Buy a fake, risk death, support slavery – says bike industry

Buy a fake and you’re risking your life and supporting organised crime, according to bike industry body

by Mat Brett   March 10, 2014  

Michele Provera

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If you buy a counterfeit bike on an internet site like Alibaba, you not only run the risk of injury or even death, you could also be supporting organised crime like drug trafficking and prostitution, says the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry (WFSGI). The problem of counterfeits in the bike industry has become so great that fakes might even be finding their way into local bike shops.

According to Robbert de Kock (above), Secretary General of the WFSGI, “It is since many years the WFSGI’s aim to tackle counterfeits, as it represents both a severe threat to the health and safety of the consumer and a huge loss for the image, the goodwill and the business related to the trademarks and products of our members.”

The counterfeits being spoken about are bikes and other cycling products that are passed off as the creations of big brands like Shimano, FSA, Specialized, Zipp, and so on.

In a presentation by the WFSGI to members of the bike industry at Taipei Cycle last week, Michele Provera (below), Vice President of Internet Brand Protection at Convey, a company that specialises in internet brand protection, said, “We’re not dealing with sweatshop factories, we’re dealing with very sophisticated organisations who launder money they gain from drug dealing, from prostitution, from slavery.

“They invest this money into selling counterfeit products because it gives them huge profit margins. They have no R&D costs, they save everything that was invested by the legitimate brand.

The WFSGI has teamed up with Convey to combat internet-related counterfeits. The objectives of the project include (in the WFSGI's own words):

• To discover and analyse the existing online threats for… brands covering domain name abuses, illegal offerings and counterfeit product sales on third-party operated online platforms.

• To remove counterfeit offerings from the major e-commerce platforms and online marketplaces and to permanently banish the respective operators and sellers.

• To shut down rogue websites and regain control of abusive domain names used and registered by third-party operators.

The WFSGI and Convey believe that the internet provides counterfeiters with the ideal platform to exploit bike brands because they can sell fake goods on e-commerce platforms and create counterfeit online shops with domain names that lead consumers to believe they are legitimate sellers. They can also highjack websites, divert traffic, and post videos, ads and links to counterfeit shops on major social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest.

Convey says that the problem could be about to get worse with new gTLDs – generic top level domains – giving counterfeiters the opportunity to confuse consumers with legitimate-sounding web addresses like www.shimano.sport, www.giant.store, www.cervelo.bike, and so on. Trademark holders – the brands – get preferential treatment in securing these gTLDs. They can also recover a domain name that is identical or confusingly similar to their trademark or has been registered by somebody with no legitimate interest, but that does take time and money.

Convey says that fakes on Western marketplaces like ebay and Amazon are just the tip of the iceberg. Chinese e-commerce platforms are the main source of counterfeits: sites like Alibaba and AliExpress. That said, we shouldn’t be complacent if we buy from more mainstream sources.

“We are seeing that more and more buyers are not just purchasing one piece for their own bike, they are purchasing hundreds of pieces of the same product,” said Michele Provera.

“This means that they resell them in Western marketplaces or, worse, they can maybe have a local bike shop and – who knows? – start to mix the counterfeits with real ones. If someone buys one of these products and the next day the frame breaks, what could the consequences be? If you’re lucky, the guy will [just] complain on all the forums, and social media… but there could also be liability problems.”

The project is in its early stages but the WFSGI and Convey say that they have attacked hundreds of counterfeiters, removed 21,000 fake products from sale, and blocked 5,000 annual transactions with an estimated value in excess of €1 million.

85 user comments

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Dave Atkinson wrote:
"lance took drugs so buying a chinarello is fine" is a bit of a leap, no?

I agree. But I clearly said I don't condone fakes or ripping off companies, so that wasn't what I was claiming.

posted by LinusLarrabee [36 posts]
10th March 2014 - 22:58

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Cool

Nick T wrote:
A lot of opinions in here would be very different if the poster had ever had a half decent idea to sell once upon a time and made some money out of it. How dare bike companies make a profit, indeed...

Nothing wrong with a profit but profiteering will encourage other people to sell a comparable item for less. Capitalism works look at the USA health care system

HMCC

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posted by Beefy [110 posts]
10th March 2014 - 23:02

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levermonkey wrote:
Trek wrote:
Trek said
levermonkey wrote:

2. As it was a fraction of the price of an equivalent from Trek, Cannondale, Scott, etc I was able to spend my budget where it really mattered (Seat, wheels, brakes, drive-chain, bearings).
end of quote

This is incredibly concerning. Can I ask, where did you pick up on the idea that components are more valuable than the frame, just out of curiosity?

I didn't say that the components were more important than the frame! What I said was that I got an EQUIVALENT frame which allowed me to spend more of my budget on components.

Or do you think that anyone that doesn't buy a Trek is a dribbling imbecile who should be wearing a canvas blazer with wrap around arms? Trek's idea of selling you a bike is to sell you a decent frame and then skimp on the components to keep the price down. [You're not the only ones.]

As I was building the bike from scratch I was able to avoid having to compromise. I could have a good frame and good components. If I had bought a Trek frame I would have had to compromise.

Sorry, I was confused by your use of '...I was able to spend my budget where it really mattered,' followed by a list of components. So that makes it sound like there's more value in the components vs. the frame. A lot of people express this sentiment.

And I don't believe that I suggested anywhere in my reply that people should only buy Trek, and that anyone who doesn't is an 'imbecile'. It's pretty unfair to suggest that based on me asking you a question that wasn't incendiary, or insulting.

You are absolutely right that we are more interested in selling high quality frames, even if it means we down spec the components. We do this because we spend a huge wad of cash, and devote an enormous amount of time guaranteeing the quality we build into the frames. And to us, that is way more important than parts that need to be replaced over time. Making cheap frames so that we can sell Di2 bikes for 2 grand, when the gruppo itself costs that much at retail is the compromise, not the other way around.

Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrekUK
And Twitter @trekbikesuk

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posted by TrekBikesUK [96 posts]
10th March 2014 - 23:07

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Popped in to Halfords before they closed. Couldn't see any prostitutes.

posted by simon.thornton [13 posts]
10th March 2014 - 23:34

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TrekBikesUK wrote:
People who buy counterfeit products are not intentionally supporting organised crime. Of course not. The purpose of this piece is to try and educate people about where the money goes when they DO buy what they think is just a super cheap version of what they assume is an overpriced bike.

Seriously, when it comes to the quality aspect and the moral aspect of ripping off someone elses work I agree with you entirely.

Quote:
If you buy a counterfeit bike on an internet site like Alibaba, you not only run the risk of injury or even death, you could also be supporting organised crime like drug trafficking and prostitution, says the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry (WFSGI).

But as it states in the first paragraph of this article that someone who buys a bike from Alibaba could be supporting drug trafficking. And my question is how is that different from buying a legitimate brand that sponsors someone who is or was involved in drug trafficking? In my mind, and you may disagree, there doesn't seem to be much difference there.

Like I said, I don't support or condone fakes. My beef is really with the spin they're putting on this whole issue. It's an industry body talking to the end customers like they're a bunch of idiots who can be easily manipulated.

posted by LinusLarrabee [36 posts]
10th March 2014 - 23:37

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I don't care that my frame was built in a smoky hell hole of a sweat shop, with appalling conditions, zero health and safety, and for slave wages of pennies an hour.

Because in 1953, that's the way all bikes were made in Glasgow!

Like the a Trek man says, potentially a frame lasts a lifetime, even the most confident rider must occasionally worry that their chervelo, chinarello or whatever might not be up to that big descent.......especially after that pothole....was that a creak or did I imagine that......

All Campag

posted by Flying Scot [490 posts]
10th March 2014 - 23:39

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TrekBikesUK wrote:
Flying Scot wrote:
Like the a Trek man says...

Or Trek woman. Wink

trek person then! Cool

All Campag

posted by Flying Scot [490 posts]
10th March 2014 - 23:46

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Flying Scot wrote:
Like the a Trek man says...

Or Trek woman. Wink

Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrekUK
And Twitter @trekbikesuk

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posted by TrekBikesUK [96 posts]
10th March 2014 - 23:47

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Dave Atkinson wrote:

all you're really saying is, "I don't agree with the pace of change", and the logical extension of that argument is the same as it was before.

That's not what I'm saying at all.

To be clear, it's not the pace of change that's the problem here, it's the haste in which support for existing componentry is withdrawn.

Industries that withdraw support for products that would otherwise be expected to last a long time, especially in an era where consumers are not just increasingly adept at circumventing traditional supply chains, but are also concerned about the environmental and ethical issues connected with unnecessary material consumption, are unlikely to win much sympathy over the longer term.

PS - Trek Lady seems to have had to fight her corner on this thread so, to cheer her up, I'll just say that my American made Trek frame is still going strong, and the DuPont paint still hasn't got a mark on it. Amazing quality!

"Hey..... Let's be visible out there."

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posted by Neil753 [451 posts]
10th March 2014 - 23:55

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All the comments posted lead to the same conclusion: the marketplace works pretty well, everyone seems to be able to purchase a product that fits his/her needs/lust at his/her price point. In fact, the choice available in bikes, components and clothing is bewildering and so are the materials used. I personally ride a titanium bike: make bikes, not bombs!
Counterfeit destroys the marketplace: gone is the choice, gone is the development, GONE IS THE SAFETY, GONE IS THE VALUE FOR MONEY.
Counterfeit is a lose lose situation: consumers lose out, counterfeiters lose out (there is always a cheaper one).
The marketplace ensures continuing development, 99% to the advantage of the consumer. I still ride my 1980's steel Giant bike, completely original, a magnificently comfortable ride, but I cannot get it up the mountains...
The marketplace funds athletes and the grand spectacle of sports inspires millions of people (I keep my distance because of the secret race).
The marketplace is flexible, adaptable, responds to changing perceptions, corrects excesses over time.
And above all the marketplace, through amazingly complex mechanisms, improves products by making them lighter, stronger and cheaper, in one word: safer.
The marketplace, complete with its forest of regulations and legal protection of brands and but also brand liabilities, is the place I want to be.
Counterfeit has no place in it, because counterfeit destroys it from within.

The enthropy of the universe increases constantly. Carpe diem.

posted by noether [42 posts]
11th March 2014 - 0:01

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LinusLarrabee wrote:
But as it states in the first paragraph of this article that someone who buys a bike from Alibaba could be supporting drug trafficking. And my question is how is that different from buying a legitimate brand that sponsors someone who is or was involved in drug trafficking? In my mind, and you may disagree, there doesn't seem to be much difference there.

That's like saying if you buy a John Terry jersey, you are saying adultery is ok, and that Adidas made that adultery possible. Or if you buy a Kobe Bryant jersey, that you support rape, and Nike and the Lakers made that possible.

The difference is the source. If a bike manufacture was also manufacturing drugs, then your argument would possibly stand. In this case, you are saying that the purchase of a product somehow condones the actions of a person who just happens to be sponsored by that brand. That would make sense if we continued to sponsor Lance after the Reasoned Decision. We didn't.

Since when is an equipment sponsor directly responsible for the choices that a sponsored athlete makes off the field?

Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrekUK
And Twitter @trekbikesuk

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posted by TrekBikesUK [96 posts]
11th March 2014 - 0:03

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ah, I misread the title. I thought he was asking us to buy a fake bike and support slavery. got it. my bad.

Racer 074 for the 2014 Transcontinental Race; 2,000 miles from London to Istanbul.

http://themartincox.co.uk/2014/03/racer-074-transcontinental-race-2014/

posted by themartincox [323 posts]
11th March 2014 - 0:13

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TrekBikesUK wrote:
That would make sense if we continued to sponsor Lance after the Reasoned Decision. We didn't.

Since when is an equipment sponsor directly responsible for the choices that a sponsored athlete makes off the field?

To be honest I wouldn't be too keen, as Trek, to wave this particular flag. The way Trek got involved in Lance's attack on LeMond to take some measure of revenge for his (totally accurate) finger pointing is one of the deeply depressing parts of the whole debacle. Along with Oakley staff lying under oath, it shows the depths which a brand will go to in order to support their cash cow.

For what it's worth I don't think drug dealing and sponsoring Lance are the same thing (it's a mental comparison).

posted by atlaz [152 posts]
11th March 2014 - 0:37

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TrekBikesUK wrote:
LinusLarrabee wrote:
But as it states in the first paragraph of this article that someone who buys a bike from Alibaba could be supporting drug trafficking. And my question is how is that different from buying a legitimate brand that sponsors someone who is or was involved in drug trafficking? In my mind, and you may disagree, there doesn't seem to be much difference there.

That's like saying if you buy a John Terry jersey, you are saying adultery is ok, and that Adidas made that adultery possible. Or if you buy a Kobe Bryant jersey, that you support rape, and Nike and the Lakers made that possible.

The difference is the source. If a bike manufacture was also manufacturing drugs, then your argument would possibly stand. In this case, you are saying that the purchase of a product somehow condones the actions of a person who just happens to be sponsored by that brand. That would make sense if we continued to sponsor Lance after the Reasoned Decision. We didn't.

Since when is an equipment sponsor directly responsible for the choices that a sponsored athlete makes off the field?

I think the nuance in my reasoning is being lost somewhere here. I'm not saying Trek or any other brand condones drug use or is responsible for the actions of the people it sponsors. In a nutshell, the way I see it, you have an industry organisation making some pretty bold accusations about the illegal activities ordinary consumers "could" be supporting if they buy a fake bike. Yet, the very companies this organisation represents have built their brands on the back of, and have financially supported, teams and athletes that have engaged in illegal activities. Something is a little wrong there, is it not? Pot, kettle and black? Added to that, we know for sure that some teams and athletes took part in illegal activities, yet all we have is a bold and unsubstantiated claims from a less than impartial industry body that those dodgy Alibaba sellers are involved in drugs and prostitution. There's a reasoned report and countless rider confessions to prove what the industry was supporting (even if they claim not to have known), where's your evidence that these Alibaba sellers are directly involved in drugs and prostitution? I would also ask where your evidence is that these fake frames are dangerous, but I might be accused of supporting them, which I don't. Besides, everybody knows that official frames have never suffered a random catastrophic failure during a professional race Wink

posted by LinusLarrabee [36 posts]
11th March 2014 - 1:54

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Well said mythbuster and LinusLarrabee, nothing worse than industry groups treating the public like morons.
On a more positive note look at the effect counterfeiting had on the price of DVDs.

posted by belgravedave [165 posts]
11th March 2014 - 3:51

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TrekBikesUK wrote:

It's exactly the manufacturing and R&D that makes the bikes more in the first place. The bike industry has to compete with the defense industry for a limited supply of raw material (carbon). It's therefore very expensive to acquire it in the first place.

Sorry. It is not. There are more and more carbon fiber manufacturers coming online throughout the world. The supply of commodity small tow carbon fiber, commonly referred to as T700 and T800 whether they are made by Toray or not, is ample. This is what is used for the vast majority of all carbon fiber frames, branded or not.

In addition, aerospace also uses large tow carbon fiber which are not used by sporting goods manufacturers.

Lastly, if you are talking about the "space" part of the aerospace, yes those fibers (pitch based carbon fibers) are hugely expensive, but even then their supply is not limited as the quantities needed by sporting goods manufacturers is tiny.

TrekBikesUK wrote:

Also, consider that we have 18 carbon engineers developing new ways of using carbon to make bike frames. And each time we introduce a new carbon product, we have to make the tooling to mold the tubes. These molds cost anywhere between $15k-50k for EACH mold.

No. The front triangle of the Madone for example would have cost you $7k max. The rear triangle parts are shared (chain stays for example) so the total cost per size is approx $10k.

Your very nice Speed Concept frame indeed costs a lot for tooling, but that frame is very highly differentiated and its value is not in doubt for anyone that knows something about bikes and aerodynamics. There are no generic frames that come close to it in terms of performance.

TrekBikesUK wrote:

Then, we had to share that production technology with the factory we use in Asia (at great risk to intellectual property), and continue to pay local Trek employees in order to ensure product quality for lower price point versions of that Madone. It takes years to develop new products, and it's very expensive.

Again sorry, the factory knows very well how to make your frames. They are the manufacturing experts. All that you can do is communicate the design intent and give suggestions. The factory's engineers are the ones that figure out how to make your frames since after all you are using their equipment and staff so whatever design you make has to be able to be executed using their technology. Giant and their contractors will not go for massive retooling and staff training just to accommodate your models.

Besides, it is disingenuous to imply that your second tier frames are given so much attention by Trek.

The main problem with counterfeits is that they impinge/steal the brand equity from the brand owner. It is not about technology or necessarily safety.

This is why it is wrong and why nobody should ever buy fakes. It is theft, plain and simple.

However the problem with the generic frames displacing the original design frames is the fault of the industry. There is too much nonsense in marketing.

For example, again Madone. You claim and proudly write "Kamm Tail" on the Madone and thus imply aerodynamic performance by borrowing the halo and the "Kamm Tail" application by your Speed Concept frame. The problem is that the Madone "Kamm Tail" is not a Kamm tail and it is not aerodynamic and that you have no data whatsoever to support your aerodynamics claim, implied or direct. You are using it as a marketing device to steer the consumer choice. You are using... unthruth, to generate profit. While this is not as bad as making and selling fakes, it is far from fair or ethical. This is what is driving the generic frame problem. Your customers are feeling confused and misled and are refusing to believe the brand's claims so they (wrongly) start believing that "all frames are the same".

Also I am not singling you out, all brands are guilty of this. Unsubstantiated claims, innuendo, outright lies (for example country of origin, claims of R&D for a rebranded generic frame, etc.), incorrect features are used by all brands to sell their products.

Bicycle media is also complicit (road.cc too) by often just paraphrasing a brand's press release without checking anything. Any claim of stiffness, aerodynamics, comfort, you name it, gets repeated ad-nauseum by all the bike press (mainly English speaking) without a single meaningful independent verification of any of it, except perhaps weight as all you need is a scale.

Neither the bike manufacturers, not the vast majority of bike media are objective. Thus expecting the customers to be any different is naive.

Lastly, bike industry is a consumer goods industry. It is largely unregulated (besides CEN/ASTM/etc. for basic safety). There are no ethical codes of conduct when it comes to advertising, there is no government nor industry based regulation about who says what, nor are there any consequences for lying to the consumer. Thus the brands and press do and say whatever they want, so we consumers do what we are doing.

Blaming us for the industry's problems is galling.

posted by mythbuster [31 posts]
11th March 2014 - 4:09

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Since when is an equipment sponsor directly responsible for the choices that a sponsored athlete makes off the field?

Here Trek UK gets it wrong. Trek has a crushing responsibility for the doping scandals that infested the sport. Doping was/is a total system that involves the athlete on and off the field in one seamless continuum (I will spare the details). The signs of doping on a massive scale were blatantly obvious to anyone remotely interested in the sport. Riders who refused to play by the rules were ruthlessly expelled from the Congregation. The UCI and the Sponsors, with Trek leading the Choir, officiated at the same Altar of Darkness.

Trek gambled and lost, its reputation in tatters. The only way it might one day be forgiven is by very ACTIVELY, OPENLY and RELENTLESSLY combat drug abuse in sport and make the UCI accountable for its choices. Until this day, Trek does none of that. Shame on Trek.

As a consumer, I have no choice but embargo Trek products and explain my motives to friends who ask for my opinion. After all, I live in the marketplace.

The enthropy of the universe increases constantly. Carpe diem.

posted by noether [42 posts]
11th March 2014 - 8:16

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Yea sorry as someone that works in the bike trade, people that buy fakes and everything online aren't helping the trade or my job.

Seems a bit harsh but if you knowingly buy a fake and it has a fault, you won't get any sympathy from me, in fact you won't get any of my time either.

We are in a society nowadays that what's the best of everything and we don't want to pay for it. If you want the £5000 dream bike but you only have £2000 don't buy a fake just be more realistic and buy what you can afford from someone that loves bikes and who will look after you in the future

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posted by swiftsquirrell [24 posts]
11th March 2014 - 8:44

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Buying fakes and buying legitimate gear online are very different things regardless of how they might affect your job security. The pros and cons of online shopping are a completely different argument.

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posted by joemmo [779 posts]
11th March 2014 - 10:14

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How did this turn from an advisory article to an attack on a particular brand that once sponsored one of many hundreds (if not thousands) of cheaters...Oh that's right we are on the internet At Wits End . (as a side note, I have a particularly high level of hate for Armstrong for personal reasons)

I have to agree with the Trek Lady, and I suggest some of you need to listen to what she said on Velo Cast (I think it was velo cast) first before making further digs. Furthermore if we stopped buying products from companies that sponsored cheats the whole industry would collapse and we would be getting around on roller skates.

I have been a victim of counterfeit products, and I tell you its heart wrenching when your item arrives after months of saving and scraping only to find its a cheap knock off.

posted by jason.timothy.jones [302 posts]
11th March 2014 - 10:15

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Beefy wrote:
I pay it because I'm a knob

well, you said it. Wink

posted by Metjas [274 posts]
11th March 2014 - 10:39

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jason.timothy.jones wrote:
How did this turn from an advisory article to an attack on a particular brand that once sponsored one of many hundreds (if not thousands) of cheaters...Oh that's right we are on the internet At Wits End . (as a side note, I have a particularly high level of hate for Armstrong for personal reasons)

Sorry, it wasn't meant to be an attack on a particular brand. As I tried to stress, I was pointing out the hypocrisy of an industry body claiming consumers might be supporting organised crime if they don't buy from an industry that has previously supported teams and athletes that have been involved in illegal activities. That's the long and short of it. As I also stressed several times, I don't support or condone counterfeit goods and would never buy them myself.

posted by LinusLarrabee [36 posts]
11th March 2014 - 11:29

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The front and rear cogs and chain.

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posted by Angelfishsolo [104 posts]
11th March 2014 - 16:18

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TrekBikesUK wrote:
It's exactly the manufacturing and R&D that makes the bikes more in the first place. The bike industry has to compete with the defense industry for a limited supply of raw material (carbon). It's therefore very expensive to acquire it in the first place. Also, consider that we have 18 carbon engineers developing new ways of using carbon to make bike frames. And each time we introduce a new carbon product, we have to make the tooling to mold the tubes. These molds cost anywhere between $15k-50k for EACH mold. Different sized bikes require different molds. For a bike like the latest Madone, we had 300 prototype versions of that frame, all of which were molded in Wisconsin before going into production there. Then, we had to share that production technology with the factory we use in Asia (at great risk to intellectual property), and continue to pay local Trek employees in order to ensure product quality for lower price point versions of that Madone. It takes years to develop new products, and it's very expensive.

This is the thing I don't understand, why does Trek, an American firm who invests so much in R&D, risk its intellectual property by shipping production off to China or Taiwan? I know employing Chinese/Taiwanese labour is cheaper but is it really worth the risk? If intellectual theft is such a problem why not start manufacturing frames back in the USA? I'm sure having "made in the USA" stamped on your bikes again would make them more attractive to American buyers and perhaps better justify the high prices you ask of them.

Also there is an issue with you training a Chinese/Taiwanese workforce in your advanced production techniques and then that knowledge being turned against you by a homegrown concern like the Japanese motor industry did to the UK and American motor industries after WW2. I know the Austin Motor Company offered a lot of help, training and advice to what would become Honda (I seem to recall) in the 1950s, now Austin no longer exists and Honda is a market leader.

posted by sam_smith [48 posts]
11th March 2014 - 16:51

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Same thing happened to Schwinn with Giant.

posted by Nick T [763 posts]
11th March 2014 - 17:12

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It's worth reminding people occasionally that cheap knock off goods subscribe to the rule of 'theres no such thing as a free lunch' - someone ends up paying, be it the employees in crap conditions, the intellectual property owners, or the end consumers.

Ironically, we are conditioned to want want want by the very companies that are complaining about people buying the counterfeit versions of their goods.

It doesn't make it right to buy those knock-off goods, but as a society we want everything now, and the big brands add their weight to that.

posted by edster99 [148 posts]
11th March 2014 - 17:42

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Carbon frame manufacture is not a cottage industry. Even under sweatshop conditions, it would be more expensive to make counterfeit frames than to buy mass produced frames at the factory gate. The vast majority of branded frames come out of a small number of factories in the Far East and are re-badged by the suppliers. The 'counterfeiters' simply rip-off the branding. If you buy an un-branded frame, or a lesser known brand, it will have come from the same factories but you are not paying for a name. Perhaps the answer is to buy your frame and components separately and build your own bike from scratch.

Grizzerly

posted by Grizzerly [116 posts]
11th March 2014 - 18:41

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There are two sides to this whole question - one is about the actual technologies that may be found in fake frames and the economics of their manufacture - that's the area in which I have some knowledge.

The other is the legal and quasi-legal question about how buying products branded to a company but which have no provenance from that company - these are also moral questions - and in these areas I can only comment that I abhor fakes as they are theft, for all of the reasons outlined in many of the posts above.

On the materials side of life, though ...This an old, old debate when it comes to composites.

The plain fact of the matter is, until it fails, the only guy or guys who knows what was under the pretty composite skin and the paintwork, is the dude or dudes who put it there. It's extremely difficult to determine the exact composition of these types of product post-manufacture. Of course, if the design and manufacturing are done correctly and useage is within the specified purpose & limits of the item, only a fraction of a percentage of the production are ever likely to fail ... and then, it is yet more unlikely that the failure will be catastrophic, as correct design addresses this.

The bigger producers, making under contract to the Treks, Specializeds and Pinarellos of this world will have QC staff from within those companies looking over their shoulders with great attention to ensure that their design and manufacturing criteria are followed. The shop floor will actively feed back in these areas, too. These QC and compliance guys will also do their best to prevent knock-offs appearing from out-of-life or otherwise unsatisfactory moulds or through any other source / route.

These guys are not omniscient however, so we do see, from time to time, fakes of many very good products (and it's not just frames), made with very questionable lay-up schedules, from material that may and may not have been correctly stored for indeterminate periods of time ... and the processing in terms of exactly how the product has then been autoclaved, purged of excess resin etc may and may not have followed the original designer's schedules.

With the advent of 3D printing, there are even ways, now, in which access to a mould can be drastically cut cost-wise BUT ... the structural integrity of a composite product is a function of shape, material and lay-up ... so failures in copies, as they may be deficient in one or more of these areas, are, relatively-speaking, common.

How do I know this? I've seen frames fail and sawn them up and looked at the jointing techniques - these were definitely NOT out of any credible factory, certainly not the one that they purported to come from. I have seen others where a simple volume and displacement test (never mind the evidence of my own eyes) showed to have very high percentages of glass fibre and I have seen catastrophic failure that could not happen were the lay-up schedules as prescribed by the frame's original designer followed.

Yes, all manufacturers will test the envelope with retail price - but understand this - they are businesses and it is their job to make as much money for their shareholders as they can, whilst holding onto their intellectual property, reputation and customer base in the process.

Frame manufacture if it is done correctly, no matter what the material, is no licence to print money - the bigger brands know this and manage their profitability to give an acceptable overall ROI whilst creating, through sponsorship and other marketing channels, the aspiration to own their product. What the knock-offs do is to undermine this as well as potentially (and that is one thing that has to be stressed) endangering life and limb.

If your "Brand Whatever" frame fails due to manufacturing or material defect and puts you in a wheelchair, you may have some comeback. Good luck to you if it's a copy ...

This week I have mostly been riding a Mondiale in Deda V107 with Campagnolo Super Record 11 ...

posted by velotech_cycling [73 posts]
11th March 2014 - 19:46

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This article presupposes several premises but fails to state them explicitly.

1. That the products refer to the High-End bike/frame/wheel market. Typically carbon products.

2. That the buyer is looking for value (a deal perhaps) and opting to spend the least amount possible.

OK, fair enough. It's possible to have a good bike with moderate modification by simple and effective adaption of an Entry-Level platform. The utmost High-End market is a newly "invented phenomenon" which has seen unreasonable price escalations.

Equipment failure is a possibility across an entire spectrum of products regardless of the back-end reputation of the fabricator. Once goods pass into third-party hands, discorded from history or maintenance logs/schedules/procedures or mere unwitting abuse, the reliability of the product becomes a toss-up.

Bold claim though to link Alibaba to Money Laundering et al.

Basically, get a cheap bike and be happy with it.

posted by dogcc [98 posts]
12th March 2014 - 0:21

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Great to see that at least some people supply good bicycles at a reasonable price.
About the only "R&D" the labelled manufacturers have done in the last fifteen years is to work out how to get more people to buy sub-standard, cheaply made, expensively sold, short lasting, throw away crap full of so called "developments" that do nothing at all for ride quality or enjoyment - or indeed racing times (check out the non-improvement in Tdf times from 1960 to the present).

posted by Giles Pargiter [36 posts]
12th March 2014 - 1:29

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