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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Perhaps it's my age, but growing up in the 70's and 80's a lot of manufacturing began transitioning to overseas factories, where labor and manufacturing costs were (and still are) much less expensive. However, more often than not that equated to a serious decrease in product quality. It was always the little things to me, like pocket knives and watches and whatnot, where it was readily apparent. If something looked like crap, then I would inevitably look for, and find, the "made in China" or "made in Taiwan" logo.

Of course that includes bicycles, and much of today's bike manufacturing is done overseas. Heck, from what I understand most of the frame building, regardless of brand, comes from the same factories in Taiwan. And I do understand the economics for doing so.

Here's my point. I have read a lot of reviews where the bike magazines have written very positive, if not glowing, reviews on the new breed of Santa Cruz (Blur) and Yeti (5 75's and AS-R's) bikes. To a T they have all said that the new frame designs are a marked improvement on the earlier ones. What they usually fail to mention is the new batch are Taiwan frames as opposed to U.S. built.

Are they really THAT much better? That just doesn't seem right to me. Have we really gotten to a point where overseas manufacturing has become an improvement in addition to the economic benefit?
 

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Even Taiwanese factories don't make a profit with a high percentage of rejects or warranty claims. They get better or they lose the business. And of course a factory that makes frames for twenty brands can afford to invest in equipment to make frames better and more consistent that a single smaller manufacturer couldn't. Just think of Asia as North America's industrial park. With 90% of the consumer products in North America coming from off shore it makes no sense to get so wound up about bike frames being made off shore. When the frames are made here it would be about the only part of the bike that is.
 

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rolondo said:
I have read a lot of reviews where the bike magazines have written very positive, if not glowing, reviews on the new breed of Santa Cruz (Blur) and Yeti (5 75's and AS-R's) bikes. To a T they have all said that the new frame designs are a marked improvement on the earlier ones. What they usually fail to mention is the new batch are Taiwan frames as opposed to U.S. built.

Are they really THAT much better?
And the 2010 models will be even better!
That's the problem with magazine reviews. 1) They've never met an advertisers bike they didn't like. 2) The current model always has to be better than the prior year(s) to stimulte demand where the advertiser sees a return on the advertising dollar - and keeps advertising.
 

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When I bought my 08 cannondale f5, I thought they were all made in the us. I have to admit I was a little pissed off after I rode it a few times and found out here(not through my LBS), that they're are made in Taiwan. My first Cannondale and some of the appeal was that they are made in the US. Now I know that only certain models are made in the US.
For my price range though, I really didn't have a choice.
 

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I don't understand why it's assumed that something being made in the US is going to be of better quality to something made in Taiwan?
From my experience high end bikes made in Taiwan have easily lived up to similar bikes made elsewhere. I remember a whole load of Cannondales snapping in two, despite being made in the US.

I think the difference should be more, mass produced against hand built. I'd imagine that Chumba might have higher quality to, say, Specialized, because I'm lead to believe that all Chumba bikes are built by hand.
 

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frey said:
I don't understand why it's assumed that something being made in the US is going to be of better quality to something made in Taiwan?
From my experience high end bikes made in Taiwan have easily lived up to similar bikes made elsewhere. I remember a whole load of Cannondales snapping in two, despite being made in the US.

I think the difference should be more, mass produced against hand built. I'd imagine that Chumba might have higher quality to, say, Specialized, because I'm lead to believe that all Chumba bikes are built by hand.
Do you remember which Cannondale's snapped in two?:confused:
 

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frey said:
I don't understand why it's assumed that something being made in the US is going to be of better quality to something made in Taiwan?
I think the point is believing one has purchased something unique...handmade in a limited volume factory, then finding out it's been quietly misrepresented and is really just standard "pablum for the masses" with a "your favorite brand here" sticker on it. No question, good frames are made in asia...they're not unique though.

It's like buying an art object, then finding out it's an excellent reproduction...it still performs the same function (looks nice on the wall), but doesn't have the same cachet. I think it's a valid complaint.
 

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Small companies also exist in Taiwan.

The big two Giant and Merida, still make the bulk of all the frames, but there are numerous smaller companies that make other brands. This means that even if you buy a frame that is made in Taiwan, and the brand you bought is a smaller brand, chances are it is not "pablum for the masses".

Smaller brands generally do not have the volume and sales stability to be interesting to the largest of manufacturers.

Besides, many finished goods, or parts of them you buy in virtually any industrial sector are made in the same factory as even the very products' direct competitors.

This is true for automobiles, consumer electronics, pharmaceuticals, food, etc, etc. Its truly a myth that most products have an entirely different source.

What matters is the specifications. What raw materials are used, what grade of assembly is specified, what tolerances are acceptable, how much QC/QA is requested, etc.

If you want unique, then you really should go for handmade, but even then, if you request a bicycle frame, the tubing and the cast/CNC elements most likely come from Taiwan.

V.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
steadite said:
I think the point is believing one has purchased something unique...handmade in a limited volume factory, then finding out it's been quietly misrepresented and is really just standard "pablum for the masses" with a "your favorite brand here" sticker on it. No question, good frames are made in asia...they're not unique though.

It's like buying an art object, then finding out it's an excellent reproduction...it still performs the same function (looks nice on the wall), but doesn't have the same cachet. I think it's a valid complaint.
That's actually a large part of it. I've always been a bit of a sucker for hand-built, custom-built stuff, although I admit I can't afford most of it. The small-mid sized shops seemed to be the compromise for me, as they keep doing great designs with the rider in mind without the larger scale operations that the Trek's and Specialized folks enjoy. I'm not knocking those guys, but they've always admitted they've outsourced their manufacturing to overseas factories. Now that the small-middle "high end" shops are doing it, it makes me wonder if I'm just being old and stodgy...holding on to my "made in America" is better mindset. It just feels like when Yeti and Santa Cruz (and others) are moving in that direction, that those bikes are losing some of their mystique....something intangible that I can't quite grasp. Maybe they are better, I just hate to see it.

Ibhim's probably right in the respect that all reviews seem to be positive, until hindsight (and newer models) kick in. It's only then can a design be knocked, as it is then compared to the new improved version. Remember how much all the magazines loved the Cannondale V frames/Raven/etc? They're now trashed whenever a new Cannondale is released. The difference is that now, the "older" versions of the Yeti's and Santa Cruz's are made in America, while the new ones are Tiawan. And the magazines don't mention that just maybe....that's not a good thing.

As my friend Spaceman said...it's not like the price for a new Blur went down when they went overseas. They got MORE expensive.
 

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let me stir the pot a bit

Cannondale, Schwinn, Mongoose, and GT, all well-known US start ups, are now owned and controlled by Canadian firm, Dorel Industries.

Dorel markets its Recreational/Leisure products under the Cannondale, Schwinn, GT Bicycle, Mongoose, SUGOi, Pacific, Dyno, Murray, RoadMaster, PowerLite and InSTEP brand names.

Here's a site to cruise: http://www.usstuff.com/prodlist.htm

My next bike just ordered, is a boutique one, Canadian of course, now made in Portland OR, as it was too costly to continue mfg. here. :rolleyes:

Jim
 

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It seems to me that if I have to settle for a Taiwanese made bike made in bulk by some 8 year old for 50 cents an hour, they could come down on the price a touch. Santa Cruz still charging nearly $2K a frame if they have to resort to outsourcing, they could at least knock a little off the price.
 

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bwheelin said:
Do you remember which Cannondale's snapped in two?:confused:
:D Don't worry, this was Cannondale's 3.0 series frames, which weighed exactly 3.0lbs. But they made them about 15 or so years ago, and almost every one of them snapped in two, hence Cannondale's rather undeserved nickname "Crack-en-fail".

steadite said:
I think the point is believing one has purchased something unique...handmade in a limited volume factory, then finding out it's been quietly misrepresented and is really just standard "pablum for the masses" with a "your favorite brand here" sticker on it. No question, good frames are made in asia...they're not unique though.:
I totally agree with this, especially when you've paid the sort of money required to get hold of a Yeti or a Santa Cruz. And I do think these guys could pass on some of the monetary savings when they move their production offshore, seems a bit harsh to charge the same money.

What do you guys think about the liberal use of the American flag on bikes which aren't made in the country? I remember all Trek bikes used to have the flag emblazened on them despite being Taiwanese made...
 

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Mondoman1 said:
Of course, there are those who worry that they're not getting real German quality since their BMW's are made in the USA... ;)
I was wondering why their price, quality and reliability had dropped recently, I guess that 'Made in the USA' isn't as good as some people believe it to be.
 

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Taiwan may be a step ahead of China when it comes to human rights and environmental standards (that's not saying much), but no one can argue that forced/slaved labor and sex trade human trafficking are rampant in southeast asia. Granted, I could be wrong when it comes to the bike manufacturers, but its been more than well documented in the rest of the sporting goods and other industries (i.e.Nike). The mafia has as much influence as any government reforms going on in the area. There is a reason companies outsource, it's cheaper when you don't have to pay a living wage and don't pay a price for your pollution. Sorry, if I painted too broad a stroke and if a beer induced exaggeration at 1AM offended.
 

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rolondo said:
Nope. It's an 06 American made one. :thumbsup:
And you cannot have any of my three Taiwan welded frames :p

Oh wait, maybe the 16 year old Specialized Hardrock. The seat tube split when my father in law took out the stuck seat post.

...
edit:
I'll get back to watching this discussion. I just need to get some beer and potato chips first.
:D
 
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