Thursday, March 26, 2009

Competitive Cyclist

First off, yes, this is a Team Two Wheel blog, so we typically write about local stuff and when we talk about bike stores or cycling equipment, we tend towards our LBS (Local Bike Shop) Two Wheel Transit. I think, though, that Competitive Cyclist deserves a shout out for a few reasons.

Reason No. 1 - The CC website. The link is right there and you should feel free to take a look. Just promise to come back in an hour or two when you have satiated yourself. Whether you pick the road bike side or mountain bike side you will find something you want to buy or at least you want to dream about buying. The site is organized well, is multi-functional (which to me means you can access the information in lots of ways) and the descriptions of products are pitch perfect. I have spent hours fantasizing about products I need, particularly wheels, while looking at this website. Speaking of which, I have a two step plan to end up with the perfect set of wheels. I'll share it with you because that is the way I show I care about you, the faithful TTW reader.

Step One - Win Lottery.

Step Two - Read all the descriptions at Competitive Cyclist and Pick Wheels. Oh sure, sometimes I go back and forth on which pair. Do I need Lightweights or Reynolds for my climbing wheels? Do I need some Zipp 808's for time trials and ass-kicking Saturday shop rides? Should I pick some Campy's for my everyday wheels or some Bora's because no one else on this continent has them?

I don't know yet, but the interesting, detailed and "honest" assessments remind me of a cross between J. Peterman and BikeSnob. Great information, some real view point and lots of reasons to buy. BTW, the reason I put "honest" in quotes is that we have to be realistic. CC isn't a product test site; they sell this stuff. But I appreciate that the description really does tell a story and gives you insight into the product and your deep-seated need to buy.

Which leads to the Reason No. 2 - Their business model. Tell me whether this sounds like a good business plan. Charge full retail price at your website and depend on national sales of a product that needs regular local maintainence. What? You think that won't work? You are wrong. It does work, or least the emperical evidence either proves that it works or that CC is owned by a Trust Fund Baby. If you follow the link, you will see the coolest bike warehouse this side of QBP.

Personally, I am glad that there are dentists and AIG executives who still have enough money to buy souped-up Cervelos and Lightweight wheels to have put CC into a new building. Someone needs to live the dream to keep it alive in all of our souls. It's the antidote to Orwell's nightmares.

Reason No. 3 - "What's New" Under the "News" tab, there is sub-heading called "What's New". You would expect this to be some industry press releases and an 18-month old notice about the company picnic. Well you are WRONG! Instead it is written by an owner of CC and it includes fearless and straight-forward discussion of the bike industry, bike racing and whatever comes across this guy's mind. I may not agree with every opinion, but I love reading his opinion no matter what. Here are a couple of examples from the most current missive:
To all of the people out there who a throwing fits because our Shimano Dura Ace Di2 front derailleur and rear derailleur prices are "higher than MSRP!!!" it's because we're adding the cost of the transmitter cables, the battery, the battery mount, and the battery charger. We make that clear as day on our product pages, but we also realize that reading and/or paying attention to something for longer than 2 seconds is indeed an acquired skill.
Just to be clear, this means that this guy is calling his customers idiots. Hey, customers ARE idiots, but most of us don't have the cajones to just say it. Chapeau my CC friend, Chapeau.

Now, lest you think this is an unmitigated love fest, I have to tell you that I simply don't understand some things, like this section, also from the most recent entry:
Hincapie Jeans. Thanks to a friend-of-a-friend connection, I scored a free pair of these. I've always been a Levi's guy (more by default than by conscious choice), and the difference between Sears-sourced 505's and my Hincapies are like going from 105 to Dura Ace. The fit is totally different: Most notably, the distance from the waist to the crotch is measurably shorter (a pal told us this is how "designer" jeans are cut). And the denim isn't just denim. There's a small hint of stretch to them -- like there's lycra or something beyond just denim there. The stretch makes them more agreeable as you put them on, and if you have any physical oddities (be it mammoth quads, or just a beefy Italian rump like yours truly) there's none of the discomfort you get from new-and-intractable denim like you get from Levi's.
So, again, to clarify, this guy at other times talks about how much he loves the Belgian Classics and the hard-man aspects of cycling, but who is taking the time to tell us he loves spandex-enhanced designer jeans. Man, I've got nothing against a bit of well placed homo-eroticism, but this guy isn't blogging about his outfit for the Morrisey concert, he is selling high-end road bikes. After reading this, I don't want a pair of Hincapie jeans any more than I want a pair of Hincapie veins, but I gotta give the guy props.

So here is the shout-out to Competitive Cyclist. If you want some insight into the bike industry and some comments from a guy who lives cycling, check out "What's New". If you want a great description of a huge range of cycling gear from a website that absolutely puts every other bike gear website to shame, not to mention most websites in most industries, take a look at Competitive Cyclist when you've got some time and some cash to burn. And if you've got a better plan for getting the perfect set of wheels, let me know.
Rider 3

PB - If it occurs to you that someone who is in the same room as you are can do a better job fitting your bike than someone on a website, you might still consider doing business with your LBS.


  1. Let me tell you that last year I was overwhelmed with the CC website myself.
    It was awesome to be able to research and see all the great stuff they offered. The information available even persuaded me to buy a new bike from them and that's where the honeymoon ended.
    My experience with them was probably the worst customer service I've ever had. It took them MONTHS to get the bike to me when they said it would be a week. Multiple phone calls just resulted in more disappointment. I began to believe it was my fault. I concluded that what they had advertised on the website was NOT what they had in stock. Then, the day I decided I was going to cancel the order, the bike showed up at my office. No email, no shipping confirmation email, no phone call, nothing.
    The website has a wealth of information, but their tank is empty when it comes to customer service. I should've went with my first instinct and bought a bike from Two Wheel Transit.
    Thanks for your blog...I just had to counter your props for them...sorry

  2. I order a pair of Assos Knickers from CC. The website said 2010 model, $260. So I ordered the item and the code for 20% off. The checkout price was $219.00 (which is what everyone else is charging) less the 20%. My total was $207 with shipping. A good deal. Paid via debit card and the amount was taken out of my checking account immediately. Four days later, I get an email from CC saying the website misquoted the price and the correct amount was $244. with shipping AND they are charging my debit card the difference. In my book, an offer was made to sell at x price, I paid x price. CC should honor that and correct the website for future sales.