Friday, April 3, 2009

Designed in USA

Bicycle Retailer reports today that Cannondale will cease manufacturing frames in the US by 2011.  I guess they'll have to replace the Handmade in USA sticker that graces the seat stay with Designed in USA.  Like many other products that were manufactured in the US, construction will move to Asia.  I don't even like to call bikes "products" - to me they're more then that.

When it comes down to it - only the frames were made here - everything else comes from somewhere else.  Besides high end, boutique components - very few parts of a bicycle are still manufactured here in the US.  So who cares about the frame?  I do. We're losing something when this practice continues to happen - since the frame is the soul of the bike.

I know globalization is complicated.  I've owned a Volkswagen GTI that was assembled in Pennsylvania.  I currently drive a Nissan SE-R that came off an assembly line in Tennessee. The Aprilia Falco motorcycle that once graced my garage was made in Italy, but the motor came from Austria.  I've owned a long list of Japanese motorcycles and one modern Triumph, built in England.  On top of that, many years ago - various cars from Italy, Germany, England and the US.

I've owned a fair amount of nice bicycles over the last 25 years or so. Frames made in the US, Japan, Taiwan and China.  So, it's not like I'm completely a "made in the USA or die" zealot.  Still, hearing the Cannondale news bothers me.

I'm just as guilty or hypocritical as many on this subject, even though many times you don't have a real choice when buying something.  I've worked for a few manufacturing companies in the past, providing IT support.  I've witnessed the manufacturing area converted to a warehouse after production moved to China.  I've heard all the pro arguments supporting such a move.  I don't care - you're still losing something important.

My next bike - if at all possible - will sport a frame manufactured in the US.  That's my little stand in a sea of things I can't really control.

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