FSA on warpath over counterfeit sales epidemic

Buy from official sources says Taiwanese company to customers and retailers

by nick_rearden   October 20, 2011  

Bianchi Oltre 2012 - FSA K-Force Light chainset.jpg

The Taiwanese owners of the Full Speed Ahead - FSA - cycling components brand have 'staked out' manufacturers and sellers of fake versions of their wheels, chainsets, seatposts, handlebars and stems and, armed with the evidence, had them successfuly prosecuted by the police authorities in Taiwan on trademark infringement grounds.

According to Tien Hsin Industries, owners and manufacturers of FSA branded components, the issue first arose in 2009 when Taiwanese retailers were noticed selling counterfeit parts. Private investigators were called in and after documenting transactions over a year-long period, the authorities took over with the re-sellers and manufacturers eventually either paying restitution or getting sentenced to time in prison for their dodgy activities.

According to FSA's people, "Counterfeit parts originating in China pose a pervasive safety problem for the bicycle industry as such parts fail to meet industry quality standards in addition to our strict manufacturing specifications, and are untested and made of inferior materials."

Their concern now is that copies have subsequently made their way into the European and United States markets.

FSA srl the European distributors based in Italy have found counterfeit parts listed on eBay and other internet retailers. By following the trail to the sellers FSA called in the Italian customs who in turn carried out raids and seized counterfeit FSA products. These sellers too were prosecuted under trademark infringement laws and suffered either large fines or prison, say FSA.

In the USA, Full Speed Ahead inc based in Washington State received emails from consumers about products they had purchased through eBay, which had clear specification differences from legitimate FSA products. Further investigation led back to the same kinds of counterfeit goods that were originally found in the police raids in Italy and Taiwan.

According to FSA, as the primary route for these counterfeit goods has been through sites like eBay, both FSA srl and Full Speed Ahead inc have registered with the eBay 'Vero' programme which allows brand and patent owners to track their product listings. The programme allows enrolled members to simply email eBay with details of the counterfeit goods listed and within a few hours eBay remove the listing.

The Vero program is an important tool, according to FSA's spokesmen, but policing it requires a huge amount of time and vigilance. They're hoping now that buyers will keep their eyes peeled, "Full Speed Ahead products have grown from an idea into a leading brand in our industry. We take pride in our accomplishments so far, and know that they have been achieved with great effort and energy. We make some of the best products in our industry, and spend countless hours perfecting the designs, testing our products to ensure they meet or exceed industry standards, and conducting serious quality assurance. While some may say that imitation is the greatest form of flattery, we take great offence to this piracy, and are committed to actively pursuing the infringers and any re-sellers."

They concluded by saying, "We strongly urge consumers to only buy Full Speed Ahead products from bicycle retail stores, or authorised online retailers. We also recommend that bike shops only buy Full Speed Ahead products from their recognised bicycle parts distributors, and bicycle brand partners. Again, buying our FSA products from online marketplaces, or from foreign trading sites runs a very high risk that they may be buying a counterfeit product."

15 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

I've never owned anything FSA and don't have a clue about their price points

But to ME and in MY own opinion, most things that get copied and become counterfeit, i see it as the counterfeiters can see that the price is so high, they are going to make easy money by copying and undercutting that price

Just look at the normal counterfeit products everyone knows about, overpriced fashion for instance, of course there are people who can afford to pay for it, but there are a vast number who can't therefore counterfeit is the only way to get it

I'm just shocked there is not more of this in cycling with the prices some brands try and charge for the same thing as another brand who many not have the "name"

Although i do see it becoming bigger and bigger in the cycle clothing, which in my eyes is no bad thing, it may for the price of genuine products down a bit to a level where its affordable, like this (prices from wiggle)

Santini Lampre Team Issue Bib Short 2011 List price £104.99

Santini Lampre Replica Bib Short - 2011 List price £69.99

Then you can most likely get them shipped in from China for around £20 Big Grin

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [9303 posts]
20th October 2011 - 20:03


I bought a top of the range FSA chainset directly from the far east (can't remember exact country of origin) on ebay back in 2007. I payed less than half RRP. I never fitted it to my bike in the end and just sold it on. I was always a bit suspicious as it turned up in a polystyrene box rather than an FSA branded box, although cosmetically at least it looked great and seemed to be of the quality I'd expect of a genuine product. I've no idea whether or not it was genuine, sold prior to packaging, or a copy.


Squiggle's picture

posted by Squiggle [414 posts]
20th October 2011 - 20:22


whilst agreeing that we *must* be mad to pay some of the prices that cycle equipment manufacturers charge, they charge what the market will stand. This does not have to be what it costs to make. The really amazing thing is quite how many folk have such a high disposable income. I suppose in these conservative days I should say chapeau to them.
Oh and i ended up with some knock off castelli gear and it was shockingly bad I regret to say

posted by fred22 [209 posts]
20th October 2011 - 22:12


I bought a campag cassette off ebay last year, I was suspicious of it, the indentations for the chain were not crisp. I put it on and after a month half the teeth of one cog stripped off, definitley a fake. Now I will only buy from dealers, annoyingly it was the same price as the real deal.

posted by lolol [163 posts]
21st October 2011 - 9:05


If I purchase a genuine product from a known manufacturer I at least will have a guarantee that the product I've bought will do the job I need it to do. I will know that money has been invested in developing the product to the highest standards, that where necessary the product has been tested to destruction to ensure it’s capable of the demands that can be put upon it, that the manufacturing process is set up in such a way as to minimize the possibility of defects and imperfections and that the product I get will work out of the box, and hopefully that the profits made from my purchase in some part will go towards helping drive the next generation of product that I may purchase.

But if I purchase a cheap knock off product to try and save some money then I know that the profits will be invested in nothing other than counterfeiting some other product and ripping off some other manufacturer, that the quality testing which we all expect, will not be carried out to a high standard, if any testing is carried out at all. So that means that when I need my brakes to stop me or the wheels to spin true or any of the other 1000’s of things I expect to happen I should know that it might not.
But I can be safe in the knowledge at the very least that the saving I made from my purchase might help put me in hospital or at best just have been a waste of money.


williegtf's picture

posted by williegtf [14 posts]
21st October 2011 - 13:40


I cant think that anyone would knowingly buy a fake bike part, its not like a fake handbag, its going to be a piece of crap.
I remember seeing a pinarello prince copy for sale on ebay, it was being sold as a copy, but with all the pinarello decals, I wondered who in their right mind would buy it, and think to themselves they had got a bargain.

posted by lolol [163 posts]
21st October 2011 - 15:57

1 Like

I work in the bathroom industry and you only have to go into any of the large DIY stores and all the vitreous china that you see are copy's from top manufacturers, mainly copy's from top European manfactures who develop there products to improve our health and wellbeing, but the industry I work in has no support from consumers and guvernment. My simple solution is try your damn hardest not to purchase products from or manufactured in china. buy cheap buy twice !

posted by robfletch [19 posts]
21st October 2011 - 20:18


I dunno what the first commenter on here is on, but in my experience if you buy crap - you'll be buying again.
And if its anything that could cause a safety issue on a bike, i.e almost anything, then do you really want to be buying cheap fakes?
There are stringent British Standards on the manufacturing in this country and in Europe, as well as the consumer good act etc. Bottom line is we are protected better than anyone.
Some of the cheap bikes you can buy at the likes of Argos or Tesco's are hardly fit for purpose, I mean if I took one out on a club ride or god forbid a MTB from one of those stores - off road, it'd last me weeks if I'm lucky.
Sorry but there is just no place for cheap replicas on a bike.
Even with clothing quality counts, you get much better fabrics that actually do their job, i.e wick away sweat, keep wind/rain out, hold your gubbins etc, You can get some bargains, like from decathlon for example which isn;t bad quality, but you do generally get better the more you spend, at least that's what I've found.
If you think stuff is expensive, just wait until the sales. Got a £100 Gore jacket for £50 last year. Wink

posted by pmr [189 posts]
22nd October 2011 - 0:16


WillieGTF and possibly others on here seem to be missing the point that with bike parts you usually DON'T KNOW when you are buying knock-off crap. It's not an actual choice you make, not if you have an ounce of sense anyway. If you think you've been cheated like this, you shouldn't be 'selling it on', you should inform the genuine manufacturer, who is also being cheated, with all the details you have about where it came from.

posted by bikeylikey [191 posts]
22nd October 2011 - 8:52


Do you Guys really think your De Rosa, Pinarello, Colnago etc etc etc are made in Italy and other European Countries?
Europe no longer manufactures virtually anything. 99% of Manufacturing has been moved to the Far East. You buy products designed in Europe, but manufactured in the Far East. Thats the reality when you buy a £6K pinarello/Colnago/De Rosa.

Paul Lowthian

Loaf2112's picture

posted by Loaf2112 [7 posts]
22nd October 2011 - 13:32


As a rough rule of thumb based just on my observations and relationship with a couple of good frame manufacturers: if you buy cheap carbon - it is just that: low grade brittle carbon held together by the resin and like a kids toy left outside for a couple of years it will degrade. Higher priced carbon will set you back £800 for frame as a bare minimum and longer lasting carbon quality carbon fames start at £1500 and above.

China recently had fake Apple stores selling to their own countrymen. Actual stores that looked like genuine Apple stores so a few fake group sets must be a doodle. If something looks too cheap to be true then it will be.

I buy from british dealers and swerve carbon completely. My best bike is designed by Brits and still definitely made in Italy.

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1156 posts]
22nd October 2011 - 13:54


my best bike was, I think made in Italy from Steel, bought it in 1984, Campag groupset bought in 1984 from My Local Bike shop, wheels built in my Local Bike Shop. Still using all of it, I guess you get what you pay for (even if 99% of stuff is manufactured in china now)

Paul Lowthian

Loaf2112's picture

posted by Loaf2112 [7 posts]
22nd October 2011 - 14:49


Loaf2112 wrote:
Do you Guys really think your De Rosa, Pinarello, Colnago etc etc etc are made in Italy and other European Countries?

Can we please get over this national thing about where everything is made? Some factories and workshops produce good work but there really isn't any correlation to geography, really. There's an argument for cheeses, ham and pork pies but good - or, indeed, poor - quality steel or whatever is the same everywhere. It's the people, people.

MercuryOne wrote:
...if you buy cheap carbon - it is just that: low grade brittle carbon held together by the resin and like a kids toy left outside for a couple of years it will degrade.

Exactly the same thing could be said about any material used for making anything. Years ago there was poor quality steel used to pass off as quality on posh looking frames and more recently it was aluminium, too. The issue is not about materials; it's about people in manufacturing and sales and their customers. Some of 'em manage to convince us to pay a premium for their superior product, others shout about how cheap their product is with a thousand variations on the theme. The question is as it would have been in Roman times when some ancestor of Mr Colnago was making claims for his faster/lighter/cheaper/whatever chariot; do you buy it?

ANYHOO...what this thread is supposed to be about is counterfeiters passing off their products as someone else's. I really don't have anything against 'honest' salesmen selling their cheaper products - even appallingly made blatant copies - as long as everyone can see what they're trying to to. You're in a position to choose. But sticking on a logo so that unwitting customers are duped into buying something they're probably not getting is literally a crime and deserves to be scorned briefly before chucking the buggers in jail.

posted by nick_rearden [864 posts]
22nd October 2011 - 14:56

1 Like

Extly paul its all about how much manufacturers can get away with charging the customer, like ive said to people cycling has become "cool" just look at the clothing coming onto the market read the ticket inside designed in italy made in china!! then hit you with a price of 135-160 for a thermal top.
Its all about people power and what they are willing to part with.

andrew miners's picture

posted by andrew miners [46 posts]
24th October 2011 - 9:55


I just bought an FSA stem off ebay - clearly a fake - emailed the private seller - got a refund with no problems - as far as the seller was concerned it was genuine!!! The bolts weren't titanium, there were burrs in the inside or the bar clamping interfaces (very dodgy) & the face plate was just'wrong' finish wasn't good either.
I agree.... from now on I'll only buy from genuine outlets

posted by Simon [59 posts]
6th November 2011 - 11:19