It's that season when we begin to ready ourselves for the next model year, which for us begins at the end of June. As I am the acting Sales Manager, one of my duties is to set the pricing for the upcoming year, an excercise which always causes me to ask one simple question:
What the heck are people paying for, and why is it worth it to buy an All-City when there are cheaper options around?
In the case of our frames and bikes, let me lay it out for you.
Besides the fact that we use high quality 612 Select tubing, or Columbus Zona, or ......(coming soon), the principle driver of cost is the detailing of the frameset and method with which the details are executed.
Our frames have all sorts of little doo dads and details such as internal cable routing, hidden fender bosses, integrated seat collars, and reinforcement stars on the bottle bosses. These things, which had become something of a lost art in the production frame world, take siginificantly more time for the builder and add a higher raw cost for the brazed on piece. That's why other companies don't do them. We on the other hand feel that they are worth it because those are the details we adore in classic steel frames, and differentiate our product from others.
Many companies also get around the cost of brazing by simply welding on things such as cable guides and whatnot, and that's fine. We just prefer the cleanliness of a traditional brazed on piece. Here the choice of fabrication methods add cost.
Additionally there are details in the braze ons that no one but ourselves ever sees. For example on some of our disc models we use more expensive silver soldering on select cable guides on the downtube because silver soldering uses lower heat than brass soldering and this lower heat in key areas of stress leads to a stronger frame. More costly, yes, but ultimately we feel that doing so is in the best interest of the rider.
All of our frames are made with custom All-City designed dropouts. Ever notice that other companies tend to not create their own dropout systems? This is because it's design intensive and requires fairly expensive tooling to execute. Why do we feel that it's worth it? The functionality of our dropouts is awesome, for example the Hennepin Bridge dropout system allows a user to safely and conveniently use a quick release on a bike such as the Nature Boy. Besides that, it's important for our frames to tell a cohesive story and when paired with our braze on details form a distinctive package.
We love the idea that if you took one of our frames and stripped it down to bare metal, it would still be readily identifiable as an AC.
Prior to the E.D. coating our frames and forks are dipped in a phosphorous bath to clean the metal so that we get maximum adhesion on the E.D. and paint. This is a step that many companies forego, but we feel that the only way to get a top notch finish is to start with an optimum surface.
The much talked about E.D. coat is the best base coat we could come up with in terms of durability (you may scratch the paint, but it's exceptionally rare that you'll take off the E.D., ask anyone who's ever tried to strip one of our framesets to bare metal). Additionially it is the best rust prohibitive at our disposal. The E.D. means a better overall finish, higher durability, and rust prevention. In our eyes, totally worth it.
We love the look of multiple coats of traditional wet paint on our bikes. It would be easier and cheaper to do a single coat of powder or whatever, but we want finishes with depth and luster and sparkle. Typically our frames are E.D.'d, coated with the tip color, then painted the body color, and then shot with clear. Get one out in the sun and tell me it ain't worth it.
-lugged crown forks
It would be cheaper to use unicrown forks and non lugged fork ends (used on most models but not all), but unicrown forks are in our opinion flipping ugly and we aren't going to put a moustache on one of our Mona Lisas.
-fork batch testing
We batch test our production runs of forks to ensure that yours is safe and reliable. When forks go, they tend to fail in terrible ways and we go this extra mile to make sure we're putting out a safe product. Trust us your teeth are worth it.
It sounds weird to say that this factors into the price but it does. I'm very proud to say that every and all instances where it was our fault that a frame didn't make it in the real world for whatever reason, we stood by the rider and took care of it. When you buy from us we want you to buy with the confidence that you'll be treated fairly should an issue ever arise.
-support the culture
Our mission statement, and I'm actually really proud of this since most mission statements suck is "To make a significant contribution to the culture and machinery of urban cycling." We sponsor a courier team, sponsor race teams, and sponsor events. Giving back to the community requires the financial means to do so, and this is part of what you're paying for with an All-City.
So if you ever wondered what you're paying for check above, that's where the money goes. AND of course there's the All-City private jet, drug orgies, champagne, the villa in Italy, and holidays in Mallorca, but those my friends are tales for another day.