25 September, 2014

Frame Pricing, Shipping, and So On

You may have noticed that our frame prices went up a little recently, by about $20. Yet the delivered cost of the frames is lower because we got rid of the $25 extra shipping charge on frames. Shipping is still not free, but the max you'll pay to have a frame delivered in the continental USA is $19, (unless you live way way out in the sticks and it has to come by bush plane or something.)

We did this to simplify our shipping cost structure and make it easier to understand and transparent. Basically, if you live in the continental USA you get free shipping on orders over $100, except on oversize items (Those are frames and wheels.) which incur a maximum shipping charge of $19.

If you live outside of the lower 48 we charge the actual shipping cost. We ask that you place your order so our incredible shipping staff can weigh it and determine the smallest box it will fit in (because box size is often more important than weight in determining cost). We'll calculate shipping using one or more carriers and send you an e-mail with the charges, usually with different options for speed and cost. You can pick one or cancel the order.
Unlike some companies we don't try to profit from shipping. We don't add some random percentage to the actual shipping charges (though we may round up to the nearest dollar). We don't charge a handling fee. We don't have a restocking fee for returns. And we ship most orders within 24 hours. Our shipping fees on smaller items are based on what the average shipping cost for a package of that value is. In the end it all averages out.

Speaking of frame prices, they'll probably go up next year due to manufacturing cost increases. Our frames are made in the same factory and out of the same tubing and by the same craftsmen as some frames costing more than twice times as much, though, to be fair, you do get more curlicues with some of those. VO frames also cost about the same as some frames that come nowhere near the quality of ours (and it really annoys me when people compare our frames to those). Anyway, it's always been my philosophy to charge what I consider to be a fair profit, not what the market will bear.

Finally, we offer a three year warranty on our frames. Even great steel frames do, very rarely, crack or break, and it's often really hard to tell why it happens. For example, a customer cracked a dropout on a VO frame; we sent him a new frame. He cracked the dropout on the replacement! Those are the only two dropout problems we've seen in the thousands of frames we've sold--and we still have no idea why it happened.

I just wanted to say one more thing about VO frames. I think what makes them special is the way they ride and handle. For me, at least, everything else, except decent build quality, come very far behind ride and handling when it comes to choosing a bike frame. And that's why we're a bit obsessed with ordering multiple prototypes and testing them for many months.


Crayons said...

The transparency is always appreciated. Thanks for being honest and dedicated to what's important

JP said...

"VO frames also cost about the same as some frames that come nowhere near the quality of ours (and it really annoys me when people compare our frames to those)."

Can you speak more to this point? I can guess at some of the companies you might be referring to, but when I look at those bikes in shops, they look nice to my untrained eye (used to riding old, non-fancy bikes). What is the quality difference here that I should better understand?

VeloOrange said...

JP, Early on we ordered a small production run of frames from a factory that makes many frames for other companies in our price range, frames that you've almost certainly seen. (Our factory was running way behind.) We ended up returning over 1/3rd of them. We found paint that chipped very easily, incorrectly faced and chased BBs and head tubes, overheated tubes, pinholes in the brazing, and poor alignment. Several headtubes wrinkled when we installed headsets. I've spoken with mechanics that confirm that these problems are common with some bikes. But they do look nice on the bike shop floor.