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Thread: Salon-ness, and what it takes to get there

  1. #1
    Ben's Avatar
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    Default Salon-ness, and what it takes to get there

    I was looking at a website the other day that got me thinking.

    Guy works in the cycling biz most of his life.
    One day he decides, "eh, fcuk it, I can do this better on my own."
    Designs a bike part the way he thinks it ought to be made.
    Then goes out and finds the best manufacturer he can to build it.
    Does everything himself, from importing to hand-building wheels.
    Products have a reputation for being good stuff.
    Dude has a reputation for outstanding customer service.
    Plenty of privateers start using his stuff. Lots of them rave about it.
    He has a viable business. He's a full-timer and a lifer.

    Everything about that last paragraph is Salon-esque. If I'd told you I was describing Gaulzetti, you'd nod and say "hell yes."

    Here's the problem: The dude is John Neugent and the company is Neuvation.

    And nothing about Neuvation is Salon-esque.

    I've never used any of his products, and don't have any desire to, but the people who can get over how lame his branding and marketing are seem to like them just fine.

    And so I guess that's my question: What is it about Neuvation that is so woefully unSalon? Is it just that his logos, stickers, and website are so god-awful ugly? Is it that he sells on price alone?

    My guess is that it's because nobody would ever have an emotional attachment to anything he sells. Even if his wheels are well-made, they're about as sexy as a Russet potato. His stuff lacks that certain je ne sais quoi. But really, I don't know what it is and can't quantify it.

    What does it mean (not) to be a Salonista? What does Neu lack?

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    Default Re: Salon-ness, and what it takes to get there

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben View Post
    What does Neu lack?
    john's a good guy and i know him as a connecticut retailer rather than what he has become. i think what is
    lacking is that all of the goods reek of price point-ness. his aesthetic hints of 1980s mail order catalog mania.
    my people refer to this as shmata stuff atmo.

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    SteveP is offline vSalon Legend
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    Default Re: Salon-ness, and what it takes to get there

    lack panache. not quality
    jn knows more than almost anyone in the bike biz. he was president of sachs before sram bought it out from under him... leading him to utilize all his knowledge of sourcing and marketing to bring his current stuff to market.
    he loves what he is doing and has been very successful at it.
    view the small biz thread on the ot section.
    he is doing that. hes not gaulzetti. he doesnt wanna be.

    he wants to sell good quality stuff at reasonable prices... and he is successful at it.

    great guy john neugent.

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    Default Re: Salon-ness, and what it takes to get there

    I think you're both exactly right. Which raises two questions:

    1. Aren't we just admitting that we're idiots -- or if not idiots then wildly irrational -- to spend an extra grand for a set of wheels that is equal in quality but lacks "panache"?
    2. If Neugent kept his product and customer service the same, but changed his company name, improved his branding, came up with a sepia-toned Rapha-style website, and doubled his prices, (and mind-erased all of us a la "Men in Black,") wouldn't he be the hottest thing since Justin Bieber? I think he would go from declasse to highly-coveted in the span of about five minutes.

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    Default Re: Salon-ness, and what it takes to get there

    His branding is fine for the market segment he wishes to address (or perhaps landed in by default). If you sell at low prices you must make up for it by volume, which I'm sure he does quite successfully based on how often I see his wheels around.

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    Default Re: Salon-ness, and what it takes to get there

    so we have a vote for shmata-ness and lack of panache atmo.
    let's make ordinary the new black.

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    Default Re: Salon-ness, and what it takes to get there

    I'm going to stick up for Cooper Black. It's a great font.
    michael catano humble frameworks
    chicago, il, usa merci

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    Default Re: Salon-ness, and what it takes to get there

    Quote Originally Posted by anon. View Post
    I'm going to stick up for Cooper Black. It's a great font.
    Ten thousand Garfield lunchboxes can't be wrong.

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    Default Re: Salon-ness, and what it takes to get there

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben View Post
    I think you're both exactly right. Which raises two questions:

    1. Aren't we just admitting that we're idiots -- or if not idiots then wildly irrational -- to spend an extra grand for a set of wheels that is equal in quality but lacks "panache"?
    2. If Neugent kept his product and customer service the same, but changed his company name, improved his branding, came up with a sepia-toned Rapha-style website, and doubled his prices, (and mind-erased all of us a la "Men in Black,") wouldn't he be the hottest thing since Justin Bieber? I think he would go from declasse to highly-coveted in the span of about five minutes.
    1) Was there ever any doubt about this one?
    2) No. He has a very strong position for what he does. Trying to move into a different market segment would take a significant amount of money, time and effort. Why would he? Then again the rims/hubs/spokes he's using are already being sold at higher prices by other brands...

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    Mr.President is offline VSalonistas
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    Default Re: Salon-ness, and what it takes to get there

    I bought a set of his road wheels a few years ago. One of the cheaper ones I think. They were great. Did exactly what they were supposed to do and will always get a good look from me. I want to buy a set of his carbon wheels to give them a shot. Sure I might pull the stickers off of them, but if I recall reading he uses the same rims that some of the larger big money companies use.

    I would love to be able to afford all of the Enve, Zipp, Mavic, etc choices, but if he can deliver the same experience or close to it then as a non pro, non paid rider who has his summers free to have fun...then i say bring it!

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    Default Re: Salon-ness, and what it takes to get there

    I offered to design him new logos a couple years ago (in exchange for a closeout wheelset for training on) and was turned down. Gotta respect a man & his convictions. Cooper Black it is.

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    Default Re: Salon-ness, and what it takes to get there

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben View Post
    I think you're both exactly right. Which raises two questions:

    1. Aren't we just admitting that we're idiots -- or if not idiots then wildly irrational -- to spend an extra grand for a set of wheels that is equal in quality but lacks "panache"?
    2. If Neugent kept his product and customer service the same, but changed his company name, improved his branding, came up with a sepia-toned Rapha-style website, and doubled his prices, (and mind-erased all of us a la "Men in Black,") wouldn't he be the hottest thing since Justin Bieber? I think he would go from declasse to highly-coveted in the span of about five minutes.
    Nothing wrong with panache. Life would be unbearable without a little bit of it. I once test drove two drumkits side by side. Dead heat. Paid the extra grand for the one whose gold glitter was a little more gold.

    Neuvation to me is carbon for carbon's sake. Its not cool (let's not kid ourselves, salon-ness is cool). There are better bikes/wheels available for cheaper; so the price argument is moot. Its about budget carbon because... carbon. Squaresville.
    Got some cash
    Bought some wheels
    Took it out
    'Cross the fields
    Lost Control
    Hit a wall
    But we're alright

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    Default Re: Salon-ness, and what it takes to get there

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben View Post
    Ten thousand Garfield lunchboxes can't be wrong.
    I refuse to type the letters L, O and L in sequence. Ever. But reading ^this^ made me do what those letters represent.

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    Default Re: Salon-ness, and what it takes to get there

    Quote Originally Posted by Nierman View Post
    I offered to design him new logos a couple years ago (in exchange for a closeout wheelset for training on) and was turned down. Gotta respect a man & his convictions. Cooper Black it is.
    mediocrity has to to look mediocre - and i mean that as a compliment. my S.O. in the eighties was a big macher
    in the corporate identity world. you don't want a client to confuse a zales diamonds with an h. stern atmo.
    Last edited by e-RICHIE; 06-15-2011 at 05:14 PM. Reason: grammar -

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    Default Re: Salon-ness, and what it takes to get there

    Quote Originally Posted by anon. View Post
    I'm going to stick up for Cooper Black. It's a great font.
    gotta love font humor.

    Interview: John Neugent of Neuvation Cycling : Red Kite Prayer

    Old article. I don't know much other than what I read on the interwebs but it just seems that his goal is different from the makers and builders on this board. His goal seems to be to not have an ethos for his products at all. I don't see it as a mentality focused on price points but I just see it as a lack of some other overarching goal of craftsmanship. But along the lines of another thread from the last month or so, why do we need branding at all or why do we care about it? Conversely what are you buying into when you are paying for ethos. Or is that just a matter of having your money say something specific, because it will if you want it to, or not...

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    Default Re: Salon-ness, and what it takes to get there

    Quote Originally Posted by 962 View Post
    Or is that just a matter of having your money say something specific, because it will if you want it to, or not...
    Best exploration of this topic I've ever read:

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    Default Re: Salon-ness, and what it takes to get there

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben View Post
    ...the hottest thing since Justin Bieber?
    To misquote Ozzy, who the frel is Justin Bieber?

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Salon-ness, and what it takes to get there

    He makes wheels that dirtbags like myself can afford, and it's not like he invented comic sans or anything. Also, if poor choices in typography were actual an insurmountable obstacle to cycling cred, Lightweight would be totally fuxxxxed.
    michael catano humble frameworks
    chicago, il, usa merci

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    Default Re: Salon-ness, and what it takes to get there

    You are not what you consume. Hopefully that occasionally comes up in here as part of "salonness". Go ride yer bike!

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    skouri1 is offline VSalonistas
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    Default Re: Salon-ness, and what it takes to get there

    I think the difference here is how you define "I can do this better on my own."
    For neuvation, "doing better" is hitting a price point with reasonable quality.
    For Gaulzetti, "doing better" is realizing his concept of a better bicycle.

    I had a set of neuvations, which were warrantied after two years, and though I can't complain given my investment cost and their customer service, I will not get another pair. In fact, I have recently put money down on a set of handbuilts through my local shop.
    In my experience as a 135 lb rider, the 350 RSLs neuvations will last ~4 years (2 years till they became unridable + 2 years of warranty replacements).
    With proper hub maintenance and rim replacement, I expect my handbuilts to have double the lifespan with much less hassle.

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