Bicycle, Bicycle Diagnosis, Bicycle Maintenance, Bicycle Repair, Bicycles, Bicycles for Transportation, Bicycling, Bike Commuters, Bike Commuting, Bike Industry, Bike Mechanics, Bike Repair, Bike Shops, Bike Store, Biking, COGS- Cost Of Goods Sold, COVID 19, Digging Through The Trash, Land Fills, Recycling, Trash to Treasure
Cogs are an essential element of bicycles. When chains link front chainrings to rear sprockets bicycles allow us to convert muscle power into joy filled motion. Having worked in bike shops for 34 years I am accustomed to people looking at high end bikes and declaring, “How much?! I could buy a car for that!” Though typically hyperbolic, it’s a rare bike that enters five figure land, $8,000 bikes are expensive and yes I have seen bikes that cost more than a 2020 Chevy Spark including one special order bike that ran $24,000.
Price, or COGS, is another element of cycling. As with seemingly every consumer product the COGS, or cost of goods sold, can seem mind bogglingly counterintuitive. How can all the little bits and pieces add up to so much more than the price of a complete bicycle? How can a $500 bicycle require $300 in maintenance?
The COGS of cogs, the after market pricing on all the little bits and pieces that bicycles require, is daunting. Customers can have a real eye opener when they roll a bike that’s in need of new tires and tubes into a shop and discover that the bill for installing a pair of inexpensive kicks on that vintage beater will nick them a hundred bucks.
Repair and maintenance COGS results in a trickle of discarded bikes. It’s tough for folks to pony up an additional $200 to make that “bargain” hundred dollar used bike they just scored on Craigslist or a local garage sale safe and rideable. Perceived value and repair bills that are a large fraction of the original purchase price leads to a lot of folks discarding their broken bikes because they deem it wiser to discard the old and purchase new rather than sinking money into a repair.
Working in a bike shop means I am the occasional beneficiary of folks discarding their broken bikes. A lot of these neglected bicycles need hours of TLC but not a lot of repair parts. With patience I can usually take parts from two or even three discarded old bikes and create a bike that’s a joy to ride.
In my off hours I’ll strip a bike down to the bare frame, honing seat tubes and fork steerers, removing oxidation from seatposts, stems, handlebars and cranks, cleaning and lubing the derailleurs, chains, cogs and brakes, packing new grease into bearings and replacing old gear and brake cables with new. It’s a lot of work and even though I loose a little money on each transaction I make it up in volume.
I gain a great degree of satisfaction from spinning straw into gold or making great bikes from old but no matter how deftly I move the puzzle pieces sometimes I just gotta buy some new cogs for the reconditioning. Tires, tubes, brake pads, rear gears and chains as well as the afore mentioned gear and brake cables are all wear items that sometimes need to be new rather than reconditioned. It was the need to purchase brake pads for some disc brakes that provided the impetus for today’s dissertation on COGS of cogs.
The bike in question has good quality but not expensive disc brakes. The bike’s Avid BB7 Road G2 mechanical disc brakes run around $90 each and the tiny round puck of a pad on otherwise fine brakes were completely worn out. (Fortunately the shop where I work had pads in stock which is a whole nother COVID times discussion.) Pads ran $20 per wheel. A lower quality Avid brake that uses the same pads costs twice that. How can pads cost half as much as a brake?
COGS pricing is definitely counterintuitive.
By the way, once I got the new pads installed she not only goes like a dream she stops well too.
I’ll keep doing my best to keep bikes out of landfills and I hope we’ll all keep riding.