at that price point. And then above that, you start to split hairs. So you know, especially over about, let’s say, 4000 bucks, you’re gonna get very similar stuff with incremental increases. So slightly lighter, a little better performance, this, you know, an extra knob to turn to adjust this, this fine feature, things like that. So yeah, that’s, that’s where I would say, you’re gonna really see the most bang for the buck. And it’s, I think it’s pretty obvious for consumers as well. Like, once you get to that level, especially, like I said, dropper posts and, and some of the cockpit stuff, and you’re some of the stuff that’s name brand, that’s easy signal to see, like tires and stuff. Yeah. Yeah, that’s, that’s where I would put it, and it’s the same across other categories. You know, if you’re looking at gravel bikes, or, or stuff like that, too, it’s, it’s very similar proposition for everybody.

Jeff 19:09
Is that where most of the sales tend to occur to? I mean, is that typically, like the mid range is going to be your best selling model? Or is it just, that’s where you’re gonna get the better value?

Aaron 19:19
I mean, that’s, that’s really a sweet spot for us as well. But our biggest selling models are on the lower side of the price point. Yeah. And I think that’s the same for everybody. You know, scale is scale is different. So the entry level bikes are higher volume. The higher end bikes are lower volume, but they’re, they’re higher dollars higher price point. So

Jeff 19:43
yeah, so you’re being a smart consumer if you if you kind of look at the middle, because that’s maybe not where it’s definitely not where most people are looking. Because yeah, they’re they’re looking for the cheap one.

Aaron 19:54
Yeah, yeah, exactly. And that kind of mid stuff. You know, there’s what my from my Experience and just seeing it out in the world, there’s, there’s a lot of writers who go, they’re not quite sure yet and they go down a bit. So like if I was standing in a bike shop and I was talking to somebody about these different level bikes, that’s definitely the point that I would get across is like at this level, you know, once you get up to 2500, or 3000 bucks, it sounds like a lot right now. But if you get up into that level, you’re going to get everything you need. And you’re going to, you’re going to be able to really engage with mountain biking. Yeah, if you get something below this level, you’re going to either feel like, you’re not able to do what some of your friends are doing and able to keep up or just the feature isn’t there for riding that way. Or you’re going to feel like you should be upgrading. And upgrading is more expensive than getting those parts already coming with the bike. Yeah, so that’s yeah, that’s always you know, it’s always been this way, like when I was a, you know, a guy standing on a shop floor selling people bikes is it was exactly the same situation. And then I wouldn’t call it diminishing returns above a certain level, but But what you’re getting is, there’s there parts that have some increase in either win or decrease in weight increase in feature or functionality. But those increases and those weight decreases are marginal. And they are marginal all the way up the line until you get to the absolute most expensive top notch stuff. So like, if you compare a $15,000, mountain bike two or $3,000, mountain bike, it’s going to be lighter, and it’s going to have the carbon wheels and these kind of, you know, some EU law parts. But what you can do on those two bikes is going to be basically the same. Those two, those two, right? If you put the same rider on both of those bikes, there’s not going to be a huge difference about what comes out of the end.

Jeff 21:56
Yeah, yeah. Are you do you find that you’re successful when you’re making that kind of, I don’t want to call it a sales pitch, where you’re trying to convince somebody that they need to spend, you know, kind of a minimum amount to get a bike that they’re going to enjoy? Because I have that conversation with non bike friends all the time, neighbors and people, Oh, your bike guy like, which, which bikes should I get? And, you know, as soon as you start talking 1000s of dollars, they’re like, stepping back and like, whoa, like, I don’t need anything like that. And I feel like I’m never able to convince people that they need to spend that. But But it sounds like sounds like maybe you have I mean, what, how do you get people over that hump?

Aaron 22:39
I sold a couple bikes. Yeah. So the for me, it was always what kind of person? Are you? Are you the type of person that when you get into something, you totally get into it? And you are, you just dive in? And you become an expert on the stuff and you really, really get into it? Or are you the type of person who’s really career driven and technical driven? And you’re going to you’re going to be looking at this and studying it and always picking apart what you do and don’t have? Or are you just dabbling in this? And you’re really not sure. And you’re you just don’t know if you’re going to get into it. But today, you know, today you’re here talking about it, because you’re interested?

Jeff 23:20
Yeah. It’s like you’re throwing down a challenge like that. That’s like a good sales tactic. Like, what kind of person are you really.

Aaron 23:29
So I mean, I’ve had, I’ve had quite a few, you know, if somebody walks in the store, and they’re like, I want the most expensive thing, and, you know, throw down the cash, and it’s, you know, they, they leave with it, and that’s, that’s great, you know, as a bike shop, that’s what keeps the doors open. Somebody who’s really considering it, you know, maybe they dusted off their bike, and they took it out and they rode with their friends and they had fun. But they realized the limitations of their their current bike, and they’re here looking at something and so that’s like I said, is is you know, as a, you know you better than anybody else. And are you the type of person who’s always going to be picking this thing apart. Or you know, are you just like you get into some stuff you don’t get into other stuff. You’re not sure about this one.

Jeff 24:15
Are you wishy washy? Are you a quitter? Exactly. Got to get them to the Yes. You got to get into the Yes. That’s That’s great. Well, Aaron, yeah, thanks so much for for chatting and telling us a little bit about how all these decisions are made by product managers everyday and how the mountain bikes that we buy and that we can choose from how they’re put together. Thanks so much.

Aaron 24:41
Yeah, my pleasure. It’s great to be here and really enjoyed it.

Jeff 24:46
Well, you can find out a little bit more about some of the specific bikes we were talking about at Moraine bikes.com. And we’ll have a link to that site in the show notes. So we’ve got this week. Talk to you again next week.

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