The quality of the bicycle standard deck.

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Postby Corneilius Jay » 02/15/12 02:30 PM

I recently bought a six pack of standard bicycles and was appalled at the quality, specifically the centring of the backs.
One of the decks I noticed where all off centre to the point where they were basically a one way deck! And out of all six only two decks were (mainly) free of defects.

Is this normal or did I get a "bad batch"?

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Neil
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Postby Steven Keyl » 02/15/12 04:04 PM

Your results are pretty typical. Frankly, and I know I'm in the minority here, I like the "one-way bikes" because it allows for some effects you couldn't do without them.
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Postby Corneilius Jay » 02/15/12 04:37 PM

Steven Keyl wrote:Your results are pretty typical.


That's a shame. I love the feel of Bikes, I reckon I'll have to go with Tally Ho's.
I've not noticed half of the discrepancies of Bicycle with Tally Ho decks which is strange seeing as they're made by the same company.

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Postby Gordon Meyer » 02/15/12 05:19 PM

It's a shame that the USPC "guarantee" (on the extra Joker) specifies that it only covers defects that make the cards unusable for normal game play. Otherwise, I'd sure love to return some of the crappy decks I've gotten. Whatever lawyer it was that wrote that text sure earned their pay.
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Postby Ken Becker » 02/15/12 06:49 PM

Interesting. I had a deck with off-center backs. Returned the
Joker and Ace of Spades, and received two decks in return.
No hassle. Both new decks are fine; also great for faro shuffles.
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Postby Corneilius Jay » 02/20/12 08:27 AM

Of all the decks I own I think the most well made are the aristocrats banknotes, they also look the most sophisticated without looking "special" (which they're not)
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Postby Chas Nigh » 02/20/12 02:09 PM

Aristocrats are probably the finest back ever developed.
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Postby Chas Nigh » 02/20/12 04:44 PM

Recently purchased a block of Bikes at Costco. A little soft but the finish is pretty nice for fanning and manip. Also they all come with a colored Joker.
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Postby Jonathan Pendragon » 02/23/12 05:55 AM

The market for unique deck designs have produced some very exotic results. At Magic Apple in Studio City there are perhaps 40 different back designs. Some have reversed the spot colors or changed them to silver/black, but almost all seem to have slightly different feel in the hand. Brent and Anthony (of Magic Apple) might the be the guys to ask about the quality of specific decks. I ordered a "block" from the Conjuring Arts Research Center (this forums illustrious benefactor) of the air cushioned Bicycle packs, they are great. I have a personal affection for the Bicycle "Steam Punk" deck (being an Orange County native). All of these decks are a little more expensive then the off the rack packs you find at Walgreens, but quality always comes at a price.
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Postby Corneilius Jay » 02/23/12 11:17 AM

Mr Pendragon.
Firstly let me just say I'm a huge fan, I grew up watching you and your showmanship is a sight to behold.

I just think its a shame that an institution like the USPCC can't do better with the decks of cards that that every (Magician anyway) identifies as being there signature work.
I believe the steam punk deck is a theory 11 creation but still made by the USPCC, strange how they can keep the backs on that deck centred when they can't on the decks that actually make them a household name.

Kind regards.
Neil.
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Postby Andres Reynoso » 02/23/12 12:56 PM

Somebody have tried the Aladdin deck? Two years ago it was selled here in Mexico in a local department store (wal-mart subsidiary)for the equivalent of 2 dollars. half the price of bikes.

I have work well with Aladdin, but sincerly I'm not good in feel diferences between USPC editions. A fellow magician that trades a lot of playing cards types tryed some shuffles with them and told me are equal to bikes. Another magician told me this cards are made with extra plastic cover (or thicker, I'm not sure) because is an edition for distribution in Thailand and needs to support extra wet in the environment.

Anybody knows something about this deck?
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Postby Corneilius Jay » 02/23/12 01:07 PM

Mr Reynoso.
Are these the cards you mean?

http://the1eyedjack.blogspot.com/2008/0 ... inish.html

I wouldn't mind trying these out myself.

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Postby Corneilius Jay » 02/23/12 09:13 PM

Chas Nigh wrote:Aristocrats are probably the finest back ever developed.


I do agree they are nice and I also love the deep colours of the faces too, they really are as elegant as their name suggests.

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Postby Edward Pungot » 02/23/12 10:42 PM

Not only that, but Aristocrats have matching jokers PLUS a blank card to boot. How sweet is that?

Aladdins appear to be popular in humid areas because of the finish. But they are still paper-board inside so eventually the warp will creep in and reek havoc.

Im looking to get a few 100% Plastic Bicycle Playing Cards for myself and a friend of mine. Personally, I have yet to give the plastic cards a feel, so Im curious as to potential for future use as I frequent the Philippine and Hawaiian Islands and the humidity just kills the life span of a traditional pasteboard cut deck, regardless of the finish.

The link below "showcases" the possibility of magical use, but again I have yet to give them a try to give my opinion of them.

http://newyorkmagicproject.com/products/newera.htm
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Postby Bill Marquardt » 02/24/12 03:12 AM

Does anybody know WHY the USPCC decided to make the Bicycle mandolin backs their "magician's deck" and set aside the rider backs as the (sub)standard deck available in bulk at warehouse stores? This does not seem to make good business sense to me.

My Standard (rider back) Bicycle cards do indeed mostly have off center backs, some so bad I would not even use them for playing card games.

I prefer to use Phoenix decks for magic now.
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Postby Joe Pecore » 02/24/12 07:53 AM

billmarq wrote:Does anybody know WHY the USPCC decided to make the Bicycle mandolin backs their "magician's deck"...


From my understanding, the USPCC decided not to allow any more modifications to their standard 808 Rider Bicycle back design in fear of loosing their trademark. Thus, magicians designed the Mandolin back design, as a similar looking deck, but which could be altered for magical purposes.
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Postby Corneilius Jay » 02/24/12 08:06 AM

Edward Pungot wrote:Not only that, but Aristocrats have matching jokers PLUS a blank card to boot. How sweet is that?


Ye they're sweet. And the stock feels real good aswell nice and firm. Your making me want to go out and buy a brick of these bad boys.

:)
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Postby Corneilius Jay » 02/24/12 08:19 AM

Joe Pecore wrote:
billmarq wrote:Does anybody know WHY the USPCC decided to make the Bicycle mandolin backs their "magician's deck"...


From my understanding, the USPCC decided not to allow any more modifications to their standard 808 Rider Bicycle back design in fear of loosing their trademark. Thus, magicians designed the Mandolin back design, as a similar looking deck, but which could be altered for magical purposes.


You have also got the choice of the ellusionist masters edition bike deck which are actually made properly.

I still can't figure out why the USPCC can make such a bad job of their standard deck, I mean it's the most widely seen and used deck of cards in the world! You would think they would take better care of their reputation.

Perhaps it's just my magicians eye because I never noticed these discrepancies with the bike deck before. . .
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Postby Jonathan Pendragon » 02/24/12 08:25 AM

CJ
Thank you for the compliment, although such talk always makes feel a little calcified.

Anthony at Magic Apple said yes, several magicians have complained about the quality of off the rack Bicycle cards. I asked him what are the most popular decks purchased. He told me, in no particular order, Monarchs, Aristocrats, Erdnase (which seems a sentimental favorite), pro quality Bicycles and several of the popular custom decks on the market. I miss the red Bicycle-Fan-Back, a personal favorite.
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Postby Corneilius Jay » 02/24/12 08:50 AM

Mr pendragon.
Jonathan Pendragon wrote:CJ
Thank you for the compliment, although such talk always makes feel a little calcified.


If by calcified you meant I made you feel old I am sorry, If it's any consolation I'm glad I've had you and performers like you to grow up watching.

Jonathan Pendragon wrote:Monarchs, Aristocrats, Erdnase (which seems a sentimental favorite), pro quality Bicycles


By pro quality bicycles what do you mean? Who manufactures them? Have they a specific brand name?
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Postby Joe Pecore » 02/24/12 08:57 AM

The two pro quality Bicycle ones I know of are the Conjuring Arts Research Center http://conjuringarts.org/store/merchand ... ing-cards/ and Richard Turner's Gold Seal http://richardturner52.com/bicycle-cards/

I've been using the CARC ones for a few months and they are really nice.
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Postby Corneilius Jay » 02/24/12 09:22 AM

Mr pecore.
I've heard of the Richard Turner deck alright but haven't used it yet. I think I'll buy a deck and see what they are like.

Thanks for reminding me.
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Postby PickaCard » 02/24/12 10:47 AM

I have no complaints about the Costco Bicycle cards. They end up costing me about $1 a deck and are fine enough for me to faro, one hand faro, and do about every other move my skills allow me. When I feel they are getting a little wear I don't think twice about cracking open a new pack at that price.

I have purchased almost all of the "over the counter" decks (Bee, Tally Ho, Aviator) and although the Bee and Tally Ho are a little stiffer, I can find no advantage to my card magic.

All this to say that it is beyond me why all of these new decks advocate being better and of "professional" quality. Why pay 4 to 6 times more for a deck? At $1 a deck I don't hold back from getting a card signed, performing a trick with a card fold (which essentially ruins the whole deck).

It strikes me that magicians have found a market worth exploiting. There are now so many "professional decks" with a premium price, I cannot keep up or tell why one is better than another. Also, I heard that the Phoenix decks are larger sized than Bicycle poker sized cards. What's up with that? I would think that a card which is an easier size to palm convincingly would be more attractive than larger ones.

Anyways, this is my rant...
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Postby Anthony Vinson » 02/24/12 12:00 PM

Interesting how we have have our favorite and preferred brands. Reminds me of those long-ago days when I was a smoker. The rack behind the counter at the convenient store was filled with choices, each tied to a specific branding campaign. Are you macho, meek, mentholated or mysterious...?

I like the feel of some of the premium decks, but cannot bring myself to pay the premium prices. Just like the times I have been fortunate enough to fly first class, I enjoy the experience, but the difference in quality doesn't justify the difference in price.

Bicycle Rider Backs do seem to have quality issues. Personally I like the feel, function and durability of the Bicycle Guardians, but since they look like "magic cards" I rarely use them for performing. Depending on the day, you can get them on Amazon for less than the price of Rider Backs, and in many cases free shipping is available, at least in the U.S. In general I stick with Tally-Hos - So far they've proven to be consistently dependable and fairly durable, and they don't appear to be anything other than what they are.
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Postby Andres Reynoso » 02/24/12 01:27 PM

@Cornelius Jay: Yes, these are the Aladdin I mentioned. I have only used the "airflow finish" not the "smooth"

@Edward Pungot: Effectively these cards are glued paperwith a cover :)

I think are good cards (and cheaper in this case) I like them and standard bikes... And I don't like very much the new multicolor joker
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Postby Bill Marquardt » 02/24/12 01:51 PM

@PickaCard - there is available a so-named "parlor size" deck of Phoenix cards that is larger than poker size, but the regular Phoenix decks are exactly the same size as any other poker size deck. You were misinformed.

As far as which brand of cards is better for manipulation, I would agree with those who say it does not really matter in the end, as long as one practices awhile with the deck he chooses. I would challenge anyone to take a blindfolded test to pick out his favorite brand from among several of the more popular ones mentioned here and elsewhere. What I mean is that if one of us were challenged to pick out our own deck simply by feel, without being able to see the cards (blindfolded in the dark) I would bet we would be wrong at least as often as we are right.

I prefer the Phoenix cards because they feel "right" out of the box, are centered well, have a couple of usable secrets, and are moderately priced. I can DL and faro equally as well with the crappily centered Bicycle Standards.
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Postby Corneilius Jay » 02/24/12 03:40 PM

I agree mostly with the concensus that the stock and finish is basically the same for most cards but i haven't got an issue with that at all. Of course we have our psychological favourite brand as Anthony Vinson has pointed out but in the end it doesn't really matter anyway because you should be able to perform magic regardless of the state of the stock or the finish of the deck.

The issue I take is with the lack of quality control when it comes to the standard bike deck, namely the printing of said deck. It's probably not going to be noticed by laymen that the deck backs are off centre but I notice and in my opinion that's not good enough.
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Postby PickaCard » 02/24/12 03:46 PM

If Bike decks were all printed perfectly, there would be someone selling you a Bicycle one way deck for $20+.

Since no one but you will notice that the cards are off center anyways, why care? Costco... $1.00 a deck.
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Postby Corneilius Jay » 02/24/12 04:55 PM

PickaCard wrote:If Bike decks were all printed perfectly, there would be someone selling you a Bicycle one way deck for $20+.

Since no one but you will notice that the cards are off center anyways, why care? Costco... $1.00 a deck.


I do care. I care about every aspect of the art of magic including the quality of the props used. It's a matter of pride for me to want to perfect my Art.
I like the standard bike deck, I just wish the company who manufacture it took as much pride in their work that I aspire to.
Concerning the one way bike deck phenomenon I guess it's cool that you can inadvertently get a one way deck, I personally like to choose whether I'm buying a one way deck or not or even better make my own.

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Postby Simone M » 02/24/12 06:25 PM

Corneilius Jay wrote:I like the standard bike deck, I just wish the company who manufacture it took as much pride in their work that I aspire to.


Neil, the point is that Bicycle are not produced exclusively for magicians. The big money they make comes from the general audience. USPCC is also a big company, so expecting them to "care" is like expecting McDonald's to use first quality meat.

So if they can sell a pack for $1, cutting on quality control, printing and machinery costs, wharehouses and little details that only magicians care about, they'll do it, cause their average customer doesn't care. Standard Bikes are cards meant to be used for "casual" playing. We either accept this or just buy different cards (and there are more types than we honestly need).
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Postby Corneilius Jay » 02/24/12 06:55 PM

Simone M wrote:"USPCC is also a big company, so expecting them to "care" is like expecting McDonald's to use first quality meat"

"(and there are more types than we honestly need)."


You are of course right on both counts.
Apart from the off centre backs effectively marking a deck the problem is purely aesthetic. I mean that in the end it's just a matter of keeping the crappy made decks for practice and using your best decks for performing. However it's probably better (in my humble opinion) for performing to by a nice deck in the first place and perhaps pay a bit more for it.

It really comes down to "you get what you pay for."

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Postby Smurf » 02/24/12 11:59 PM

[size:11pt]For what it's worth, according to Christian of Card-Shark.de fame, the problem with off-centered cards from USPCC is not the printing, its the cutter or punch. The cards are always printed as they should be and the front and back of the cards are aligned with each other. However, when the uncut sheet makes it to the next stage, the cutter/punch doesn't always do its job correctly.[/size]
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Postby Corneilius Jay » 02/26/12 07:04 AM

Smurf.
Whether it be the printing or the cutting, that is no excuse for shoddy workmanship.
I'll probably only buy a brick of standard bikes now if I want some decks to practice with other than that it's aristocrat banknotes for me.

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Postby DrDanny » 02/26/12 03:56 PM

I've recently "discovered" Stud poker cards at Walgreens. For about the same price, I find them significantly better quality than average Bikes. Of course, YMMV.
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Postby IrishMagicNews » 02/28/12 08:02 PM

I had a gross of Stud at one stage and loved them. Will Houston swears by e'm

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Postby Q. Kumber » 02/28/12 09:54 PM

IrishMagicNews wrote:I had a gross of Stud at one stage and loved them. Will Houston swears by e'm

Brendan


Would that be the cards or the spray?
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Postby CraigOusterling » 03/01/12 09:18 PM

Studs feel more flexible than bicycle to me. I love the blue back color. Seems more vivid.

The only time spectators noticed cards were not printed perfectly was when I pointed it out in order to do an awesome Luke Dancy trick. Otherwise they don't notice the difference. Maybe I have polite specs, or maybe they notice and don't care. Either way warehouse bikes are cheap and I haven't had a problem with them not being perfectly awesome.

p.s. the people I perform for don't notice my sponge balls aren't always round or identical either.
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Postby BarryAllen » 08/08/12 06:15 AM

Must admit that I was pretty excited when the USPCC re-released Aristocrat Banknote backs last year.

However, I was pretty peeved when I realised that the red back had become a shade of maroon, and that the red pips are a lot darker - as with casino decks. The problem is that in badly lit environments (such as night clubs) the red ink isn't that distinguishable from the black. Still, at least that hopefully prevents magicians boring people with mind-numbingly boring, multi-phase Oil & Water routines! ;)

The quality of Bicycle Rider Decks has been discussed in depth on other forums. However, since the re-design of the card case, this side of the pond anyway has seen a marked improvement in the printing (or cutting). In contrast, an older deck I opened a few weeks back suffered from the aforementioned problems; one margin was about 2mm wide.

Now the crux of the issue is this. Fine, if they are intended for normal card play BUT didn't the USPCC used to sell these decks as 'Seconds'? I certainly used to buy them in bulk from Keith Bennett in England for about a third of the price of a normal deck. I believe that Keith told me that they were the initial runs of decks as the cutters were being aligned at the start of a shift. If that's the case (and it certainly seems logical) then why are the USPCC distributing these now as having (supposedly) passed quality control?

Just for the record, my favourite back design is Tally-Ho fan - but all Tally Ho's are certainly getting harder to source via suppliers within the UK.
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Postby Ray Eden » 08/08/12 06:32 AM

I met Richard Turner over the weekend, and he explained to me that the problem with the USPC is that the new, upgraded, modern printing machines are not as good as the old fashioned system they were running. He said the new machine causes problems with card layering and the printing of the cards.

I did pick up three of his decks from him. I should have gotten more.

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Postby Bill Marquardt » 08/08/12 10:07 AM

I just opened a few packs of standard Bicycles bought from a warehouse store awhile ago. The edges are horribly rough. It is no wonder to me now why so many magicians are recommending "buffing" the decks.

I will stick with Phoenix decks.
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