Not sure yet whether my Christmas carbon fork and bib shorts order made it in in time to be shipped or did not.
I say shucks. I have been a fan of John's black-label bicycle hardware business, selling gear comparable to high-end branded gear for a fraction of the cost. After years of buying small things here and there, I finally last year splurged on a fully built semi-custom bike for P__, a beautiful Neuvation FC600 with Ultegra 6800 and blue accents on the bike and wheels. I have had in the back of my mind the plan to do so for myself but never got around to it.
One wonders what was the final straw. The missive is ambiguous -- "I'm not at liberty to discuss the details" could refer to the decision to close or could refer to the plans to open a new shop focussing on wheel-building. My guess, based largely on his own frequent commentary, is that John's business plan, which relied on arbitraging the spread between cost and retail price that branded bikes enjoy, could not keep up with online discounting, and he was unable to convince enough customers that a word like "Cervelo," "Trek," or "Cannondale" printed 17 times on a frameset in bling fonts added precisely zero tangible value. I don't know how much John actually took home on the $2100 carbon monocoque with Ultegra 11-speed that I bought P__, but it couldn't be much -- and he had rent to cover, two employees to compensate, and the other business expenses that can't be trivial. For example, insurance expenses for small bike/parts manufacturers must be a bear. Of those expenses, rent is the only one that scales very well.
Thus, I feel a certain regret that I only shopped Neuvation's fire sales. We all talk about supporting the LBS, but the same might be said for hidden gems that are in no sense local. (Neuvation was based in San Luis Obispo, California. I only once made it to the shop, over Thanksgiving week 2013.) In my experience most LBSs are annoying; one isn't quite worth their time unless planning to spend at least $5000 on a bike. I never got that vibe from John, who happily shipped me a gorgeous $250 frameset and even took the time to compliment me on my build job after I sent him a picture.
On the upside, this will save me a solid 15' daily surfing his website for bargains.
Monday, January 6, 2014
Neuvation is Closed
Neuvation Cycling is closing. According to John Neugent's daily missive,