Strange trend at BD?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Strange trend at BD?

    Let me preface this by saying I am a huge BD fan. I trained as a bike tech back in the day, so I can assemble and tune my own stuff, and I recognize the value. I have three BD bikes.

    Lately, does it seem like BikesDirect is using pre-orders to finance their inventory? Especially on some of their higher-end new models, it looks like they are unwilling to build an inventory then sell from stock. For example, the Fantom DS Comp that came out in the fall. They took orders, then produced up to those orders. When they sold out, they once again set it up for "pre-order" instead of stocking units. Now they are doing the same with the new Fantom Plus X9, which looks like a really cool plus bike. . .but you have to pay for it now, and get it in July.

    The only valid reason I can see for doing business this way is that BD doesn't want to be on the hook for inventory (or they don't have the capital to commit to inventory. . .which I find hard to believe that this company isn't liquid, they have to be running pretty good margins at huge volume.) It just seems strange to me, and with more and more bike companies going consumer-direct, is this the time to build in delivery delays and risk production issues? I look at what happened to Airborne (a totally different business model, but still. . .try buying a bike from them. It's basically impossible, they are out of stock on everything.) What does this say to the rider who might be looking for a new plus bike to ride in the spring? Doesn't the July delivery drive a lot of them elsewhere?

    Just wanted to see what people think.

  2. #2
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    Can't disagree that the pre order thing is a hassle and probably drives a couple buyers away. I'm not sure if it's a financial issue or just trying to get bikes available as early as possible and not wait till they are in stock to sell. When I bought my first bike from them, they hardly had any 29ers, but all the other big names had them. If I would have known bd was going to get in a29er shipment in a couple months, I might have delayed my purchase.
    "a hundred travel books isn't worth one real trip"

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    Good points. I'm just thinking. . .because they are spec'ing their own SKUs and not trying to get a piece of a vendor's pie, couldn't they just build in their own lead times and stock up pre-sale?

    On the other hand, it makes sense that this model allows them to get to market faster with a new bike, at least on paper. They do have to wait for the brand names to drive the trends, so BD will never be the first manufacturer to launch a new technology!

  4. #4
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    Copy and paste bikes will always have a time delay.

    Other strange trends that I like. They finally started using different color banner adds. That obnoxious red and yellow banner on every page I went to got annoying.

    Trend I don't like: same/similar speced bike for different brands at similar price. and a lot of bikes with cheap forks. If BD really wanted to keep inventory down, they shouldn't have 8 models of bikes that are the exact same. Low end 29er with 8-speed drivetrain and XCT fork and wire bead tires. They only need 2-3 different versions of this bike. I'd like to see a few more mid-range forks. It seems they go from XCT to XCT with hydraulic dampening to rockshox reba. that's a heck of a jump. Why no suntour XCR or rockshox xc28? The old gravity 29.2 had a nice 9-speed drivetrain with the rockshox XC28 fork. Excelent bike for the money. They replaced it with the suntour XCT with hydraulic dampening, which just isn't the same quality.
    "a hundred travel books isn't worth one real trip"

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    Another good point. . .why not be narrower and deeper? I get the concept of trying to create "brands", but having a $400 Motobecane next to a $400 Gravity next to a $400 Dawes, all with the same spec. . .that can't be efficient or profitable. And it would be nice if they'd lose some of the Suntour junk and have a middle-of-the-road line with Recons, probably wouldn't change the price point much at all, and perceived quality goes way up.

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    As a first time mtb buyer I'm totally turned off by the BD pay now and wait 6-months for the bike. No way I would do that.

    Then we have the post from the customer who prepaid, never got his bike (oversold) and only got a refund, nothing more.

    Don't know BD business model, but not for me.

  7. #7
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    Yep, that's exactly why I was concerned about this trend. And I have to point out that it's only on a couple bikes, but it seems to be happening on anything NEW that they launch.

    All three of my BD bikes were in stock when I ordered them, and I had them at my house in 2-3 days. But now they have these cool new bikes like the 27 plus and the FS Fantom, and you can't actually get one for several months. Just seems like a self-defeating sales model to me.

    However, still much better than dealing with a company like Airborne. . .what a nightmare that is!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by AmishAirline View Post
    Yep, that's exactly why I was concerned about this trend. And I have to point out that it's only on a couple bikes, but it seems to be happening on anything NEW that they launch.
    You say NEW but there are 4-flavors of that bike, all with the identical frame and wheelset. They only differ in components and color if that matters. All three of the lower priced bikes are sold from stock. Only the $1100 Comp is prepay.

    Since components are slap on, a mystery to me why the 6-month delay. Surely not the paint in the spray booth.

  9. #9
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    Hmmmmm. . .never thought about that. Same frame and wheelset. . .so some XT parts and a low-end Rockshox fork/shock. Those aren't hard to get. Sounds like either poor inventory planning or just that lack of cash to front the orders. I do wish somebody from BD participated in these forums, I'd love to hear their rationale.

  10. #10
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    I may be looking at it from a business side, but I know I wouldn't want to unload a half dozen size XL 26" Titanium bikes with 3x9 drive trains at deep discounts when the latest and greatest is 1x11 275ers.

    Seems like a gamble to commit to stocking actual inventory of every size based on polling potential customers, just to watch it sit and become obsolete.

    After all, these are not universal fit bikes. Not defending, just saying that I understand.

  11. #11
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    Nothing wrong with SR Suntour forks on a low end bike but yes, using the more mid range XCR RLO, XCR air or Epicon would up the quality of their low end bikes for a small change in price. The XCT is pretty crappy and it's a big jump to the Rock Shox. But it's still better than the M3030 that most new entry level bikes have and way better than the Gila T5 pogo sticks that came on my old specialized's.

  12. #12
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    Well they might want to look for trends. It is risky to place big orders on something with no history. They need to learn the demand for the item. They can charge more for it upfront to hedge the risk. This is one reason why other manufacturers have higher prices.

  13. #13
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    Not sure if it was mentioned before, but from my understanding a 'pull' inventory system is considered more efficient in business terms and helps reduce waste. While I agree as a consumer it can suck if the company doesn't have it down to a good waiting period, it may also be one of the aspects that allows their prices to be so competitive.

    just a thought, I am looking to buy a bike from BD so I have been creeping through the forum.

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