Thursday, March 27, 2008

Boutique or Off-The-Rack?

So here I am, saving pennies for the next bike, an FS 29er. None of them are cheap, in the true sense of the word, at least not like my Karate Monkey frame was cheap, but most of the FS frames are really-really not cheap. Since 29ers do not have the depth of choices like 26" bike shoppers have, there are no blow-out deals at Jenson to get a swell ride on the low ball special.

That is OK, since I like boutique bikes anyway, but the age old question that is bouncing through the back alleys of my cerebral cortex is, what value does that boutique bike offer to justify the cost? Now if it is truly a custom fit, then it is pretty obvious. But the Turners and Lenzs and such are pretty much a done deal as far as dimensions and such. Ventana does true customs but you pay dearly for it.

So here I am, a guy with the means to build a high end bike, but just barely. I ride enough, and have been riding long enough, to appreciate a good bike, but how much am I really getting in a practical sense to justify the cost?

Case in point. A VooDoo Canzo 29er FS frame is a good, well built frame and it is an exceptional value....around $800.00. Compare that to a Turner Sultan for $1800.00.

OK, a bushing instead of a single row bearing main pivot, zerk fittings, both 4" of travel, both aluminum, both weigh the same. One may be stiffer. One may require less service. Both can break. One may fit me better...that is a key point, but besides that, is it worth over twice the price? That $$ is a very nice set of wheels and a good fork or a great set of wheels and a great fork if you can get them slightly used. eBay, etc.

On the other hand, I feel that the Turner will satisfy me emotionally better than the Canzo. I somehow feel that it will deliver more, but I can't really quantify that. Not sure I can trust my feelings. Some of it is pride in ownership. It has to be more than that, though. It has to really be better when I ride it, not just this week, but 52 weeks from now and beyond.

Still struggling with this, this $1000.00 'better' part. Meanwhile I am scheduled to ride a Pivot Cycles bike this weekend and hopefully a RacerX 29er the week after. Maybe by then I will have some idea of what that extra grand buys.

We shall see.

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