Giant No Longer a Value Brand? A Tale of Two Similar E-bikes, Two Years & $900 apart

Asher

Well-Known Member
This question is more in the spirit of understanding changes in e-bike retailing, especially from probably the most dominant bike maker, but... why did Giant massively hike its price for nearly the same bike, the Quick-E+ 2019 vs Fastroad E+ EX Pro 2021.

You might say that the 2021 has the corona crunch pricing premium. Indeed, the 2020 model was $3,500, $400 less, but it also had a smaller 375wh battery vs the 500 on both 2019 and 2021. So I see most of the effective price hike occurring between the 2019 and 2020 models, when the price spiked $500 and the battery shrank (at a time when other brand are going from 400 to 500 to 600+ wh batteries stock). The newer models do look better, with a down tube that's straight, instead of twisting along the way, but that's the only thing that really stands out. The cheaper model actually had pricier Schwalbe tires (vs Kendas) and a front derailleur, and the website 99Spokes rates the older model as having slightly better overall specs. The newer model has also seen several reports of motor failure from riding in wet or bumpy conditions.[1]

Looking back, a $3k Yamaha speed pedelec/Class 3 e-bike, with a lifetime frame warranty AND 2 year part warranty serviced by your local bike shop is very competitive, including with direct sales brands like Juiced, Priority, et al, when you consider the full package. Now, it's $3900, when the comparable Trek is only $400 more, and comes with the bigger 625 wh battery. Giant usually offers better value than Trek/Specialized, but that seems to have evaporated after 2019 for their flagship urban e-bike. I'm drawn to the Fastroad for its more athletic geometry vs its peer models from Trek, Specialized, Cannondale, it's just odd how Giant has ratcheted their pricing here. Based on 2019 pricing, we could've seen a 2022 630wh model for say, $3250, now it would be ~$4200, or just stay at 500wh $3900.

Maybe the e-bikes have higher servicing costs than they expected, and they waited until a model change to hike prices. But the Quick-E started in model year 2017, so it wasn't new.

The most plausible explanation is Giant either couldn't or wouldn't produce enough e-bikes to meet demand, and they went for a more low volume, high price business strategy. Giant has a special vantage point over the industry, since it makes frames for other major brands as well as itself. It's not hard to imagine that Giant quietly dropped any ambitions to compete on value with other brands, to keep bike shop prices high and profitable. Meanwhile, Giant has a cheaper sub-brand Momentum, but the components spec'ed are lower grade. Given that Giant now has Momentum to occupy the $2500-$3000 price tier, the odds of the FastRoad coming back down below $3500 are pretty close to zero.

I think what we're seeing here is Giant's transition from a high quality high value brand to yet another big name, big price brand, like Trek, Specialized, Cannondale. Giant's executive's comments seems to indirectly affirm this profit margin over volume strategy, "Despite the rush of first-time bike buyers, she does not plan to “blindly” invest in new manufacturing capacity. She is not yet convinced the world’s newfound love for two-wheelers will outlast the pandemic." [2] Their new sub-brand lets them hit the same price points as before, with lower quality goods. This also flies in the face of people claiming e-bikes are like smartphones and laptops that will see consistent price cuts over time. Poking around on the bike database 99Spokes seems to confirm this, that the days of Giant being a value brand are basically over, with Giant's bikes costing very similar amounts to similarly specced Treks et al.

I personally don't care for Rad Power bikes, but their rise seems like the best counterweight against this new normal of selling a $3k bike for $4k. If bike brands are bleeding customers to Rad, maybe they can win them back by bringing prices down, post-pandemic. But I don't see that happening until 2023 onwards. Canyon is also the value brand that Giant once was, but it doesn't have local stores, and it doesn't sell speed pedelecs.

Momentum's flagship urban e-bike is the Transend E+ at $2600: https://www.momentum-biking.com/us/transend-eplus

You can view a comparison here: https://99spokes.com/compare?bikes=...giant-fastroad-eplus-ex-pro-2021;*z.XL|w.650b

CC @Ravi Kempaiah

Court's review of the Quick:


Comparison summary:
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[1] Motor failures on 2020 model.

[2] https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/17/business/giant-bikes-coronavirus-shortage.html
 
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FlatSix911

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Silicon Valley
Asher, interesting analysis... I can only conclude that the Covid premium is now in full effect. 😉
Giant has always represented great value in their brand and I hope that has not changed permanently.
 

Asher

Well-Known Member
Giant has always represented great value in their brand and I hope that has not changed permanently.

I'm increasingly sure this is the beginning and end of it. Giant is funny because it supplies so many of its branded rivals. So even when it loses it wins! lol. Even if it has a loyal low budget customer base, they can just direct them to the Momentum brand now. And the bulk of that price hike occurred in MY 2020, whose price was decided in the summer or fall of 2019 (if not earlier), long before the pandemic. The higher end of direct sales e-bikes (Priority, Dost) are not all that competitive with the Giant of just two years ago.

Consider this graph of spec quality vs price, from 99Spokes. I selected hydraulic disc brake sporty alloy hybrid bikes, not electric. The dots form a line that represents the price-quality tradeoff. Giant's bikes are right in the middle of that line. If they offered better value, they'd be above it. The Giant models are the Escapes. The other brands are Specialized, Trek, and Canyon. Granted, the spec level metric isn't perfect, but I don't know that it's systemically biased for or against Giant or any other.

1613930426997.png

 
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jabberwocky

Well-Known Member
I guess it’s value compared to what? Prices have gone up, but the fastroad is a bit better spec as well (grx/tiagra is a bit nicer than the deore on the older quick-e, has the pro motor over the sport). Component costs have gone up over that time (even pre pandemic) so it’s not surprising Giant has pushed pricing up as well. And during the pandemic, well, everyone is selling every bike they can make, often months ahead of even being able to deliver it. Pushing prices up is the obvious thing to do. It will be interesting to see what happens to demand post-pandemic and how that affects pricing. But even if the fastroad is more expensive than its spiritual ancestor in the lineup, the question is how does it compare to what trek and specialized offer in a similar spec.
 

Asher

Well-Known Member
I guess it’s value compared to what?
Compared to Trek (and Cannondale)
Prices have gone up, but the fastroad is a bit better spec as well (grx/tiagra is a bit nicer than the deore on the older quick-e, has the pro motor over the sport). Component costs have gone up over that time (even pre pandemic) so it’s not surprising Giant has pushed pricing up as well. And during the pandemic, well, everyone is selling every bike they can make, often months ahead of even being able to deliver it. Pushing prices up is the obvious thing to do. It will be interesting to see what happens to demand post-pandemic and how that affects pricing. But even if the fastroad is more expensive than its spiritual ancestor in the lineup, the question is how does it compare to what trek and specialized offer in a similar spec.
The price was hiked for the 2020 model with less battery, whose price was announced in July 2019, and the price was probably set several months before that. Got little to do with the pandemic.

Trek raised prices 10% / $400 from 2019 to 2020, but that came along with a 125wh bump up in battery. So the effective increase is 2.5-5%. I don't know anything about the component price increases, but it sounds dubious as an explanation for 25% increases (vs say 5%) compared to Giant simply erasing it's significantly lower pricing across the board. After all, what's the point of all that race sponsoring if you still have to do bargain pricing.
 

reed scott

Well-Known Member
I'm no economist. In fact I don't understand much about economics beyond maintaining my personal budget and I do that in my head. But. All these price increases we are seeing may not be as much about greed as they are about inflation. IDK. Maybe someone around here does. ? 🤔
 

Asher

Well-Known Member
I'm no economist. In fact I don't understand much about economics beyond maintaining my personal budget and I do that in my head. But. All these price increases we are seeing may not be as much about greed as they are about inflation. IDK. Maybe someone around here does. ? 🤔
One man's greed is another man's strategy. Condemning it is not going to change anyone's mind anyway.

As a business, there are different ways you can market yourself. You can try and keep prices low to ward off competition and attract customers, or you can have higher prices supported by marketing to persuade people to pay more - prestige, status etc. I'm saying that it seems like Giant is switching from the former to the latter.

There are bike brands that aren't platinum brands but give you a good value for bikes, especially if you weren't after the latest frame innovation (the components are still the same). Best examples are probably REI and Decathlon, plus Canyon and BikesDirect if you buy online. It's just a bit jarring if a company switches. It's like if your cheap neighborhood diner suddenly renovated and raised prices (but the actual food was pretty similar lol).
 

Alvin1957

Member
Region
USA
City
Midlothian, TX
Hey gang,
It seems like this pricing pattern goes into the Explore models. My wife and I bought our 2020 models in late 2019 for $2500. I love looking at what everyone in the industry is doing and charging. Sometime late 2020 the Explore had been 'upgraded' with downgraded components, especially the motor while the price had been raised to $3100. The lower cost Roam was introduced at about $2450 but further downgraded components...seems to me. A bid sad that this has happened. Value and quality were the driving forces for buying our conventional Revolt and Invite. Very nice bikes for the money when compared to Trek and Specialized at that time. The same was true when we compared the Giant/Liv e-bikes to the Turbo Vado line. Seems like a dangerous business model in the face of the direct sales competition. If you understand what you want in frame design, size, derailleur, Q-factor, and so-on why not just go with mail order/direct? I can't help but wonder if, when we have completely worn these out, we will go to Canyon, etc.
Even replacement batteries that we bought at about $500 now look to be about $850.
Thanks, Alvin
 

Asher

Well-Known Member
Hey gang,
It seems like this pricing pattern goes into the Explore models. My wife and I bought our 2020 models in late 2019 for $2500. I love looking at what everyone in the industry is doing and charging. Sometime late 2020 the Explore had been 'upgraded' with downgraded components, especially the motor while the price had been raised to $3100. The lower cost Roam was introduced at about $2450 but further downgraded components...seems to me. A bid sad that this has happened. Value and quality were the driving forces for buying our conventional Revolt and Invite. Very nice bikes for the money when compared to Trek and Specialized at that time. The same was true when we compared the Giant/Liv e-bikes to the Turbo Vado line. Seems like a dangerous business model in the face of the direct sales competition. If you understand what you want in frame design, size, derailleur, Q-factor, and so-on why not just go with mail order/direct? I can't help but wonder if, when we have completely worn these out, we will go to Canyon, etc.
Even replacement batteries that we bought at about $500 now look to be about $850. I'm hoping 2022 brings more
Thanks, Alvin
Thanks for confirming with more evidence. The Explore is not a speed pedelec, so you do have more options. For a fast urban commuter that's high quality and from a local bike shop, the options are considerably narrower. But either way it is a loss of a quality value brand with lots of local availability. North America still seems like a small market for Canyon, and speed pedelecs face a lot more barriers in the EU. Same for Decathlon.

The only cheaper but comparable alternative I see right now is the Cannondale Canvas 1 on sale at REI.

Given that Giant made a whole budget brand, I don't think Giant's ever going to return to offering great value with AAA quality.

 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Region
Europe
City
Brwinów (PL)
Price increases are the fact for all major brands. Two examples from Specialized:
  • U.S. 2020 Turbo Levo Comp: US$5975
  • U.S. 2021 Turbo Levo Comp: US$7500
25.5% price increase.
  • EU 2019 Turbo Como 5.0: EUR3550
  • EU 2020 Turbo Vado 5.0: EUR4400
  • EU 2021 model: not announced
It is not an S-Pedelec. Price increase 23.9%.

Why only Giant? Should I look at Trek, too?
 
Of course you can always shop around for "last year's" model. On almost the last day of 2020 I bought a 2020 Fastroad E+ 2 Pro for AUD$3899 (list price AUD$4799) and the 2021 was already in shops for AUD$5199. The main differences as far as I could see was a different paint job and a rotor mounted magnet & speed sensor, which would have meant a BadAssBox wouldn't work. I think at AUD$3899 the Fastroad respresents really good value but I have to agree that AUD$5199 would feel like an awful lot for it.
 

Asher

Well-Known Member
Price increases are the fact for all major brands. Two examples from Specialized:
  • U.S. 2020 Turbo Levo Comp: US$5975
  • U.S. 2021 Turbo Levo Comp: US$7500
25.5% price increase.
  • EU 2019 Turbo Como 5.0: EUR3550
  • EU 2020 Turbo Vado 5.0: EUR4400
  • EU 2021 model: not announced
It is not an S-Pedelec. Price increase 23.9%.

Why only Giant? Should I look at Trek, too?
A third time: the price increase occurred in early to mid 2019. Not 2021.
 

Mike_V

Active Member
Perhaps in the U.S. It is 24-25% for Europe. Don't be America-centric :)

The real cost ?

Please add the years long required compound interest payments for these expensive toys bought on credit.
I'll bet the manufacturers credit offers ALL have a "great low rate".
 

jabberwocky

Well-Known Member
Maybe the 2019 Quick-E was a bit of a loss leader for Giant? They felt it was underpriced and pulled it more in line with the market in 2020? We can only speculate, but I don't think Giants pricing is currently out of line with the market, nor was it in 2020. The fact that one model increased from 2019 to 2020 doesn't really say a lot. What was the comparable competition priced at both years?

I actually think its a mistake to say Giant is a "value" brand. Its fair to say they have traditionally been the least expensive among the big 3 brands with widespread dealer support, especially at the high end, but I don't think its usually been by huge margins. Some smaller brands offer better value in various niches.
 

Asher

Well-Known Member
Maybe the 2019 Quick-E was a bit of a loss leader for Giant? They felt it was underpriced and pulled it more in line with the market in 2020? We can only speculate, but I don't think Giants pricing is currently out of line with the market, nor was it in 2020. The fact that one model increased from 2019 to 2020 doesn't really say a lot. What was the comparable competition priced at both years?

I actually think its a mistake to say Giant is a "value" brand. Its fair to say they have traditionally been the least expensive among the big 3 brands with widespread dealer support, especially at the high end, but I don't think its usually been by huge margins. Some smaller brands offer better value in various niches.
Three years. Not one. For the Quick-E at $3k.

Giant was popularly considered a value brand, often. Now it isn't. Value brand = below market or below big brand pricing. Kirkland is a value brand, for example.
 

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