As mentioned ad nauseam over the last few blog posts - Project Access and me scoring a 29er - the wait is over. The new and very shiny Sette Razzo 29er arrived last Thursday. Late Friday night Wrench-O-Thon brought it to light, as well as Ian's Access - hence the 2:00 AM finish for both projects. Yes, I said "hence". My 8th grade English teacher would be proud.
A few reasons and thoughts on why I went with the Sette....
1. Killer price. Cruise through catalogs or the Internet and price out the build kit. I challenge you to come up with the same build for less. A similar spec'd Specialized Stumpjumper Comp 29er is $1850, though I had a local shop quote me $1650. The Scott Scale 29er I also checked out lists for $1650, though REI sells it for $1500. Niner with a similar build is over $2000. The Sette delivered to my door was $1240. See what I mean? Plus I have 30 days to ride and return if I don't dig it. The frame itself also has a 5 year warranty. Great set up.
I hate to harp on dough as I have over the last few posts, but being the single paycheck family of four dictates I do so - especially for bicycle related gear. Bikes are important to me, but so is feeding the family and other normal expenses. You get the picture.
2. Curious about the Sette business model. I've kicked around the online bike company idea in my head for quite awhile - pipe dream for sure - but fun to research. When it comes down to it, for production based bikes, most are made in Asia - even the U.S. boys do this - Trek, Specialized, Kona, etc. Designed here and made off-shore. Sette does this as well, but sells direct, offering big savings. I'm completely overstating here, but in some ways, you're paying for paint and stickers. Sounds sacrilegious, but when you dig into the industry a bit, there is some truth to this - especially at this price level. So, I was curious to order one up on my own dime and check out the experience.
Official Disclaimer: Sounds contradictory, but I'm all for the local bike shop as well - especially if they support the local riding scene. I personally don't really need shop support - I do all my own work, I'm the ex-bike shop rat myself, and feel I know quite a bit about all this bike tomfoolery - but I do appreciate what a good shop provides to the local area. In the past, I've done the full on custom build from a local shop, and bought bikes off the floor as well. I also try to steer folks to shops I think are cool.
However, where bikes are manufactured and how they're sold has changed greatly over the last 10 years or so. I think really successful shops may require a blend of storefront and online sales. Speedgoat would be a good example if this. The online business model does fit some customers, not all - but some.
3. It's all about the frame - right? In a lot of ways I agree, the frame is the soul of the bike. In the past I've owned and still own bikes from Fat Chance, Ibis, Bridgestone, Cannondale, and Ellsworth. Not exactly the low end lot of bikes, nor without character or soul if you will. I've read good reviews on the Sette frame from actual owners. I'm curious to see how a lower cost frame stacks up against what I've ridden in the past.
The whole branding and marketing aspect of the bike industry also interests me greatly - so a little experiment for me to ride a "mail order" bike. Will I be allowed to sit with the cool kids at lunch?
Man, how was that for a psychotic Ramble-O-Fest of an intro? I think about and analyze this bike stuff WAY too much. I'll shut up now, call around for a shrink, and finally give a little a tour of the new wheels......
Big brown box arrived in a big brown truck. Box even say's "Sette" on the side, so it must be a real company.
Bike was impressively packaged for shipping. Double boxed, everything zip tied, bubble wrapped and correctly done. Awesome job - I'm serious. Kudos to Sette on shipping.
Easy assembly: Swing stem around and tighten, install handlebars to stem, install front wheel and pedals, grease and slide seatpost into frame (saddle already attached). Bike shifted fine right out of the box. I had to adjust the front brake to remove a little drag, set correct air pressure in Rock Shox fork. That's it - nice job again Sette. Of course, I've assembled loads of bikes in the past. Still, anyone with a bit of riding experience and minor wrenching ability should have no problem.
Rock Shox Reba SL fork, FSA Orbit headset, Deore hub laced to Mavic 719 rim (double butted spokes and alloy nipples), Avid Elixir CR brake, and Kenda Small Block 8 tire complete the front end.
SRAM X.9 derailleur handles the rear shifting duties. Shimano cassette, complete with 11 - 36 gearing - nice touch for a 29er, since you lose some low end gearing with the larger wheel. Plastic spoke protector will soon become a Frisbee.
SRAM X.7 front derailleur and Truvativ Stylo 3.3 crankset. Both budget minded, but work just fine. Bike also came with Shimano M505 clipless pedals. I installed my well worn 747 pedals instead. I'll give son Ian the new 505s when he's ready to go clipless.
Sette branded stem and handlebar. Light, decent parts - similar to other branded stuff and probably made in the same factory as bigger brands.
Curved stays to allegedly soften the ride of aluminum. Kenda Small Block 8 tire for smooth rolling action.
Frame is polished 7005 aluminum, simple graphics (clear coated), 3.2 pounds with double butted main triangle. Pretty damn light for a 29er frame. I'm not big on polished aluminum, but it looks better in real life, then in photos. It looks good - polished with black parts.
Head tube detail - welds won't impress anyone at Moots - but not bad.
Avid disk and frame brace to gawk at in the rear - along with double butted spokes and alloy nipples - same as front wheel. What a coincidence.
Underside of BB shot, complete with "Made in Taiwan" sticker. At this price, thought it would be China. I'm curious to know what frame manufacturer in Taiwan this actually comes from. I'll do some digging around. I'd bet many other brands ship from the same door. See, there I go again...
With Ian's Performance Access and my Sette Razzo completed - we are now officially "Team Mail Order". Yes indeed.
I wanted to photo the bike as it arrived - so there you have it. I plan to swap the seatpost, saddle and stem to better fit my goofy ass body. That will happen this week. I'll hit dirt this weekend to give it a roll. I'm itchy to see if the 29er hype is all true or a figment of marketing imagination. I've only buzzed the bike on the street for a few minutes and it felt pretty good.
As usual - poor photography and miscellaneous rambling to follow. Stay tuned.