Friday, March 08, 2024

Friday News And Views

Image courtesy of LOOK.

A Marketplace Blues edition of the FN&V

All-New LOOK X-Trac Power Meter Pedals:

LOOK announced on Tuesday of this week that they had all-new Keo and X-Trac power meter pedals. Since I'm all about gravel and a bit of off-road here, I'm focusing in on the X-Trac Power meter pedals, but many of the features cross over to the Keo road pedal as well. 

The X-Trac Power Meter pedals can be purchased as a single-side or dual-side pedal read-out. This gives folks flexibility to choose the price point that is right for them. Obviously the ideal set up would be to have the two pedals both read out power. 

LOOK promises easy set-up and calibration using the companion app from LOOK. Riders can also register their pedals with LOOK via the app. The app also breaks down the data for the rider giving you several parameters to consider from your ride. 

The battery lasts for up to 60 hours and is recharged via USB with a magnetic charger connection to both pedals simultaneously, (in the case of dual-sided pedals)  All electronics are sealed within the pedal axle. Look offers a robust warranty and an extended, graduated three year crash replacement warranty on the pedals as well. 

The X-Trac Power Meter Pedals weigh 404 grams per pair and are $759.00 USD for the single-sided version and $1.099.00 USD for the dual-sided version. (NOTE: Information from LOOK"s press release)

New Podcast Alert:  Episode #40 "Marketplace Blues":

The Guitar Ted Podcast is back again with another episode. This time N.Y. Roll and I cover the woes facing the bicycle retail trade and what effects we are noting in regard to that.

The lack of consumer interest in deep discounting and the desire, on some folks part, for the industry to fail are puzzling factors which may lead to dire consequences for both businesses and consumers down the road. 

However it all shakes out, this will be an ongoing issue facing all of us throughout 2024 and possibly beyond. 

If you want to check out the episode, where I had to edit out five minutes of the recording due to N.Y. Roll dropping two F-bombs, you can check that out HERE or wherever you listen to podcasts from. Just search for "The Guitar Ted Podcast". 

If you go to the Spotify podcast page for The Guitar Ted Podcast, there is an interactive poll and question where you can leave feedback. Check it out. Or as always, you can comment here or leave me a message on email at 

Trek To Announce 10% Company-wide Cuts:

In an article posted late Tuesday evening on "Bicycle Retailer and Industry News", it was revealed that the news outlet had obtained a private inner-office communication from Trek's President, John Burke which is claimed to have stated that the big retailer is set to cut spending across the board by 10%. Furthermore, inventory stock levels are to be trimmed by 40% by 2026 over what they are now. 

In the communique, it is claimed that Burke mentions that Trek has not met any of its sales goals for the past 15 months. Apparently cuts will be made in spending and in positions by today, so I would expect to hear something today or over the weekend. 

This tracks with what we said in the podcast (link above) and furthermore, Trek is planning on reducing choices in its catalog, another point we mentioned as well. 

Comments: When Trek announced a sale last year about this time and never ended it, I figured that they were quietly suffering some negative numbers. Now it would seem that they can no longer suffer the bad marketplace and economy without tightening their belts. This is a big deal. Trek is a bellwether company in terms of the US market and if they are not doing well you can bet no one is doing well. 

It would also seem , by what is claimed in the article, that we might have to expect this poor market through 2025, or most of it. Also, I would submit that new introductions will be minimal until the market clears up, and as we mentioned in the podcast, sponsorships will surely dry up across the board. 

Image courtesy of Wolf Tooth.

Wolf Tooth Announces "Raw Silver" Components:

Wolf Tooth Components, who are seemingly always coming out with some new finish for their stuff, now has this "Raw Silver" finish you can choose. 

Wolf Tooth says it is a "clean, bright silver tone that looks like polished, un-anodized aluminum." The finish should compliment many builds and look right at home on a classic bike or build that seeks to get that vibe.

Comments: Silver ano or this? I'd have to see this side-by-side with silver anodized stuff to know. Or is this like Ritchey Design's "Classic" components? Those are really shiny and silver. Hard to say, but renderings and images coming out of Wolf Tooth make me think more "matte silver" than anything polished.

Image courtesy of Ritchey Design.

Ritchey Design Announces Comp Buzzard Bar:

Speaking of Ritchey Design... The component and frame manufacturer now offers a bikepacking/commuter/off-road bar with ergonomic features and a really wide width. 

The bar is crafted out of 6061 aluminum alloy and has a 70mm rise with a 27.5° backsweep. The bar measures a wide 820mm. The Comp Buzzard is also compatible with bar ends. The price is an affordable $49.95 and is available now. 

Comments: Another excelent choice in a bar for more relaxed, fun riding. The Comp Buzzard should feel awesome as that angle of sweep is in the pocket for the best comfort and control, in my opinion. The width is.....crazy! I'd likely cut them back a bit for my uses, but if you need the room for a front bag, it should accommodate you well at 820mm. 

To my mind I see this as a fat bike bar, since big leverage is good in snow and helps you relax while trying to get the balance between control and letting the bike go where it wants to a bit more easily. That said, I will not put a bar on my fat bike unless it is carbon due to my experiences in cold weather where carbon is superior to metal. Give me a carbon Buzzard and I'd seriously consider it for my fat bike.

That's a wrap on this week's FN&V. Thank you for reading Guitar Ted Productions! I hope that you get a ride or three in this weekend!


NY Roll said...

not a fully fleshed out thought but maybe the bike industry and the fast changing standards on BBs, Axles, Thru Axle, Hibs, gear ranges and disc brakes 6 bolt vs ISO has created customenr fatigue on Durable goods, and the market has forgotten that. In fact they are treating their products as expendable? But the customer is complete opposite area? Why would they want to keep buying when the perception and current thought is constant change? Customer fatigue may have set in? Amongst other things.


Guitar Ted said...

@ N.Y. Roll - File under: "We should be podcasting this!"

You definitely have a good point. As I read more and more about this inventory/soft sales epidemic affecting the bicycle industry, I also feel like the entire industry is a sort of Ponzi scheme where brands keep changing colors and styles slightly to entice new-to-the-market buyers so that they can create these halo products like 12K MTB's and gravel bikes for the nerds of cycling to drool over.

COVID prompted an unprecedented number of the lower end consumers to buy into cycling. They now do not *need* new product and likely will not for years. This has clogged up the supply chain which, in the past, required a certain number of these return sales or new sales to occur on a yearly basis. (See flat sales numbers all throughout the twenty-teens) Now that the "supply of buyers" has been spent all at once (COVID), we won't likely see anything close to the entry level purchasing we were used to seeing for many years. And even then, will those people ever come back?

Youth are not into outdoor activities. News and information is available now to everyone that tells us that we should be wary of business after COVID. And yes- that "fatigue" of the vicious cycle of more gears, new standards, and new designs is wearing quite thin now.

Added to this is the mechanic who is online grousing about how poorly the latest gear is from SRAM and to some extent, Shimano. I just now finished reading a mechanic's thread before posting this comment that had several mechanics explaining that SRAM 12spd NX did not work right out of the box and that GX worked, but was marginal. This is a world where as a company you cannot afford that sort of detail to be leaked out to the general public, but this is also not the 1980's. Companies need to adjust accordingly.

Take John Burke's internal memo to his minions that was - planned, or unplanned - a defacto public statement that Trek was laying off employees. (which has been confirmed by social media postings from recent fired employees.)

It's a mess out there!

ENB said...

Good thought NY Roll and good follow-up thoughts GTed! Definitely make this your next Podcast and recurring theme.

Also watched youtuber bike farmer's reaction video today and he hits the nail on the head that outside the 1% enthusiast market, no one cares about standards but cares about purchase cost (most people want a serviceable bike well south of $1K) and basic tune-up maintenance costs (i.e. $125 tune-up with +$45 to change rear derailleur cable because "internal routing").

Maybe I'm lucky but the used mountain bike I bought this year has SRAM 12spd NX and it is just fine.

thx for the content as always and please keep it up

scottg said...

GT said:"COVID prompted an unprecedented number of the lower end consumers to buy into cycling. They now do not *need* new product and likely will not for years."

So COVID is the 70s bike boom redux, lots of bike purchased that then become garage ornaments, but at least the bikes aren't rubbish this time.
Those garage ornaments then go on FBM as a cheap and cheerful source of
transport bikes, finally bikes for regular folks.

And GT, American youth have been a disappoint to the their elders
since 1840, when the first book decrying the miserable state of
American education was published.

Guitar Ted said...

@scottg - Doesn't matter if these COVID bikes are better or worse quality if they are sitting around in garages and storage sheds. I cruise Facebook marketplace for bicycles on the regular to see if what we are doing at the Cedar Valley Bicycle Collective is relevant or not and I see a LOT of upper end product, but the late model $400 -$600 hybrids are pretty scarce. We don't see a lot of riders around here using bicycles as we did during COVId, so.... In my humble opinion, those bicycles are just sitting around.

Of course, getting any hard data to prove that will be just as difficult as it would have been in 1980 to gauge how many 70's era bicycles were just sitting around. But I can say with some authority, (since we see a LOT of them come in as donations), that 70's era "bike boom" bicycles are still out there gathering dust.

I'm willing to bet that COVID era bicycles will be a similar situation. Could be wrong.... But history says no.

And as far as the youth go, ridership numbers are down. That's fact around here, not speculation. I suspect that due to a lack of safe routes to schools that this is not a localized issue. I'm not inferring the youth are lazy, miserable, etc, so let's not even go there.

If you've got ridership data that says otherwise I'm willing to modify my take.

scottg said...

Our club membership is now higher than pre pandemic,
but not as high as during ye olde Lance era.

Barry said...

I recently went to my local Trek shop (Which as an aside I live in the 59th largest city in the US and its main LBS only carries Trek. I can't even test ride a Specialized with 40 miles of my house.) Probably 60% of the inventory was eMTB. The only non-MTB electic bikes were crappy a couple of crappy Electras. There were almost no road or gravel bikes on the floor. $1000-$1500 were nearly non-existent.

If Trek can't sell bikes, at least part of the problem is the bikes they've decided to sell.

Guitar Ted said...

@Barry - I noted a lot of eBikes in our local Trek dealer as well. Not a lot of hybrids. Trek is really pushing electric bicycles and has been for the past eight years or so.