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EDITORIAL

Are We On The Cusp Of Transferable Warranties?

Words Andrew Major
Photos Deniz Merdano (Unless Noted)
Date Feb 25, 2022
Reading time

T-Boned

"Did you read Trevor's review of the Norco Range e-bike?" No, I'm definitely not the target market for that piece. "Oh, it's just that in fifty rides he broke the frame, had two batteries replaced under warranty, and then had the motor replaced under warranty as well but only after doing a series of tests to prove there was something wrong with it, and he still recommended the bike. What do you think about that?" Uh, I think I should probably read his review.

Trevor points out that he actually only had one battery replaced under warranty, he “experienced battery failure twice” but once was a user error*. I’ll also note he didn't actually break the frame, but Norco did replace a seat stay assembly to resolve a tolerance issue leading to bearing slop. That's a guaranteed warranty replacement to the first owner. If someone purchased a used Range VLT and had the same issue they could probably save themselves from an expensive replacement bill by applying a few cents worth of sleeve retainer. The rest, for anyone who didn't read Trevor's Range VLT review, is true though. Yes, a motor and a battery, all replaced under the manufacturers' warranties against defects in materials and workmanship.

*An earlier version of this piece suggested two batteries had been replaced -Ed.

Maybe that's all well and good for the original owner with the 3-year frame warranty, 2-year Shimano STEPS motor warranty, and 1-year battery warranty on the 13,000 CAD Norco Range VLT but hang on a moment. If you bought the bike used, a Shimano STEPS Ep8 motor is 1420 CAD out of warranty. The 900Wh batteries that T-Bone was using are 1700 CAD a piece from Norco. What happens six months from now when Trevor's obsession with being faster than Cam forces him to upgrade to an e-bike with the next generation drive system? How much of that 13,000 CAD sticker price is the next sucker going to absorb with the spectre of 1.5K motors and 1.7K batteries hovering in the background?

full bike...smoothie.jpg

Out-of-warranty repair? Replacement motor 1420 CAD. Replacement battery 1700 CAD. Alternative-to-replacement seat stay assembly 20.50 CAD. Difference between used sale price and cost of new e-bike when Cam upgrades and is faster than you again? Sorry Trevor.

E-Influences

The influence eMTBs have had on mountain bikes in general is massive. And here I'm not weighing in on the culture shift from human powered to battery-assisted bicycling but specifically the meat-powered mountain bicycles themselves. I have, of course, come armed with examples. My favourite is single crown steerer units (CSU - steerer tube, crown, and stanchions) that don't creak. Once we went from riders in certain geographical areas regularly creaking CSUs to riders everywhere, suddenly there was motivation for suspension companies to cut their warranty rates by adding a few grams and expending some engineering time getting it sorted. Folks are still making their CSUs creak, but the numbers are way down, especially if you take the hit and buy an e-bike rated fork. Yes, I too think 'e-bike rated' shoes, helmets, chamois, and so on are stupid. But e-bike rated forks have made a difference.

Another win, for many riders, has been Shimano HG+ shifting. For decades and decades we were expected to let off the pedaling power a bit when shifting gears. Thumbies, triggers, GripShift, or brifters this has been the reality for every multi-speed cycling discipline until electric bikes arrived with the "It's You, Only Faster" battle plan and enough torque to pop chains and crack cogs. Suddenly Shimano is shipping drivetrains that can smoothly shift under 85Nm of load. All the better if the competition's drivetrains can't survive a parking lot test under the same circumstances.

And yes, e-bikes, and specifically accommodating the motor and battery inside a small-person's frame package, are absolutely responsible for the mass adoption of the Trunnion-mount shock but balance that with the fact that budget-friendly full-powered four-piston brake systems are readily available and I take solace in the fact I can still mount my SRAM Code-R, Magura MT5, or Shimano MT420 brakes on a plethora of rigs that haven't been trunnioned.

I also, as a big fan of running mixed wheel sizes Credit e-bikes with the general acceptance of MX/mullet configurations.

Magura MT Trail Sport AndrewM

Don't underestimate the effect that e-bike proliferation has had on the parts now available for all mountain bikes. Magura MT5 brakes are one of my favourite examples. Where previously DH-Race caliber brakes were only available at the premium end of the market the beastly eMTBs have given rise to a number of very powerful four-piston systems for less monies. Photo: Andrew Major

I can't help but wonder if the motored-crowd isn't going to do mountain biking another solid in general. First of all, I envision a battery-powered extension of warranties for e-bike rated products. One year warranty on the CSU for a Fox 38 fork rated for motor assisted bikes? Not if the e-Zeb is covered for two years and I've heard some companies are considering much longer than that.* I don't know about you, but I'd take a 100-200gram hit to double, triple, etc. the warranty for the fork chassis on my 100%-me-powered machine. As more options abound, guaranteed minimum riding hours is an obvious differentiator for drivetrain components, motors, and batteries a like. At least the first product category could benefit everyone riding bikes on the trail.

*Assuming prescribed routine maintenance schedule is followed.

But what's the point of having longer warranty periods if the rapid evolution of power, runtime, and weight savings has the most dedicated e-bikers swapping rigs regularly to stay ahead of their riding friends or put the hurt on the affluent pack at the BCBR Mega Volt race? Flipping mountain bikes frequently can already be a heck of a hit to the pocket book, but what's the battery-powered, pedal-assisted penalty to the resale price? The obvious answer is to make warranties transferable, and if they're going to be transferable for motor-assisted bikes than lets assume the same goes for self-powered peoples.

Let's go two steps further. Lifetime warranty. Who's lifetime, mine or the bikes? If the frame is made to last ten years without defects in manufacturing or materials, within a certain performance window, no matter how much it's ridden and by how many riders, then say that clearly. And let me sell it to my friend, and allow them to sell it to their friend, and so on and if there's a failure due to a defect, like a bad weld, in that time frame then honour it. And aside from manufacturers' warranties, let's get a guarantee for a minimum supported life from last manufacturing date. This stuff is evolving quickly so provide your original customer with the backing so that when they sell their e-bike, the motor, battery, display, and wiring will be available for purchase for X years. I know a fair few folks who recycled suspension forks way too soon because non-Boost chassis were supported for about 3 hrs after the last 100x15mm fork was sold.

Banshee Titan NSMB DenizM (1).jpg

I have no interest in powering any bicycle with anything but my own legs. But, after many creaking CSUs I’ll take the creak-free e-rated SR Suntour Durolux chassis. And I'm a fan of more budget friendly big-brakes like these M6120 Deore stoppers. HG+ shifting is pretty rad too if you’re going to pedal hard through your shifts.

I personally have zero interest in powering a mountain bike with anything but my own leg strength. I am actively against adding a charging port and an expiry date to my play time in the forest. But, I'll happily accept improvements in mountain bike components being driven by blender-equipped mountain bicycles. Vitamix me those beefier higher volume tires, big brakes on a budget, tougher all-steel drivetrains, forks that don't bind or creak, and even a focus on more budget-friendly hub drivers than can take a ton of torque.

So lets say the next new thing is transferable warranties. Who's going to administer that though? The shop the bike was purchased from or the manufacturer? Will there be a nominal admin fee to cover it? Will every part need to be registered individually or could you simply request a receipt from the shop with your name on it instead of the original purchaser's in the event I need to submit leaking brakes, a creaking fork, a dead motor, or a battery that won't hold a charge? I certainly don't know. But I'll bet the first bike company to start offering a transferable warranty will lay it out for us loud and proud and then the industry wide pile on won't take more than a year to catch up.

Who's going to buy a used eMTB with no warranty when they can buy one with warranty and crash replacement support in place? Who's going to buy a used fully person-powered mountain bicycle with no warranty when they can buy one with warranty and crash replacement support in place?

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Comments

Ripbro
Ripbro
9 months, 1 week ago
+7 Andrew Major 4Runner1 Cr4w LWK Rick M kcy4130 Andy Eunson

I listened to the 4+ hour podcast with Chris Porter where he gave his thought in ebikes. I agree with him that ebikes seem like a half finished product with riders forking out big money to be beta testers.

They should absolutely have a transferable warranty. That being said, I’d never buy one used in their present state. Too many things to go wrong, and they will go wrong. I want to be supported by the shop/manufacturer. If they ever get to the point of being reliable, and serviceable at home I’d consider one (I’m hoping around age 60) But if I work on it, I don’t want that to void my warranty…

Reply

craw
Cr4w
9 months, 1 week ago
0 4Runner1 Rick M

I need them to be lighter, quieter, have much longer burn times and have transferable/upgradeable batteries and motors. And still be under $10k. So almost certainly impossible given the current rate of price increases.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
9 months, 1 week ago
0

Hahahaha. 

At the going rate for top end suspension and 400mm dropper posts, could you even buy a non-motor-assist full suspension bike for 10K CAD + Tax?!

My cynical view is that top end non-e-bikes, like the Top Fuel Cooper Quinnduro is testing, are expensive enough now that for the folks buying them the difference between a high end PPMB (person powered mountain bike) and MAMB (motor assisted mountain bike) isn’t a deciding factor for them. 

I think at the highest end of the market the MAMBers will overtake the PPMB sales this year if they haven’t already. In five years, high end non-e-bikes will be the rarity in most every shop.

Reply

craw
Cr4w
9 months, 1 week ago
+3 Velocipedestrian Beau Miller kcy4130

Fair. <15k. I realize my personal non-e bike is close to 15k to buy outright. Except that it's made by a company with deep production pedigree and supports its own 20-year-old frames. It's also cutting edge, modular and fully repairable without requiring trans-pacific container traffic. If I break something on my G1 Nicolai just puts it in the mail (or machines up what is needed from their code on their CNC machines first). The cycles of carbon production combined with changing model years means it's entirely possibly a current ebike will be unsupported within a few years. And that's to say nothing of technological obsolescence. My $15k bought  me a cutting edge somewhat future-proof bike, certainly a lot more so than that VLT.

Reply

xy9ine
Perry Schebel
9 months, 1 week ago
+4 goose8 Andrew Major Velocipedestrian Cr4w

I LOVE the nicolai business model. hugely modifiable / future-proofed via mutators & lots of adjustable bits, robust alu construction & great product support. anti - disposable ethic. 

speaking of which (semi relevant to this topic) - years ago I bought a used nicolai frame - which subsequently developed a crack. dropped them a line & they offered to repair (re-weld, add a gusset, heat treat & repaint w/ color of my choice) - for free. amazing.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
9 months, 1 week ago
+3 Perry Schebel mrbrett Cr4w

I've heard a few really solid customer service stories like that about Nicolai. I guess it's like the Chris King factor - when your warranty rate is tiny you can really go above and beyond.

And yes to repairable bicycles you can own forever. Especially now that good geometry today will still be good in a decade.

velocipedestrian
Velocipedestrian
9 months, 1 week ago
+3 Perry Schebel Beau Miller Cr4w

I've lusted after Nicolai for years Perry, you're not helping.

craw
Cr4w
9 months, 1 week ago
+1 Pete Roggeman

This the first time when I'm coming up on my 2-year anniversary with my G1 and I would usually be getting antsy for a new bike but there is no other bike to buy and certainly none that would do as good a job. I guess I'll wait for the new bike they are making which is ostensibly a blend between the G1 and the Saturn 14ST. That would be cool. Or I'll keep happily riding the G1 forever.

andy-eunson
Andy Eunson
9 months, 1 week ago
+1 Beau Miller

Just remove the motor and battery and fill the battery space with power bars space food and other snacks. All the power you need at hand. Jk. But that’s what I think many people want but it’s not realistic.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
9 months, 1 week ago
+1 Velocipedestrian

Unfortunately, the state of all things seems to be towards less serviceability in general and less user-serviceability to the extreme.

I mean, the number of things I’ve opened (>50% repair rate! Go me!) that said “Do Not Open / Not Serviceable” in the last few years is silly.

I’ve been told it’s more expensive to make something serviceable. For example the threading and tool interfaces on a shock you can pull apart v. one pressed together. It makes sense. But in my experience most things that “aren’t serviceable” actually are. Or would be if parts were available.

Reply

D_C_
DMVancouver
9 months, 1 week ago
+4 Andy Eunson Andrew Major Velocipedestrian Beau Miller

It’s ridiculous. For example, I recently discovered that Rockshox Charger 2.1 dampers are not officially serviceable, and if you do something like tear a bladder (not an uncommon issue), the official fix is a whole new $500 damper rather than a $30 part. 

If you ride a lot, serviceability should definitely be a consideration. Everything breaks eventually.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
9 months, 1 week ago
+1 Beau Miller

The 2.1 bladders are serviceable as in they can be bled. Surprised given how good SRAM is with other service parts (brakes for example) but I’ll confirm that. Cheers!

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
9 months, 1 week ago
+3 Jerry Willows DMVancouver Beau Miller

A Service Center can definitely replace a bladder. You should be order one through a SRAM service center or dealer.

Reply

D_C_
DMVancouver
9 months, 1 week ago
+1 Andrew Major

Thanks for looking into this. From what I was able to determine, bladders on the original Charger dampers were officially replaceable, whereas Charger 2 and 2.1 are not (I spoke to a certain well-regarded RS service centre north of North Vancouver). You can find replacement bladders from various suspension service centres if you look around, but those bladders are not officially available from RS. The response I got was that the damper needs to go back for warranty.

But maybe I'm wrong and just didn't talk to the right people.

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
9 months, 1 week ago
+1 DMVancouver

There's still a lot of weirdness in the service parts world, so something not being available today certainly doesn't mean that it won't be sold to the DIY mechanic in the future. Especially SRAM who, I think, deserve a lot of credit for not just making excellent how-to service content but also selling small parts. 

Anyway, there are a few different generations of bladders but if you check out S4 Suspension they have a bunch listed including a unit for Charger 2/2.1. I checked and Fluid Function doesn't have them listed but it would always be worth an e-mail to those folks as I know folks who've bought bladders in the past for DIY swaps.

realtortechguy
realtortechguy
9 months, 2 weeks ago
+4 Andrew Major Velocipedestrian finbarr Zero-cool

I never really understood the point of why the warranty was only for the first purchaser. Sounds like a new thing you need to champion! 😁

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
9 months, 1 week ago
0

I think it comes down to how much warranty is “good will” v. replacing defective products. Clearly this model would require a bit of an evolution.

Reply

LoamtoHome
Jerry Willows
9 months, 1 week ago
+5 Pete Roggeman Cam McRae Andrew Major Beau Miller Bogey

Specialized has warranty for 2nd owner....  2 yrs I believe. Great article btw.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
9 months, 1 week ago
+1 Beau Miller

Thanks JW!

Yeah, as it turns out Specialized and Trek are ahead of me here… but just frames for now.

Reply

DancingWithMyself
DancingWithMyself
9 months, 1 week ago
0

I've always thought it was primarily to incentivize new bike purchases.

Reply

trumpstinyhands
trumpstinyhands
9 months, 1 week ago
+4 Lynx . LWK Vik Banerjee 4Runner1

I'm going the other way and would say that E-bikes should not have a warranty at all, like dirt bikes mentioned above. The outcry from customers spending $10,000+ on a half-assed product then having to spend 000's more on replacement batteries, motors and wiring looms would force companies to actually do some proper R+D on these bikes. Especially with regards sealing the charging port properly from the elements and not using magnets to hold things in place that also attract contaminants. Seriously, how hard is it to design a proper cover that clamps into place securely???

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
9 months, 1 week ago
0

Dirt bikes, like cars, carry warranties against defects in manufacturing and materials. They warranty doesn’t cover eating shit, but then neither do bike warranties.

Maybe if companies did have transferable warranties more efforts would go into frame design/materials/manufacturing that weighed a touch more but would hold up? Same with your port, if you’re designing the stuff to last we know it’s possible to make a motor/battery that won’t be in the recycling process within 50x rides.

Reply

Znarf
Znarf
9 months, 1 week ago
+3 Andrew Major Andeh Pete Roggeman

RAAW just changed their warranty for frames and bikes over here.

They now offer five year warranty for original and following owners. And crash replacement also.

That’s really cool! And stabilizes value for used frames.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
9 months, 1 week ago
+1 Andy Eunson

That’s sweet. Hopefully in a couple years they can be reminding everyone they were on the bleeding edge offering that?!

I think as bike tech and geo progression slows the new frontier of selling bikes through differentiation is going to be after sale support. Hopefully that’s not just shops trying to make their margin up by selling extended warranties like every other industry.

Reply

shoreboy
Shoreboy
9 months, 1 week ago
+3 kcy4130 Cam McRae Beau Miller

I'm a long time Turner bikes owner, but they are sadly now no longer in the MTB business. They had transferrable warranty on their frames since they started back in the 90's.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
9 months, 1 week ago
+1 Zero-cool

Didn’t know that about Turner. I have a friend with a Burner with the PUSH linkage upgrade and a Fox 36 Float RC2 from that generation. Still a sweet rig. Have thought about doing a little write up on it.

Reply

Vikb
Vik Banerjee
9 months, 1 week ago
+3 Lynx . Beau Miller kcy4130

Turner is still making MTBs...just Ti hardtails at the moment. They come with a 5 year non-transferable warranty now.

Reply

Lynx
Lynx .
9 months, 1 week ago
0

Thanks for the heads up Vik, didn't know they were still doing anything bike related. The Ti HT frame looks pretty good, geo could work, but if I'm spending Ti $$, I wanted sliding drop outs, oh and honesty about tyre clearance in conditions other than dry - only pic I can see there's barely clearance for a 2.4" Rekon Race, yet they claim 2.6" fits.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
9 months, 1 week ago
0

Gotta have sliders!

Reply

Briain
Briain
9 months, 1 week ago
+3 Andrew Major Vik Banerjee Cam McRae

I think it's a great concept on frames but it's very hard to apply to moving parts like suspension because there's no way to measure use as the service intervals are in hours of use. So I could need to service my forks once a year and someone else could could need to do 3 services. Also as a comment mentions the amount of frames you see as warranty replacements for sale is scary

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
9 months, 1 week ago
0

E-Bikes it’s easy on most of them to track hours on the machine.

For people-powered-bikes it’s really not much easier/harder to measure service intervals between a single owner and multiple. It’s not really that hard on suspension as it’s generally pretty clear what’s a defect (e.g. seal failing) v. abuse (e.g. anodizing worn off body at sag point on an air shock). 

I have lots of experience dealing with suspension service, warranty and crash replacements and there’s almost never a grey area (and some of the ‘original’ JRA stories are actually almost cute)

Certainly my CSU should be replaced if it starts creaking in the warranty period (if warranty transferable) and that’s a major expense I’ve seen many people eat on a used rig.

That’s a hard truth about new warranty frames for sale. Often for not much discount and never with a warranty themselves.

Reply

rwalters
Ryan Walters
9 months, 1 week ago
+3 Sandy James Oates Andy Eunson Lynx .

As far as I know from friends who ride/race moto, there is really no such thing as “warranty” on a motocross bike. As soon as you take it out of the shop, anything that breaks is your fault. This of course is different from road legal motorcycles (but not much!)

I think the point I’m trying to make is that it’s a bit ridiculous to compare toys (e-mountain bikes) to road vehicles as far as warranties are concerned. 

Toys are expensive.

Reply

LWK
LWK
9 months, 1 week ago
+2 4Runner1 Andrew Major

I'm 20y+ removed from my motorcycles.  The limited/no warranty has always been the case but it was always my impression that the bikes worked well and "manufacturer defects" that required warranty were rare (I'm aware of the Honda 750 Interceptor debacle...).  And it seemed fair that the shop/manufacturer shouldnt be on the hook if you cartwheeled your 250lb, 50hp dirt toy off into oblivion.

I'll spend money on a nice bike but I am really looking for some longevity in the next one I buy, similar to the G1 comments above.

$13K+ for a half developed, unreliable, hard to get parts ebike has zero appeal.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
9 months, 1 week ago
0

Yeah, mature products where someone hasn’t cut years from their lifespan to save 400grams.

Also, they weigh a bunch and are covered in plastic shells that show damage when you wreck so JRA is much less grey.

Reply

MikeMc
Mike McArthur
9 months, 1 week ago
+3 Andrew Major Ryan Walters Vik Banerjee

Here's the thing - Bosch and others sell batteries and motors to families for transportation e-bikes that are anything but toys. These families sometimes sell their bike to others. These folks can't readily get around to daycare or school if their bike is down. Same for transport companies that move stuff by bike. If a traditional shop sees them in August and says they are backed up and can't get to them for 2+ weeks, that's a problem. So is the idea that warranty isn't transferrable. Recently major cities like Paris are making cars restricted from certain areas and e-bikes are massively on the rise, displacing scooters, acoustic bikes and small cars. So while I get this is an MTB (now e-MTB) publication, I think the mid drive factory e-bike warranty thing should first come-to-a-head in the paved word.

It's an interesting point that these e-mtbs might be eating the lunch of the high end acoustic models. It makes sense that they're the same buyer. Andrew - how long until the $10K motor-less enduro bike becomes the next betamax?

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
9 months, 1 week ago
0

Thank you. You’re right that this was done with an MTB lens and in this case a more universal look may have served me better.

This is a fantastic post that I’m going to mine (with attribution) for a follow up piece. Because the failures I see on e-bikes absolutely are not mountain bike specific. The question then, given Bosch handles much of their own global support, is if it’s through the bike company or Bosch. 

Batteries, I’m surprised Shimano/Bosch don’t force companies to buy batteries through them in order to have some control of quality. Certainly some ebike manufacturers have significantly more battery issues than others. 

———

For some shops I talked to for another piece I’m working on, we’re already there. The up front price difference between a true super bike with or without a motor is negligible for folks that can afford them and e-interest is way higher. 

Is that because said customer owns a sweet pedal bike already and the motor assisted mountain bike is a complimentary machine? Maybe. Some folks have A Lot of money. But I wonder, both road and mountain, if the new higher end bikes (Ultegra/DuraAce level| XT/XTR level) wont almost all have motors within a couple years.

Reply

rwalters
Ryan Walters
9 months, 1 week ago
+1 thaaad

Exactly why I was very specific about e-mountain bikes being toys. I myself have an e-commuter bike for getting to work. I fully agree that the warranty offered on these essential forms of transportation should be more in line with what you get with cars, etc. I myself had to warranty a few things on my commuter, and I was clear in my correspondence with the shop that this was my method of transportation to work - not a toy. I also agree that in many ways, e-bikes are somewhat "half-baked" these days - they're far from perfect, and have a long way to go. It's a fairly new technology, and us early adopters are going to encounter issues.

I do agree that the issues encountered on this Norco E-Range were unacceptable, and definitely legit warranty issues. But we mountain bikers have this notion that every bit of conceivable damage should be covered under warranty for the lifetime of the bike. I won't lie - I'm guilty of asking for warranty service when I think there's a chance of getting it. I mean, I am human, and I'm not rich!

And we wonder why mountain bikes cost so much.....

Reply

MikeMc
Mike McArthur
9 months, 1 week ago
+1 Andrew Major

That's fair, but at same time, I don't see Bosch or Norco warranty policy differing from models that are clearly hobby bikes (ie 170mm FS) vs useful bikes. 

Andrew - when we see a shop with Bosch or STEPs certification sign on the door, what does that mean in terms of repair? Are they now able to troubleshoot motor and battery issues, or just allowed to get an RA# from mfgr?

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
9 months, 1 week ago
0

That's not a question I can answer for the whole world - it may be different in Europe - but in North America that means they're certified parts swappers. The e-bike is getting 'fixed' by the complete motor, wiring harness, or control unit being swapped out. 

I was explaining to a friend the other day why a shock or fork would be sent out for warranty issue but a motor is dealt with in their shop. I mean just like the motor, the shop is removing/reinstalling the suspension products but they're actually completely serviceable so they're headed to the manufacturer/manufacturer's agent to be rebuilt. The motor is just getting swapped for a new one. 

I reached out a few places to see if companies recondition motors and then use them for future warranty replacements (rather just junking them) - I've heard of car companies doing this with transmission warranties - but don't have anything to say on the subject yet.

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cxfahrer
cxfahrer
9 months, 1 week ago
+2 Andrew Major kcy4130

Warranties will never change, they will always be for the first purchaser only. This will lead to selling bikes back to dealers, who will sell it to the next customer with a new warranty. And this dealer will eventually be the same who sells you your next bike. So it all comes together nicely, like with cars - huge piles of old crap exported to other countries where people don't ask...

I saw a well used 2019 Mondraker e-Crafty for sale, 2800€ with a replaced frame and motor. Who would want to buy that without warranty?

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
9 months, 1 week ago
0

Interesting take in that the brand-owned, and brand-specific, shops would be perfect for this business model.

My friend Toucan had me on a similar trajectory tonight talking about acquisitions of bike companies/multiple brands under one parent. Cheers!

Reply

mtbman99
mtbman99
9 months, 1 week ago
+1 Andrew Major

Similar to a used car sales model. 

Buy from an individual in as is state no warranty. 

Buy from a shop(used dealer) with 3rd party warranty after the shop has assessed/approved the bike.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
9 months, 1 week ago
0

An interesting point IF there were right-to-repair laws that meant it was simple to adapt aftermarket motor or battery options (so bike shops could repair these rigs) but as it stands now nothing can really happen without the support of the manufacturers - either the bike brand or the motor manufacturer themselves. 

No reason that Shimano or Bosch or etc couldn't step in to support their products separately from the companies buying from them I suppose.

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bogey
Bogey
9 months, 1 week ago
+1 Andrew Major

This is not entirely true. A car warranty is 100% transferable if it is still under the factory warranty period whereas a bike warranty is not.

Sure, if the car is beyond the factory warranty period you may get a short warranty from a dealer under a Certified Pre-Owned sale but if you want something longer it’ll cost you extra.

Reply

Bikeryder85
Bikeryder85
9 months, 1 week ago
+2 Andrew Major Pete Roggeman

I think this has kinda always existed in some way with good shops (and brands). We had a local shop that kept records of bikes they sold so that if one of our local group broke a frame it was covered, no matter which one of us purchased it first. Trek didn't ask too many questions as long as he made the phone call. It really helped a ton of us younger (at the time) riders get into *and* afford the sport...esp since parts sucked so bad then (late 90s early 00s).

*Edit* 

I should add that I too would love to see an official transferable warranty offered.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
9 months, 1 week ago
+2 4Runner1 thaaad

That’s at best a grey area and at worst fraud and certainly against their dealer agreement. I’d definitely would quietly appreciate that the shop did that for you. 

But, yeah, it obviously would have been covered until a transferable warranty so your shop clearly would agree with us! Hopefully soon.

Reply

Jotegir
Lu Kz
9 months, 1 week ago
0

This comment has been removed.

craw
Cr4w
9 months, 1 week ago
+2 Andrew Major Vik Banerjee

Having a good relationship with one or two stores will effectively get you a transferable warranty. Shops that know and love you will take care of you and keep advocating on your behalf with manufacturers and distributors. I stopped buying used forks altogether about 12 years ago. It's easier to keep enjoying the warm embrace of primary warranty coverage which often came with voluntary upgrades at time of service.

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kcy4130
kcy4130
9 months, 1 week ago
+2 Andrew Major thaaad

Why is it in the best interest of companies to offer transferable warranties? It would make more people buy used instead of new. Right now (in my little view of the bike world), bike companies don't seem to have any trouble selling stock. Sales would have to slow and have it become a buyers market for companies to try to one up their competition by offering a transferable warranty. I don't see this happening in mtb or emtb soon.

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D_C_
DMVancouver
9 months, 1 week ago
+2 Andrew Major Cam McRae

I think it helps give the notion that a company stands behind its product, and potentially has a low enough warranty rate that they have no qualms about extending it beyond the original owner. This would help convince me to buy a product new.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
9 months, 1 week ago
+1 kcy4130

So, one part my reply to Alex D above aboug the possibility of average-earning enthusiasts still being able to purchase/maintain one of these super bikes if they choose.

Part 2 is that with much of the market using the same Shimano or Bosch motor (or similar), and progression having very much slowed with geo/components, companies need a differentiator AND the resale value of used e-bikes needs to be high enough that they’d be willing to flip even if the next bike isn’t miles better than the current one (non-e machines are already there I’d argue). 

It’ll be easy to look back in a couple years and see if I’ve been looking at the wrong tea leaves or if I have a clear crystal ball on this one. I’m pretty confident.

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kcy4130
kcy4130
9 months, 1 week ago
+1 Andrew Major

Progression has slowed? I can see that for bikes (no clue about the battery kind). It's probably because bike brands are too focused on getting any bike made as quickly as possible, because everything is selling so fast. Why change it if it's selling. And don't say the rate of change has slowed, that's just what people said before 27.5 and boost dammit!

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
9 months, 1 week ago
+2 kcy4130 Perry Schebel

I've been doing a bunch of playing around with bike geometry for a series of pieces I'm going to do and if you really look at it bikes haven't changed that much in the last, at least, 8-years. Certainly not like they did in the decade before that and the decade before that. There will always be new materials and etc. but like Moto the equipment is certainly maturing. 

How much shorter/longer chainstays get, or slacker head tube angles get, or even if Reaches decrease a bit going forward it won't change the fact that if you bought a Process 153 from 2014 and refreshed the bike (as non-Boost as it is) you could go ride with any of your friends on their current 6" rig and the faster rider would be the faster rider. 

From a shop perspective, folks are absolutely keeping non-e-bikes longer and longer than they did previously. Look at the SB150 from Yeti. Plenty of people riding that bike who bought it in the year it was released who have tried other rigs and still will tell you it's the best bike for them. 

Same for components. If you put a 2015 Fox 36 RC2 (air system/damper) up against the current 2022 model - both fully fresh obviously - that 7-year-old fork is still excellent. 

Sure, riders will wear stuff out or lust for the new colourway but once there's not a discernible performance advantage of upgrading over maintaining your own bike I think it's safe to save we're in a mature market.

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cam@nsmb.com
Cam McRae
9 months, 1 week ago
+2 Andrew Major Ryan Walters

Hopefully operating like a good business is actually good business in the long run. It seems to me, the most successful companies over the long term are those that stand behind their products with the most enthusiasm. It also motivates them to engineer products with a lower failure rate since they know they won't be able to hide when failures occur. 

Toyota is a great example of this. I sold my 2006 Tacoma to one of my closest friends. I received a notice regarding an extended warranty relating to premature frame corrosion and I forwarded it to him. He took my old truck in to his local Toyota dealer and they replaced his entire frame. (An unfathomably immense taks. Obviously the labour cost is huge but imagine how many broken fittings would have to be drilled out and replaced. I eventually took my 2013 in for the same inspection, after waiting until the end of the extension was bearing down on my. For better or worse my frame passed but they cleaned it entirely and applied an expensive undercoat to prevent future issues. As a result, I'm a Toyota customer for life.

Also - I second Andrew's SB150 comments above. I haven't ridden a bike that's made me want to swap after riding it for three years, which is an eternity considering the pace of change we've seen lately. I guess that means that I don't entirely agree with Andrew's thesis, but hopefully maturity will be a good way to describe what's on the horizon.

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rwalters
Ryan Walters
9 months, 1 week ago
0

Wow! That is crazy. Glad to have just bought into the Toyota fold then.

Too bad Mazda didn’t do me that same solid…

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
9 months, 1 week ago
+1 Cam McRae

I know a couple of serial-swappers for whom and SB150 or SB130 cured their newbikeitus, at least for a few years. Actually, I know at least one SB150 and one SB130 rider who sold their rigs and bought a fresh version of the same bike. It's pretty cool actually. 

I've also installed a lot of bearing kits on those bikes and with the exception of true abusers, who should be reported to the SPCB, they're really nice to work on too and their bearing kit is very reasonable v. buying the bearings individually.

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Vikb
Vik Banerjee
9 months, 1 week ago
+2 Rick M taprider

Out of curiosity I checked the warranty on a Kawasaki KLX300 at a cost of $6800CAD the warranty is 12 months. It doesn't mention whether or not it is transferable, but I suppose the warranty is short enough that unless you have the attention span of a hamster it won't matter.

On the e-bike front I can see the appeal of a transferable warranty, but the thing to consider is the cost of the machine will include that coverage in it. So the more generous the warranty the higher the MSRP will have to be to make it feasible.

Personally on meat machines I am happy with a 3-5 year non-transferable warranty and a lifetime crash replacement/no fault program. Most manufacturing defects will happen in the first few years if you actually ride your bike. I am also unlikely to sell a bike in the first few years so transferable warranties aren't really on my mind. I'm not worried about optimizing the warranty system for bike flippers.

I'd also add that based on my experience bike companies will, in most cases, stand behind their product and help a rider out even if they don't qualify for a warranty. Assuming #1 they don't act like a douche bag and #2 they are realistic about what a reasonable outcome is. I would happily buy a used metal bike without a transferable warranty.

I think a more pressing concern for meat machine riders selling/purchasing used [than a transferable warranty] is something you have discussed before...namely being realistic/aware of the costs to service suspension/drivetrains on a used bike when establishing the sale price to avoid a crushing early maintenance bill. That is true of e-bikers as well.

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xy9ine
Perry Schebel
9 months, 1 week ago
+1 Vik Banerjee

I'm just amazed that you could buy two of those kawis for the price of the norco. motos are pretty great value (based on my bike industry distorted view)!

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andy-eunson
Andy Eunson
9 months, 1 week ago
+1 Andrew Major

Add in the cost of gas, oil and more frequent maintenance and a truck big enough to haul the moto to a track of trail. But if you check the cost for actual race machines used by pros it goes way up. Our bikes can be pretty much race level stuff. But your point is very valid.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
9 months, 1 week ago
0

Yeah, I'm decently familiar with costs in the moto suspension world, and by the time your BRAP-bike has factory-level suspension you're way beyond anything in the MTB world in terms of cost even before the other expenses.

I mean, cool sh*t. Check out MX Tech if you want to get your gear lust on (and I don't own a moto or really have any interest in them aside from being a nerd).

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
9 months, 1 week ago
0

I think the difference - beyond frames - is the unknowable factor with used e-bikes. If I buy a used aluminum FS bike with SRAM brakes, a fork that doesn't creak (easy to confirm), and decent hubs everything is serviceable or replaceable and if I'm skint there are relatively cheap options (like aftermarket cassettes or basic replacement shocks) to keep it running.

With a used e-bike it's impossible to know if the battery or motor is going to crap out the day after you buy it so being realistic about service costs doesn't really sum up the whole experience. 

At any rate, I keep my bike a long time too and agree that actual defects generally show up in the first year. But not everyone does and that's not always the case and I think if company X says the frame should last 3 years without issues then it shouldn't matter how many owners it has. 

Interesting to see in the comments (and confirm with a couple shops) that Trek and Specialized have softly started doing transferable warranty already (which I was ignorant too when I wrote about this innovative idea... hahaha). 

-----

And yeah, the moto world for better or worse is a totally different animal when it comes to warranty/expectations. Certainly, when you're buying a moto the purchase price isn't building in the substantial warranty and crash replacement hits that some bike companies bear.

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dbozman
dbozman
9 months, 1 week ago
+2 Andy Eunson Andrew Major

Both Trek and Specialized currently offer two years’ warranty with receipt for subsequent owners.

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andrewcashew
andrewcashew
9 months, 1 week ago
+1 Andrew Major

I think the idea of the transferrable warranty is being considered by more and more bike brands. I work at a Trek dealer and remember they mentioned (quietly, albeit) that they are doing some transferrable warranty. I had to look to find it, but it does exist, but isn't as good as a lifetime transferrable warranty. However, at least we're starting in the right direction? 

The fifth paragraph down here is "Subsequent Ownership" and it states the following: 

"Subsequent owners (second or later) are entitled to a 3 year warranty from the date of purchase from the retailer on the Trek frame and Trek fork. This does not include items such as wheels, suspension forks, drive train components, etc. Proof of original purchase is required."

It being three years from the original date of purchase doesn't always work out super well, but maybe it's at least a step in the right direction?

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
9 months, 1 week ago
0

A few people have contacted me about Trek and Specialized warranty updates. I'll say I was honestly ignorant (and thought I was being interesting/innovative) when crafting this piece but it would appear that I'm behind the times. 

Very interesting that no one is talking loud & proud about it. Seems very quiet.

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bart
bart
9 months, 1 week ago
+1 Andrew Major

Transferable warranties are challenging because of the nature of the sport and the abuse our bikes take.  Declining a second/Third/fourth owner because the issue at hand was actually due to crashes from a previous owner would become just plain not fun - subsequent  owners do not know the history of the bike and bikes aren't often inspected properly on purchase, bikes no longer have a service record at the shop as they can be shipped across the country or world and we have no way of tracking services.  Of course there will be fees and labor and a whole myriad of charges for the second owner because the shops aren't going to absorb the cost with our ever slimming margins.  If companies would cover labor and shipping to shops like they do in the Moto and Auto worlds it would be a different story... but that would bump the price of the bikes up further, which consumers already struggle with (I'm looking at you , $850 bike with Tourney components)

Aluminum has a fatigue life - so longer warranties don't make sense there.

But what I will say is Specialized has changed their warranty ... Second owner gets a 1 year warranty on the frame within the first 2 years of original purchase date and i think that is reasonable.

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bart
bart
9 months, 1 week ago
+1 Andrew Major

My mistake 2nd owner is 2 years from original purchase date with POP.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
9 months, 1 week ago
0

Agree that longer warranties don't make sense, for any material, for manufacturer's defects, but I think more realistic warranties that are transferable do. It should create confidence in the used market to rapidly evolving tech (e-bikes) being flipped regularly and create some value for more mature people-powered machines that just aren't evolving at the same rate. 

Interesting re. Specialized and Trek both (quietly) beat me to the punch. I was ignorant to both programs. But I'd be surprised if the next step wasn't to also have transferable warranties (against defects in manufacturing and materials) for motors, batteries, suspension and other big ticket items. 

The variations in value below a grand are insane. I like some of the cheeky companies spec'ing freewheels instead of cassette hubs knowing that customers aren't going to notice. 

--------

Nice profile picture - that was clearly made by someone with an abundance of artistic talent!

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bart
bart
9 months, 1 week ago
+1 Andrew Major

Profile pic is definitely a work of art!

Also Liteville has had a 10 year transferable warranty for a long time now but having the big brands change a bit is BIG.

Motors and batteries are definitely a big ticket item on an e-bike and it would be nice if those were covered for anyone in the first 2 years for any owner ... assuming they weren't tampered with .. but we can check for that pretty easily these days . 

I'd almost have a freewheel over a freehub in the same price range these days... entry level freehubs have been terrible in quality and to secure replacements for warranty.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
9 months, 1 week ago
0

How sad is that though? I remember the first shop I worked in our two most basic bikes were Raleighs. Less money than even the most basic steel Trek. The first bike was a true entry level machine - ride with your kids in the neighbourhood. The next level was the same rigid steel frame but with double walled aluminum rims and a cassette hub - the basics for actual trail riding. Priorities.

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Shortyesquire
Andrew Collins
9 months, 1 week ago
0

And yet Liteville offer a 10 year frame warranty attached to the serial number, i.e. fully transferable.

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andy-eunson
Andy Eunson
9 months, 1 week ago
+1 Andrew Major

The best warranty is the one you don’t need. I’m almost done with a warranty and non warranty issue on my truck. The AWD quit at the end of November and I brought it to North Van for "assessment". It was determined that the fuel injectors needed replacement under warranty. They had carbines up. Needed parts. I asked how AWD was related to fuel injectors. Well sometimes the computer shuts things down when unrelated things go off. OK.  come back a couple weeks later because parts arrived. Wait all day for the injectors to get replaced and valves adjusted because new different injectors required it. And I had to pay $650 for the valve adjustment. Of course the AWD still doesn’t work. Can you leave the vehicle they ask. No because I live in Whistler unless you have a loaner with snow tires. Come back a week or so later and I need a new differential pump which is not on warranty. Parts ordered but not available. End of January and parts show up and get installed and now everything works. Not warranted and cost me $1300. But hold on. I get a call that they need to update the software for the new injectors so they don’t carbon up again. On warranty. This time they will have a loaner car so I can go to the dentist across town. I arranged it to do those two things at the same time. But geez. Five trips to and from North Van is 1000 km and two tanks of ever more costly gas. They did discount the differential pump by $300 so there is that. But still. 

I can imagine in the heart of riding season having an issue and waiting too long for parts so you can ride again. I know a bunch of people with ebikes now. They are all 70 or older. I’ll have to ask them if they’ve had any issues. Pretty sure one guy did with a motor. 

This is one reason why I am not rushing to get an ebike. It’s still new technology for us. I don’t think it’s dialed yet. The car warranty I have is transferable. I can see a bike warranty being transferable too. The cost for an ebike and non ebike can be pretty high now so any cost increase to maintain a warranty for subsequent owners, particularly a time limited one is not too onerous.

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LoamtoHome
Jerry Willows
9 months, 1 week ago
+2 Andrew Major thaaad

everyone I know that has an ebike has a non ebike as well....  There are a lot of people with too much money and not much sense.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
9 months, 1 week ago
0

This is changing very quickly at least from what I've seen of the average mountain biker buying mid-to-high-end machines. Or at least I think the non-e-bike will increasingly be something like a Chameleon that's cheap to maintain and fun for a variety of non-chunky-terrain riding. I've talked to a lot of riders who have both but spend all their time on an e-bike. 

There's even a saying along the lines of you can ride your e-bike with non-e-bikers, but you can't take your non-e-bike on an e-bike ride. 

I mean, I'd argue there's also an undercurrent of folks saying "f***-it" and buying fully rigid single speeds, but it's way smaller than the number of folks giving a shrug and buying e-bikes. 

My absolute favourite is the frothing-at-the-mouth "I'll never even buy any other bike from any company that makes e-bikes" folks that are trying to walk their vitriol back now. I've bumped into a couple of e-bike haters that are all in on their blender bikes now. I wonder how many customers Transition, for example, has picked up specifically by not making e-bikes? Probably not many.

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LoamtoHome
Jerry Willows
9 months, 1 week ago
+1 Andrew Major

dropping 13k for a bike that's going to be outdated in 2 years, cost an arm and a leg in maintenance and be in the shop waiting for parts/warranty doesn't sound very appealing to me. #NotDumpsterApproved

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
9 months, 1 week ago
0

I've spent enough time on the tools to say with strong conviction that e-bike motors/batteries/interfaces are like Trunnion mount. Not everyone will have an issue, but there are enough issues that anyone seeing them regularly would be excused for thinking everyone will have an issue.

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Suns_PSD
Suns_PSD
9 months, 1 week ago
+1 Briain

Manufacturers are only able to offer the length of warranties they do (on many products) because they know for a fact that a large portion of those warranties will never have to be honored because items get sold/ stolen/ totaled/ forgotten/ abused/ and so on.

If you expect the manufacturers to warranty items to all users you will either see the warranty period reduced greatly or the initial cost of the item to increase greatly to cover the additional warranty expenses.

A lengthy transferable warranty on an e-bike would be a huge $ loser for any manufacturer as they fail constantly under proper use.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
9 months, 1 week ago
+2 Sandy James Oates Velocipedestrian

Warranties are for defects in manufacturing and materials. Ideally manufacturers can support their products because the % they produce that are defective is very small.

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ChazzMichaelMichaels
ChazzMichaelMichaels
9 months, 1 week ago
+1 Andrew Major

On one of the Pinkbike podcasts made an interesting point about e-bike sales,and how much of it could be driven by an older market. The kind that buys the new car when they retire, and still have it in immaculate condition, with hardly any kms on it, twenty years later. They aren't replacing their bike every two years.

As for transferrable warranties, while it sounds nice in principle, I think it would increase prices and offer little incentive for a company. I guess best case scenario you may get a new customer who had a good 'used' warranty experience, so chooses to buy new? But why not buy used again?

By the same token, I've never understood the crash replacement policy, surely all that does is increase the price in the first place? If I ruin a helmet in a crash and I feel it did a good job then I don't mind buying another one!

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
9 months, 1 week ago
+1 thaaad

If it did increase prices I’d like to think it would be due to making batteries/motors/wiring that sucked less as opposed to replacing more. Same with frame warranties.

Remember, these warranties are against defects in manufacturing and materials. Not crashing or falling into Digger’s Pond.

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alexdi
Alex D
9 months, 1 week ago
0

These bikes are stupendously expensive. So expensive that I wonder if buyers are starting to consider depreciation in the purchasing decision. Unreliable luxury cars are analogous. Does it hurt Mercedes when a 10-year-old SL goes for 15% of the original MSRP because it's unsupported and costly to repair? What, besides a general sense of goodwill, would motivate a brand to support people who probably would never have bought new?

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
9 months, 1 week ago
0

I think the difference is that a super-enthusiast living tight otherwise can still buy, and maintain, a super-premium bike on an average (Canadian) salary if they choose to. But if bike companies want him to keep dribbling the money ball he needs to be able to sell it for something at upgrade time. 

I mean, aside from the question of what % of those Mercs (or other luxury cars) were leased, not owned, in the first place it’s certainly going to be more likely that the initial owner had a high amount of disposable income/credit.

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Captain-Snappy
Merwinn
9 months, 1 week ago
0

$13,000 for the eRange... . Crazy. No wonder gravel's looking more and more appealing. I can't envision ever getting a C-framed MTB now. Have always had alu or steel frames in order to get better parts for the price point. Might have to go back to a HT and get a Chromag.

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sandy-james-oates
Sandy James Oates
9 months, 1 week ago
0

MotoX bikes have no warranty but they still sell like hotcakes. Rocky Mountain Ebikes have a Two year warranty on the battery and Three years on the motor. Ryan is right toys are expensive.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
9 months, 1 week ago
0

They have warranties against defects in manufacturing and materials just like cars. They’re just very mature products where someone hasn’t cut years off their lifespan to save 400grams, and when they go down there’s much less question whether it was a crash or JRA.

They have a different culture when it comes to warranty, certainly, like some of the cracked frames I’ve seen replaced were certainly not defects. Bike companies do that to themselves.

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skooks
Skooks
9 months, 1 week ago
0

This issue makes e-mtbs even less appealing to me. I can easily maintain and repair my  real (non e-) bike. Parts are available from many sources at prices I can afford, and most aren't proprietary. The difficulty of easily and affordably repairing an e-mtb makes it a non-starter for me.

I just did an ebike conversion for a commuter bike with parts I bought online. Way more appealing than an off the shelf bike in terms of cost and reparability.

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