Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Who Made Your Bike?

The whole bicycle industry marketing schtick interests me.  Especially since carbon fiber is now king and most - if not close to all - production frames are constructed off-shore.  A few hours of Google searching will score you factory names and who-has-what-made-where.  I've joked before that you're really paying for Paint 'N' Stickers.  Some stickers appear to be worth more then others.  In some cases, a lot more.

I was reminded of this fact after reading an interesting post by Dave Moulton today off his excellent blog.  His post with links to interesting articles in Cycling IQ and The Inner Ring.  Basically describing how just a few factories in China and Taiwan produces the majority of production frames you'll spot on the bike shop floor.

For the hard core, cycling is a lifestyle or way of life.  We like to think some old school racer is hunched over the alignment table, constructing your frame, years of knowledge passing into the very tubes that support your efforts.  In reality, for production frames anyway, probably not the case.  And it probably wasn't the case back when steel frames ruled the world.  Still, the dream lives.

Is there anything wrong with that?  Not really.  Production frames ride just fine and modern carbon frames quite well.  Some are pretty damn fantastic.  As long as the price is reasonable, not a bad deal.  When you suspect your $4000 carbon frame is not all that different from the $1000 frame, things get a little fuzzy.  Like I mentioned, really expensive stickers.

A side benefit-backlash against the attack of cookie cutter carbon frames, has been the surge of small builders, usually working with steel.  The illusion of bike obsessed dude hunched over the alignment table is then in fact real.  You can even visit his shop and fret over pump peg mounts, seat tube angle, and fork rake to your heart's content.  The dream does still live.

Options abound.  Go with the incredibly well riding production bike.  Or with ridable art constructed by the local craftsman.  Many choices and no wrong answer.


  1. Thanks! Yeah, weird comments now removed. My blog appears to have become the spam magnet.

  2. I promise this is not Spam. :-) Yeap, so true. FatBack is doing more and more USA frames. Yay.

  3. I own an Inglis because I miss a time when American bicycles were relevant, but I race my China built carbon fiber Tomac because it is a better frame. I struggle with the dichotomy.

  4. Interesting, well written follow up on all this: