Thursday, April 9, 2009

Just Ride 'Em

After reading my own post - Designed in USA - feel I may have come across like the psycho dude in the movie Falling Down.  Or maybe not - but I do feel concern as we continue to manufacture less and less in the U.S. It doesn't matter if its bicycles, guitars, cars or widgets.  I do understand why companies look to China or other countries to save money and turn a higher profit.  I just don't think all the benefits are positive, there's some negatives involved as well.

Does Taiwan turn out nice bike stuff - of course - super quality stuff. Look at Giant, they produce great bikes and even make their own carbon fiber (from what I understand).  That's pretty damn cool really.

China, for higher end bicycle manufacturing, is certainly on the rise. My current carbon Ibis was manufactured in China and it looks and rides great.  Being full-on Bike Geek, I normally wouldn't consider a Chinese manufactured bike.  A few test rides and being an Ibis fan convinced me otherwise.  If Scot Nicol was not involved with the reborn Ibis, I never would have went for it.  Still, would I think the carbon Ibis was a touch cooler if manufactured in California, like the old Ibis?  Yes, I'm guilty of that.  But, all in all, I still put down the dough for the new Ibis.  That says something.

Maybe because Taiwan and China don't really have the long history of bicycle culture - performance oriented culture - old school guys like me tend to put it down - perhaps unfairly.  Still, there's something cool - perceived or otherwise - about road bikes from Italy, mountain bikes from the U.S. and Shimano parts from Japan.  If you're an old bike person, you know where I'm coming from.

I guess when it comes down to it - the coolest set up is a company that designs and manufactures it's own stuff under one roof - doesn't matter where that roof is.  Nothing totally wrong with farming out the manufacturing if needed, but you do lose a little something in the process.  For normally priced production bikes, probably not as much of an issue.  You also hope, since it's bicycle related, the factories involved treat employees fairly and aren't dumping waste into the proverbial nearby stream.

For higher end bikes, people are willing to pay up and expect a little more soul to it all.  That's why some frame builders have a 5 year waiting list.  I'm a sucker for this idealism and that's why if I can afford it, my next frame will come from a small U.S. builder.  I have a few older versions of such idealism in the garage already - from Ibis, Fat City and Ellsworth - along with one Cannondale.  Toss in some production bikes from Bridgestone - as well as Trek and Specialized that family members ride.

Wherever your bike came from, the best thing to do it just ride it.  I plan to do so tomorrow.

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