Interesting experience recently, having decided to purchase a new bike.
The bike in question is a Canadian brand, retails at around US$3.5k. The same spec in UK£3.5k. So if I purchased the bike stateside, I would have paid equivalent to around £2.2k. Ok, given the (perceived) hassle of bringing a bike in the country, I figured I could probably beat the UK price doing a self build, and ordered the frame, forks and wheelset locally, then started looking around for components.
Given my job takes me to the US frequently, I thought I would order the parts in the US, and simply pick them up. Well, I could not beat Chain Reaction cycles, or Wiggle prices. At minimum, online prices were 20% cheaper than US counterparts.
End of the day, I have have managed to get the bike plus parts at just under £3.2k. Ok, its a distance from the US$2.2k for the bike, but I did get the spec I wanted, including a few luxuries eg, uppy downy seatpost. Granted, I have to build the bike, but that's sort of part of the pleasure.
Historically, I have been under the impression that a factory build would always be cheaper than a home build, given a stock spec. I managed to negotiate a small discount for the frame/fork/wheel combo, but the rest of the savings came from online discounts.
So whats the deal with US OEM bikes, that the build price is significantly cheaper, but purchasing components in the US seems to be really expensive? Is this a cultural thing, we are more likely to build / fix our own bikes than our US counterparts? Or economics, given that components largely come from China / Japan, bike manufacturers get big discounts on components, that don't filter down to the customer.
For what its worth, if I took into consideration the extra expense for tools, and other bits required for a self-build, its unlikely I could beat a retailer for a complete bike. Which is a bit sad. It cancels an option for those who are willing to invest the time and effort (and pleasure) of a self build, while saving a few of those hard earned shekels.