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Frostbike is over, now what?

Frostbike is behind us. I'm both thankful for having this event behind us and a bit anxious at the same time. I've worked 13 Frostbikes and prior to that, I participated as a dealer for several years. Frostbike is a big deal for Salsa. It represents so much and is an important part of our year.

When it's over, I take all the conversations and feedback and go into a cave. I don't think I'm alone here as I'm sure our dedicated readers are wondering why we haven't posted in over a week? I'm a full on introvert when it comes to processing events and conversations. Frankly, this Frostbike really gave me some gems to process. I'm still processing a few, but truthfully, I have almost mentally resolved and filed away most of them.

Initially, Frostbike 2008 was supposed to be a time when we launched a new and important product. In the end, we couldn't answer two key questions needed to introduce said product. Those two questions are "When will it be available?" and "How much?". Because we couldn't answer those questions and chose to not launch this product, I went into Frostbike a bit on the down side. Looking back now I'm confident in our decision and walked away with so much. Not showing this specific product actually helped us and will give us time to do things differently. I believe things happen for a reason. What are some of those reasons?

We were able to really connect with some of our key retailers. This is so important. Frostbike is about relationships. What we found here is that the Salsa brand is growing. Dealers want to stock our product. Now we need to help them. Our focus can and should be in support, service and education. We walked way from Frostbike with some amazing ideas.

We were able to focus on what we are doing now and what we are doing well. In the end, we signed up 13 new dealers. That's a big deal for us. Just go count our authorized dealers on this website and you can figure out on your own just what this might mean to us. On top of that, they are all good quality dealers.

We had a product brainstorm and walked away with some good ideas as well as some satisfaction and support for a few products we hope to introduce this year.

We got to spend quite a bit of quality time with our distributors from Japan and Germany.

The part I struggled with and fought the most with was some feedback I received about "Where is Salsa going?" One dealer said during a product brainstorm, "This is great, but I want to know what you offer me and my shop?"

Well....That is certainly a great question and one we need to clearly answer. It was a wake up call for me. I think folks that get Salsa, get what we are doing. That said, it is clear that some folks don't get what we are doing. We are growing. We have more staff. We are going to more events this year. We are getting more interest from folks that don't know our history. Our distributors are having more success selling Salsa.

Clarity in our direction?! Sounds simple enough, right!? This was the best feedback I could have gotten. This is one gem I'm still processing. This is one gem that will influence some of our future choices and direction.

Looking back, I'm thankful the event is over, but a bit anxious to get some of these big issues worked out.

Lastly, I'll share my favorite photo of the weekend. This was a dinner on Friday night with our Japanese Distributor, a few Japanese dealers, our German distributor, Guitar Ted, the Surly crew and a couple ladies from Momentum Magazine. After this, we all went out into the freezing cold temps for a photo shoot and a ride through beautiful down town Minneapolis.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jason Boucher

Growing up as a Minnesota farm boy, I developed an appreciation and love for land and open space. This appreciation has fostered two passions, cycling and photography. Both of these passions provide freedom, encourage me to explore and foster creativity. More importantly though, my journey with a bike and a camera reminds me that the world is big and I am small.

COMMENTS (31)

 Butcher |

Hey, folks, just one more thing.<BR><BR>JM, you point out something interesting that I want to stress.  <BR><BR>We do listen.  We are small.  We need and want feedback.  I hope no one takes my response to Anonymous above as hostile or negative.  I learned something very important in his/her response.  I really like his observation and feedback regarding innovation, price, performance.  <BR><BR>Keep it coming.

 Anonymous |

Butcher,<BR><BR>Thank you for addressing some of my questions and comments.  I have never posted on the Casseroll before.  As I said in my post, I think Casseroll is an awesome bike, just not one that should belong in the Salsa brand.  That’s just my opinion, of course.  <BR><BR>I couldn’t say why La Raza and Prmiero didn’t sell, but my take is these were both beautiful, high-end, affordable road frames, and I’d rather buy these than spend a lot more money at a custom builder.  I don’t own four Salsa frames for nothing.  I can tell you I have more friends than I can count with one hand that would’ve loved to get their hands on a Primero and thought it was an incredible value.  So why didn’t they?  Why didn’t Primero sell more?  Only Salsa knows the answer, but consider it may not necessarily be the design or the price.  It may have to do with marketing and lack of proper distribution (e.g. independent dealers carrying high-end steel frames from the likes of IF, Waterford, etc).  I also think a Primero or La Raza complete offering would have done much better than just the frame.  Again, just my opinion.<BR><BR>Regardess, Salsa should not focus on products that don’t sell.  That’s self-evident.  My point is just that, when something doesn’t sell, it may not mean it was a bad product or there was no demand for it.  The reasons for the product not selling need to be analyzed.  There are gems in there too!    <BR><BR>At some point, Salsa will need to make a choice between making more higher-end products, or more lower-end products.  The choice will then dictate the marketing and distribution approach.  If the choice is not made, the brand will become hard to understand, and the differences with Surly less clear.  If Surly ever decided to make some higher end steel frames/bikes, given Surly’s knack for innovation, marketing and distribution, and given their attractive pricing, this would put Salsa in a very difficult spot.  Salsa should make sure the distinction between Surly and Salsa is extremely sharp and clear (with Salsa being the better of the two, naturally).  <BR><BR>Butcher, I did not take your response to my post as hostile or negative, and I appreciate your candor.  I am old enough to remember the pre-QBP Salsa—which need not be the same as today’s Salsa—so I hope you will give my comments concerning where the Salsa brand has been and where it should go some thought.  My comments were meant to be constructive and to show my love for Salsa.  <BR><BR>I also greatly appreciate Salsa being more open and welcoming feedback from its clients and dealers.  I think Salsa is doing many things right, such as offering more complete bikes, and the result is more dealers are signing up for Salsa, and that’s awesome.  <BR><BR>I will continue to be a Salsa buyer, and to recommend Salsa to my friends, for as long as Salsa remains a high-end brand that innovates, marries tradition to high-tech, and puts out beautiful product at great prices.<BR><BR>Cheers,<BR><BR>Eternally Anonymous

 Anonymous |

In response to previous post: unpretentiousness and fun can go hand in hand with high tech. They are not mutually exclusive.  There are a number of very high end steel builders out there that are putting out forward-looking, 21st century product and are lining their pockets selling these products.  They look very laid back when they walk the money to the bank, I can tell you.  Waiting lists are sometimes in years for these folks.  The Ipod you refer to is far from pretentious.  Indeed, it’s one of the most simple, clean, unpretentious, user-friendly tech gadgets out there.  Now imagine if Salsa designed road bikes for the 21st century (e.g. no lugs, no pump pegs, etc) that were like that, and that one could buy anytime.  That would be amazing!  You say you want a a nice TTOXP road bike frame that’s not hyped up?  Salsa had one.  It was called La Raza, and according to Salsa it didn’t sell so it was retired.  You say you don’t like flashy?  Well, in that case you’d best steer clear of the current Campeon.  I really don’t think Salsa has had bad luck with its road frames because they weren’t amazingly designed and well priced.  They most certainly were.  I think the problem lies with how Salsa has been positioning itself, and how the market has been perceiving Salsa.  Fortunately for Salsa, this is a problem that is easily solved.

 Outside Outfitters |

Salsa Cycles has a great brand…hands down they are one of the easiest, and thanks to QBP, one of the fastest bikes (in terms of distribution) to work with. They work as a lean company which is important in the future from a business operations standpoint. This is where businesses are going and Salsa has the ability to utilize this lean environment to make quick decisions and create innovative, functional works of art. Their brand is strong because of their style - innovative, unpretentious rides and they give a “good times” attitude. Isn’t it all about good times with friends and your bikes? I don’t think Salsa has gotten away from this unpretentious attitude which is important. Chill out and have fun is what I say. People are moving to and want this “style” is going to be big in the near future in my opinion. The overly caffeinated, Ipod, text messaging, multi-tasking environment is getting old and people are turning to the alternative - or, at least, getting away from it on a ride with their friends for a few hours. And, another thing, if you want to represent Salsa as a dealer…get out there and sell it…ride it…use it…offer first hand recommendations to customers. All brands have consumers who are not going to be a good fit for that brand - whether it’s style, price, or preference. So, there are more factors now than ever for people to make choices or not make a choice at all in terms of shopping for a new bike. And speaking of business, the Primero is/was a great frameset and was in decent demand at our store - we sold 1 custom complete but had many requests after they were out of production. It’s an impressive ride whether it’s a reasonably priced frameset or not. I’ve ridden one myself and instantly fell in love with it. This truly is/was a great frame. With all that said, maybe the next generation roadie could be a re-introduction of the Primero if/when the S3 process is refined and becomes more sustainable. There is room in the Salsa Cycles road lineup for a compact, high quality frame - probably steel and maybe OX Platinum. Does this exist? Should it exist? Why doesn?t it exist? Overall, unpretentiousness, good times, innovation, and high quality are what people want and this is what Salsa offers. My only wish is that they build up the roadie market, in addition to the Campeon, with at least one more choice and that they give me free beer for the rest of my life. Thank you and enjoy the ride and if you want a Salsa let us know. - Dan

 Anonymous |

A Salsa quintuple-butted, TTOXP complete road bike with Alpha Q carbon fork, carbon stays, DT Swiss RR1.1 rims (Dura Ace hubs) and full SRAM Rival group, rounded out with Salsa components (stem, handlebars, post, WTB Salsa-banded saddle, etc).<BR><BR>Name: El Lider.<BR><BR>Dreaming doesn’t cost anything, does it?

 heyjude |

While I don’t own a Salsa, I consider you guys one of the most important production companies in the game. The blog is great…thanks for listening instead of just telling like most do.A few thoughts on road bikes: The primero is a shame. It was a great bike, but a bit too pricey. I actually went with a custom frame for only slightly more. How about an OX platinum, compact sporty bike. Coupled with an Alpha Q fork and a lower price, it may be a winner. High end steel is marketable, but S3 and the other uber steels are harder to work and require a more careful tube selection in terms of butting, etc to get the fine steel ride. This is harder to do in a production frame. OX platinum is more forgiving. Forget carbon…the market is saturated. The casserole is great, but the single speed version could be cleaner. How about a pure track frame with no braze ons or hangers. Maybe a front brake option. They were everywhere at NAHBS and seem to be the next big trend.<BR>Mountain bikes: the scandium offerings are great. The steel ones are a bit generic, perhaps brake specific models to clean them up.How about a rigid carbon fork? How about 650B? I’ve never been sold on 29ers for riders with inseams less than 31 inches or so. It can be done but its hard in a production frame. 650B is a great option and seems to have a lot of momentum.<BR>Cross bikes: yours rock! My only nit to pick is the standard length stem for each frame size. Offering an option on stem lengths would be great. Otherwise the la cruz is perfect.<BR>Thank for listening and good luck.

 Smitty |

Congrats on all your successes at Frostbike.  Signing up 13 dealers is huge!  Remember growing pains are to be expected - don’t forget that Jason and his staff numbering in the low-double-digits are now competing for floor space with some industry “giants”.  And you are doing it with a level of transparancy which I think is relatively unmatched.  <BR><BR>Keep focusing on Salsa’s considerable strengths.  The ones that come to mind (other than the obvious one, the home at Q) is your strength among the shoprats.  That one un-informed guy mentioned above notwithstanding, I think Salsa is probably the hands-down winner in the “Employee Purchase Sales Game”.  You should keep this going, and simply bolster the consumer marketing alongside it.<BR><BR>Second strength I submit for consideration is Salsa’s heritage.  Sure, every other company has their own history, but the fact is Salsa’s heritage is what makes a Salsa, a Salsa.  Don’t turn your back on this.<BR><BR>Lastly, I am struck by how many of us who post here have more than one Salsa.  I myself just picked up my second, a Primero (like new, got it from ebay, I bet some of you passed on it…Ha!)<BR><BR>If anyone buys a Salsa, they need to be made into an Amigo for life, a pepper convert.  It already happens quite a bit, but I bet with some focus, it could happen even more.  This will obviously fuel sales of more Salsas…Rock on Amigos!

 Dan Bailey |

Okay, when I said that the Casseroll was Salsa’s iPod I didn’t mean that it was some awesome product that was head and shoulders above the rest.  What I was trying to get at is that the bike is versatile enough to draw in different market segments—fixie/single-speed types, touring types, whatever.  The quality is good enough and the product is memorable enough to create a halo effect…  Much like Apple has been doing with the iPod, and to a lesser extent Mac OS X.<BR><BR>As was pointed out during the talks, Salsa focuses on niche markets, and that’s awesome.  The thing is, people need to be made aware that Salsa can fill those niches through a combination of smart product selection and intelligent marketing of those products.  Create a couple of awesome products and use them to draw people into the Salsa brand.  You’re not in the market to use a loss-leader strategy, but you’re in the position to get customers hooked on a great-but-affordable product and then rope them in for life.<BR><BR>And as long as we’re on the subject, I second the Platinum OX road frame.  And raise you a 69’er MTB frame.

 Anonymous |

I agree with some of the posts above that Salsa needs to cultivate its brand image more and move beyond just having stuff on QBP’s catalog.  <BR><BR>In the recent past, to all but a small number of people, Salsa has been known primarily for great flip-off skewers.  Salsa needs to actively work to change this market perception.  Salsa also needs to work to establish itself as a strong road brand (it’s already established as an mtb brand).  This takes more than just putting out a few truly great frames (like Primero), and just hoping they sell at some point.  A good price and a superior quality are not enough for sales to take off.  As the cliche goes, people want sizzle with their steak.  <BR><BR>Here’s an interesting story: A few years ago, I walked into a local, small urban bike shop that sells lots of Surlys as well as high-end, custom frames and bikes.  I didn’t know about Salsa at the time, though I did know about Surly.  When I told the salesperson I wanted a steel road bike, they steered me towards Surly.  I told the salesperson I wanted something higher end.  The salesperson then steered me towards custom.  As I was browsing the QBP catalog at the store, I saw some Salsa frames on it.  When I asked the salesperson about Salsa, he said it was a mountain bike brand.  Because of the salesperson’s misinformation, I ended up overpaying for a custom road steel frame when I could’ve had a great Salsa frame (like a Primero) for much less.<BR><BR>Someone made a comparison of Salsa to Apple, and of the Ipod to the Casseroll.  I disagree Casseroll is Salsa’s Ipod, and would argue the Primero had more potential as an ‘Ipod’.  Why was Primero, and not Casseroll, Salsa’s Ipod, and why didn’t Primero sell more for Salsa?<BR><BR>The Ipod is a high end, premium product that sells for more money (while offering less memory and a closed system) than similar products.  Yet the Ipod dominates its market.  There are many reasons for this (Apple’s branding and advertising—the sizzle—are notable), but it’s telling pricing is not one of them.  The reason, I believe, is mainly the Ipod offered the best design and functionality for the money. Not the cheapest.  Not the only one.  Not the one with most capacity.  Not the one that has the most open system.  But the one that, for the money, offered the most beautiful, most innovative, most advanced product.  It was the SUM OF THE PARTS (design, marketing, branding, advertising, etc) that made the Ipod the champion, not any one thing.<BR><BR>The same can be said of Apple’s most recent blockbuster product, the Iphone, which is not exactly cheap, mind you.<BR><BR>Can one say that, for the money, the Casseroll is—and this is important—ALL AT ONCE the most beautiful, most innovative, most advanced single speed in the market?  I’m not sure, but I do believe one could have said this of the Primero in terms of production steel road frames at the time, especially for the price.<BR><BR>For years Apple made products that were superior to Microsoft, yet they kept loosing market share.  It wasn’t until Steve Jobs returned and re-focused the brand and the marketing that things changed.<BR><BR>When Salsa figures out how to make AND market frames/bikes like the Ipod—beautiful, premium, innovative—it will be much more successful. Once the market is ‘educated’, the market will be happy to pay higher prices for Salsa’s products. <BR><BR>Here’s hoping Salsa will send shockwaves at Interbike ‘08 and launch a few new products that will be, not just its Ipod, but its Iphone!

 Andrew |

Wow, these are some long posts… I don’t think I’ll be able to muster anything of that length this early in the morning.  However, I do have this to say coming from a consumer point of view:<BR><BR>I’m not disappointed that you guys didn’t release anything at frostbike.  I’m a patient man and as long as I know salsa is perusing the creation of a frame I may want, I’ll wait to see what they offer.  <BR>As a relatively new “pepperhead” (bought my first dos niner fall ‘05), I really like what I’ve seen from salsa so far and I’ve supported the brand with my dollars whenever possible. <BR>I do think that the brand is a little “unknown” for the most part to the average consumer.  I don’t know if you need to actively do anything about that though.  I spread the gospel when anyone asks about my bikes or about what bike I might suggest to them.  I think that is the best advertising you could have.  <BR><BR>I’m looking forward to any upcoming road offerings you have, and new 29ers always make my wallet scared.  <BR><BR>-Palek

 Dan Bailey |

As a Salsa owner and a bike shop employee, sitting in on the Frostbike discussion was a good time.  (Winning the free jersey was also a big plus.)<BR><BR>After walking away, three things occurred to me re: the product ideas, so I’m going to mention them here before I continue.  First, your leather chainstay protector?  Love the thing, have one on my Las Cruces.  But could you make it available in brown (or even brown weathered) as well?  Secondly, a scandium track frame, maybe even a somewhat aero model…think El Go-Go with track dropouts.  I’ve been working on building up an inexpensive pursuit bike and am having a hard time finding a decent semi-aero frameset, and there’s nothing out there in scandium.  Lastly, and I think I speak for the entire planet when I say: lugged steel touring frame.  (Yes, Rivendell does this, but I think you can do better.)<BR><BR>Secondly, the more time I spent in there, the more I realized that when I open my own shop, I want to carry Salsa as a brand.  That means I’ll need to be able to get not only catalogs, but full marketing packages to include signage/graphics, downloadable files (EPS of your logo, for example), and so on.  And this is where it hit me…<BR><BR>Salsa needs to build its brand all over again.  Having a plethora of frames and small parts in the Q catalog is one thing…but where are you guys putting print ads?  More importantly, where’s your e-marketing strategy?  (Sorry, I work in e-marketing/creative, so I think about these things.)  From my outsider’s view, your brand is much like Apple was pre-2001 (pre-iPod)—you make consistently good products that are used by a very small segment of the population, who love them dearly, and sing their praises to the large population…who just doesn’t care and will go out and buy Treks or Specialized or whatever.  <BR><BR>As an example, ask most people who makes a good steel MTB frame and I’d bet that you’ll get a list of custom builders, because the mindset is that everything mass-produced is either aluminum or carbon.<BR><BR>I think the Casseroll may be your iPod.  And that’s a good start.  The thing is, you need to get complete Casserolls into dealerships—they’ll sell, no question—and use the halo effect to start selling other Salsa products.  (Especially some of the ideas I heard during the talk.  And that track frame I mentioned above.)<BR><BR>Food for thought, but I’m pre-caffeinated, it’s not even 7 a.m., and I need to get my ass to the office.

 Anonymous |

Sorry.  In my “recipe for tasty Salsa succes” above, make that dollar range for complete bikes $1,000 (TTOXP complete road singlespeed) - $3,000 (Scandium complete road race).<BR><BR>I think I understand Salsa’s issues with high end steel road bikes.  In truth, S3 is more expensive than Scandium, but not as light (though close) nor as stiff.  <BR><BR>TTOXP is less expensive, but the weight difference vs. Scandium is even more pronounced.<BR><BR>Thus, I think what Salsa is discovering is that TTOXP (or CrMo) is good for folks who want a very relaxed ride (the folks who’d buy the Casseroll), or who want steel’s shock absorption qualities (as in mtb, cross or urban) but don’t need a great weight advantage.<BR><BR>When it comes to fast road riding or racing, though, steel has become nearly obsolete, and the domain of niche custom builders.  Witness how Bianchi, a longtime big player in production steel road bikes, dropped its entire steel road line this year.  It’s in road race/speed segment that Salsa can come in with a complete Scandium offering and blow competitors out of the water (or road).<BR><BR>Sure, there’s carbon, but everyone’s in that game, and a lot of the carbon out there isn’t very good quality nor durable.  A truly good, durable carbon frame would cost much more ($3,000+) than most of Salsa’s customers would be willing to pay.

 Anonymous |

Salsa fans to Salsa:<BR><BR>We need a complete Salsa Campeon offering, or similar complete scandium (or carbon?) road offering.<BR><BR>Soon.<BR><BR>Please. <BR><BR>Thanks.

 Anonymous |

For an idea of what Salsa could be doing in the road segment, look at the road offerings from Koga Miyata, a very traditional company that has been around since before Salsa was born. Bikeradar describes their latest (carbon) road race offering thus: “Traditional geometry combined with new materials in a classic-worth package”.  Now that’s exactly the way I think Salsa’s bikes could be designed, and described: traditional, yet also new, and great value.  Go get ‘em, amigos!

 Anonymous |

Of all the observations that have been made above, the one I’ve found most interesting, and true, is this: there are often no Salsa frames/bikes on the floor at bike shops.  This greatly decreases the chances a bike will sell, or a brand will become better known.  <BR><BR>Now, I’m not suggesting Salsa should want to be on the floor of big chain bike stores and their ilk, but even in the strong, independently-owned bike shops I’ve been at, even when they’re Surly dealers and have lots of Surly bikes on the floor, I’ve never seen a Salsa on the floor. This seems odd, as both brands are owned by the same parent company, and both seem to appeal to customers who appreciate smaller brands and the ability to customize certain aspects of their bikes. <BR><BR>If there is one thing Salsa can do to improve its brand and sales, I’d say getting more bikes on the floor would be it.  I can say with great certainty that had Primeros or La Razas been fully built on the floor of my LBS, many would have sold there.

 Anonymous |

Recipe for tasty Salsa success:<BR><BR>1.  Lots of innovation (with an ever so slight nod to tradition)<BR>2.  Super high quality<BR>3.  Complete bikes that sell for between $1,000 (e.g. TTOXP single speed) - $2,000 (e.g. TTOXP road race) and that would cost twice as much from a custom builder.<BR>4.  High end steel, with use of some Ti and carbon where appropriate.  <BR>5.  Bikes/frames on plenty more bike shops.<BR>6.  Beauty<BR>7.  Advertising on select non-commercial publications (this would exclude Bicycling magazine). <BR>8.  Change market perception so market recognizes Salsa as a great road and mtb bike brand, not just a catalog parts brand.

 Anonymous |

I confess I was a bit skeptical about Casseroll.  However, I found an LBS that had a Casseroll Single on the floor (the only LBS that has a Salsa on the floor in what is one of the most heavily populated cities in the US) and took it for a spin.  Wow.  The Casseroll really put a smile on my face when I rode it, making good on Salsa’s motto “ride and smile”.  I’m now trying to sell one of my bikes just so I can get my hands on a Casseroll.  <BR><BR>Takeaway: the more Salsa models on the floor of LBSs, the more people will try them and the more they will sell.

 Anonymous |

Comparing Salsa and custom builders is like comparing beer and wine.  They’re different business models with different pros & cons.<BR><BR>As a mass producer, Salsa can achieve economies of scale most custom builders can’t. Salsa also has the advantage of being owned by QBP, the largest bike parts distributior in the U.S.  This gives Salsa much greater pricing power than custom builders when dealing with suppliers.<BR><BR>Whenever Salsa has had to clear a certain frame, they’ve been able to do so fairly quickly and, I’d guess, not even at a loss.<BR><BR>All the talk about Primero, not just on this blog topic but on many other of Salsa’s blog topics, is evidence Salsa was onto something big with Primero.  Salsa really struck a chord with Salsa’s fans with that model.  Why then didn’t all these people who are now clamoring for Primero’s return buy one, you ask?  As has been pointed out above, I concur the reason is probably not that Primero was priced too high (it was actually kind of a bargain when you compare it to what it would cost to have a custom-made S3frame).  I think the reason has to do with marketing, which many people keep pointing out to here.  That’s why I’m hopeful Salsa will improve its marketing and distribution, so that we may see more Primero-type creations roll out.

 Jason |

Agreed, there are surely folks who never even knew the Primero was available or what all the fuss was. <BR><BR>As I point out if you went into a shop and you fancy a steel frame and the Primero was sitting there, even if it wasn’t your size you might be more inclined to lean towards a Salsa.<BR><BR>Many of the shops in my area (except Speedgoat), even those who are Salsa dealers have no Salsa frames on the Showroom floor. On top of this many are not solely Salsa dealers. Have Trek, Specialized, Cannondale etc.,backing them and can make a sell that day and help pay the lease rent.<BR><BR>On my blog I may tend to talk about my love of the Salsa frames too much. I don’t know. But I believe in them, and the brand. I want people to know they have options beyond what is in the window of most shops.<BR><BR>And yes Salsa does have QBP behind them, this is why I mention that it would be cool to have a some sort of one time discount or something on build kits when you purchase a frame through a Salsa dealer.<BR><BR>Anonymous, we’re not too off in what we’re try to convey, just having a different way of saying it. :) <BR><BR>j

 darren |

Interesting and timely post.  I was at Salsa’s VERY well conducted feedback session.  <BR><BR>We’re not a dealer, but are considering picking up some bikes.  We’re putting the question out to our blog to see if we get any sort of customer response.<BR><BR>What we liked, and continue to like hearing, is that Salsa recognizes the need to develop a brand identity.  And I could tell in that room that they’re really giving it a lot of thought.<BR><BR>We’ll stay tuned to find out what they decide, and I hope it involves producing products that consumers will demand.  And not just products that us retailers think that consumers should demand.  Sounds like they’re moving that way.

 Jason |

I’ve been trying to not comment again to this post, since I comment already and I seem to do so regularly here. And am pretty partial to Salsa since they’ve dished out some generous support for my racing over the past few years, but as I read I think some is being lost from the original post. That and I totally board here at work! So forgive me.<BR><BR>Keep in mind I just ride and race, I know little or nothing of business so take the following with 1 to 6 grains of salt (and add 1 beer)....<BR><BR>Regardless of what frames are still being made etc., the Salsa brand is growing as mentioned in the original post. Now how can Salsa make sure dealers are getting the most of hooking up with Salsa? I agree with the one poster who mentions about advertising, marketing, magazine and web feedback.<BR><BR>Years ago before I hooked up with Salsa and was looking into a Salsa Caballero. I could not find ANY information about the frame. No reviews, no nothing (This was in the days of MTBR.com when Salsa couldn’t even get their own forum). <BR><BR>The same when I was deciding whether to go with a Campeon or a La Cruz frame recently. (BTW I went with the Campeon, since I’m a sucker for fast, sexy and Scandium). I would find a review here and there, but not too much else. Why is that? Is it because big mfg.s fly journalists out to exotic locations for “product launches” and bags of swag and Salsa does not? Who knows? <BR><BR>I think it would be great (if cost effective) to get more demo models in the shops. Most all shops can GET you a Salsa, but you can’t walk into many shops and SEE a built Salsa. It would great to have at the very least have “official” dealers get some demo frames to be able to show folks the quality and finish of the frames. Maybe more ability to work with QBP to get people a build kit at a % off something too if they go with a Salsa? <BR><BR>I know I’ve been at many a race where I’ve let folks take my bike for spin or answer some questions about it. But hey I’m happy to do that. That one of my responsibilities as a sponsored rider. That and I’m damn proud of my frames! :)<BR><BR>I think it’s clear from the comments that many folks are desiring high end steal frames. That’s cool, But as far as the Primero- from a business stand point if it wasn’t selling I can’t imagine Salsa could justify making it. If as many folks that seem to want a Primero now had bought a Primero it would probably still be around, ha!<BR><BR>Seriously, Salsa makes some great steal frames, but since they are not making “custom” they have to justify the design, mass manufacturing, shipping, costs etc., of a frame. <BR><BR>I’ve looked into my share of steal and ti frames. When you get to the high end stuff, you’re talking big bucks, we all know that. Often times even if you go with a “stock” sizing you still need to come up with some money up front. Then the builder KNOWS they can at least recoup their costs if you back out. Salsa doesn’t have that option. They have to hope a LOT of folks dig the design, look etc. of a frame. And hope the it sells enough to make a profits so they can keep pumping out Salsa goodness.<BR><BR>I believe that Salsa can/does/did/will continue to offer a great selection of mountain, road and cross frames made from various materials. I also believe they (or ANY company) will not please everyone. But it’s nice to see them out getting feedback from the please and the un-pleased.<BR><BR>Quality frames, unique designs, and Salsa flare for fun. Let people see this and the direction will happen.<BR><BR>Thanks for letting me kills some time. Now it’s quitting time! JOY!

 Anonymous |

There is nothing ‘perfected’ about sloping top tubes.  All these do is allow manufacturers to offer less frame sizes to fit more people.<BR><BR>Studies have been done on level vs. sloping top tubes in terms of frame stiffness and weight.  Conclusion: no meaningful difference.<BR><BR>Since there’s no meaningful performance difference between the two, I prefer level top tubes, as I think they’re more beautiful (just my opinion). <BR><BR>As far as carbon seat and chain stays, and carbon fork, they should be in there for weight savings in an OX Platinum frame.  They don’t NEED to be there, of course, but if Salsa doesn’t want to re-release the S3 Primero, then an OX Platinum road frame with lots of carbon where it counts might be the next best thing.<BR><BR>A poster above ended up buying a Gunnar (I’m guessing a <BR>“Roadie” model) precisely becuase Salsa no longer offers a high end steel road frame with a carbon fork.  Unfortunately, if you want true road frame from Salsa today, you need to get a scandium (i.e. a hyped-up form of aluminum) Campeon.  <BR><BR>The Casseroll is more of a ‘light touring’ frame (plus it’s a heavier CrMo tubing), and the La Cruz is a cross frame.  While both are steel, neither one of these would satisfy a roadie looking for a true road high end steel frame (preferably with some high quality carbon mixed in).<BR><BR>I’m not concerned about Salsa. I’m confident they’ll soon find a way to restore their reputation as a serious high end steel brand that can make BOTH great mtb AND road frames.

 Mark |

I usually just read this blog and not post, but I’ll jump on this one from the standpoint of Salsa’s place in the market and some recent observations.  I have a 2007 El Mariachi - I love it - and I completely stumbled upon it by chance when I was in a LBS getting a part and saw this bike sitting there.  I wasn’t even in the market for a new bike, but an amazing feel and package for a reasonable price (as far as higher end hardtails go).  What amazed me is how Salsa isn’t on the radar w/ the big bike magazines.  Buyer’s guides just came out for Bicycling and Mountain Bike magazines - no mention of Salsa in there at all - even though they will tout a >$11k carbon road frame.  Most mention of Salsa that I’ve seen is in Dirt Rag… which in my opinion speaks to the biking population that Salsa appeals to.  An appreciation for the materials and design of a Salsa bike (again in my opinion) will only appeal to a certain subpopulation of bikers, and I personally think that is great as long as the company’s goal isn’t to be as ubiquitous as Specialized, Trek, Giant, etc.  Surly, as was mentioned in an earlier post, also doesn’t get face time in the popular bike magazines, but they also speak to a certain subpopulation (with some overlap as Salsa’s), but with different objectives.<BR><BR>Salsa is like a nice bandit trail - you love to ride it, you want to share it with your close friends, but you don’t want it publicized over the internet for everyone to flock to - then it would lose something.  <BR><BR>I was bummed to see the La Raza not being offered anymore since I asked the same LBS where I got the El M if they could order one - but then that led me to explore the La Cruz more, which appears to be on my radar now.  Keep making great bikes!

 Anonymous |

If Salsa offers a complete “El Lider”, as described just above, for just under $2,500 it should be a big hit.

 Outside Outfitters |

To anonymous, in regard to unpretentiousness - it’s all about having fun and Salsa’s style is laid back which was my point. (enough said). And, the suggestion about an OX Platinum roadie was in regard to a new compact road frame. We are aware of the La Raza bike and it was not a compact frame. And, why OX Platinum with carbon? Carbon for carbon’s sake? Not necessarily a bad idea but, from a design standpoint, be sure it’s functional. Are carbon stays needed from a functional standpoint on the design of this new OX Platinum, compact road bike? Will the Salsa market want carbon stays or a road frame with perfect handling geometry, good weight, and a simple design? A simple design, in this case, may be all OX Platinum because the carbon may not be needed. Salsa would have the do-it-all Caserole and the performance oriented Campeon and this OX Platinum road bike. The only other concern on a OX Platinum road bike would be that, from the consumer’s standpoint, would they think this is a direct replacement of the Primero and it would continually bring up the dreaded question “Where’s the Primero?” Or, hey, let it be known, the Primero was a great bike but the new OX Platinum is able to be designed, tested, and perfected in a more efficient manner therefore it’s readily available to all and provides excellent ride characteristics second to none. This could be a great bike that utilizes the BEST characteristics of OX Platinum (La Raza) and perfected geometry (Primero). Alright…let’s go!

 BG |

I read your response about the Primero. Too bad. I tried like crazy to but one, but the dealers were giving me the run around. Next I saw a few online dealers selling the Primero at a big discount, again I tried to buy one - no luck. Were they all spoken for? My guess before reading your response was that the costs of manufacturing were to high to mark-up and sell enough of them to make it worthwhile, pretty much what you said in so many words. Funny, I never considered a custom S3 frame, I had a older La Raza I loved and thought I’d love a lighter version with similar geometry even more. I must be the odd ball out of the marketing and sales number crunch. Now my old LaRaza sold on eBay, and I bought a Gunnar (Waterford) because I got tired of waiting for you folks to put down the dark beers, back-off the hipster hype and bring your fine frames of the past back to market. Fat chance. Oops, didn’t mean to slight Chris with that comment.

 Jason |

Nice post and response Jason. I’m sure that was the right move not launching the new product yet. I would think availability and cost are pretty big details when you’re trying to sell a product ;) Good luck with it.<BR><BR>I for one am excited with the directions I’ve seen Salsa going in the past few years. Especially with 29ers. Salsa may not have INVENTED the 29er, but you’ve sure consistently brought some cool frames to your customers and each year get a bit closer to “perfecting” the 29er. I’m glad to be a part of it. Thanks.<BR><BR>I also think it’s cool to see that you and Salsa want to be challenged by your customers and dealers to innovate and set yourselves apart. I wonder how many one-on-one- brainstorming sessions the BIG brands have? I’d like to think they get challenged from someone other than their accounting department. But I doubt.<BR><BR>Clarity is good of course. For both your business decisions and many of your customers/dealers. But don’t sacrifice the “fun” that is also part of Salsa for “clarity”. Just keep being Salsa. Seems to have worked so far.<BR><BR>Good luck.<BR><BR>JM

 Butcher |

Wow.  Heavy response Anonymous.  I got some gems from your response as well.  <BR><BR>I’m taking a few things from your post and I’m going to offer some insight and feedback as well.<BR><BR>First, are you the same anonymous that has consistently posted about not liking the Casseroll and Salsa’s choice to use a non “high end” steel?  I am only asking because this feedback and language has been consistent.  We need to know how widespread this perception is so we can address it.  If you are the same repeat poster, may I suggest you identify yourself so we can discuss and more our discussions to solutions.  <BR><BR>Second, the dealer that asked this question walked out of our discussion and signed up as a dealer.  We spent some time discussing his questions.  My point of this blog was to actually acknowledge that we need to do a better job of it.  I can go through each and every one of our bikes and tell you why they are unique and special.  <BR><BR>Lastly, about the Primero and La Raza.  I don’t know what facts folks have and it is clear that we haven’t shared all our reasoning about dropping them.  For that I am sorry.  So…I will tell you clearly.<BR><BR>Primero - We had this model for two years (not 1) and it did not sell.  It was our most expensive frameset we’ve offered.  Folks that wanted S3 were buying customs.  We had difficulty manufacturing it and frankly, it wasn’t sustainable for us, our manufacturers or our dealers.  <BR><BR>La Raza - We finally sold out of our last production run of this frame.  It was the same for 3 years and again, while receiving lots of praise, people weren’t actually buying it.  Again, not sustainable.<BR><BR>Now, without tipping our hat too much, we do hear you and are addressing this for 2009.  Who knows if you’ll approve.  Remember, this is a business.  We aren’t going to nor should we share every detail.

 MG |

Great post Jason.  Every cloud has a silver lining, and kudos to you and your team for finding it and not simply sulking around when you didn’t get to introduce the product you were hoping to launch.<BR><BR>Thanks for the great perspective on your thinking.  I have no trouble seeing the value in Salsa Cycles, and if I were a dealer, I’d be excited to partner with your people and your brand.  That’d be an easy decision to make.<BR><BR>Cheers,<BR>MG

 Anonymous |

This is rather sad.  No one likes cold weather.  Salsa appears to be lost in a snow storm, or frostbitten, or perhaps buried under an avalanche.  A premium, storied brand that seems to be loosing it’s appeal in the market.  How did that happen?  Well, look at some of the most recent developments: retiring of Primero and La Raza, introduction of ‘me-too’ complete CrMo offerings, etc.  <BR><BR>I have a theory.  When Salsa finishes polishing some of the gems it brought back from Frostbike, it will realize that what Salsa really needs is to go back to where it started.  That is, Salsa needs to stand once again for that unlikely mix of innovation, tradition, super high end steel (as well as alternative materials) and great prices.  <BR><BR>Surly can’t stock enough of it’s frames and bikes.  Their problem is they’re actually underestimating market demand.  Why is Surly doing so well?  It’s not just attractive pricing and smart branding.  It’s also innovation.  The 1x1 was revolutionary in its time.  The Big Dummy is a bold offering.  The Conundrum is, well, the Conundrum.  The Traveller’s Check brings S&S couplers to the mobile masses.  I could go on.  But I won’t.  My point is made.<BR><BR>When Salsa launches an admittedly beautiful Ala Carte and has as its sales pitch that it’s been around for 25 years, what is the market’s response?  They shrug, of course.  CrMo fork?  Shrug.  Retrogrouch styling?  Shrug.  The Ala Carte gets lost in a sea of traditional mountain bikes that goes all the way back to the original Stumpjumper.<BR><BR>Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t mean to beat up on nostalgia as a selling tool, and the Ala Carte is a certainly work of art.  But there’s other brands already selling nostalgia.  Besides, that’s not what Salsa was about.  Salsa was about surprises.  No more, it seems.<BR><BR>So when bike retailers ask “what can you do for me”, what they’re really asking is “what does Salsa offer that is different from the other ten bike brands that I carry?  Why will my customers prefer to buy a Salsa road (not that many offerings currently) or mountain bike rather than some other brand?”<BR><BR>I thought Salsa had it right when it launched Primero.  A beautiful, affordably priced frame with the highest grade steel selling for hundreds of dollars less than it’s competitors.  Primero struck fear in the hearts of custom bike builders around the world.  Why did Salsa retire the Primero after only one year?  Salsa isn’t saying.  Meanwhile, bike retailers and consumers were both very disappointed.  Salsa’s response was to make a 180 degree turn and launch the downmarket Casseroll, which is a great bike but seems more at home at Surly.  This is why Salsa gives the impression it knows not where it is going.<BR><BR>I am looking forward to Salsa’s new product launches later this year, and I hope Salsa will surprise everyone once again and show it hasn’t lost its touch.

Windows 7 Premium | September 30th, 2010

One of Microsoft’s business tactics, described by an executive as “embrace, extend and extinguish,” initially embraces a competing standard or product, then extends it to produce their own version which is then incompatible with the standard, which in time extinguishes competition that does not or cannot use Microsoft’s new version.

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