Pinkbike's Burning Question - Does Size Matter?

Oct 23, 2012
by Mike Levy  
 
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THE
BURNING QUESTION
WORDS Mike Levy

Today's burning question is: Can the small guys compete, and how much does it matter to you how small or large the company behind your bike actually is? Representing the small guys is Jeff Steber, the president and co-founder of one of mountain biking's most celebrated names, Intense Cycles. On the opposite spectrum we have Specialized, a brand that started from scratch during the birth of the production mountain bike and went on to become one of the largest in the biz. Jason Chamberlain is the senior engineer responsible for many of the their preeminent bikes and will be leading the charge for Specialized in today's Burning Question.


Pinkbike Pre-Game Show

The biblical legend of David vs. Goliath is one that we all know well, with David defeating the massive Philistine warrior with a single, well aimed stone pitched hard from his sling. Regardless of whether the story is based on historical facts or simply a long-standing fable, we can all compare parallels from our current lives to the tale. From the bespectacled and under-sized youngster who not only makes the starting rotation of his school's basketball team, but becomes its star player; to the small, local coffee shop that digs its heels in and thrives when a Starbucks comes to town; the general lesson is that there is more to one's capacity than can be judged by size alone. Historically speaking, the role of Goliath is usually viewed as the antagonist, but what if the Goliath of our story began life as a David - small, in it for the love of the sport, and still full of employees who are not only in it for that very reason, but also ride just as much as any mountain biker anywhere? We're talking about Specialized, of course, who grew from one of the first mountain bike-centric companies into a 'Goliath' of sorts, with over one thousand employees working under the Big Red S banner. The David of our story is Intense, who were also not only present during some very important periods in the development of our sport, but have a storied history of their own that deserves book or two in itself .

Specialized and Intense may be worlds apart when it comes to size, but they both have the same goal: to design mountain bikes that kick ass. It is up to you, the consumer, to choose who you prefer. Can a larger company like Specialized (or Trek/Giant etc), who clearly have more resources available to them, produce a better finished product than a smaller company? Does Intense's relatively small size automatically mean that they have more 'soul'? Does it matter? And do you even care what name is splayed on your bike's down tube so long as the bike works well?



Intense vs. Specialized
Jeff Steber: president and co-founder of Intense Cycles

bigquotesI think it shows the dedication to our brand and loyal customers that we will do whatever it takes, and now we have some beautiful carbon frames and a few more on the way. I do miss my beloved, vintage '62 Strat, and my Rory Galliger Strat, and, and... I had to sell those to help fund this stuff, but in the end it is all worth it and a new generation of Intense.

When it comes to product development, how does a relatively small company like Intense compete with the sizeable resources of a larger manufacturer?

“I am going to focus this question on our in-house, USA manufacturing since that is a strength of ours and something that makes us different from the pack. Intense has had to learn to be lean and get the most out of limited resources - focusing on our strengths. We are able to develop products faster, as the manufacturing is at hand. This also enables us to react to and create trends quickly (Intense is already shipping their 27.5'' Carbine and Tracer models)."


Intense's ability to adapt quickly to the changing landscape, such as the 27.5" momentum must certainly help?

"I can fab up a proto, weld it, heat treat it, and be riding it the next day. In turn, for a small company we have been able to be quite prolific with the models that we offer. We are also able to develop the 'tweener models in-between the main bike segments that the big guys do not bother with."


The relationship between the customer and the manufacturer is something that many riders take to heart when considering the brand of their next mountain bike. Does Intense bring something to the customer service table that a larger brand cannot?

“I can only say that we try our best on this one, and I will personally answer questions and help customers out with issues etc - you might not get that from a bigger company. I had built the brand on racing, and through the early years had worked on many racer's bikes at NORBAs and World Cups. Racers knew that if they needed a bolt, a link, or whatever, they could come by the Intense pit and get taken care of."


Don't more people simply ride mountain bikes than actually race them, though?

"In recent years we have put a lot more energy towards customer service as being high-end, the customers gets a bit more. We have put more thought into ease of maintenance and reliability in the new designs, better bearing systems, new tube sets, grease ports etc."


Intense can manufacture a prototype very quickly, an asset when a design needs to be investigated.

Carbon fiber has become the leading material to use when building high performance frames. How are the smaller, boutique brands able to compete in the carbon fiber arena with the bigger players?

"This is a tough one and I am living every day. The big companies own that market as the development costs to do carbon are so high, but at the same time it is becoming the material of choice for high-end mountain bikes. Intense has invested over the years into a factory that makes high-end aluminum, and I compare it to years ago when chromoly steel was replaced almost overnight by aluminum - if you didn't jump on the band wagon you where left in the dust. There will be a lot of the smaller guys struggling with this; some will do whatever it takes, some will get smaller and more niche, and some will disappear."


Intense has debuted a number of new carbon frames recently...

"I think it shows the dedication to our brand and loyal customers that we will do whatever it takes, and now we have some beautiful carbon frames and a few more on the way. I do miss my beloved, vintage '62 Strat, and my Rory Galliger Strat, and, and... I had to sell those to help fund this stuff, but in the end it is all worth it and a new generation of Intense. I must say at the same time that the big guys have developed the sources in Asia for carbon and now it is easier to get quality carbon frames; kind of like automotive, aerospace, and sporting goods. Carbon products set things up for bicycles."


They may have a celebrated past, but Intense is looking to the future.


Jason Chamberlain: senior engineer, Specialized

bigquotesIt doesn't matter if you are a big company or a small company, you can rise or fall when it comes to customer service. I'm not sure that I understand where people are coming from when they immediately assume that larger companies simply care less about their customers. To me, it seems the exact opposite - a larger company is able to do more for their customers.


What does a comparatively large company like Specialized bring to the product development phase that might not be feasible for a smaller operation?

"There seems to be a faction that views successful companies as inherently sinister. I am excited to point out the great things that larger bicycle companies are able to provide their riders. It is somewhat intuitive that companies with higher sales volume have more resources to support product development. Now, in order to truly reap the benefits of those resources, a larger company has to be willing to invest in product development. I am lucky to be in a company that truly does. With the support of a larger company, I am free to simply focus on designing the best bikes possible - I don’t have to design a bike to fit a profit margin. Brandon Sloan (Director of High Performance Mountain Bikes) tells me to simply build the best bike that I can imagine without thinking about the cost. The bike’s performance is the only consideration throughout the design process. I don’t have to worry about accounting, marketing, or setting up the trade show booths. At the design phase, it’s all about the bike, not the business."


So, more resources means that each part of the team can focus more on their specific task?

"The tools and technology that enable cutting-edge designs are expensive, and larger companies are able to provide the latest computers and software, setup prototype shops and test labs, etc. With those resources in place we have the ability to go from concept to ride-able sample rapidly. We can simultaneously pursue a number of different ideas, ensuring that what goes to market represents the truest advancement in performance. Larger companies have people in dedicated roles to help translate ideas into real-world functionality and apply the finishing touches. At Specialized, we have a fantastic team of talented people in industrial design, graphics and art, quality, purchasing, lab testing, data acquisition, machining and prototyping. We also have experts in 3D computer modelling and carbon fiber layup. Collaboration across all of those groups is critical in taking a good concept and developing a bike that will make you the envy of all of your friends."


Which projects have been the most memorable?

Brandon Sloan and I combined have over a quarter century developing bikes just for Specialized. We are very proud of the work we have done. Projects like the 2002 Enduro and the 2004 Demo 9 were genre-defining and still stand up today. Platforms like the Epic and Stumpjumper continue to be game changers every year we reintroduce them. We can still offer niche products like the slalom-specific SX, Single Speed 29er Carbon hardtail, Troy Lee Edition Demo, or the rare McLaren Venge. Even though we are a huge company, we operate like a collection of small companies. We are very competitive internally. When the road group came out with an ultra-limited $18,000 McLaren Venge, it makes the MTB team want to one-up them with an even better Demo!"


With after market sales support greatly affecting how a company is perceived, how does Specialized combat the common perception that customer service can suffer as a company becomes larger?

"It doesn’t matter if you are a big company or a small company, you can rise or fall when it comes to customer service. I’m not sure that I understand where people are coming from when they immediately assume that larger companies simply care less about their customers. To me, it seems the exact opposite - a larger company is able to do more for their customers. On the front-end, it can invest in a tighter quality program to help prevent defects, but it also has the resources to stock product to be held for warranty replacement if that should ever be necessary. The last thing we want is to compound the frustration of a defect with significant delay in providing a replacement."


The Status is relatively inexpensive, yet one of the best performing platforms that we've spent time on.

Can a large company still exude passion?

"I take my hat off to the smaller bike companies for what they are able to do. Everyone has a preference, so more power to you if a smaller company produces a bike that is right for you. It seems that there are people who will object to larger companies no matter what, but I think that companies with higher sales volume can use their resources to do things that directly benefit customers. Don’t forget that those larger bicycle companies began as smaller companies and grew because of the success of their products. Specialized was founded and run out of Mike Sinyard’s VW van. He is still passionate today about riding and probably rides as much or more than any other bike company owner. Outsiders who get a peek inside Specialized are usually surprised by the lack of suits and number of dogs roaming the halls. Specialized employs bicycle enthusiasts, not corporate drones. We all ride, all the time."







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267 Comments

  • + 70
 Sadly, bigger companies are more likely to produce better bikes than small companies, since they can spend a lot of money on research, design, development and so on. But for me, having a really good performing bike from an "underground" company should be the real happiness. Because you can really feel that you are supporting a small company, a few guys in a little factory, with your bike stays away from being mainstream.
  • + 10
 i was sort of looking for that exact answer within the poll options lol. no such luck in this one
  • + 17
 no, that's not true. smaller companies can do a better product - since they really care about customers, and want them satisfied. i believe that smaller companies usually make quality products, while big companies focus on quantity. i am not saying specialized are doing so - it's purely a generalization.
  • + 27
 Smaller companies probably care more, but they can't match the amount of money big companies can pump into R&D and pro rider development.
  • + 4
 Yes I think so, smaller companies can also do great products, that was not my point. If we are talking about Intense, Yeti, Ibis, Kona as small companies, come on, they are not really small. Everyone can count lots of incredible bikes of them, and there are a lot of people riding them instead of Specialized, Trek, Giant or so. For instance, you can buy an super cool super performing Aston Martin and even that can lack in some ways, where a BMW doesn't. This is the big company factor, they build massive amount of bikes but before that, they are paying a massive attention to details on every little single piece of screw. Fortunately, making bike is not that complicated, so there is a possibility of getting a great bike from a small company, and we all want to have that bike.
  • + 41
 I'm going to use Transition as an example here. Small company, relatively well priced, even comparable to specialized i'd say. and how many bottlerockets and dirtbags are still going from 2005 2006 strong as hell. sure they may not be the lightest newest best looking frames but they are great. When it comes to the soul of a company specialized simply can't make a new technology called cock and balls if they wanted to, they have too large of a demographic to do stuff like that. The guys at TBC can do and say nearly anything they want, but when it comes down to customer service they deliver better than any company i've ever dealt with. RIDER OWNED FOR LIFE
  • + 9
 i think they took a bad (actually very good) exemple by taking Specialized..cuz as far as ive noticed, Spesh is (one of the) only big brands that make it through building good affordable bikes, quality, specs, emotion AND at the same time to have a great customer service aswell...thats why Spesh is a good but at the same time a bad exemple..because thats the way its supposed to be, good everything...but at the same time spesh is a bad exemple for basically being the only brand that is so big and has a so good customer service...at least thats how i get the feel of this whole discussion..

by the way, i used to be a spesh dealer, so im not just saying what i think, im saying what i know...
  • + 8
 I used to think that bigger companies produce better bikes, but its more like "good people make good bikes" and it doesn't matter where its made!, have seen made in USA frames break , and Chinese or Taiwanese ones last for years and vise versa.
there are such a limited frame design options, that even a small company can stick to some design and make better than a big company that changes designs every year and doesn't really get it right!.

I faced this same question a month ago , and bought a titus el guapo (900$ shipped), for me the best bike is one that is personalized to suit its user!.
  • + 10
 I don' t buy the whole ' smaller companies care more ' thing , it may feel more personal because there is only a handfull of guys in the process but the big comapnys have whole teams dedicated to each aspect of the bike so surely more care is applied in this sense too?

Either way as long as the product is good , the back up is good and the company has a good reputation i'm happy riding any brand.
  • + 7
 Intense, small? ha! Something like Ancillotti or Empire are way way smaller companies but still do well! Brook won junior world champs on a Lotti and i believe the Empire rider did very well aboard his ap1 this year on the BDS. Size does not matter, its how it rides!
  • + 4
 nukeproof is a pretty small company, but they produced one of the best dh bikes around, the scalp, and manage to sell it hell cheap. so im pretty sure it really just depends on the company and how far they are willing to go to make a great bike
  • + 1
 tough argument and a great article topic. I don't really believe one or the other is better. Between specialized and intense, you could argue that specialized "sold out" since they make some low end bikes too. You can see specialized bikes in the 300 dollar range at a bike shop if you're looking for a town bike. Intense doesn't have that. Town bikes sell way more quantity and turn over bigger profits than a mountain bike, because it's manufactured and sold more.

Now as far as the bikes...I think they are about equally competitive but specialized moved onto carbon. Intense will catch up though, quickly, I'm sure.
  • + 3
 I've had the chance to visit the devinci factory. I haven't visited every other factories but seeing how much care/testing they put in their design/manufacturing process, I have a hard time seeing how anyone else could put more effort into making quality bikes. So yeah, it's possible for smaller companies to make better products than the bigger names.

It's true that "big companies" have the ressources to invest more in the whole bike making process but do they really bother or their primary objective is making more money so they try to keep it cost efficient in the end instead of putting a focus on quality?
  • + 13
 This is exactly what I was going to say. And the Tr450 is a rock solid downhill bike that you can buy for $5699 decked out in fox suspension and a full shimano saint setup. You would be paying a few thousand dollars more to get that set up with Santa Cruz or specialized, I know because I built up a V-10 with that spec. Overall I like smaller companies better because I feel they take your average guys feedback and try to fix a problem that might arise, over a big company that only listens to the pro riders.

My cousin was building up a Tr250 last month and some how his frame arrived with a huge dent in the downtube. Now this probably was a result of the shipping company, but when he called transition and asked if there was anything he could do to get a different frame, they apologized numerous times and shipped him another brand knew frame and he got it the next day for no additional charge.

That's one hell of a company IMO!
  • + 2
 Guy on here called madm3chanic. He produces god damn good frames by himself.
  • + 8
 being underground is the new mainstream
  • + 3
 Specialized = Lifetime warranty on frames for the original owner. Just saying, the assurance is nice.
  • + 1
 Big companies start from small companies which is obvious, so if a small company have good products will become a big company, but these days some big companies invest more in marketing than in quality, so i prefer buying products which i believe are good.
  • + 1
 @rudyrider that warranty is VERY limited. It only sounds good on paper.
  • + 1
 How many of you keep your bike more then three years? According to Mtb action your frame doesn't last more then three years!! B.s.
  • + 1
 My frame is an 09.. But i've owned it for a 1 year now. (1 previous owner)
  • + 1
 My current frame is : 2007 GT idrive 5 (it did break two months ago , rear triangle, at the weld and it had " LIFETIME WARRANTY" on paper, i bought a 2006 used rear triangle from the lbs.)
the replacement EL GUAPO is waiting for drivetrain parts (1x10).
if a frame is good there is no reason to change it! (until it breaks apart).

Warranty is overrated !
  • + 3
 PL07 - Your last point is an interesting one, and you make a very good point. Remember, a "good" product is only classified as such with relation to the competition. If a bear is chasing you in the woods, you don't need to be a fast runner to get away. you only need to be marginally faster than the person next to you.
  • + 3
 I understand supporting a smaller company but they fucked me over. I purchased a Foes Fly and the frame snapped. I contacted them and they refused to offer me a crash replacement frame. They just told me I had to buy a new frame and that was it. I feel like a different company, like specialized, would have handled the situation a bit better. I was just expecting Foes to put a little more effort into dealing with my snapped frame.
  • + 1
 Thats really surprising with the foes , my mate has beenw ith foes for about 7 years now , when the new 2:1 come out they gave him a great deal on an upgrade , and then another good deal when the revised one came out.
  • + 3
 intense for sure, the handmade quality of my m9 cant be touched
  • + 6
 "Sadly, bigger companies are more likely to produce better bikes than small companies"

If this is even true, why is it sad? Don't we as riders want the best possible bikes to ride regardless of what size company they came from? I think this statement (like many more I've seen in the comments) highlights the shift in ideology in our culture towards a disdain for large, successful businesses. Remember, just because a business grows due to success doesn't make them bad.
  • + 1
 i like small companies for stuff like skis and clothes but for stuff like bikes id rather a big company that can provide a better warranty
  • + 3
 I agree with BeastlyBrant - the quality of my Intense M9 is incredible and when you look the bike over you quickly notice that it is a work of industrial art.


Also - how is this for a testimonial:

INTENSE Punishment

Yesterday I clocked up my 510th run in the Whistler Bike Park, not to mention the 2 worldcups and other BC races I've done. The M9 has withstood the punishment. No frame bolts came loose, no bearings had to be replaced which is a testament to the quality of the American made brand!

Chris Kovarik
  • + 1
 @rudyrider lifetime warranty, don't make me laugh.....

lifetime means the lifetime of the frame which is about 2 - 3 years, one of the best warranties i know comes from Nicolai (5years under racing contitions)

www.nicolai.net
  • + 0
 Well since I worked in the warranty department of Rock N Road Cyclery, a Specialized concept store, yeah it actually is a lifetime warranty. On all frames for the original owner. We had a guy that came in with a cracked Stumpjumper S-Works Hardtail from 1998 and he had the receipt so Specialized hooked him up with a 2011 Carbon SJ S-Works frame free of charge. Check your facts buddy Smile
  • + 2
 @rudyrider, where are you getting this lifetime warranty idea??? I work at a shop, had a guy crack his chainstays on a stumpy FSR, bike was 3 years old. No warranty, the warrany on the the rear triangle was one year. We sold him the part at cost cause it was almost $300.

Only company I know that has a lifetime warrany is Kona and they just brought that out a few years ago.
  • + 2
 @Roterblitz you need to check your facts.

From spesh's FAQ section (last updated oct 2011) framesets have a limited lifetime warranty. They state its valid for the lifetime of the original owner. Their proprietary suspension have 5 years warranty and the other stuff is 1 year. Don't quote me on that but I'm pretty sure I read on their website back then that my demo 8 2010 only had a 1 year warranty but I can't find the info anymore so it's possible that it changed in the last few years.

Devinci also has a lifetime warranty on their bikes. Not sure about the other brands.

A lot of people are hyping intense. The only 2 people I know riding them had major problems on their framesets. They honored their warranty even if it was expired and the two guys still swear by bikes as the best they've ever ridden. I guess they're worth the hassle but from what I've seen, I wouldn't buy their framesets to be honest.
  • + 1
 that whats cool with paper or internet, you can write on it whatever you want and somebody will belive it....
you checked the facts and said it yourself: LIMITED lifetime warranty, it's just BS.......
  • + 0
 If they really were behind their products they should do like a 5-10 years warranty on frames even if you bought it second hand, as long as you have a receipt to prove it wasn't stolen. Let's face it, hardly anybody would ride a mtb for a lifetime... but then again all they want is to sell new bikes.
[Reply]
  • + 37
 Underneath all the superficial brand identity crap, this is a pretty uninteresting question. Is a small company one that does design, testing, and production in-house and you could meet every employee at a barbecue? Or are the brands that have design in USA, Canada, wherever, but outsource production to a big Taiwanese or Chinese firm still small if their market share is lower than Giant/Trek/Spez? What about when different brands utilize the same production partners--what 'size' are they? Is the entire conversation supposed to be true hypothetical b.s. where people imagine general principles for how a big or small operation treats the consumer? If not, then why not ask "Does every bike company bigger than Santa Cruz Bikes do a better job than every company smaller?" Make two lists. Most people, though, are happy with their experiences with almost any brand you could name. Go to the trail, or, if that's too much to ask, go to the forums, and you'll find riders who love XYZ bikes. So what, really, is the question here? Big companies have huge buying power and high volume, but they price their bikes sky high and call it recouping he cost of innovation. Small companies price their bikes sky high, and call it boutique. And the price points emerge, and it's hard to tell who is following whom. But rest assured you'll be unhappy w/ the fork on a $1000 bicycle, or the wheelset on a $3000 bicycle, or shock on a $5000 DH bike, cuz man you just _have_ to upgrade to the Cane Creek before you hit the trails... The saving grace is that if you can afford this sport and special interests opposed to cycling haven't totally shut shit down in your region, than you almost can't go wrong. Everybody's bike is good. Just ride one.
  • + 3
 That is one hell of a post...."Everybody's bike is good.Just ride one".....so true.Nice work fella
  • + 11
 I rely on used stuff. The second economy of bike parts allows me to participate in the sport. Also, how the bike performs five years later is a great indication of quality, even figuring in the varied ways people treat their bikes. That is why carbon can't get a grip with the poor guys. We can't afford anything new, but we are terrified of buying carbon used, even if it is way better new. This is also why I drive cars form 1996. I can't afford new stuff, so I only buy tried and true used stuff. Except my current frame. I bought it new with a pro-discount at my previous job.
  • + 3
 It sometimes isn't what you ride its how you ride !
  • + 2
 Masterfully put, Snfoilhat. taletotell, I totally feel you on that one, for I heavily rely on the used parts/bikes. I have recently started using the clearance prices on previous model parts and leftover bikes to keep myself in the new. It has really decreases the aggravation of piecing together a good rig every couple of years. I feel that is the good thing about DH, the price of a rig at the beginning of a season is significantly less after Interbike. As long as you save a little during that time you take advantage of the deals (at like say CRC) on great bikes not names Trek, Specialized, and Giant. Much of that is due to the fact Dher's make up such a small segment of bike sales and the bikes life expectancy being shorter,
[Reply]
  • + 25
 I support rider owned companies.
  • + 6
 I am pretty sure Mike Sinyard rides bikes....just saying.
  • + 7
 Yep yep. Canfield Brothers Formula 1 Jedi is downhiller nirvana.
  • + 24
 Everyone rides at Specialized. You'd have a tough time dropping most of the mountain bike development team. And good luck hanging with Sinyard on the road.
  • + 2
 Both brands build amazing bikes. I have to say, not only does Specialized build some of the best bikes out there, the customer service is at the highest level possible. If the other brands had customer service that Specialized does, they would be a lot better off. I'll share my Specialized kool-aid any day of the week. Keep doing a bang up job Specialized! Stoked to be racing on my Specialized Demo and soon Carbon Stumpy Evo. Cheers!
  • + 0
 If every other company has the same kind of customer service as Specialized, I would start my own company. They have crap warranty support.
  • + 9
 As a small, rider/racer owned company the overall sentiment pushing to people liking the big brands over us small companies is real disheartening. it speaks to me that people are falling into the marketing hype of big money.
Spez is a huge Taiwanese company doing business in the US (just like Giant and KHS). rather than going into what I know about Spez and probably loosing the rest of my fans and followers out here in Pinkbike (I have over 25 years in the bike industry including racing and I know the inner working of just about every company so I now LOTS of dirt) I will simply say this...

As long as you are riding what makes you happy, it is all good. I (obviously) would want my bikes and company to make you happy but I love Kevin and Kyle at Transition (old friends, same with Chris and Lance Canfied) and I hope everyone buys or at lease seriously looks at and gets to talk to a smaller company before they consider a large brand. it is us small companies that drive the sport and drive the market, not the large dollar marketing budgets of the the big guys. it is Jeff at Intense that started all this IMHO and he is still fighting the good fight no matter how big he gets (which is needed it seems to break even). at the end of the day it is all a business and you speak with your money. do you want to help feed small, rider/racer owned family-centered companies or do you want to feed your money to large, international, multi-million dollar companies that don't need your money?
  • + 4
 Circes, what makes you say that? I've never seen or heard of better customer service than Specialized.

Oneghost, The guys at Transition are awesome. I'm all about supporting the local people in the industry including the local bike shops. Specialized started from nothing, and the employees and owner are riders for life. Say what you want to support your company, however Specialized is the one big company out there that deserves to be as big as they have become. I'm all about customer service, and Specialized is on top in that category. Transition has killer customer service as well, and I love their approach and ethics. Innovation is important in our sport as we continue to push the envelope with what is possible on a bicycle.
  • + 3
 oneghost - I'm sorry, but I have to pick your argument apart. I agree, there are many excellent small manufacturers, but to suggest we should buy bikes from small companies so that they can eat simply suggests that your major selling point is sympathy. And yes, many people (specifically, recreational riders with little bike experience) will succumb to marketing hype because that is the very point of marketing. Specialized has spent untold millions over the years in order to have that power. As a small manufacturer, you have advantages that Specialized does not. Maximizing your strengths creatively will get you to the promised land, provided you are willing to make concessions along the way.
[Reply]
  • + 19
 I think for new comers the bike thats on the shop floor will sell, maybe once you get into the scene then you might search out something specific. My 2 cents
  • + 2
 Wanting to purchase my first full sus early next year, I have to admit that I feel a lot more comfortable buying the stuff from the shop floor.
It just happens to be that they mostly sell the bigger brands, so I will have to stick to the bigger brands not because I like them more (I'd love a Banshee Rune, but they're hard to come by here), but because of practical reasons such as warranty, advice and all of this. Because I will also be moving to another country next year, I want to get me a Stumpy Evo. I trust a brand as big as Specialized to have solutions for my problems more readily available within a bigger action radius.
[Reply]
  • + 17
 Seen one too many cracked Uzzis in person to believe that a small company can put out a product that can compete with the big boys on a world class level. If I want a hand brazed steel cruiser... sure I'll get it from the guy down the street making them in his garage. If I want to ride the A-line at Whistler on a regular basis I'll go with a company that can afford the proper R&D.
  • + 1
 Specialized makes great bikes in general, but even in huge companies you may find design flaws. Example is Demo 2005 broken cage. It has been redesigned and sorted in newer models.

forums.mtbr.com/specialized/2005-demo-8-pro-broken-107267.html
  • + 2
 @ lorDHenry: Ditto. I had a 09 Enduro when Spec decided that "they can built a better fork and shock" than Fox/Rockshox. Long story short after having it warrantied three times, that bike was shortly sold. And let's not forget that Giant, Merida and Pacific Bikes produced most of the bikes in the world for big brands and small brands.
[Reply]
  • + 14
 Intense are a small brand!? Everyone across the world in biking knows that brand even if they don't see them much. I own a Brodie, nobody outside of Canada has even heard of them!
  • + 1
 I saw one of those for the first time 2 days ago listed on Trademe!
  • + 2
 intense is definitely a bigger small company name. Where would Santacruz stand?
  • + 2
 i'd say santa cruz is in the same boat as intense, even devinci is a relatively small company
  • + 1
 well, santa cruz has moved up to carbon already.
  • + 1
 as has devinci, but they are both still relatively small companies, and the carbon models for both devinci and santa cruz are outsourced to taiwan, in fact they're made in the same factory i do believe
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  • + 12
 I'd like to give my input

I used to work for a distributor importing and selling 2 small brands (1 USA made, 1 Canadian made in Asia) , and 1 small-to-medium sized brand (Canadian made)

the 2 small brands had ongoing issues with QC and warranties were a joke, often taking months to resolve

the small-to-medium sized brand had good QC and warranties were dealt with in a reasonable time frame, but spares (pivot hardware, mech hangers, etc.) were sometimes hard to source and could take weeks if not months to come into stock

we also sold Specialized as the only 'complete bike' brand in our stores, we rarely had any issues with their products, and if we did they were generally taken care of within 48 hours, creating no stress for our staff and a happy customer

I've also worked for stores selling Trek and Giant, and found similar positive experience with Trek when rarely warranty was required. I've sold many other small, medium and big brands and have generally found the the big brands to have the best products, best pricing, best QC and best warranty back up / customer services


I used to love the kudos of the small brand, but from my experiences as a retailer and also as a customer, I'd take a bike from the big brands every single time.

this season? had a problem with a mis-machined (0.2mm) BB shell (PF30) on my aluminium Stumpjumper, and within 48 hours had a brand new, free upgrade to the Carbon Fibre frame, and was back out riding the trails the next day

I compare to this a frame I had from a small brand, with a mis-machined, bearing socket in the swingarm pivot, waited over 6 months for a replacement frame, only to find the same issue on the replacement frame Frown
  • + 3
 Well said. That's my reasoning as well, It's nice to know that the company has a row of boxes of the same bike if you manage to get a defect.
  • + 3
 Your LBS can be super helpful when it comes to warranty if you buy through them. Most of the ones I've used have simply replaced the part and dealt with the company later, which means I am a happy customer! Even if you don't buy through them, they can be really useful - I recently took some 8 year old forks in for a service and the shop found that the compression rod had snapped, but the chap working on it remembered that this was a recall issue back in the day and sorted it out with Manitou, who supplied the parts FOC. Couldn't be happier about that! What I'm trying to say in a long winded way is that it doesn't matter who makes the frame - get the right one for you and your budget - just buy it from a good LBS and warranty issues will not be a worry for you.
  • + 2
 Cracking advice! I've been both sides of the counter both with bikes and guitars (Mmm "62 strat...) and the guys/ladies in your local shop are your genuine face of the industry, they know who will give them (and therefore you) the best service and products, they have relationships both good and bad with suppliers both good and bad, and know who they order from most regularly. All this and more is given with their advice, and all this and more is communicated with that resigned smug smile when one of us says "No, I want...."
Also a good relationship with your local shop often leads to better than internet discounts and a credit sheet....

Most companys sell to us, or our shops, via distribution companys so it's actually the national distributor (not manufacturer) who is responsible for delayed returns, repairs, orders et al, or indeed the 24hr warranty replaced frame...... I could carry on this B.S. for hours but here's the bottom line.

I say we need the small guys for diversity and cool and we need the big guys for investment and support and they all need us to keep buying.
Buy bikes, ride bikes.

P.s. I'm well aware that many "62 strats are crap so any avid musos out there need not beat me.
  • + 2
 I bought a Commencal back when they were pretty small and new. It damn near cost me my interest in biking as I went through warranty after warranty on cracked frames, which took months to resolve. About a year and a half later, I just got fed up, I swapped the MiniDH for an SX Trail frame, which I have thrashed for 3 years now and have not looked back...

The key thing is warranty: It should not be needed, ever, and if it is, it should be instant. I don't even want to talk to someone if my frame cracks, I just want a new one by the next weekend.
  • + 1
 Commencal are the worst company I ever dealt with for warrantys , I had an 08 supreme ( famous for cracking ) and they were not interested in helping me , heck it took MONTHS to even geta reply from them.
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  • + 6
 I love an underdog and there is something cool about owning a bike from a small rider owned company, but there is no denying that bigger companies with all their resources and bulk buying can produce higher value products. I don't particularly mind where my frame comes from so long as it's a killer frame with some soul behind it - and I believe that can come from a big or a small company. Size doesn't matter Wink
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  • + 5
 As a guy who works in a shop that deals specialized, I must say they are great to deal with in my experience. Huge product line, so many options, fast to get stuff to you, friendly, helpful... I can't speak for every company, but you can tell that Specialized actually cares. The passion is there for them, big company or not.
  • + 11
 I work in a shop that deals Specialized as well and completely agree with you. They are always ready to help even when we run into something crazy they are right there with answers. The Specialized Rep that comes to our shop is really cool too. He is a huge advocate of cycling all over Texas and is an avid mountain and cyclocross rider. He knows the stuff he sells because he is riding it everyday. It's just cool to see that kind of involvement from a company that big even on a local level. When I bought my Demo 8 II those things were a big factor. Yeah... I get a nice discount but I would still ride Specialized for the consistency of the customer service, top of the line bikes, and a warranty program that can't be beat.
  • + 5
 Thanks! We really try our best.
  • + 3
 Completely agree here guys. Customer service a long with great bikes. They keep doing a killer job for our customers and ourselves. Big shot out to all the Specialized employees and riders. Knock 'em dead Hugh Mooney!
  • + 3
 I have purchased Specialized bikes over the years. More importantly I have been riding them to the best of my abilities. Always striving and pushing them harder and further which leads me to enumerate just a few extraordinary specialized traits such as, their quality, esthetics, warranty / customer service, research and development, spot on geometry and their overall fun ambassador attitude shown worldwide. I know that many of my friends and acquaintances feel just as proud of Specialized. I had an opportunity to sell and build up Specialized bikes as well as other big name brands from the USA, France, Germany, etc. When critically evaluating the nuts and bolts of each brand one is never left indifferent. It can be an eye opener of sorts. I have yet to be dissatisfied by Specialized. If and when something goes wrong and it always will someway somehow; I rest assured that the talented men and women behind the "S" have my back and yours as well when we shed a tear for the unexpected vis-à-vis our beloved machines. To Specialized, thanks for the smiles and keep up the excellent work!
  • + 1
 we just had a very positive warranty situation for a customer in our store. her 5 year old, S-Works Tarmac road frame had developed an issue where the aluminium BB sleeve is bonded into the carbon fibre frame. this bike was purchased from an independant Specialized dealer, that had since ceased trading, and she could not provide a proof of purchase. Typically this would not be a valid warranty situation.

However, she had just purchased a custom built 2013 S-Works Tarmac from our store, and when we spoke to Specialized UK, they understood her situation and have offered to cover her faulty 5 year old frame under warranty. Her old frame is being shipped to Specialized UK today, and she has been offered a choice of different road frames (Tarmac, Venge, Ruby, etc.) so she can build another bike to complement her new custom built bike.

Awesome service from the big "S".
  • + 0
 I had a bad experience with Specialized this season and now try to steer everyone I know away from them. I bought the new Dissident helmet, then crashed and broke it in April. Went down to my local Specialized dealer where I got it, they talked with their rep. Specialized couldn't get me a replacement untill November, 7 months later, basicly telling me to go buy a helemt from another manufacturer. I wanted to get another Dissident but Specialized would rather sell new helmets on their web store and in their shops than get me a crash replacement. Thanks for nothing Specialized your customer service sucks!
  • + 1
 @jacobinmugatu

I would call Specialized USA directly and speak to their customer services department, and tell them about the problem with the helmet replacement and how it has changed your feelings about the brand; big companies actually benefit from hearing about these kinds of local problems (that you had getting your new helmet) as it can often be because of a communication problem between a local representative or dealer than any deliberate action to turn your custom away

you will often find they will be very keen to assist you as it costs them nothing but goodwill, and turning a negative into a positive only benefits your perception of them (this is true of any brand)
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  • + 4
 In this day and age, speaking as jobs are vanishing and people are struggling. I chose to buy American. This helps as I know I am doing my part to help a fellow rider in this tough times.I give credit to the small guys and will support them .And The owner of the company knows me by name. That does matter to me...
  • + 4
 American made or American owned? People always seem to get one or the other confused.
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  • + 4
 The things I usually look for in bicycle components are: performance, strength, company reputation, and looks in that order. If a company nails all four, I'll try and buy more of their stuff. I usually don't worry about company size, as I'd much rather buy from a mega corporation with a good reputation than a small company that won't give me good service, and vice versa.
  • + 1
 i agree with you 100%
  • + 1
 the same here and when I am able to hit all of these and support local bike company it is just the best! And I can
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  • + 3
 whether you dislike large companies or not, they have a number of advantages over smaller ones. Many of those advantages work their way down to real benefits that we, the consumers, enjoy. Because they have more capital and resources, their R&D and QA budgets should be far superior. I would expect that widespread warranty issues and variations within a large company's inventory do not happen with nearly as much frequency as these things happen with smaller companies' inventories. Additionally, better R&D and high levels of capital allow larger companies to offer superior warranty terms and provides them the ability to weather supply shocks better than small companies.

The simple matter of fact is that if a small company has always been small, they simply have not been managed well as it has not been able to take market share from other companies.

With regards to Specialized "trying to put the small guys out of business", I won't completely disagree, but I will add the following: I feel safe in my estimation that Specialized's single most valuable asset (by far) is their brand equity. If so, they must defend it with every means necessary and extinguish anything that has even the most remote chance of diluting it.

But fear not, the small guys will always have a chance, at least in the bike industry. The consumer base is exceptionally segmented, with preferences ranging from suspension design, appearance, geometry, etc, etc. There is no way for the big guys to cover all the bases, so smaller companies will be there to pick up the pieces.
  • + 1
 oh yeah...it seems that no one has mentioned that Specialized vs Intense isn't an apples to apples comparison. Specialized makes entry level bikes, kids bikes, road bikes, commuter bikes, etc. Intense only makes high end mtbs. That should account for just some of the size/reveniue difference
[Reply]
  • + 3
 Personally think little Ling Ling in her sweat shop welds better than the last Yank who did my Intense Tracer 2. That said, I could care less where it comes from, I judge a bike by it's own merits, being handmade in a small company is a bonus.
  • + 1
 I think Ling Ling welded my Sanderson! Supporting Taiwanese welding and small U.K. companys, perfect.
  • + 1
 Agreed with sup3rc0w. Own and ride the bike because it's a great bike and it feels right for you, not because it's made by the "right" company.
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  • + 3
 Had bikes from smaller co's like Cove and ones from Spesh etc, the smaller guys can't really complete on VFM, the big guys can usually sell you a decent spec full bike for not much more than the price of a frame from the smaller guys. Reviews from Mags, Pinkbike, other riders don't make me think that the smaller co's make better bikes, they just cost more.
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  • + 4
 I guess I'm with the small companies. My stable is:

1) Intense SS1
2) Transitions Double
3) Transitions Trail-or-Park

and I love all three of them!!!
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  • + 2
 Humm.. let's start to define what a "small company" is.

I've seen more intense M9 in Whistler than any other brand. Sure Whistler may not be representative... Still! Intense might not be that big, but it ain't small either. Plus it has a really big name (that I like a lot!). Intense's just playing with this cause they know it's good for their image: a small hardcore brand resisting the big ones still making in the us (at least the aluminum bikes). Like Asterix against Ceasar (might well be an unknown cartoon out of the EU "borders")
  • + 1
 I was hoping to find out if anyone outside europe reads Asterix but no comments...... I still have hope.
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  • + 2
 I have had far better luck with smaller companies for customer services. I can get someone on the phone or email at Transition. Specialized intentionally buries their contact info and when you do finally get in touch with a real person they tell you "sorry bro use a zip tie" when the dropper cable guide on your current generation Enduro breaks. When a replacement part for a CURRENT GENERATION BIKE THAT IS ON DEALER FLOORS ACROSS THE COUNTRY is backordered until some unknown future date there is no reason to go with a huge company like Specialized. They push their standards on the world and then abandon them. (remember the 25mm hub on the old Enduros...)
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  • + 2
 Having owned a Giant and an Intense in the last couple years I've found that quality was pretty much the same. To compare a couple frameset prices a new Giant Glory is about 2000 vs. an Intense 951 or M9 for 3000. I think Intense and Giant both invest tons of time and money in making great bikes but for Intense to be profitable they have to sell higher than a major manufacturer. My next bike build is going to be Giant, as much as I love Intense it's hard to justify spending almost another 1000 on a build for just the frameset. I know a lot of people have preference or are even bias towards a certain suspension/geometry/warranty but these are usually the second defining choice after price. If I didn't have a budget I wouldn't mind spending the extra cash but for a lot people in this sport and myself throwing at least a few grand out for a bike isn't the easiest thing to do.
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  • + 3
 Large companies didn't get to be large companies by making a bad product. At some point in time that large company was a small company trying to make it big. If a product works go with it, large name or small name.
  • + 3
 Big companies are just small companies that executed the right formula of quality, design, engineering and customer service.

I think it's ridiculous when people abandon their favorite bands because they become popular and allegedly "sell out". Every band's goal is to bring their music to more people, otherwise they wouldn't tour or record songs.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Problem scenario I:
Call big brand dealer
Maybe dealer thinks rep will listen
Rep listens.
Maybe rep says sure, we'll act.
Inside warranty guy listens.
Maybe inside warranty guy does or doesn't have authority to take action.
Warranty manager gets involved.
May or may not act.
Buy replacement part/frame off EBay while waiting for answer

Problem Scenario II:
Call Intense or Turner.
Rep may or may not know answer.
Rep asks Steber or or DT.
Problem solved
  • + 1
 my experience with treks customer service and warranties have been amazing. In 2009 i purchased session 88 with a lifetime warranty...This season i snapped the rear chain stay and due to inventory issues (they Ran out of aluminum frames) Trek provided me a session 9.9 free of upgrade cost. These large companies can stand behind their products unlike smaller companies and the consumer is the beneficiary. I have shared my story about trek with anyone who will hear it because it is unbelievable the way they stand by their products..i'm not certain a smaller company would upgrade you free of cost for a warranty as was my case...
  • + 2
 That is the case with Trek here locally. Call Specialized, the warranty rep takes care of it immediately. No B.S., no run around, just top notch service and bikes from Specialized.
  • + 1
 How would "Evil" fit into your problem scenario II? They are a small company? How many people were waiting for a "Revolt" despite perhaps having more direct access to higher ups in the company?
  • + 1
 Bizutch - I like your logic, but you are missing one key component, and that's financial capability. When dealing with a small company, I agree you are much more likely to reach someone who can judge favorably in your decision, but a small company is more likely to be financially and resource limited. They might want to help you, but if they can't afford to, they won't. This shouldn't necessarily change your or anyone else's view, but it is the counterpoint to your argument
  • + 2
 This is how it should work:
1) You buy the bike
2) You break the bike (optional, only occurs in 1% of cases)
3) You send it back
4) The company realises they made a profit margin of several hundred % over the marginal cost of making and posting out a replacement frame.
5) This results in a policy of simply replacing it with no questions asked.
6) You are a happy customer, bike company is down what, 200£ if it was say an 8"DH frame, and you rave on the internet how great Company XYZ is.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 There are two constants that really serve to balance this argument. A small company simply has more to lose when it's products don't hit the mark. They have to be sure that what they are releasing is strong, fun and ultimately won't rake them over the coals from warrantee issues (ahem......evil). A big company has less to lose by releasing a lame bike and can also afford to back up the warrantees that follow. In most cases it would seem that said companies don't seem to suffer from having past issues with the frames due to branding and releasing something totally bad ass to compensate. People are quick to forgive.
The above stated, I have kicked the living shit out of my '10 SX trail and it hasn't even flinched. I love this bike. I would love more than anything though, to own a bike that was hand made in Canada or the US. So I'm looking at Intense, Devinci and Cove. Everyone brings something to the table. It's what aligns with your ideals and riding needs that should make your decision.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Problem with intense is they fight over warranty and you spend that kind of money on a frame they could give a better deal lets say you bust a weld and they want $850 for a new rear triangle ,,, I won't buy another intense that's for sure
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  • + 5
 I saw the hulk in the picture, and read 'does size matter?' Not gonna lie, kinda disappointed this wasn't the sex tape.....
  • + 3
 Between the Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant? Gooooo! You are definitely on the wrong site. Razz
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  • + 2
 Try to buy local and small manufacturers - if possible and avoid asian sweatshopware. So Foes, Intense, Commencal etc. get the nod.

Marketingoutlets of the chinese manufacturing complex like GT, Specialized, Giant are thumbs down.

For some parts like forks, rims, tires there is no option but to buy chinese.

Or lets see - Campagnolo gear setup on my DH?
  • + 2
 @wakaba

unfortunately Intense are now using the "asian sweatshopware" as they switch to asian-made carbon fibre manufacturing for their new frames - no longer USA made

btw, Commencal have always been made in Asia Wink
  • + 7
 I don't really understand what you guys are on about. If you knew much about the bike manufacturing process you'd know that Taiwan (which is in Asia, if you didn't know) has some of the most modern bike factories in the world. Asian manufacturers no longer only produce things cheaper, they also do it better...
  • - 1
 @wakaba: do you know any frame made "locally" (let's expand it to the whole european union)?

I think BMC carbon frames are made in Switzerland but it might be only road frames, dunno. Anyway, top tube's too high for my taste and the price tag's too high for my wallet. Apart of that I'd be very curious to know what's made around. Let's make a list. I'll start it, please add up to it if you know some other brands made in EU (and I'm not talking about CroMo hardtails):
Orange
Home (born dead)
Caminade (to which I predict the same future cause of the Cromo full sus and really weird design, but hopefully I'm wrong)

Who else?
  • + 4
 Is commencal actually made in Andorra?

Nonetheless, any time a compant outsources its manufacturing plants to Taiwan, they are requires to use the same quality machinery and work environments that said company would provide in the states. Take a look around for pictures of the Giant warehouse that produces a large number of bicycles for other companies. Top notch machines, clean work environments, of age employees that look like they had a hot shower, and clean
clothes that morning. Then look closer and see all the brands you can name that they produce. In one photo, a guy was packaging up a Scott bike, with a bontrager wheel in the foreground, and a
Colnago boxed bike in the background.

No longer are manufactures outsourcing their bikes to Asia for cheaper costs. Sure, that may be part of if, but I would say its because the employees do it better, complain less, work harder, and willing to do it without the greedy pay a white man in the states requires.
  • + 1
 @mtnbykr05

Commencal have never been made in Andorra. like many companies they are a "design/marketing" company with off-shore production in Taiwan (also China, Vietnam, Cambodia, etc.), nothing wrong with that model of business its very common amongst small, medium and large cycle companies.

however, the reason many small companies have long delays on customers receiving warranty frame or parts is because the small companies do not hold sufficient stock in their warehouse.



many small companies do not even have a warehouse (just an office for design and marketing), but ship straight from their factory to the in-country distributor.

some small companies do not even have an office, it can be a guy working from his laptop and co-ordinating with a factory in Taiwan.



so for warranty claims, the small companies rely on the next production run in Asia (TW) and then surface shipping to the in-country distributor. This is why it can take weeks if not months to receive a particular size/model of warranty frame (they are made in batches on a cyclic production schedule)
  • + 1
 hampsteadbandit - all carbon is done in asia. there simply is no way to do it in the US that wouldn't result in a $5,000 frame. Can't fault Intense for that.
  • + 1
 @exlax

I'm well aware of where C.F. is coming from, and there is no harm (or choice) in companies like Intense and Ellsworth (both USA made) and Devinci (Canadian made) moving their production to Taiwan for their newer carbon fibre frames (or frame components).

The only shame perhaps, is they all spent a long time building up their domestic factories (especially Devinci) and they will start losing the production capacity and skill base as the market demands carbon fibre, and aluminium alloy becomes exinct in high end frames / bikes

Devinci have had their cheaper aluminium alloy frames (their recreational, comfort bikes and affordable hardtail mountain bikes) made off-shore in Taiwan for some years already, and was only the higher end aluminium alloy F.S. and Bixi bikes (mass transit city rental i.e. London's "Boris Bikes') that were made in Quebec.

With their move to carbon fibre, what would still be made in Quebec, just the swingarm (aluminium) for the carbon Wilson DH bike? Is this the same for Intense, I read they still CNC the aluminium short links for their carbon VPP frames in their USA facility?
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Canfield Bros all the way!!! I love my 08 f1 jedi and i would buy there whole line up if i could afford it. But i could defiantly be seen on a big company bike for the right deal. Im not above saving money on a well performing bike even though i would rather have a more boutique, and in some cases more personalized better performing, bike.
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  • + 1
 From my own experience, while I couldn't agree more with option 3 (as long as it works it's all good for me), I tried the "smaller company" and went for a Corsair Marque because I liked the frame, but it's given me some problems and it's been a pain in the ass to solve them. Now I understand that they went through a tough time and changed ownership, and that it would've been easier had I been from Nevada instead of from Spain, but that lack of replacement parts is never gonna happen with Specialized or Trek. Yes, it's cool never seeing a bike like yours too, but I think it comes down to what is around you.

A BC resident (to give an example) will probably be able to get an exclusive, small brand bike and be happy with it and have quick and good support for it, but a guy like me in Spain away from anything similar to that will have to go for a bigger brand that can ensure I get my replacement parts and my support without having to pay lots and wait even more.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Being a northern English lad and seeking a new ride, i thought there was only one real choice and splashed out a fair amount of cash on a new Orange Patriot (with all the Renthal and hope goodies being all patriotic and all that). The guy in the shop wasnt that clued up on or keen on DH/freeride and i wanted to chat to somebody about chain devices and tyres and the likes, so i rang Orange themselves for some help, only to get some lady fob me off and tell me to ring the bike shop. which kinda pissed me off at the time, there was me thinking if go for a small company you'll get a better service and a more personal touch then the bigger brands. dont get me wrong i still love the bike and the brand, just a little disapointed they couldnt spare me five minutes and probably got more cash outta me. if only everyone (or more then one) person from north lincolnshire sounded like Guy Martin i'd of been laughing!!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I go for small companies such as ns because I like the sense of uniqueness found in small companies.

I'm not competing in world cup so I don't care about those fancy researches done in big companies

besides you are spending some major dough on to your bikes. Do you really want a bike that everyone has?

Also bigger composites have name value so they will usually charge more money
  • + 1
 lul...

"those fancy researches" (to correctly quote you) are what keeps the bike from splitting in half, carving your calf open with razor sharp aluminum, and bleeding you out in the middle of the woods.

Small companies do their research, sure, but the big ones push the boundaries more often in pursuit of what CAN be done.
  • + 1
 I agree but there is a point of excessiveness After a certain point, the differences are marginal.
  • + 1
 For example, Do you really feel the difference of 7mm between 135mm and 142mm rear spacing?
  • + 1
 The difference between the two hub spacing is small but it has helped build stronger wheels. The 142 hub spacing allows you to run a dishless rear wheel which is stronger and is a bigger difference for 29er wheels.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 another way to look at this is a smaller company will take a simple design that has been proven to work well in the past, because they dont have the money to reasearch. where as a big company will try exparemental geometry and shapes it may not always work.
  • + 1
 What????
Ibis Mojo?
Santa Cruz Nomad?
Turner 5 spot?

All use new designs and suspension linkages, and I would argue are very experimental looking bikes. All small companies.
  • + 1
 i never said they never came out with different exparemental frames. no need to be an ass hole we dont need fighting im not your enemy we are all on the same side. and im sorry did i somehow offend you?
  • + 1
 I am not trying to be an ass. Your post made it seem like small companies aren't smart enough or creative enough to create new suspension designs.

I find the opposite to be true. The little companies have been defining the industry for the last five years.


How long has Specialized been using the Horst Link? 20 years?
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Hmm... Lots to say on this issue:

1. I have ridden big and small companies( specialized,ventana,ibis). I think the smaller companies produce cooler looking bikes. This matters because the more you like your bike the more you will ride it. Although To be fair, I do use Specialized pro carbon MTn. Shoes( 2 pairs).

2. The smaller companies make more expensive bikes myth is BS. Specialized makes a $9900 mountain bike. I think the most expensive Ibis Mojo HD is $7500.

3. I have not dealt with customer service at Specialized. But I have met Sherwood , from Ventana at Sea Otter. And Scot Nichol personally answered one of my emails. I he never seen Sinyard at Sea Otter...

4. Big companies don't always make a better tested product: Specialized suspension products were a train wreak. The Gary Fisher Roscoe rear triangle is a cracked rear triangle waiting to happen.

5. This is the part that PISSES me off about the big companies, and has not been mentioned in this post: big companies make the stores that carry their products agree to stock a majority of their product. I have heard "rumors" that Specialized makes you stock 40% of your store with ONLY their products.

If you think you make the best product, why not let the customer choose your product over another?
  • + 1
 I can tell you first hand that these "rumors" are false about Specialized. Trek on the other hand...
  • + 1
 You don't see Sinyard because he's probably out riding or racing. I don't think he's missed a Sea Otter in 20 years.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I've been happy with both smaller companies and larger ones just as I've been disappointed with both. There are so many factors at play that it is hard to tease out if the variable that made the difference was the size of the company. I have noticed that warranty's have gone smoother in the past with larger companies for me though have had one or two "lemon's" which may or may not be due to a higher volume of bikes and the greater statistical risk of a flaw slipping through the cracks due to that volume. My favorite part of buying larger companies is a bit of security that they can carry and support their product with more reach and resource in the long run. I love smaller companies for their ability to offer solid, more focussed, niche products (My Surly products often leave me at half mast).
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I agree that Specialized have a huge product line, excellent R&D, and beautiful bikes...but I would definitely have to disagree about there customer service. Now I can't speak for all you industry employees but coming from a customer who pays full pop for all products I think they definitely lack the edge over a lot of companies out there...As industry employees you may be treated well in order to put the good word out there for their products...but when it comes down to the end user...that is where they drop the ball.

I have purchased and used several specialized products including some Specialized gloves I had...the velcro to tighten the glove basically fell off of the fabric and I was left with a big flapping piece of fabric while I was riding. I emailed support and they told me that it was due to wear and tear...fair enough...However, I had only wore the gloves for maybe 10 days of riding. I also had a Specialized Deviant Carbon Helmet which literally fell apart after my 3rd time ever wearing it (Inside EVA detached from the carbon shell) making it extremely unsafe. After visiting my local bike shop they told me to contact Specialized support. I emailed there customer support line multiple times but never even got a response back.

Now what am I supposed to think of there company? They didn't even bother to REPLY me to say No we can't help you out.
  • + 2
 Fast forward a few months. I purchase a Kabuto helmet out of Japan when I'm there travelling. I notice when I bring it home that one of the chin straps have come undone from the base of the helmet. So I emailed the shop I bought and they forwarded me off to a Kabuto rep. This rep replies to me in very broken english to send him pictures of what happened...fast forward a few weeks...Brand new helmet arrives at my doorstep...with an RMA for the old one...To kick it off they sent me an apology letter in a very cool japanese card and a whole bunch of stickers and decals. Now THAT is CUSTOMER service...Let me repeat that...CUSTOMER service.
  • + 2
 Sorry that you had that experience. The local bike shop is to blame with your issues, not Specialized. All warranty stuff goes through the LBS. We would have handed you a brand new pair of gloves and helmet, no questions asked. Specialized always takes care of their customers, sometimes the dealers don't do a good job of handling issues. Again, very sorry to hear about your negative experience with your local bike shop.
  • + 2
 I agree and disagree...sure my LBS could've done more for me by replacing these items but why wouldn't I get the same level of service contacting Specialized directly? Shouldn't they be able to provide the same sort of solution to me??

Either way, yes I agree that my LBS could've put a little more care into there customers...especially on accessory items...
  • + 1
 It's frustrating when you can't deal with the manufacture direct. It's the same reason that one cannot buy a complete bike online and have it shipped. The manufactures have a contract with their dealers that states the bikes need to be built in an authorized shop so that they can say that they were built by paid bicycle mechanics properly. When bikes aren't built right, it's not fair to the consumer or the manufacture. This has to stay consistent for the entire dealer agreement. In some situations, the manufacture of a product may have a different warranty program from one shop to another allowing certain shops to just take care of the customer without even contacting the manufacture, and the shop gets a kickback at the end of each year. Again, sorry that you had that experience, I would be upset and most certainly would not be buying product from them again. Wish that I could have been the dealer involved and taken care of you properly. Keep shredding!
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  • + 1
 -if the bike isn't going to hold together for a few seasons,don't sell it.
-don't make cheap options if the components are going to suck and ruin the bike
-customer service is way more important than anything else= if something fails where will I be able to get a replacement- specialized has some weird custom stuff that makes it impossible to get a replacement from anyone but them, and the shops don't even order stuff that you need. What about intense- they don't have any dealers around here,custom stuff that you don't get anywhere.
I don't care who makes it, make a good bike at a reasonable price and with a service that will be able to get replacements for stuff that gets broken.
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  • + 1
 I think we are so far along in technology that whether you are boutique or a large player like specialized the quality control and design is fairly even across the board, and we are at a point where we are splitting hairs in terms of how bikes ride. They all ride extremely well.

I think the bigger factor many forget about is what happens when things go wrong.

Ya so you bought your low production Intense M9, or your one of a kind euro speciality bike....but you had a crash in whistler and need to replace a pivot bolt, or you bent something in your rear triangle, or derailleur hanger.

It's all well and good that you have a low production bike, and it rides like a dream, but sometimes when things go wrong, and you need parts in a hurry you are then waiting days/nights/weeks for a part to come from the bike maker because shops dont sell them or stock them because they are so uncommon.

Anyone that races knows this. Anyone who rides bike parts knows this.

You ride a specialized demo you can pretty much brake anything on the bike anywhere, at any park or race, and the bike shop or race guys around the pits will have spare parts to replace/fix your every need. It's because everyone rides the damn things and so everyone has parts for them.


Having owned an intense, i know this all too well. Pivot bolt backed out, had to call intense because they are custom aluminum and no one in Western Canada had a replacement.

Something to think about when purchasing your next bike.

Full disclosure: I still support boutique brands, i ride a TR450, but they are almost as common in Whistler as Demo's so i'm not overly concerned, and their head office is a 3 hour drive away if things ever got real bad.
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  • + 1
 when I was purchasing a new bike under 2 months ago it was between a carbon demo and the aurum 1. Both being 2013 models I was really excited but after speaking with the guy at my local shop, he informed me that Norco would give me 20% off and Specialized told me to go pound sand. It was an easy decision after Specialized's rebuttle.
  • - 1
 I'd also like to add that I had recently purchased a Specialized status and wanted an upgrade. I was pushing towards Specialized but not the customer support I was looking for.
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  • + 1
 I would rather buy a bike that works, I am tired of hearing about problems with products and then being told "but they have great customer service and a great warranty program" I would rather a company had terrible customer service provided I never have to call them because my bike works perfectly. Make a bike that works great that is easy to maintain, change the bearings out, find spare parts like der. hangers ect. and I won't give a rats ass about your customer service.
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  • + 1
 have both , small and big one after riding for 10 + years , ...i like my bike bike , but enjoy more miles in my all mountain , that say , i am still a trully week end warrior, commited dh rider, but before everything a mounatin biker... with , decent equipment for lasting at least 2 more years, ...xx what ? linkage teknobullshit maybe, and stan s in my tube yeah , so , what is that fuss about the bling , maybe on msn !!! but not in my world .
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  • + 1
 Its funny... the brand size has a lot to do with wheel sizes of mountain bike offerings. As long as we have giants like specialized and well, giant... who are so heavily feeding people the 29er is the be-all / end-all kool aid of wheel sizes, they'll be room for brands like Intense which aren't so stuck in a "we spent too much money pushing one format of bike, to offer anything else now" as is the case with 650B. Publically Specialized reps are going out of their way to poo-poo 650Bs but privately... they're developing them and its just gonna be a laugh fest to the mag editors and writers when they have to read the marketing spin on why suddenly 650B is worthy of them. Trek will likely be the first of the big-3 to release their 650B models.
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  • + 2
 I will always buy from the bigger bike builders, I'm not going to take a chance like what happened with evil! Have all of thoes people even recived there replacement frames yet?
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  • + 1
 To me it doesn't matter big or small company. Give me the best value. If I were to be picky about who's bike I'm buying, I would think major and local. by that, I mean a brand that has a big enough national presence and is local to me. That way, I can support a local economy and also the brands are big enough that they should have some sort of positive reputation. If Specialized were local, I'd support them first and foremost. For me, I'm fortunate to have Transition and Diamondback nearby so its pretty easy.
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  • + 1
 All other things being equal... Small company all the way. Unfortunately, given the size of some of these companies, many small guys just can't compete. That just makes it all the better when a company like Intense can not only compete but steadily produces products superior to the big guys.
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  • + 1
 No, a smaller company can't throw the same R&D $$ as Specialized can at a design. But, there are talented engineers out there and great bikes are a blend of technical know how and real world rider input.....and there better be some passion in there. I ride a Transition TR250. Rider owned and when you ride it you know someone who cared pained over it. Demo suspension is amazing(not my thing but it's undeniably good), so the obvious choice is just to ride what works for you....but doesn't it just feel better to ride a great product that came from something a little more intimate? And, I can't imagine breaking this thing...it's stiff as hell.
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  • + 1
 i find the wider range of options of components on bikes offered by larger companies to be my deciding factor most of the time. as a student i can't drop $5,500+ on a top spec down hill bike, so that rules out companies like transition, and santa cruz right away. companies like norco, or specialized who offer a bike from $3-4,000 that will get me on the hill with a bike that my not be as tune-able, but will be still respectably spec-ed.
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  • + 1
 You have to applaud Jeff for keeping most manufacturing in the US (as he is one of the very last that can stamp ‘Made in the USA’ on a bike). I’m sure it’s impossible to get a business loan to even tool-up to do the carbon manufacturing in-house. I would also bet Jeff isn’t getting rich keeping the doors open at Intense. I’m currently on an Intense Uzzi and will probably never ride another brand. The bike is beyond any other I’ve owned from Santa Cruz, Ibis, and other high-end brands.
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  • + 1
 yeah im on the fence on this one as there are big companies that have made bad bikes and same for smaller ones. and as for customer care it dosnt matter on size depends how good the company are and if the give a toss. i mean i had a 24-7 slacker 24 bought frame new rode mint one of the nicest ive riden and it cracked on the seat stay and chainstay but no worries as 24-7 offered a no bull life time warranty.....
rang up mr 24-7 said i bought this frame new few months ago and its cracked in 3 places how do i get it replaced. and i was told i had to send the whole bike to them at my expense for them to inspect it to see if it had been abused ect. even though it was only the frame that was 24-7. so basicly they just fed me a fu*k off tablet. as i was not paying to send them my bike only to tell me its been abused or jumped so they cant replace it. shit customer service and full of shit offering a "no bull lifetime warranty" so not all small companies are good no matter how for the rider or passionate about riding they are. but not all companies are like these.
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  • + 1
 I usually buy the bike that I feel is the best for the riding I do. I also prefer to build up a frame with the parts I want. Parts play a huge factor in how well a bike works or doesn't work. On many occasions I have stripped parts off a demo and put my parts on it to get a real comparison between frames. I usually demo around a dozen bikes a summer just to keep in touch with what is out there. Swapping out parts is a major pain in the ass but its the only way to evaluate the frames performance. Manufactures please stop putting crappy parts on your demos. Also 3x10 is stupid and Avid brakes And Kenda tire suck ass. Please don't put this Shit on your demos either. Nothing less than XT or X9 for the drivtrain is acceptable either. If the word Trail is used in the advertising it better have a dropper post. If I spec a Carbine and a Stumpy carbon with the same parts the Stumpy is more expensive. Go figure. I've been really lucky in that I have yet to break a frame so I don't have much experience with frame warranties. The only bike parts I have had to warranty in the last 20 years are forks shocks and wheels. So I do know from blowing up many forks and shocks that if you want to get back to riding quickly you might as well fix it your self or buy another one. Because sometimes it takes months before you get your fork or shock back. Factory wheels can be a pain in the ass as well. But since I switched to Enve wheels I haven't had any wheel issues. Jason hope you guys are working a 650b trail bike because I'm in the market for a new bike and my next bike will probably be a 650b. I'd also like Purgatories for it a S works 2.3 front and a Control 2.2 in the back. Oh is there anyway you can have more demos available. It's rather hard to demo your bikes.
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  • + 1
 For as "small" as they are Intense is a badass company with a great leader. They were smart to jump on the VPP platform early, and smarter to finally come out with carbon frames. And knowing they have a reputation to keep, they didn't come out with a cheap looking, poorly finished Chinese frames, but ones that are truly top notch, immaculately built, with US made aluminum hardware. My Intense Carbine 275 doesn't "fit in" with Santa Cruz LTCs or Specialized Epics or other mass produced bikes because it has that high end, boutique look and build quality that the other companies don't have. Add that to unbelievable performance and you have a bike you can truly be proud of. While it used to be that the boutique frame companies really made the best built and performing bikes, the introduction of suspension design platforms and carbon fiber have change that characteristic.It's hard to rationalize buying a heavier, inferior performing bike and paying more for it, even if you truly stand behind a US made product. It's great to see Intense coming out with products that are legitimately top end on the production side as well as the performance end.
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  • + 1
 Hmmm.... Difficult question... I like what some of the big guys are bringing to the table now in terms of quality and bang for the buck, but I will always have a place in my heart for the small guys out there. Especially since many of them were customers of mine at my old job. It has been awesome to see the growth of a company like Transition over the years.. Plus, most small companies can respond to changes in market trends faster.. Look at the whole 650b deal...

As far as customer service, Specialized is pretty hard to beat. (I work at a shop that is a Specialzed dealer) and other than some bad freehub bodies that we have had a hard time getting hold of lately, they have been awesome. And in some of those freehub cases, they have sent out complete wheels and in two cases complete wheelsets when a rear wheel wasn't available.

As far as the lifetime warranty, it is clear that it is to the original owner and they may require a proof of purchase. More companies are starting to ask for proof of purchase.. Look at the Black Market warranty page.. And with so many FR/DH riders out thrashing on used bikes, should the companies warranty a frame with no questions asked?

I guess if money was no object I would have a mix of bikes in my garage... Support my friends at Transition and One Ghost, but still have some cool S-works level stuff in there too...
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  • + 1
 I thought I was looking at a picture of Liam from Oasis. If it's picture vs picture, Steber wins that one hands down.

The other picture is trying to convey "hey this bike is light, I'm lifting it with ease." I can see the front wheel resting on a surface. I'm sure the rear one is too.

Anywhoo, after reading most of the posts here, why do I feel like Specialized fans are like Apple fans?
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  • + 1
 I believe that by supporting the smaller guy you help forward the industry. Alot of the smaller companies have to set themselves apart from the big guys and push the envelope with design, opting for more outside the box thinking. Intense makes a beautiful bike, as well as Moots, Evil, Morpheus and Canfield. Much more appealing to me than Giant, Specialized and Cannondale. Most smaller companies are hand making frames and componentry as well, so its nice to know that some guy with the same passion as you is manufacturing your stuff.
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  • + 1
 honestly is there a BAD DH bike? NO... size of the company doesn't matter. what matters is the design and function of the bike for what you need it to do. Ventana is a very small company but makes killer bikes. canfield is another.
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  • + 1
 The average car has a 3 month 36,000 mile warranty, after that you are on your own for repairs. If you buy a mountain bike frame that you will beat the hell out of and ride it to the limit and it breaks after 3 years why should any manufacturer warranty it? I would be more pissed at the automobile manufacturer than bike company since the car costs substantially more. Everyone has a story about what broke and what company warrantied what part but what you never hear how much the part or frame had the hell rode out of it.
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  • + 1
 I understand supporting a smaller company but they f*cked me over. I purchased a Foes Fly and the frame snapped. I contacted them and they refused to offer me a crash replacement frame. They just told me I had to buy a new frame and that was it. I feel like a different company, like specialized, would have handled the situation a bit better. I was just expecting Foes to put a little more effort into dealing with my snapped frame.
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  • + 1
 it is also about the service of the company. for example Audi has a very poor dealer network with many flaws and poor service help. subaru a smaller less expensive company has exceptional help when you need to find a part or item for your car.
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  • + 1
 for my next road bike i think id rather have a frame made in the uk than a carbon one made in the far east. considering the excess damage done to the earth by transporting the frames thousands of miles and the fact it promotes bad working conditions for the workers by supporting the trade. granted i still need the components but wit the likes of: hope for hubs and breaks, enigma for frames its a step in the right direction
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  • + 1
 Hmmm...
Kind of surprised that I haven't seen anybody say this. For me, I know what I want, knew that my purchase wouldn't end up in the garage and so was willing to spend some coin. Went with a boutique brand for myself (ibis) and couldn't be happier.
That said, if a friend comes to me asking for advice on their first nice bike - I tell them to go check out the local specialized dealer. Purchasing power means $2500 on a specialized gets you a top frame with a solid component spec. It only seems to be at the $4k and above price point where the boutiques can catch up. Me, I love that Ibis is within 15 minutes of my house and that if I have a problem, there is a good chance I can show up at their door and be treated like family.
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  • + 1
 it would be mad cool if there was a secret underground bike trade of all custom bikes and nobody else knew about it except us... and in order to join the trade group you had to sell a custom frame to somebody... you know? just so that its not like you are only there to pick up a custom bike and then book it and never come back.
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  • + 1
 My worst customer service experience was from Specialized. Up to that moment I was a huge Specialized fanboy for many years (been riding around 25 years now)...had their shoes, helmets, pedals, bikes...you name it I had it or wanted it. Then one incident with Tony at Specialized Canada and for over ten years now I have not even thought about specialized products...not only that but I tell all my friends about this experience and then about the great experiences I have had with Transition and Banshee...guess what bikes they ride now...I'll give you a hint...it does not start with S.

Add to that the hardcore lawyering up they have been doing and using their vast amounts of money to make other companies lifes hell...seems a little like corporate bullying to this old guy.
  • - 1
 Example? The best customer service in the business is from Specialized.
  • + 1
 Customer service definitely makes or breaks an experience. I ride my Kona because I rode tons of other bikes first and theirs were definitely the most fun to ride and had the best geometry. I've always liked Kona anyways because they are fairly small, rider owned, and make fun, durable bikes. Plus the LBS has some awesome stories of how cool the guys there are too. And when my shock had to be warrantied (Kona makes great bikes, but not so great shocks Smile ) it was taken care of without any hassle. And a buddy of my recently cracked a frame at a weld on an old Kona of his and it is being taken care of. My experiences with Kona have been great and that's one reason I'll be buying a Kona for my next bike i'm guessing. Just my 2 cents.
  • + 1
 @Dual-That's just your opinion. And here's your example. And by the way, Specialized have always treated me fair....not sure about these guys.

velonews.competitor.com/2012/01/news/an-expensive-dollar-volagi-owes-specialized-1_203443
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  • + 1
 I have had spez and trek bikes. They were great. No complaints about them at all. But when i got my hands on my Turner DHR, I dont know i just love it, mybe cuz its truly hand built and its built right in Murrieta California. Also Foes is badass. but Intense is built in cali too lol. I dont konw pretty much if it works and lasts long im good with it.
  • + 1
 turner bikes are not hand built in murrieta...
  • + 1
 last I checked they were.
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  • + 1
 Forget big and small, the real issue is access to brands not sold in North America. Distributors that don't distribute. Someone has the rights here, has nothing in stock, will not order what you want, all the while a legit/trustworthy foreign retailer will not ship to North America because of the exclusivity rights held by some random guy in an industrial park who had big dreams but no cash flow who is now interested in other things. That awesome bike overseas should be within your grasp but it is just a mirage.
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  • + 1
 Just because a bigger profile company has more resources, capital, and labor doesn't mean it produces better bikes. Smaller companies such as Intense and Santa Cruz are made up of riders like you and me and they know what we need to go out and have a blast every single time. Just my opinion.
  • + 1
 Specialized employees ride.
I don't see how people disassociate the riding variable as soon as a big name is dropped.
For God's sake, on Specialized's "Careers" page, when you apply, there are MULTIPLE questions about what you ride, when you ride it, why you got into Mtn biking, etc...
STOP trying to take the weight from a big company's employees by inferring that they don't ride.
Oh and also, PRO TESTING and RIDER FOCUS GROUPS. That helps the big names too.
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  • + 1
 I own a session 88, ex8, ex9 and bought my girl a3700, lush sl, and a madone 3.1. like most the people i ride with, my bike is worth more than my car.We dont have a lot of money but our love for the sport outweighs common sense. Over the years i broke my share of bikes. Intense told me the bike wasnt made to be hucked, Specialized said it was my fault.Trek "always" stands by their product, even when it was my fault.Trek has always went above and beyond and that makes it easier to ride hard.
  • + 1
 I'm glad that Trek has taken care of you. Quite the opposite around here. Never heard Specialized say that to anyone, but I'm sorry that you had that experience. Specialized offers the best warranty in the biz.
  • + 1
 I've heard of a few people having trashed Treks here and being told where to go... Thought this can't be real, and then met one of the Trek reps at the trails, and suffered listening to him bitch about how unreasonable all the people who were returning bikes with folded in down tubes were.
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  • + 1
 I have to say I like Black Market Bikes and the direction they are going. Small company with some really great ideas like the Roam A.W.D system. Switch the dropouts and you can run 26", 650B and 29er. From someone who doesn't have a lot of space or money. It seems like the right choice for me without having to have a whole fleet of bikes.
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  • + 1
 I feel that passion is evident in many small companies and in larger ones as well. What matters is quality, attention to detail, customer service and what you give back to the community-and "giving" isn't necessarily a massive qty of cash either.
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  • + 1
 Its true Specialized is a big brand and they have very good frames but i would never buy a bike from them. The realy expensiv bikes have good components but the cheaper bikes are just bullshit from the fork to the shifter and so on... I prefer brands who give you a standart quality frame with good components for a good price...
  • + 2
 What about the best DH bike for the money? Specialized Status. Specialized are actually the least expensive top quality bikes on the market and offer more than a full range of component specs to allow customers that need more affordable bikes, that are top quality without the huge price tag and easily upgradable.
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  • + 1
 Intense is not a small company. It's not the biggest. But it is not Small. Any bicycle business with the financial fortitude to hire brokers to manage the importation and fabrication of parts overseas is not small. There are hundreds of small manufacturers that struggle yet manage to offer a highest quality product at a competitive price. They usually are the ones that push ideas forward and make this industry evolve.
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  • + 1
 Big companies can make better bikes, because they buy large quantities of a same part, but they sell those bikes to lots of customers who are so different from each other, that makes it impossible to have real "customer care", thats where the dealer network should make the difference.
The smaller manufacturers can have a design more biased to a kind of terrain or riding that prevails in their region, giving the rider a product that will need less care.
So what kind of customer care is more important for you: to have the parts you need immediately available, or have someone ready to help you tuning your bike?
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  • + 1
 Intense bikes a scary, they snap all the time.
Apparantly my 3 year old intense m6 was out of warranty and the did not have the part because so many broke (top link).

I now have a specialized. If it is not covered by warranty they just give you cost.
But I have yet to have a frame failure.
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  • + 1
 i'v had 3 company's bikes first was a kona stinky with a shiver, and then had the transition gran maul, then iron horse 7point, and back to transition for a blind side and bottle rocket iv been following transition bikes sense day 1 in 2001 and have never looked back starting out as a small washington company i love there bikes and the guys are as normal as any other people out there and this is why i like them. yah they are getting pretty big now but they seem like like the same small company they were when they started.
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  • + 1
 I wouldn't really care if the company is HUGE or if it's a 'boutique brand' - just as long as it's a good bike. My only beef with boutique brands is their price point - I guess it's a function of Economics of Scale. End of the day, IF I had the money, I wouldn't mind getting from a small company or a big one. Where I am right now, however, prictpoint is a pretty big determining factor so tendency for me is to lean towards Bigger companies that can offer lower price points - i.e. GT or GIANT.
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  • + 1
 I ride MTB since 1990, Downhill race and XC freeride. I hate to see 29 wheels, have tried once and it was like a bus to me, maybe those 27.5 are better couse Im a tall rider. but I love technical trails so if 29 are not good on technical as the good and old 26 inch, so I will pass it. I love MTB, its in my blood. I eve changed city recently couse de city of Rio is not good for MTB and went to de contry side to a MTB paradise city!
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  • + 1
 i prefer smaller brands and i wish my shop carried them. also from what i noticed the smaller brands are more expensive. if i run into some money then i will buy a bike from a smaller brand but until then im staying with what i can afford. and if anyone looks on my profile and sees the session that i have i picked it up for $1300 off from what it usually is and thats why i can afford it
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  • + 1
 For me and I would think most customers, the choice ultimately comes down to quality of product and customer service, relative to price. With that said, if all things are relatively equal (price, quality, performance, customer service), I am going to buy from the 'smaller' manufacturer like intense. To me, I'd just rather support the 'smaller' guy that the monster corporation.
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  • + 1
 I love my Intense (Tazer HT), the quality of the frame is amazing and the customer service with this small but reasonable sized company is top notch. Also ontop of all that, your supporting the local community and the local riding scene. When I get my next bike it will Definatly be another Intense.
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  • + 1
 Well after the big company here refused to replace my bighit with a lifetime warrenty after it cracked at the head tube i'm going to try a small company. Service for me is key.
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  • + 1
 Orange bikes are an awesome small company but being that there not a large company they shrank there line up from 17 to just 10 Frown

R.I.P. Miii + ST4 + Elite + P7 + Pure7 + G3 + G2
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  • + 0
 Which bike companies are big and which are small? How does one rank them in size? It's all relative, but I wanted to come up with a list that put it into better perspective.

Does this ranked list (biggest to smallest) that I made up look somewhat accurate? I basically just considered model range, amount of R&D, history, race team and sponsored riders, number of shops carrying them, perceived estimated size of management and R&D, market influence, patents, aggressiveness, etc. Just guessing. Someone who has access to sales figures might come up with a more credible list.

Trek
Spec
Giant

Scott
Cannondale

Rocky Mountain
Santa Cruz
GT
Lapierre
Kona

Yeti
Intense
Pivot
Devinci
Commencal

Norco
KHS
Orange
Titus/On-One
Ibis
Turner
Ellsworth
Knolly
Transition
Banshee
Nuke Proof
Morewood

Tomac
Foes
Cove

Canfield
Zerode

Couldn't really fit these in anywhere: Polygon, MDE, Mongoose, Diamondback, Canyon, Fezzari, Orbea, Jamis, Felt...

Edit: I ranked the SoCal bike co's a bit higher than I should've. Being local to them, I see them all around me, which kind of made them look bigger than how others may see them. Canadian and Euro brands are likely misplaced, since this is coming from an American POV.
  • - 1
 This all depends on the riding style
  • + 1
 sorry i was thinking about the best brands for certain styles, not the largest. haha its late in utah
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  • + 1
 the specialized guy obviously never had to deal with his own CS. what a load of bs. he should stop talking and go work on a decent suspension design. the romans want theirs back.
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  • + 1
 I think that people should support smaller companies. You get a lot more for your money or example yt industries DJ bikes. For the money they are second to none. They will be big!!
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  • + 0
 It boils down to the fact that its all about the rider in the way that a small company can provide a more personalized bike to fit the needs of a certain niche group of riders perfectly because only hundreds or thousands of customers. While a large company on the other hand has to provide a bike that appeals to all factors within that genre of riding because it will be sold to hundreds of thousands, for example certain all trail, all mountain, and gravity bikes will be designed with flat out performance and speed in mind while others will go for a high fun factor like a bikes capability for jumping, etc... Not that going balls out fast isn't fun so a large company has to find a happy medium for EVERYONE in that group while a smaller company can fit the bill to whomever they please.
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  • + 4
 Better than the presidential debate, but oddly similar in some ways.
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  • + 1
 It just depends on the talent and goals of the people involved. If you don't beleive this, go research the story of the Britten motorcycle. www.youtube.com/watch?v=FjXA6E0eqao
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  • + 0
 These are two great manufactures but i dont consider intense a small company. Since they help design the vp linkage alot of companies buying thru them. That type of capital can launch small companies into the big money. Brooklyn Machine Works is a better example of how a small company can build a bike that destroys all other designs. I rode every dh bike made and nothing compares to the brilliant design of the linkbike. Ya carbon bla bla this and that race ya i be waiting for you at the bottom son on my bmw beast.
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  • + 1
 all company out there are pretty good ; small or big they do good quality bike, so i will say that size doesnt matter in this case. Usually riders know what they are paying for.
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  • + 4
 Love the Carbine.... if it only had ISG tabs I would definitely buy it!
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  • + 1
 "There seems to be a faction that views successful companies as inherently sinister."
No, not sinister, just able to have enough money and lawyers to put the little guys out of business .
  • + 5
 Examples? Sure:

Epic Wheelworks in Portland, OR: Specialized sent a threatening letter demanding they change their name. The shop ONLY builds custom wheels.

Epic Designs Alaska: Demanded they change their name. Epic sells frame bags for adventure rides like the tour divide.

The corporate bullying at the BIG S keeps me from purchasing their products.
  • + 0
 And this forced them out of business?

Perhaps they can try "Intense Wheelworks" and "Intense Designs" next. It seems reasonable to me for a company of any size to protect it's trademarks.
  • + 3
 I should have clarified my statement. I'm not saying that it IS the case, but that some of the perceptions out there are of Specialized pushing some othe smaller guys out of business. And I'm sure there's a lot of information about those cases that the public doesn't see, but unfortunetly that doesn't matter. In the end it's the perception that matters and determines a companies image. The case involving Stratos Suspension comes to mind. A little searching leaves the impression of Goliath pushing David out of business.
  • + 2
 Companies of all sizes should probably realize the bad press they get from that kind of bullying, (sorry, trademark protection.) Here's another kind of example of it going too far and not ending well for the bully.

www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33282954/ns/business-small_business/t/monster-threatens-vermonster-beer-brewer/#.UIbcl4V1HQw

I'm just saying that in this discussion about big vs. small it's a factor in my purchasing decisions. It might be important for Specialized to protect perceived trademark infringements but it's important for me to not support corporate bullying.
  • + 2
 TimZim: Trademark infringement is nothing to mess around with. Call it corporate bullying, I call it smart business practice to protect one's trademark.

krisrayner: I know exactly what you are talking about. I have a friend that owns a shop and because a Specialized concept store came into town, he acts like they are the devil. In reality, my friend is a close-minded individual in a huge biking community that fails to innovate with the sport on almost all levels. Customer service is almost non-existent, high pressure sales, no price breaks, etc. I live almost 6 hours from him, I come into town with a pedal issue and since I forgot a pedal wrench, I had to buy one from him instead of him letting me use one.

Yeah, I don't think it's bullying, it's the small companies running themselves out of business.
  • + 1
 to the two above, trademarkin and legal issues in both bullying and protection are uber subjective and have seemingly infinite pros and cons. big vs small brand are almost identical... infinite pros and cons...
  • + 1
 I'm with the little guys on this one (I'm normally on Spec's side because the bikes are awesome). "Epic" is an adjective. How can you trademark an adjective? Epic is a word that has been used for years to describe long periods of time/duration e.g. and "Epic ride" an "Epic Trilogy" an "Epic Fail".
Oh, and the FSR patent is ridiculous. You can find that linkage in engineering texts from around World War 1, more commonly applied to tanks, cars etc than bicycles admittedly.
  • + 1
 haha no doubt .. well ... its a garbage world they are floating in ... sink or swim, whether it came down to it (specialized or their lawyers) suing due to tm issues, then, garbage all around
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  • - 1
 You know what's the real problem? Why i really have to spend a fortune to own a good bike? I don't really care if it is from Intense or from Giant or from FIDUSA Greek Company handmade, why i have to spend 1500 euros or more to own a good bike? And for 1500 euros i really think that you can't buy a good bike. For example an Intense cost's over 2500 euros and that's only the frame. Tha'ts why everyone here buys Cube because of there price.
  • + 1
 Work out how long you would need to make your own bike, pay yourself 20 euros per hour, then factor in profit margins and taxes. Take the resulting figure to the price lists you're looking through, compare, get back here and post your findings........
  • + 2
 Funny sentiments. You want something for nothing. Isn't the rest of Europe complaining that that mentality is currently shared by too many Greeks? hahaha.

Good bikes cost money. Design, materials, distribution, and most importantly, limited production runs. It's a lot more difficult to sell a high-end bike than it is to sell an I-Phone. The lower production numbers result in a higher proportion of the fixed costs and overhead being tacked on to the price tag of each bike. It's just math. Very few companies get rich manufacturing bikes. Most do it because they love it. Look at Steber in the above story. Dude had to sell off his personally owned guitars just try to keep up with the big players in the carbon game. Anyone with any ounce of sympathy has to be feeling for him, becuase they sound like some really nice guitars that he must have cared for dearly.
  • + 0
 Yes, but why so much??? With that money i can buy a used car, or a new KTM 125cc don't tell me that a lot of people ara buying MX bikes? Or motorbikes at the same way? And all about tha for taxes, materials and things like that seems to me like a joke, for example, i have saw how much my GIANT REIGN 2007 cost to the dealer, the cost was 1 700 euros in 2007 you know how much a payed 2700... get real, 1000 more and the bike cost to the store 1700, imagine how much it cost to the dealer or how much it cost to the factory to produce it. They have to get the prices low. As for you Stever you i didn't get what you mean? Probably you don't know anything about the crisis or about my country and what is going on here. As for the name it's not GREEKS, it's Hellenes.

20 Euros per hour, where in China? hhahahhahah
  • + 1
 And also an example of taxes free company is Commencal where the factory is in Andorra, where there's no taxes but the headquarters are in France, but there bikes still cost's over 2000 euro
  • + 5
 Dear Mr Reign333,
You have to pay tax on a service or product where it is supplied or purchased, not where it is made. Being in the EU, there is no import duty to ship a bike to Greece from another EU country, like France, however you will have to pay Greek VAT (which is pretty low for the most part but 23% for bicycles I think? Stand to be corrected). Further, whilst the factory is in Andorra, and no corporation tax is applicable, the headquarters are in France and any profits Commencal make are therefore subject to French corporate tax.
Now if we take a look at how a bike can cost a bike shop €1700 and you €2700. The €2700 consists of the €1700 that the bike shop paid for it. 23% VAT means that is a €505 chunk right there, taking the cost to the bike shop so far to €2205 (they pay the VAT on your behalf). That leaves €495 to pay for the shop, employees, any other overheads, and when you consider that they might have a €2700 bike taking up space on the shop floor for many months, this is not a huge profit margin. Any profit they make after paying overheads will be subject to tax as well, so I suspect the margin on a €2700 bike is probably around €100.
If you want to go back further in the chain, a distributor will likely supply the bike shop. Distributors purchase from the manufacturers. Both distributors and manufacturers have to make profit to function, manufacturers especially so that they can re-invest in R&D. Without profits, none of these vital links in the supply chain will exist, and you wouldn't be able to buy your bike. Welcome to the ugly world of capitalism, but without it, you'd be walking.
What you really need to focus on is how lucky you are to be able to afford a €2700 bike.
  • + 2
 Not to mention when the shop deals with a warranty issue and they are really never reimbursed from the manufacture (although Specialized did pay us labor recently).
  • + 2
 Thank you myothercarsa2cv , that was a good information and a reply on the question why bikes have to cost so much. And yes this is the world we are living, as for how lucky i am to afford a 2700E bike, i feel really lucky, if you consider what is going on here in Hellas now, but is a matter of priorites and love also. For example a lot of people here prefer to smoke or to give there money for alcohol or for other stupid things, so if you think the amount's of money they spent for that plessures, then 2700E for a bike is nothing.
  • + 1
 YO, U FORGOT BROOKLYN MACHINE WORKS!!!!!!!!! I LOVE MY RACELINK BEST BIKE EVER & INCREDIBLE CUSTOMER SERVICE
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  • + 2
 bikes with the same spec and performance will be cheaper if you buy it from a big company.
  • + 1
 Friend bought an Orange with the same spec as my enduro, paid an extra grand for a made in Englandshire frame... I'll stick with Specialized.
  • + 1
 Simply not true : go to mikes bikes .com. Look at the specialized s works epic 29 Xtr . Next look at the Santa Cruz tall boy 29 Xtr .

Same size wheels , same frame material, same component spec.

The specialized costs $9900.00
The Santa Cruz costs $8100.00

What makes the bike cost $1800 more?
  • + 1
 Looking at the spec on the two bikes you mentioned Saidrick, you missed a few things... Carbon wheels, cranks, post, and fork crown on the Epic make up a huge chunk of that difference.. Also, is that an aluminum rear triangle on the SC?
  • + 1
 Touché on the differences... However, I don' trust specialized in house parts( Specialized Susension ? 25mm thru axle? ) I tried out their tires, spent four rides on them before I threw them away.
Great frames, check
Great accessories, check
Great in house components , uncheck.
  • + 1
 I give you one on the Specialized Suspension... I think they bit off more than they could chew at that time... But, now they have an in-house suspension engineer with a good track record.. Now he designs stuff and they work with Fox and RS to make them happen.. But, they weren't the first to do a bigger axle.. (Foes, Maverick)

Tires.. Well, I will give the Big S a C+.. The mtn tires seem to do well for us, but some of the other tires (road and hybrid/comuter) have left a bit to be desired..

At least they are like some many companies that simply open a catalog, select an item, email logo to Taiwan, and BAM new product!
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  • + 1
 FOES, he's the man.... i ride Foes bikes since '08 and i'm very happy with the frames, shocks, customer care and warranty....
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 I prefer a big name brand like Giant... I get the all in one package... And, lots of sales for older new bikes at different places
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  • + 1
 And look at the warranty - that says a lot about their confidence in their product. Spec will warranty the main frame of ANY bike for life. That says a lot.
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  • + 3
 Sonic Temple, The Cult a great album !
  • + 1
 I wonder where Steber got that jacket? I wish I had one. Although I don't see The Cult putting out a piece of clothing like that and Sonic Temple actually came out in 1989.
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  • + 1
 How many broken Intense rear triangle have you seen? How many Specialized?
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  • + 1
 Went with the third answer. Go with what works regardless if it's from a no name or the biggest name in cycling.
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  • + 1
 It's so sad to hear that Jeff sold his guitars to fund the company! But I think now he can buy them back!
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  • + 1
 for customers the best bike will always win when you are the owner, unfortunately, small companies are the ones with a soul
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  • + 1
 I only worry about if the bike is sweet. modern linkage and quality build who gives a shit about branding
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  • + 1
 i would much rather ride an intense than a specialized unless it is a demo 8 it could compare to an m6
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  • + 1
 I've got a cannondale and a genesis, so one from either end of the spectrum.
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  • + 1
 Did Jason Chamberlain just say something about a slalom SX? Or was he talking about the old one? hmmm...
  • + 1
 I guess he was only bragging about the "new" 29 Enduro, because thats what its all about in the moment Smile
  • + 1
 If he is talking about a new one, i will be super happy :')
  • + 0
 The SX is not going away.
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  • + 1
 the BIG guys get a better deal on parts there for ,,bikes r better spect for your cash
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  • + 1
 im fast too Fozzube thats neat
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 i dont know i like a few smaller companies like turner and ghost bikes
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  • + 1
 if work good look good and plus, have a good price, am in
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  • + 1
 Turner dhr and norco has awsome customer service
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  • + 1
 Transition and kona all the way.
  • + 1
 Customer service at Transition is horrible.
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 Customer service at Intense is terrible.
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  • - 1
 I don't understand how anyone could ever buy an intense. They pretty much ALL crack or fuck up somehow. I don't know anyone who has owned an intense and not cracked it.
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  • - 1
 CHECK - Yes, and a bigger company can produce a better bike.
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  • - 1
 Intense cracks a lot more then specialized gear. Particularly the FRO versions...
  • + 2
 pics or it didn't happen
  • + 0
 Check the Intense forums on MTBR. There are pages and pages of broken rear triangles on all Intense models.
  • + 1
 Has Chris Kovarik cracked an M9? .. I've never seen the pic. Good enough for Chris is good enough for everyone.
  • + 1
 You would never hear if he cracked an M9. He doesn't have one long enough, also. And BTW he has broken them. I have a pic of his bike with a broken upper link. If you wanna see 50+ broken rear triangle go to MTBR.
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  • + 0
 INTENSE! NUFF SAID.
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