Friday, October 5, 2018

What Are You Still Doing At Your Desk? Go Take A Ride For Chrissakes!

Yesterday I mentioned Renovo's closure, and now BikePortland has the whole story:


Hey, I've been out of cash and employees for over 11 years now, yet here I still am, go figure.

Anyway, Renovo's story is a dramatic one, featuring no less than two (2) heart attacks, one of them fatal.  It also turns out making bikes out of wood takes a long time and isn't easy, who'da thunk it?

Tyler Robertson, a former employee in charge of marketing who worked for the company in the summer of 2014, recalled in an interview today that they faced, “massive delays in production.” While the CNC construction method sounds quick and easy (Wheeler told me back in 2008 that his CNC process, “Lends itself to high volume production”), the truth was much more complicated. “It was a really hands-on, meticulous process,” Robertson said. Adding to the problem were customers frustrated by longer than expected delays. Robertson says they were promised a bike in six-to-eight weeks; but some people on the list had been waiting as much as two years. As word spread of the delay (there are several very negative Yelp reviews during this period), many customers cancelled their orders.

Let's all just go ahead and blame millennials with their apps and their smartphones and their need for instant gratification and their completely unreasonable expectation that bicycles should be reasonably priced and available for immediate purpose.

And of course let's also blame me:

(Thanks Chris DiStefano for alerting me to this.)

I'd argue if I could.

38 comments:

1904 Cadardi said...

Also a good comment left for that story:

" Alan Love October 5, 2018 at 9:04 am

That’s one of the first things I thought when I saw this article. BikesnobNYC=kiss of death. Perhaps Eben could review an SUV next…"

Anonymous said...

PODIUM FROM PORTLAND LIFE IS MEANINGLESS

Anonymous said...

So do you get to keep the Renovo, Tenovo?

Anonymous said...

So what's going to happen to the Renovo you've been testing?

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 4:03pm,

I will continue testing it forever.

--Tan Tenovo

Clicky Freewheel said...

Apparently the owner is a misogynistic sociopath, if you believe the glassdoor reviews: https://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/Renovo-Hardwood-Bicycles-Reviews-E1800718.htm

pbateman does enjoy a donut said...


god dang it snob - i'd like to go ride but someone has to make and sell the f'ing donuts so i here i am.

donuts are certainly, at minimum, the Ultegra of pastry.

working at a desk, however, is the chinese knockoff Claris groupset of work places. actually, the factory that would be made in is probably a bit worse.



Tan T- i'll trade you this freshly built RB-1 in yellow (that does not have chinese imitation claris) for that Renovo for 6 months or so.

Funnelwebmaster?!? said...

Mr Snob, your wooden bike was hewn from a forest of pain, abuse and iniquity. Also, it likely harbors undisclosed structural defects that will cause it to fail catastrophically. What will you do?

https://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/Renovo-Hardwood-Bicycles-Reviews-E1800718.htm

Matt said...

Wow Snob...you really scored...it's kind of the DeLorean of bikes! Extremely limited production, pretty high end exotic machine...and now there's nobody to send it back to. Man, wish I had borrowed one (to test...ahem) a year or so ago! That's a pretty awesome problem to have. 20 years from now it will be worth a fortune! (heck, it's worth a fortune NOW!) It's good that you will be able to enlighten us on how it ages over the coming years (for example: do you need to use some kind of Pledge or Endust on the frame every so often? Murphys Oil soap? Linseed Oil?)

Anonymous said...

"Many of the bikes were sent nearly one year after they were ordered. We witnessed several bikes that were sent for demo when they were not structurally sound and resulted in accidents and catastrophic failure to the frames."

Well, that's interesting

https://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/Renovo-Hardwood-Bicycles-Reviews-E1800718.htm

Suwannee Dave said...

Nothing beats metal tube for a bike frame. (titanium being the best)

M Burdge said...

As further proof, Drysdale is now defunct!!!

Anonymous said...

Check the Glassdoor comments about renovo. Owner reportedly a real dirtbag bboss.

GatorJoe said...

I guess you get to keep the bike forever. Collector's item.

Hork said...

The Glassdoor reviews mentioned above about Renovo may be true or they may not be. No idea. However, it is very obvious that all five reviews were written by the same person.

Anonymous said...

The comments on Glassdoor and the comments here are repetitive and all done by the same person. Give it a rest, Chubby.

Olle Nilsson said...

Oh get over yourself. You wish you were the kiss of death. Reality is these companies were desparate for publicity and turned to you. And then you failed them. Oh wait, it is your fault.

Sean C. said...


Sad to hear, but I am not shocked by this.

The bike Ken is standing next to in that BikePortland article is mine, a 58cm Elwood (Sapele, Wenge and Purpleheart), currently hanging on my lounge room wall in Newcastle Australia. I think I'm standing right next to Ken in that picture, I was there to pick up the bike and fly it home. The frame cost me $3K, total build ended up being $7020.

Unfortunately, about 1 month before completion of the build, the guy I'd been dealing with stopped replying to me, along with everyone else at Renovo.
Eventually someone new finally replied to me about 2 days before NAHBS to say they had it finished and would see me there. They stuffed up quite a few things in my build and in several respects I didn't get what I ordered. I was never able to get any of the issues resolved, and after about a 18 months of trying I just had to give up and live with it as is.

The frame is a thing of beauty, but on the whole I was disappointed with what I ended up with.

The customer service was nothing short of appalling after my original contact left, and Ken did nothing but make up excuses and flat out lie to me, if he even bothered to reply, which was rare.

No wonder at all that they couldn't pull it together, more surprising that the lasted as long as they did.

Fourhourerection said...

Working on my second million. Blew the first.

Joe Valachi said...

Tan,

Did Brompton finally come collect the folding bike you were testing? If so I guess the avoided the death kiss, at least for now...

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the Renovo the company sent you for testing was supposed to be for a guy who ordered one but never got it.

Champs said...

Hi Bike (or should I say Mr. Snob?),

Longtime reader, first time-ish poster. I'm just writing in to say that I am honored to appear in a BSNYC post and have grown along with you in your pivot. Our side needs more self-deprecating advocates and fewer straight men (a 99% true double entendre) selling ancestral culture as policy.

Lob be with you,
Champs

Jake said...

Fodder for Monday https://www.facebook.com/100007275366843/posts/2122044814714677/

Some Guy on the Innernets said...

That Wheeler guy sounds like a real prince. If half the stuff posted about him on Glass Door is true, I think he may have missed his calling. He could go far in the Boorish Lout party. Maybe he'll have another career.

Wesley Bellairs said...

You wouldn't have to keep emailing Renovo and keep getting ignored if you went to an LBS and bought a bike like God intended, Sean C. Direct-to-Consumer internet schemes do not work. Bikes are problematic, customers are problematic, shippers, suppliers, lenders, all problematic. If your online bike experience sucked, look in the mirror. Bikes are not tents or sleeping bags or helments.
--LBS Owner. .

Anonymous said...

Renovo living the corporate life, over promise, under deliver, keep the customer complaints covered up. When you run out of investors money, declare bankruptcy and repeat.
I thought Sir Bradley Wiggins, CBE owned The C Word?

Bender (Heh. Hold my beer and watch this.) said...

I guess maybe that Budnitz review was too brief. Seems like they wanted the bike back as soon as Wildcat Rock Machine fixed all the stuff making weird noises and such. Maybe they knew something no one else did.

Rivendell seems like a direct-to-consumer bike seller that has made it work. Might have something to do with the fact Grant Petersen would be about the last person to treat an employee, a customer, or anyone else like shit. I've dealt with him personally a couple of times over the phone (bought a bike once) and it was fine.

There are three really good bike shops in the little town where I live, so yeah, local bike shops are great too. One of my local shops sells a lot of VO stuff. It's all good unless you have to deal with an asshole.

Sean C. said...

The 15 other bikes that I have mostly came from LBS's in my area Wesley, so my conscience is clear on that front.
In fact they got a fair chunk of my money on this bike, rectifying some of the things I wasn't happy with, more than if I had simply bought an off the shelf bike from them I am sure.

God's intentions notwithstanding, if I covet an artisan (or any) bike which isn't available locally but is available overseas, I believe I am within my rights to buy it.

Good luck with your shop, it's a tough gig and I hope you're successful for many years :)

Anonymous said...

Could you please do a review of 45!? The quicker the better.

huskerdont said...

I've bought bikes from LBSs, the internets, and had one custom built for me. I have had problems with all three (and great success from two), so I dunno, I guess the advantage with the LBS is you have someone to bitch at in person if that's your thing. Never worked for my old Gary Fisher Tass that would never shift correctly until I just changed all the cable and housing myself; they were too interested in bragging that W. (Bush) had bought a bike from them.

My experience with the custom bike wasn't too dissimilar to some of the reviews. Poor communication and twice as long to get as promised. I don't think they're around anymore either. Their old URL comes up as "Top Fake Piss Artificial Drug Test Help." A bummer since the guy built a *beautiful* frame, but some people just aren't made to run businesses.

Anonymous said...

Might Tan’s Tenovo belong to any creditors Renovo has left uncompensated? (I’ve no idea). If so, would further use constitute damage of assets belonging to said creditors? Or might it constitute enhancement of the asset's value as the singular Tan Tenovo model?

JohnP said...

Just remember snob when they go into bankruptcy and you keep the bike (an asset of the compnay)the people you hurt are the people Renovo owes money to like employees and other honest vendors.

pbateman bet $50 on your mom in the 3rd said...

Snob, based on your recommendation I did not buy a $10,000 wooden bike, but I did watch Let it Ride and because of that I"m having a very very good day.

de de dee, da da da

Chazu said...

Speaking of wooden bikes: searching for reviews of my turn-of-the millennium ti bike (with the horizontal goddamn top tube and pump peg on the head tube) reveals a few comments from other owners of the same frame who say it feels "wooden".

They're saying it as if its a bad thing. So I must ask: if a wooden road feel is bad, where does that leave bikes made from actual wood? Does the Renovo feel "metallic"? And if so, is that bad or good?

I took the ti bike with a new wheel set to the 444-mile long, undulating road in a nearby national park this weekend. The wheel set consists of HED Belgium C2s, White Industries T11 hubs, brass nipples (real men have brass nipples), DB spokes (32 on each wheel) and some 23mm Michelins.

So instead of allowing me to feel the thrumming of that sweet National Park asphalt, the wider wheels with lower tire pressure serve to insulate me somewhat from the road. I'll definitely be able to ride faster over truly rough pavement, but now I'm wondering what difference the frame material makes, all other things being equal, if you're riding HED Belgium+ rims with 25mm or even 28mm tires. It seems an ultra-stiff aluminum road frame isn't going to transmit much "road feel" to your crotch with wheels like that.

With broad acceptance of wider road rims and tires, how is anyone going to complain about a ti, steel, or even aluminum frame feeling "wooden" ever again?

Damn, my comments are long sometimes. Perhaps the comments section of this blog become my daily journal. Thanks for the therapy, E.W.

JLRB said...

I heard Renovo was doing fine until someone (...ahemmm) pointed out that they only had one bottle cage mount and all the thirsty bicyclists went elsewhere.

wishiwasmerckx said...

Chazu, this is probably heresy to cycling orthodoxy, but I am of the opinion that the composition of the fork influences ride feel and handling more than the composition of the frame.

I have hads the misfortune to replace a fork or two in my day, and the differences between a steel, aluminum and carbon fiber forks are pretty dramatic in terms of handling, stability, "road feel" and shock absorption.

HDEB said...

Tan Tenovo 4eva

A. Tree said...

I worked for Renovo and all those assholes ever did was cut me down and slice me into pieces