What happened to the price of forks?
Not quite the grumpy old man question it first appears (despite what I am about to say!). And despite being a staunch remainer and working in a business being put perilously into the red by recent currency woes, please the answer isn’t just ‘thanks Brexit’ before we start!
Just looking at the new Lyrik review on the front page. £1,000 for a set of forks is a lot, and I know that isn’t even the most you can pay.
So, R&D and marketing aside, why have forks shot up in value so much? Once tooling costs are recovered the basic materials and manufacturing at scale aren’t so huge, and the other overheads are (inflation aside) broadly the same as ever (a manufacturer, a distributor, a retailer).
Back ‘in the day’ (and here’s where I risk sounding like a grumpy old man!), a Rock Shox RS1 was a couple of hundred £s. When Fox released their first Float and Vanilla the going rate jumped to £400ish.
But what happened to make a decent fork so expensive? Genuine question rather than an invite for a rant.
In round numbers:
£1,000 less vat = £830
less retailer margin (40-50% at a guess?) = £580
less distributor margin (30% at a guess?) =£450
Leaving the manufacturer £450 to play with even allowing for everybody making a living. Manufacturing costs can’t be that high even at scale surely? Not working in the bike business I might have my numbers totally wrong so feel free to correct me!
Margins aside, when compared to ‘tech’ items, the R&D doesn’t even compare, but despite being guilty of spending far too much on my bikes, £1,000+ forks are starting to take the biscuit. Even compared to other bike parts (group sets being a good example of complex parts at a seemingly lower cost), forks are relatively expensive.
So, when did forks get so expensive, and how do they justify the price?Posted 3 years ago
Check the rrp of all other forks, shocks, droppers etc….Posted 3 years ago
I get that, but unlike many other products forks do seem to stick close to the RRP. That’s another element of the question I guess. Having been in and around retailer for most of my career I am very sceptical about ‘savings’ and RRPs but it is rare (other than discounts on last year’s models) to see much discount on forks.Posted 3 years ago
First up (Brexit will play a part in prices….)
Next they have a RS have a 2 level set up with very decent forks in their 2nd Tier Yari/Rev vs Lyrik/Pike
What that has let them do is offer a premium product and then offer the same thing 2 years later with some heavier bits as another fork Fox are running 3 levels now I think.
I’m sure I paid about £500 for these back in 05
So inflation, VAT rises and weak pound add a bit to it (Inflation calculator has them at £710 now)
A solo Yari is between 450 and 600 now.Posted 3 years ago
Enduro.Posted 3 years ago
Cycling became aspirational.
Awful, isn’t it?
Too many who appear to judge themselves and others by purchases and labels rather than actions and intent.
I much preferred it when it was mostly the choice of the impoverished eccentric.Posted 3 years ago
Well let’s sort out the costings shops are actually between 25/30% margin my be abit more of there selling high volume from the same supplier, probably same again for the supplier and then my be more for fox,rockshox etc actual manufacturing cost is probably around £80/120 per unit.
But over all I do agree with you they are cost prohibitive these days I’ve actually been trying other brands here and Here since fox and rockshox shot up in price.
Xfusion are pretty good for the cash and Ive now got the new MrP ribbons very impressed but they are the coil option so there gonna feel different to air which they do.
But then this could open a whole can of worms up.
We all remember when santcruz alloy frames where about £1100 and that was only around 8/9 years ago! now there over 3k for a plastic ones and I personally can’t see the justification in those prices!Posted 3 years ago
We all remember when santcruz alloy frames where about £1100 and that was only around 8/9 years ago! now there over 3k for a plastic ones and I personally can’t see the justification in those prices!
Now I was looking at those back then….
The single pivots were about that price back then (cheaper than the equivalent Orange 5)
I think the VPP ones were always more, the Alloy Bronson is now £1900 so factor in inflation to that price….
What that does tell me is that Alloy frames are going up with inflation and currency shifts. You can probably compare a RS Yari to that which is pitching in about the same as the older tech forks.
What has come in is a higher performance, race/top end/elite level that is open to buy for everyone, you obviously don’t have to buy it and can buy what will be a very good alu frame, with a quality fork for a resonable price.Posted 3 years ago
A soft rabbit we sell that was £9.99 12 years ago is now £17.99.
I really can’t see why it has gone up that much, I just think they are putting prices up just because they can.Posted 3 years ago
Because they can is probably the answer.
The original trio of usable early 90’s forks were between £299 and £349 from memory (RS Mag 20, Pace RC35, Manitou 1). Fast forward to 2006ish and my Pace RC40’s cost about £399, as did the main competition.
It seemed to go bonkers after that when Fox became the must have fork and the competition fell away. They put prices up year on year. That was halted when SRAM got hold of RS, produced some decent/class leading forks and then let the market get flooded with heavily discounted stock. Once they became established though they followed Fox lead and we are where we are.
That’s how I see it anyway.Posted 3 years ago
I tend to favour the smaller companies when it comes to suspension . I have just killed a set of MRP stage forks they j had for 2 years. I just bough a set of Manitou Mattoc pro’s for £265 from CRC. I didn’t buy them because they were cheap initially but I was reading a 39 page forum page on MTBR and the universal thinking was that they are bloody awesome. So a no brainer really.
I’m not averse to throwing money at some things but I do have a soft spot for small underdog companies pushing good products.Posted 3 years ago
I think this sums up the cycling manufacturing and cost to consumer market.
Unlike other bicycle component manufacturers, Suntour did not charge what the market would bear, but instead charged a price that covered costs of production plus a small profit markup. As a result, a Suntour derailleur costing $10 competed against similar level products from Campagnolo ($40) and Shimano ($20). As Suntour derailleurs and shifters could be specified on many more low- and mid-priced bicycles, the company gained a reputation with the general public as a producer of only low-end equipment. This reputation would eventually hurt sales when Suntour introduced a complete high-end component group,
I think some of the process wire for older girls above are a little off to be honest.
My Pace rc37s cost me £600 new, Z1s we’re about 400, Boxxers were around a grand, Judy Sls were 400+
This is all late 90s. Adding in inflation that’s really not much of an increase for modern equivalents, especially when you consider how shit they mostly were.Posted 3 years ago
. Fast forward to 2006ish and my Pace RC40’s cost about £399, as did the main competition.
Once they became established though they followed Fox lead and we are where we are.
Where we are is a place with some really good forks in that inflation adjusted 4-500 market that Fox & RS are happy to produce – Fox taking on Marz means they have another avenue for their products
For 80-90% of riders the new range of mid level forks would be perfect and do the job asked of them, if you look at the top end as the race/xtr type product just & ignore them stuff looks very resonable again.
Also knowing how many of the RC40’s that died and had to go back until they refunded them anything modern is a worthy successor.Posted 3 years ago
Could be because mid range forks got so good and quite pricey as a result they have to charge more for the high end stuff to differentiate it even though the performance gain over the mid range ones might not be that obvious.Posted 3 years ago
I was a Santa Cruz fan boy so your right single pivot was around £1000
the the link actuated single pivot nickle ext was around £1450 and the. The bop where about £1660 give or take options so in real terms the new alloy ones are pretty fair considering 8/9 years etc.
But then I’m now on a steel production privee Shan no5 £1500 or so with a top flight fox shox! Makes you wonder what is happening over all as privee are not a big company so can’t be making the volume last that the big players are!Posted 3 years ago
It seems to be one of those things that ebbs and flows, I mean the first thing is that RS is always heavily discounted, even now those £1k forks are ‘only’ £880 on CRC, I’d bet they’re significantly cheaper in a few months of if you’re buying them by the hundred to put on new bikes.
Inflation and currency plays a big part. I remember buying a set of 888 WC Ti forks for £750 in 2008, RRP was £1000 or so, 6 months later when the £ took a shit they were £1100, RRP had lept to £1400, the following year they were £650 with an RRP of £800
But in this case it’s lore likely to be RSs usual sales MO, a high RRP and big discounts to give a perception of a bargain, they’ll be for sale in the £600 range by Xmas would be my guess.Posted 3 years ago
Cycling became aspirational
Oh do behave, mountain biking has always been aspirational , other forms : less so.Posted 3 years ago
Don’t forget that a modern fork is night and day compared to one from a few years back – way better airspring and damping, which carries cost, often more complex manufacturing processes (see dimple machining for one tiny example), better materials etc etc.
And of course the big players have moved on to become proper businesses now rather than just monetised enthusiast lifestyle businesses, so the correct price and profitability controls are in place, which is a good thing as it ensures long term viability and profitability of the companies.
Try a new Lyrik or 36 compared to something from even 5 years ago and you’ll see just how much better it is. And of course there’s also the Yari etc which offer near top tier performance but at “trickle down” pricing.Posted 3 years ago
Retailer margin 40-50% !!!
No where near that much, worked in the industry for 15 years
But agree 1k for a single crown fork is silly……Posted 3 years ago
In a market for luxury goods, price is not determined by cost of production, it’s largely based on what the market will standPosted 3 years ago
Sorry to hijack , batman tell me about the coil MRP please .. Initaly said yes to them due to mtbr feedback and being coil curious again .. No stock till early September so testing the new DT fork .
Will be coming from Deville Airs .. how different are you finding them ? .. loved my old Coil LyriksPosted 3 years ago
My RC40’s were ace. All the direct competition at the time hit a similar price point for their go to fork and had done for years. Yes, you could buy expensive down hill or fancy pants versions but the standard premium options hovered around £300/400 for 15+ years. In the last 10 years prices for the standard premium option have shot up.
By standard premium I’m talking about the type of fork the majority of people would want on their mass appeal bike so 92 RC35’s, 95 RS Judy, 98 Z1’s, 05 Fox Float, 10 RS Revs, 15 RS Pike etc.Posted 3 years ago
I wonder if a big part of it is that more people buy an off the shelf bike now, with an OEM fork already installed. The £lots sticker price for the halo product super fork in a retail box is almost then a way of making the OEM fork seem worth more when a consumer is doing the mental maths in the shop/spec’ing something up on the internet. This bike comes with a RS Pike XYZ retail RRP = x so rest of bike cost is cost – x. We all know the OEM spec stuff (even with the same spec level) tends to be corner cut in some way, but its a mind trick innit.
The death of standards though, you buy a complete bike not a pile of parts to bolt together, so the forks for sale in a shop are an “upgrade” for most, not an actual part.
Sorry if this is a little rambling. Am full of painkillers.Posted 3 years ago
not just forks but everything else. You can’t blame brexit as the cost in the states has gone up too. The rrp of forks has always been high I think we are just seeing less discount from it than normal. I paid 500 for pikes 3 years ago but unless you get them in a sale at CRC I’d have to pay 150 more. That being said my mattocs were only £300Posted 3 years ago
A soft rabbit we sell that was £9.99 12 years ago is now £17.99
Cost of batteries gone up?Posted 3 years ago
What’s a soft rabbit?Posted 3 years ago
Annoyingly the public are easily parted from their cash, so for many idiots, they’ll pay that and not question it…manufacturers are quite happy with these prices as they make more (given popularity of the sport there are more people in the target market so more sell). Not enough people not buying at those prices.
Performance has improved but not at the amount the prices justify.Posted 3 years ago
they’ll pay that and not question it
You can question it as much as you like, you still have to pay it if you want to buy them. Companies are run by profiteering capitalists who aim to squeeze as much out of the customer as they can get away with. Doesn’t happen in Venezuela or North Korea, AKA The Workers’ Paradise.Posted 3 years ago
Doesn’t happen in Venezuela or North Korea, AKA The Workers’ Paradise.
How much are forks/mtbs in North Korea?Posted 3 years ago
What’s a soft rabbit?
A disappointment?Posted 3 years ago
A soft rabbit we sell that was £9.99 12 years ago is now £17.99.
Maybe due to r&d that have turned soft rabbits into hard ones that can now vibrate might be a major factor in that.
I believe that it was Fox that set the standard for pricing bitd when they started out when tech was increasing time and time again.
I don’t however believe that RS demand a grand for a mass produced fork unless they’re factoring in the associated warranty costs.Posted 3 years ago
If the big players were raking it in with mega margins and making a reliable, well performing fork with good servicing and spares support was so easy then we’d be swimming in great budget fork brands, capitalism would find a way.
That we’re not suggests that things may not be as easy and profitable as they appear from the outside.Posted 3 years ago
capitalism would find a way.
To do what? Maximise profits?
That we’re not suggests that things may not be as easy and profitable as they appear from the outside.
Or that the consumer is having their pants pulled down?Posted 3 years ago
Or that the consumer is having their pants pulled down?
Yep that is why they only produce top of the line forks and offer no choice at all. They don’t do a version that is a little heavier for the same money inflation corrected as people said was about right 10-15 years ago. They certainly don’t make way more reliable forks these days…
Happy here trousers and pants intact and up.Posted 3 years ago
All the money goes into marketing. SR Suntour make some fantastic forks at prices well below the likes of Fox, but I don’t hear much bout them and see even fewer.
And the value of the £ hasn’t helped. I paid about £320 for new 29″ Pikes from Germany and replaced them with the then newly revised MRP Stage for £600 which seemed like an eye-watering amount of money at the time. Don’t see me replacing them any time soon.Posted 3 years ago
I’d guess that dealer margins are under 20% on accessories and as low as 5% on bikes based on time I spent working in sales in another niche hobby. The importer makes the big money, in our case it was close to 40%.Posted 3 years ago
The importer makes the big money, in our case it was close to 40%.
Or has the chance to make that, before a discount, before shipping out the over ordered bikes you have been holding all year, after paying up front for the kit and running the demo’s while dealing with any issues 😉 Then you have the sales reps doing their thing. Margin is not profit.
I’ve had some huge margin sales on stuff but the cost of selling it and the volume soon make that a much smaller numberPosted 3 years ago
Almost all of my bike is made up of second hands parts including the carbon frame.
The Pikes I have are also second-hand. I just couldn’t afford new forks at the time i built the bike or now to be honest.
The Classifieds on here (and Pink Bike to a degree) are a God send to be honest.Posted 3 years ago
Recently bought some very nice fox 34s for 240 quid and last year a set of Yaris for about 325 or 350?
Dunno what you’re on about tbh. Who’s paying RRP?Posted 3 years ago
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