Quality Control Anarchy

floating dutchman

Super Anarchist
Part of the issue with the bikes is that they can’t make them fast enough and they are just throwing shit out there most likely.
This.

I recently bought a decent full sus mountain bike and looking at the market the big thing I noticed was that a lot of 2022 bikes are similar to the 2021 bikes but with inflation adjusted prices and with often lower specked components.

One bike I looked at had replaced the Shimano brakes with the Tektro equivalent.  Another bike I looked at had replaced the Shimano 11 speed with the Shimano 10 speed, and they had still increased the sticker prices.  These kinds of things are common.

Availability is a big issue with a lot of suppliers saying "pre order" and others just straight out telling me they just don't know when new stock will come in.

I kinda lucked in with buying a last years model bike (no down graded parts) at this years prices. and they had a bike my size in stock.  But I did end up buying a lot more bike than I wanted for more than I intended to spend.  But hey, fuck it, the war office approved spending and the mom and pop store I bought from got a sale.

If you are like me and want to buy a decent right now, you could have not picked a worse time in history to do it.

I went mountain biking today on my new toy.  And I had a ball ! ;)

 
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Virgulino Ferreira

Super Anarchist
1,036
958
Brazil
The Hambini youtube channel is quite entertaining. It is very much in the spirit of "quality control anarchy". The guy is some kind of aerospace engineer with a curious CV:

https://www.hambini.com/about-hambini/





Very anarchic. :D

image.png

 

Chris in Santa Cruz CA

Super Anarchist
6,168
1,297
earths surface
This.

I recently bought a decent full sus mountain bike and looking at the market the big thing I noticed was that a lot of 2022 bikes are similar to the 2021 bikes but with inflation adjusted prices and with often lower specked components.

One bike I looked at had replaced the Shimano brakes with the Tektro equivalent.  Another bike I looked at had replaced the Shimano 11 speed with the Shimano 10 speed, and they had still increased the sticker prices.  These kinds of things are common.

Availability is a big issue with a lot of suppliers saying "pre order" and others just straight out telling me they just don't know when new stock will come in.

I kinda lucked in with buying a last years model bike (no down graded parts) at this years prices. and they had a bike my size in stock.  But I did end up buying a lot more bike than I wanted for more than I intended to spend.  But hey, fuck it, the war office approved spending and the mom and pop store I bought from got a sale.

If you are like me and want to buy a decent right now, you could have not picked a worse time in history to do it.

I went mountain biking today on my new toy.  And I had a ball ! ;)
that last line is the best thing I have read on these forums all week!

 

Cruisin Loser

Super Anarchist
Hey!

I find that offensive.
:lol:

Glad I could help!!!!!

No. You can't get decent stuff anymore, even if you pay through the nose for it.

No body cares. We live in a society where disposable is an attribute.

IKEA is king because people would rather spend $180.00 6 times than $1,200.00 1 time, and be able to pass it down to their kids.

I think that it's become very apparent that quality is a thing of the past. Everything now is meant to be replaced by the next generation of technology.

 There is no next Gen of "Properly built". It is, or it isn't.
Yes, you can still buy great stuff, but not at mass market stores and the good stuff is expensive as shit. A nice chair is thousands, not hundreds. Same with couches. The stuff in finely furnished homes is different. 

You can buy a mail order office chair for $90 on Amazon, or a Herman Miller Aeron for $1500. We have 20 year old Aerons that, give 'em a wipe, might as well be new. My son bought a cheap office chair mail order that broke in 3 weeks. I gave him a couple of spare Aerons. 

You can buy a $50 fly rod at Walmart or a handmade bamboo rod from Orvis for $3K. 

You can buy a Squier stratocaster for $300 that will get the job done for a lot of people, or a Fender Custom Shop Masterbuilt for $8K.

It's never been cheaper to produce something serviceable. It cost very little to do something OK, quite a lot to do something very well indeed, an order of magnitude more to attempt perfection in craftsmanship. The difference is skilled labor, which is inevitably expensive. The guys/girls making Tonkin Bamboo fly rods and Collings guitars are well paid, as they should be.

Heirloom quality stuff is a luxury good. My 93 year old mother has the Chanel couture suit with matching handbag that she bought from Chanel in Paris in the 1970's. One of her goals for staying fit has been to fit that suit, it is as stylish and timeless as ever. I feel the same way about my custom sailboat, a timeless beauty in her own right, IMO. 

 

Lark

Supper Anarchist
9,474
1,686
Ohio
:lol:

Yes, you can still buy great stuff, but not at mass market stores and the good stuff is expensive as shit. A nice chair is thousands, not hundreds. Same with couches. The stuff in finely furnished homes is different. 

You can buy a mail order office chair for $90 on Amazon, or a Herman Miller Aeron for $1500. We have 20 year old Aerons that, give 'em a wipe, might as well be new. My son bought a cheap office chair mail order that broke in 3 weeks. I gave him a couple of spare Aerons. 

You can buy a $50 fly rod at Walmart or a handmade bamboo rod from Orvis for $3K. 

You can buy a Squier stratocaster for $300 that will get the job done for a lot of people, or a Fender Custom Shop Masterbuilt for $8K.

It's never been cheaper to produce something serviceable. It cost very little to do something OK, quite a lot to do something very well indeed, an order of magnitude more to attempt perfection in craftsmanship. The difference is skilled labor, which is inevitably expensive. The guys/girls making Tonkin Bamboo fly rods and Collings guitars are well paid, as they should be.

Heirloom quality stuff is a luxury good. My 93 year old mother has the Chanel couture suit with matching handbag that she bought from Chanel in Paris in the 1970's. One of her goals for staying fit has been to fit that suit, it is as stylish and timeless as ever. I feel the same way about my custom sailboat, a timeless beauty in her own right, IMO. 
The problem with your argument, especially in the online era, is one of short term profit.   The management of established company does the same math GM did in the 1970s, or Trek is apparently doing now by the above posts.   Cut corners, reduce product quality.  It will take time for people to notice.   With out this thread I would have been biased toward another Trek If I bought a new bike, since my last three were good starting with a scratch and dent 800 I bought new in High School and ran hard until it was stolen 8 years later.    From the perspective of top management, improved quarterly profit equals a large bonus, which is often a huge percent of compensation.  Of course the company will decline in value over 5-10 years as formerly loyal customers pick a different brand for their next purchase.    By then the guy on top has inflated his golden parachute and moved on.  How often do we see a large company considering a time horizon beyond 3 years?    They can even tie in the buzzword 'shrinkflation', currently more trendy then quality control.   If the company is publicly traded or has been acquired by venture capitalists, this maximizing of short term profit seems to be standard procedure.

 
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Raz'r

Super Anarchist
62,301
5,502
De Nile
The problem with your argument, especially in the online era, is one of short term profit.   The management of established company does the same math GM did in the 1970s, or Trek is apparently doing now by the above posts.   Cut corners, reduce product quality.  It will take time for people to notice.   With out this thread I would have been biased toward another Trek If I bought a new bike, since my last three were good starting with a scratch and dent 800 I bought new in High School and ran hard until it was stolen 8 years later.    From the perspective of top management, improved quarterly profit equals a large bonus, which is often a huge percent of compensation.  Of course the company will decline in value over 5-10 years as formerly loyal customers pick a different brand for their next purchase.    By then the guy on top has inflated his golden parachute and moved on.  How often do we see a large company considering a time horizon beyond 3 years?    They can even tie in the buzzword 'shrinkflation', currently more trendy then quality control.   If the company is publicly traded or has been acquired by venture capitalists, this maximizing of short term profit seems to be standard procedure.
The capital intensive industries definitely have a longer view, as do the high end consumer goods companies. They don't always get it right.

Tesla, Polaris, etc and e-cars?

The venture industry?

Oil and Gas of course.

Note the chip shortage impacting inflation WW?  Poor planning on the part of the semiconductor folks. They are leaving shit-tons of cash on the table. 

The short term-itis is really bad in mature industries with little barrier to entry but cachet. Trek in bikes (if the stories are valid) is a pretty good example of a cash-cow industry that can kick off more cash with a bit of cost cutting. Of course, in 10 years most bikes will be e-assist and Trek may no longer be in the business of selling to the masses.  That's how it goes.

 

mikewof

mikewof
45,639
1,209
It's never been cheaper to produce something serviceable. It cost very little to do something OK, quite a lot to do something very well indeed, an order of magnitude more to attempt perfection in craftsmanship. The difference is skilled labor, which is inevitably expensive. The guys/girls making Tonkin Bamboo fly rods and Collings guitars are well paid, as they should be.
This has led to some real weirdness in the automobile industry. When I was a kid, a Maserati or a Bentley looked like a Maserati or a Bentley, they had an angelic glow that made them look like no other. Back in the 1970s, all vehicles had some amount of hand-manufacturing, the higher quality vehicles tended to be touched more and had more higher tolerances, better quality control and very different high-end materials.

But now I see late-model Maseratis and Bentleys in my neighborhood, and other than the badges and signature faces, they look similar to all the other higher-end vehicles. They have similar overlap bumper covers, similar unibody designs, similar high-end Japanese/German tolerances made by CNC and robotic assembly lines. The average consumer vehicles has now caught and exceeded the quality control tolerances of what used to be the exclusive domain of the luxury vehicles. And the cost to put a DOT-compliant vehicle on the road has soared to the point that Maserati, Bentley, Lamborghini, etc., need to use most of the same manufacturing processes as the consumer models. 

It seems like most any half-decent late-model vehicle on the road these days is both similarly high-quality and similarly cheap, and they'll all mostly run for a couple hundred thousand miles without much stress as long as varying costs of maintenance are applied. But the $350 Toyota transmission fluid flush isn't really all that different from the $13,500 Bentley transmission fluid flush. The cost of maintenance becomes part of the experience of owning a car like that. And now in China, the home of the bicycle, people want and can afford cheap mopeds and electric vehicles, they no longer have much of a reason to devote manufacturing expertise to their bicycles because it no longer seems to fit their economic model.

 

mikewof

mikewof
45,639
1,209
Of course, in 10 years most bikes will be e-assist and Trek may no longer be in the business of selling to the masses.  That's how it goes.
It seems to already be in place here in the USA. Riders happily spend big money for e-assist bikes and those weird self-balancing electric unicycle things. Why invest into quality control of things of like derailleurs, frames and skateboard trucks when the automated manufacturing is needed for the e-assist bike parts and self-balancing electric unicycle parts?

 

Raz'r

Super Anarchist
62,301
5,502
De Nile
It seems to already be in place here in the USA. Riders happily spend big money for e-assist bikes and those weird self-balancing electric unicycle things. Why invest into quality control of things of like derailleurs, frames and skateboard trucks when the automated manufacturing is needed for the e-assist bike parts and self-balancing electric unicycle parts?
I'd love me a One-wheel, but I still need to earn a living. Brain injuries aren't conducive to quality of life.

 

Lark

Supper Anarchist
9,474
1,686
Ohio
The capital intensive industries definitely have a longer view, as do the high end consumer goods companies. They don't always get it right.

Tesla, Polaris, etc and e-cars?

The venture industry?

Oil and Gas of course.

Note the chip shortage impacting inflation WW?  Poor planning on the part of the semiconductor folks. They are leaving shit-tons of cash on the table. 

The short term-itis is really bad in mature industries with little barrier to entry but cachet. Trek in bikes (if the stories are valid) is a pretty good example of a cash-cow industry that can kick off more cash with a bit of cost cutting. Of course, in 10 years most bikes will be e-assist and Trek may no longer be in the business of selling to the masses.  That's how it goes.
Valid points.   I was thinking only of consumer goods, assuming industrial products are designed to different math.    However a mechanic I was talking too earlier was complaining that a semi truck he was servicing was designed so all the hydraulics have to be stripped off, the cab has to be jacked up, and motor mounts removed to do some valve adjustments.   Bolts fail to clear the frame rail when loosened.   He opted to add a few extra access holes to the frame instead. 

For consumer goods, I admit not to patronizing the highest of high end.  American Furniture was mostly decimated by China even before the great recession, I knew people in the Amish manufacturing end, and a guy in California sales to the rich and famous (including Paul Allen).   Both sides gave the same story.   There will always be some example of a longstanding company that changes ownership and profits are maximized to cover acquisition costs quickly.   Are new high end companies emerging to compensate?   Paloton seems to be the contrary example.          

I'll predict the future isn't e-assist once the tail end of the boomers age out.  It will be virtual bikes with a fan adjusted to apparent speed and a VR helmet designed so when the 'rider' looks down his/her thighs are computer enhanced to magically look lean and muscular.   Add a fizzy drink holder, and its got a real future.  No day is too hot, despite climate change.   No bugs to swallow, no need to screen for ticks when you get home.     

 
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Cruisin Loser

Super Anarchist
As @Raz'rpoints out, many companies MUST have long term views. In my business we always have a 20+ year viewpoint, even though I probably won't live that much longer.

Politicians are always trying to take oil executives to task on short term fluctuations in price, but consider that the entire House of Representatives is up for re-election every 2 years, Senators every 6 years, the President 4 years. These are their time frames, election cycles. Major oil and gas projects take a decade or more from concept to implementation, then have producing lives of multiple decades. I produce oil wells that were originally drilled in the 1930's and still make money. Chip factories, car plants, steel mills take years to build and cost billions, these executives are always planning out for years. Politicians are far more guilty of short-term thinking and planning than are executives in many industries.

Politicians could help by providing stable, predictable tax and regulatory environments so that businesses can have more certainty in planning. Regulatory and tax uncertainty hinder long term planning and investment. 

That said, certain companies and executives will sell you down the river for a nickle of profit. GE under Jeff Immelt bought Lufkin Iron Works in Texas, the world's premier builder of oil field pumpjacks. They moved all of the tools and patterns to China. F'n traitor, IMO. I have never bought a Made in China pumpjack, and never will. 

There are companies whose entire existence is based on high quality and they know that they have to deliver. Herman Miller knows if they cut corners on the Eames chair that they will lose their customer base. An Hermes scarf must look, feel, and be expensive to maintain it's cachet. Cut corners and lose your business. 

There is a large enough population of well-enough-off people to keep the market for quality goods thriving. Classic chairs such as the Barcelona by Mies van der Rohe, the Papa Bear by Wegner, and the Poltrona by Le Corbusier, in addition to the Eames, are beautifully made, last for years, and look good. More recently, my wife furnished our ski house with modern recliners by Stressless which are comfortable, attractive and seem well made at reasonable prices. 

 

Lark

Supper Anarchist
9,474
1,686
Ohio
Politicians could help by providing stable, predictable tax and regulatory environments so that businesses can have more certainty in planning. Regulatory and tax uncertainty hinder long term planning and investment. 
This!!!   Generally a predictable policy I don't love is better then continually changing policy.   Its even more true for industry where a multi year lead time is necessary.  

I've seen my venders (much larger then I am ) go through a policy cycle.  Every CEO returns to a couple major policies his predecessor's predecessor did, just to show they are shaking things up and doing them differently then their immediate predecessor.   Throw in the continuous cycle of mergers, followed by spin offs, and you can be sure what was old is new again.   

Government does the exact same thing, based on red or blue election returns (on those rare occasions they aren't preoccupied with human sexuality, or writing rules to favor a large donor at the expense of mere voters).   

 
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Bump-n-Grind

Get off my lawn.
14,745
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Chesapeake Bay/Vail
No. You can't get decent stuff anymore, even if you pay through the nose for it.

No body cares. We live in a society where disposable is an attribute.

IKEA is king because people would rather spend $180.00 6 times than $1,200.00 1 time, and be able to pass it down to their kids.

I think that it's become very apparent that quality is a thing of the past. Everything now is meant to be replaced by the next generation of technology.

 There is no next Gen of "Properly built". It is, or it isn't.
partly because nobody's kids want any of their shit. My folks spent gazillions on furniture. I've managed to hang onto most of it. tried to give some to my kid, nahhh... finally living in a house that this stuff will fit in without overpowering the rooms. it collected dust in sheds for years, but I'm glad I hung onto it... the kid will be forced to deal with it when I croak 

As for bikes, my rack fell outa the trailer hitch on my navigator after riding one afternoon in 2020. lost a Cannondale M700 circa 1988 or so and a built up Trek of similar vintage.. both were great bikes.. The Cannondale probably had 30k miles on it. I rode it close to 50 miles a day after work on the bike paths around DC.... rain, snow or sun for about 12 years.. spent a couple days backtracking the route where it coulda fallen off hoping someone chucked the whole shebang onto the side of the road or into someone's yard. I'm thinking someone ran over it and trashed the bikes.. really weird circumstance. when I left my friends house, they were there, 10 minutes later I looked in the rearview and couldn't see the handle bars any more.. really fucking bummed  .. those two bikes just wouldn't die. 

 

Raz'r

Super Anarchist
62,301
5,502
De Nile
This!!!   Generally a predictable policy I don't love is better then continually changing policy.   Its even more true for industry where a multi year lead time is necessary.  

I've seen my venders (much larger then I am ) go through a policy cycle.  Every CEO returns to a couple major policies his predecessor's predecessor did, just to show they are shaking things up and doing them differently then their immediate predecessor.   Throw in the continuous cycle of mergers, followed by spin offs, and you can be sure what was old is new again.   

Government does the exact same thing, based on red or blue election returns (on those rare occasions they aren't preoccupied with human sexuality, or writing rules to favor a large donor at the expense of mere voters).   
When I was at a couple of the old guard tech firms - we called it the Pendulum effect....  They were both blessed with stable E-Suites, so the overall strategies were solid, but individual BUs would bounce around.

In startup land the basic time frame seems to be 7 years. 7 years from idea to some sort of exit event. It can be shorter, or longer, but these folks walk in with hundreds of millions on the line (shared risk, certainly) with an understanding that only a small number of them hit.

 

fufkin

Super Anarchist


Quality commuter bikes at a decent price point are still around, you just have to look, and you have to give up some frills for some basic overall quality.  I remember when the above company launched, and am glad to see they’re still at it. https://detroitbikes.com

I have a buddy who has a handful of bike shops. His focus is on providing solid bikes at a decent price point for the masses, avg $350-1000Cdn, top price around $1800. He doesn’t sit on higher end inventory, and though margins are thin, his sales are healthy. COVID has wreaked havoc regarding supply chain issues and a simultaneous uptick in demand, and as mentioned, might be cutting into quality.

That said, it seems like for a lot of goods, these days it seems you have to pay near luxury prices for an expectation of basic quality. Shame about that.
 

 




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