Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Punish the Customer

Maybe it's the same in all industries, but the bike industry is the one I work in.

Manufacturers are always punishing the customer to some degree for trusting them.

Shimano has been my pet example for years, changing specs willy-nilly, purportedly for improvement. The improvement has been subject to debate. Some are, some aren't.

Buyers of lower end bikes get punished more often.

Right now I'm trying about to adjust a cup-and-cone conventional bottom bracket. The fixed cup is probably loose, based on the amount of play and the amount of adjustable cup visible on the left side. In the old days, the fixed cup would have wrench flats. Tightening it that way would not be ideal, but it would suffice for a quick tuneup on a low end bike. It would add seconds to the job, so we could absorb it.

With the common use of sealed bottom brackets, low-end models come with fake sealed BBs. The fixed and adjustable cups have splines like a cartridge unit. To tighten the fixed side, I now have to pull the crankarm off and use a cartridge BB tool. We either have to eat the longer labor time or pass the charge along to the customer.

The BBs are functionally no better than the old ones with wrench flats. They're just harder to service.

Way to have my back, Bike Industry!

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