Soma’s Lauterwasser

Soma announced their new Lauterwasser handlebar today.  It is apparently the revival of a handlebar popular quite a long time ago, like those on this Silver Record illustrated in Raleigh’s 1939 catalog.  A very nice Lauterwasser equipped Humber Sports can be seen frequently over at 3 Speed Touring in Japan.  In all, it’s very cool that Soma has made the initial investment in getting these bars back on the market after a very long absence.  Let’s hope they catch on.

Or not.

I’ll grant that Soma’s taking a bit of a risk and needs to recoup their initial investment.  There’s design work, contracts, lawyers (there are always lawyers), machine setup fees, probably a minimum order, shipping, marketing and so on.  The aluminium bars are currently priced at $74, whilst the steel will set you back a more modest $50.  Somebody’s smokin’ crack.

But, but, but Sloth, you said it yourself.  They had to shell out lotsa mon-ay just to get them made.

I did.  And I meant it.  But (there’s always a but) so does everyone else.  Take Velo-Orange for instance.  They just introduced their own brand of Maes and Rando drops.  I’ll assume that they had to shell out a bunch of the same expenses to have them made to their own specifications.  VO, however, didn’t use the stratospherical price gun when they applied the price tags.  Their bars are around $5 less, LESS, than the competition’s bars.

The fine folks at Wald crank out American made handlebars every damn day, which I can purchase for about $15.  They don’t have one-time setup fees and design expenses.  Those were consumed long, long ago.  But still, $15 for American steel.  But they don’t have a Lauterwasser.

So where does that leave us?  Premium pricing.

Soma is, ATMO, engaging in a premium pricing scheme because they’re the only game in town.  If these catch on, wait a year.  Then buy the Origin-8 copy for $20.

That’s my opinion, anyway.  Meh.

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4 Responses to Soma’s Lauterwasser

  1. Apertome says:

    They look awesome! A little pricey, perhaps, but I don’t think the price is *that* bad, and I don’t think the Wald comparison is fair at all. Wald has been making the same stuff for many years, and their production cost is very low. These are nearly a custom bars.

    Also, the Rene Herse site has them for $68/46. I would guess the price will only go down.

    Yes, I’m sure Origin-8 will copy these if these are successful, but they aren’t the ones doing the real work, or taking the risk.

    Comparing these to Wald is like comparing a quality IPA with Coors Light. Sure, the Coors is cheaper, but I know which one I’d rather have, at the end of the day.

    • admin says:

      I noted that Wald had long ago absorbed the initial costs of their bars. The point is that there are lots of high quality chromed steel and aluminum bars out there that cost a lot less. e.g. The Nitto B115 can be had for well under $50 all day long. Soma’s pricing is blatantly taking advantage of the fact that you can’t get their bar anywhere else.

      Soma copied an old bar. Origin-8 copies popular bars. It’s all the same.

      I haven’t priced Coors Light recently, but a case of Yeungling runs about $22 and a case of Sierra Nevada is about $10 more. I’ll drink either and probably buy them both in equal quantities. There are some local “microbreweries” who’s cases are over $50. I’ll probably never know what that stuff tastes like. Which leads me back to Soma. They didn’t invent some magical bending process and $50 is too much for a steel bar.

  2. I’m with you on the “meh” here, oh slothy one.

    All questions of pricing aside (and I think you make some valid points there), I just don’t grok this bar shape… seems like something brought back just because it’s old-timey, not because it offers anything functionally unique. If Wald (love that Kentucky chrome!) made the same shape, bike snobs would turn up their noses. Because it’s Soma, they’ll fall all over themselves to try it (see also: Grant Petersen’s moustache bar…)

    • admin says:

      Or the A-bars. If you can find the Nitto “North Road”, they seem to be the same shape but a little less expensive. Wald’s North Road is a different shape entirely.

      The shape of the Lauterwasser bar is interesting. I can see why some people like the Mustache bars, but I never found them comfy. The pull back on this Soma bar looks like it might allow for a more comfortable rear position.

      Tune in next time when I tell you how my $25 Origin-8 Gary bars turned into an $80 affair.