On 06/05/2014 9:39 PM, Tom Iannucci wrote:
Peter, thanks again. Your response was not long ... I appreciated all the detail. To answer your question about the Marioni, you're right, the price is $1,350 for a stock version of the frame set and $1,525 for a custom version. If I were to get it, I would probably be fine with the base component set, which is Camp veloce ($2,600), which I understand is equivalent to 105. But you gave me a lot to think about. Can I ask why you recommended the Ridley? Do you feel it's a particularly good value for the money? (the componenents don't seem to be lower end). Also, how old are your Times bikes?
I suggested you look at Ridley because they are being carried by MEC and I turn to MEC as my base line for ethical (both in terms of commerce and in terms of society) retailing. They charge better-than-fair prices and have great return and warranty policies.
so basically, I was suggesting you look at MEC.
In a bike, there are three elements to evaluate. Frame, wheels and components (the "groupset")
Unfortunately for bike retailers (unlike mattress retailers where you cannot compare models apples-to-apples because there are no standard models) 105 is 105, Ultegra is Ultegra, no matter who sells it. You just slap them on a frame with a pair of wheels. And that is about 50% the value of a bike.
So, if MEC has a good frame (and the Ridleys is a good manufacturer who makes good frames, probably top 20 in the world, so they are not completely generic. They are leaders in Cyclo Cross. Let me put it this way, No one would be/should be embarrassed to show up for a group ride on a Ridley. You could be / should be embarrassed to show up on a Norco. even though norco probably makes excellent bikes. They are also associated with kids bikes and Canadian Tire level stuff.)
AND since it has 105 or Ultegra on it (and not the WARNING! Sora or Tiagra), that becomes (in my mind) the benchmark for shopping for anything.
Bianchi can paint their frames "celeste" green (which forever was their marker of their top quality frames - their Japanese stuff was never painted Celeste. Red, brown, other, but never Celeste.) but that doesn't make it a great frame or a great bike. at a certain point it is just cosmetics.
So anyway, the MEC Ridely Fenix carbon bike with OK wheels and 105 is $2200. (though they have a perfectly good Ridley Orion model in 105 for $1950, but let's keep this apples-to-apples. There must be some small difference between Fenix and Orion frames, like the type of carbon used or something.)
the MEC Ridely Fenix carbon bike (basically the same with maybe slightly better wheels -- indeed they are better, Fulcrum Racing 5) in Ultegra is $2850.
So, there's your jump. 105 to Ultegra at MEC = $650.
at any other retailer it would be a $1000 jump.
(ask your bike shop what the Intenso with Ultegra costs. ahhh, I see. The Sempre with Ultegra is $3600 - but with Fulcrum R 7, so heavier and less costly than the MEC Ultegra build)
So there's your $1000 leap.
So, yes, while I would not want to show up on a MEC branded bike (which is completely irrational but that's the way we sorry consumers are) I would be happy to show up on a well equipped Ridley. So, yes, they are good value and a decent ego shot.
Interesting about MEC and brands. 5 years ago their bikes were all branded "MEC" and probably came out of the same Aisan factories as many well-known international brands. (you can buy a very good carbon frame from China on line for about $350, a similar frame from say Pinarello costs $6000. Go figure.) but I think they eventually realised that people DO (unfortunately) value brands and MEC was perceived as "cheap". So, they first changed dumped the MEC label and changed the name to "Ghost". But when (I am speculating) the public couldn't find any mention or reviews of Ghost brand bikes online, they then cut the deal to retail the Ridley line.
Similarly with clothing (at least bike clothing.) I always send people to MEC for stuff because Hey, inner tubes are basically the same, and if I can pay $2 or $4 at MEC instead of $5 to $10 at a real bike store, I'm OK with that. They similarly have excellent prices on all the other basics, like cables, computers, tools, etc. And you don't get confused by the flurry of brands and models. They usually only have one choice, maybe two, but it's a well chosen choice.
But we used to think of MEC as "cheap". their bike clothing was again MEC-branded (and was fine). But they didn't have the chic brands like Rapha or Assos. But when I stopped in the store this week I saw that they were now carrying Castelli, which for years, decades, was THE name in cycling clothing. So there.
Anyway, IF I were buying a new bike I would probably buy at MEC if I felt they had a good brand, well-equipped (which they now do.) I would feel better that I wasn't going to get the wool pulled over my eyes by a fast talking sales guy on commission. I fear that typical bike shops are all a little bit sneaky. (they don't tell you that they save money with cheap wheels)
Though I must say, at least whomever you were speaking to about the Bianchi didn't push you into a more expensive bike. Who knows? Maybe their margins are better on the lower end gear.
Though I must say too that a 53 cm frame seems a bit small. But who knows.
But then I would never buy a new bike. They depreciate just like cars. probably 50% as soon as you roll them out of the store.
Which brings us to the Times. These are about year 2010. They were trade ins at a local bike shop in France. They are superb machines, the top of the Time line.
(that said though, maybe the Bianchi sales person was right too, that you might not be comfortable on the top of the line gear. You don't need a Ferrari to go camping do we?)
But just the components are worth considering. Campagnolo Record will perform and feel better than 105.
And Campagnolo commands about a 50% premium in the market. And Record is their near top of the line, above Dura Ace in Shimano (which no one rides because they feel they can't afford it or justify the extra cost.)
Here for instance is a Bianchi Infinito configured with Ultegra. $6101
no wheels 4818 USD
The same bike with Campagnolo Record (albeit 11 speed, which is where they are these days.) $7220
no wheels 5937
So another $1000 premium for Campagnolo Record. over Ultegra
And a $500 premium over Dura Ace.
and that is from a well known online shop called Competitive Cyclist, where the pricing is very very aggressive. In a local store the spreads would be higher.
Competitive Cyclist is a pretty good place for competitive shopping, or at least checking prices. You can see the cost differential of different components, different wheels in the online Build system.
There you go. that's about all I know I think.
Oh, but if you wanted to think about steel alternatives to the Marinoni, here's a couple that I have.
this Basso is very cool
and if you just wanted to get On the Road on a modern bike for not a lot of money, I love this Fondriest in aluminum with a carbon fork and 9S 105
Or, if you wanted to say in carbon, and we decided 53 was your size, this Lapierre is quite amazing
But if (or when) you have time, you should come over and jump on a few different sized frames, at least to test out the appropriate frame size.