Sunday, December 12, 2010

Would A Friend Let A Friend Buy A Redline?

Most of us work in software, many in testing or engineering, so we know how hard it is to get something right, and how much work is involved in quality. I have a lot of respect for someone who puts a product out on the line for daily use and abuse, and I don't feel comfortable panning a brand for an occasional quality or design defect.

But what gives with Redline, and by association, Seattle Bike Supply?
I don't know what SBS's role in this is, or their relationship to the Redline brand and to the manufacturer. Does SBS purchase the frame & components from various sources, assemble them, and slap the Redline stickers on them? Any elucidation would help. I am ignorant.

Normally, I wouldn't hold it against a company for recalling products; in fact, I'd view it favorably, as a sign of being a conscientious citizen,

But in this case, I wonder whether SBS should continue distributing bikes.

7 comments:

P Evans said...

I feel similarly. My wife bought me a Conquest Disc-R as a birthday gift about 5 years ago. It was the first "new" bike I'd had since I was a kid (since I'm inclined to collect older English steel and hang Campy on it). So, barring some of the bonded AL Raleighs that were made up here, and some MTBs, it's been my only experience with aluminum and Shimano. I've liked the discs and the utilitarian aspects (like being able to lock it to a post and not worry constantly--it's not like they won't make more bikes like this). However, I had two frames break on me, and I'm not hucking these by any means--no racing, just commuting. I now have a steel Conquest Classic. I hope it lasts better than the AL bikes, but they apparently used some depleted uranium in the tubing--it is HEAVY. Each "free replacement" bike has cost me significant money, and quite a bit of time. Admittedly, SBS has been pretty nice and friendly about replacements (but not apologetic, mind you). Through a friend, I met a guy who designs for SBS: I asked him obliquely about how the process works (without telling of my experience), and he told me it's pretty standard in the industry for designers to draw a bike, send it to China for demos, and then bikes are ordered, manufactured, and shipped. He didn't say anything about specific manufacturers, material differences, etc. Like Ted, I know of a few Redline owners who have had failed frames. Since I haven't owned similarly priced mass-produced stuff, my feeling is that I'm just going to buy handmade steel or carbon. But I can't really recommend Redline either, much as I'd like to...

Kevin Connors said...

So as data points, I bought a Redline Conquest 24 for my oldest son when he was 8. He rode it miles and miles on the road, then XC racing in 08. It was handed down to my youngest son last year and he has ridden it even harder with 2 full seasons of XC racing. The beast just keeps going. Granted, a frame that small with such small riders couldn't possibly break.

Last year, I got the oldest guy a Redline Conquest. We had the fork recalled and that was taken care of without a hitch (thanks to Bikeman in Maine). He raced it the last two years and it is still as good as new. Again, small (44cm) frame is probably indestructible.

My rationale in both purchases was all about a balance between function and cost. The first one I got on close out somewhere in Nashville for next to nothing brand new. The second frame was also a screaming deal. There really were not compelling options for bikes that size at the price range I could stomach watching a kid ride.

Since I'm pretty big and hard on frames (I've broken 2 road frames), I'll definitely choose something other than Redline for my next XC bike. Before reading these posts, I was actually thinking about a Conquest Pro...

Ted Diamond said...

Good data points.

Despite the problems we geezers have seen with our Conquest models, I'm not sure the Conquest Pro would be similarly plagued. My hunch is that the problems tend to be concentrated in the very low-end lines, such as the Conquest.

On a separate note, it's great to hear the guys are staying with cycling, and racing! Wish I knew your secret.

Ted Diamond said...

Phil's got some young'uns coming up involved in cycling. Phil, did I remember you saying one of your guys did the STP last year?

P Evans said...

My son (11 yrs old) and I did the 2-day STP on a tandem this year, but he says he's willing to give it a shot himself (and free the stoker position for his sister) next summer or the following. I've been looking for small (44-ish) frames, but am just getting started, so if anyone has any recommendations I'd certainly appreciate them.

Ted Diamond said...

Listening to Bill Moyers' talk on Alternative Radio (KUOW) inspired me to start looking at SBS's corporate context. Hmmm. http://www.accell-group.com/uk/accell-group.asp

Kevin Connors said...

Well, at least Accell is a Dutch company. My wife will be happy.

I'll be selling the little Conquest in the springtime if anyone knows someone interested, let me know.

Chad (right Chad) and I will be doing STP next year with kids also. Me and the boys will be riding a triple that my friend Steve Calvert built - it is a marvel not to be missed.