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Litespeed Al frame made in China?(43 posts)

Litespeed Al frame made in China?Nessism
Mar 6, 2002 7:28 AM
Some guy over at the Velonews forum claims that the new Al Litespeeds are built in China. Come shipped over already assembled. Litespeed doesn't even open the box is the claim.

Does anyone have some information regarding this claim?

FYI: I like Litespeed. Rode a LS built Eddy Merckx EX Ti for several years. Quality product.
50% Correct- TaiwainTJeanloz
Mar 6, 2002 7:31 AM
They are made in Taiwain ROC. Built up and shipped from there. Most quality shops will dis-assemble and rebuild. But fear not, most super light alu bikes are made in Taiwain, and then labeled "made in USA or made in Italy" as a result of some interesting laws regarding origination labeling.
Mar 6, 2002 7:39 AM
how much cheaper is it these days to farm out higher end AL frames to Taiwan vs., say, Anodizing Inc. in Oregon, who does the frames for Santa Cruz, Ibis (before they filed for bankruptcy), etc. ?
A fair amountTJeanloz
Mar 6, 2002 8:07 AM
It's a bit cheaper to have bikes welded in Taiwan- unpainted frames run in the $100 range, good paint adds another $150 or so. The thing is though, (and people aren't going to like this) the quality is consistently better from Taiwan.
A fair amountR-I-D-E
Mar 6, 2002 8:34 AM
First off, and I am not doubting you, where did you get your info regarding the LS bikes being made in Taiwan rather than China? I think that I remember one of the posts over at VeloNews that came from someone who either worked for, or knew someone who worked for Litespeed, and that they also confirmed China as the assembly point.

Also, I do take issue with the statement regarding the quality of work being consistently better from Taiwan. If this is true, then you are probably one of the first people I have ever heard make that statement. Again, I am not saying that bikes made there are crap, but I seriously doubt that U.S. or Italian made bikes are of lesser quality than those made in either China or Taiwan.

And as far as the "Made in U.S.A" labeling goes, I don't believe that you are totally accurate. Many bikes claim that their bikes were "Designed in the U.S.A." or words to that effect. That pretty much tells you that they were built somewhere else. But, if they say "Made in U.S.A." then I believe that suggests that they were welded and such right here.

Again, I could be wrong, but I would sure like to know where your info comes from before I simply take your word for it.

A fair amountTJeanloz
Mar 6, 2002 8:52 AM
I was told Taiwan by my Litespeed Rep. Also, the way the bikes are coming is consistent with packaging methods used by a particular Taiwanese manufacturer. Most Americans don't know the difference between Taiwan and China. Or they think that China took Taiwan back from Britain in 1997.

As far as quality, having sold bikes for quite a few years, I will say that the Taiwanese bikes are of consistently better quality than certainly Italian bikes and probably American bikes. I can't recall EVER having sent back a Taiwanese frame because of a defect. It was a weekly occurance with Italian frames (Bianchi and Colnago mostly). And it happened with American frames from time-to-time. I attribute this to the fact that the bikes are farmed out, and the bike companies reject the bad ones before they hit consumers- because they don't pay the subcontracter for mistakes.

As far as labeling, look at a Specialized SL from last year. It says 'Made in USA'. Its tubes are Italian, and they were welded in Taiwan, the decals were applied in the United States. The origin goes to whichever country added the most value, and Specialized claimed that the decals were the most valuable part of the bike.
A fair amountR-I-D-E
Mar 6, 2002 9:05 AM
Wow...that Specialized story is amazing. I can't believe that they would do that. What a joke.

And yes, I can see how Taiwan and China could be mixed up by some folks. Althought I believe there to be a big difference, some just see the Far East as one big place.

And yes, my buddy who has owned his own bike shop for over 15 years, can also attest to some of the Italian frame manufacturers problems, especially in years gone by. But I still stand by my belief that the U.S. is probably one of the best countries in which to have a bike built...quality wise. The Italians have also made a huge improvement. My issue with overseas bikes has more to do with the cheap labor and politics. But that is another story...

Thanks for clearing up your position.

That explains the stupid quantity of stickers! (nm)tempeteKerouak
Mar 6, 2002 9:14 AM
A fair amountHENRY K
Mar 6, 2002 8:08 PM
Mar 6, 2002 9:13 AM
I think you answered your own question. Ibis went bankrupt.
yeah butgtx
Mar 6, 2002 9:18 AM
I don't think that was the problem. Santa Cruz is doing great.
Mar 6, 2002 8:01 AM
Thanks for the information. I figured it was Taiwan but the guy over at Velonews said China. At any rate, Litespeed's web site makes no reference to this fact. My guess is that most people will assume that LS is building the frames here in USA. I don't have a beaf with Taiwan built bikes, they know what they are doing. But I think the country of origin should not be hidden in my opinion.

The Global EconomyTJeanloz
Mar 6, 2002 8:06 AM
In the current day and age, having a country of origin label is a little misleading in the first place. The bikes are welded in Taiwan, but the Bauxite was mined somewhere else, and alloyed into aluminum somewhere else. The tubes were probably drawn in the US, or Italy, or Korea. The paint, though applied in Taiwan, was likely made somewhere else. The components were made in Japan, or Italy, or somewhere else. It's a pretty futile exercise to try to determine a country of origin.
The Global Economymackgoo
Mar 6, 2002 8:22 AM
I think the point is Litespeed is billed as a company in the United States, with that comes a certain perception that, one the bikes are made in the US and two the bikes are made by Litespeed. I would think to a degree Litespeed counts on that perception, so it is just a little surprising to hear otherwise, global economy or not. Just out of curiosity is there as much of a "Litespeed" mark up on these Aluminum frames as there is on the Ti?
Those went out the window long agoTJeanloz
Mar 6, 2002 8:30 AM
The most prototypical American brand, Schwinn, hasn't produced a bicycle in the United States for 10 years (or more). They havn't even built a bicycle in the last 10 years. Specialized is now in the same boat. Trek builds some bikes in house, but in terms of units, sells more foreign bikes.

It takes an incredible amount of naivite to believe that any bicycle manufacturer builds all their own bikes. And yes, there is just as much, or more, Litespeed markup on the alu bikes.
Speaking of SchwinnNessism
Mar 6, 2002 9:18 AM
I read somewhere that Match was building some of the Paramount frames. Not true? Also from what I read, Match was a first rate frame shop. Too bad they went out of business.

As far as not being able to determine the country of origin of many products these days, it's true. If I'm not mistaken a company is allowed to put a "made in USA" label on a bike if the final assembly is done in the states. The frame is just a component as is the grouppo.

My surprise over this whole thing is that Litespeed has made it clear over the years that they are a US based frame building company. They tout the virtues of their assembly process ad nauism and even go so far as to talk about their TN factory and local workers. For them to now purchase a frame built overseas is not consistant with their past history.
Speaking of Schwinntr
Mar 6, 2002 4:12 PM
I believe you are correct in that Match built some of the Paramount frames. Their shop was no further than 4 or 5 miles from my house (Woodinville, Wa) and i visited them their last day, summer before last. Very friendly and nice. They made a very nice frame and used to make the steel Hampsten frame also. I think the former owner works for Litespeed now (rumored). He was originally from Denver if i remember right from our one discussion.
Those went out the window long agomackgoo
Mar 6, 2002 9:57 AM
You mean to tell me that Litespeed has not built a reputation on being a U.S. manufacturer? That rightly or wrongly the average Litespeeder believes his frame was built in the U.S.?
Where are their Ti frames built Reparto Corse?
Oligopolies are a fact of lifeMcAndrus
Mar 6, 2002 12:55 PM
Sorry for the ten dollar word. An oligopoly is a market situation in which each of a few producers affects but does not control the market. It is the natural economic state of a mature product and what product is more mature than the 120 year-old bicycle?

The easiest example is automobiles. How many worlwide producers are there - maybe twelve? How many were there a hundred years ago when the industry was young - dozens? I used to work for an automotive parts manufacturer and we sold piston rings and valves to six of those twelve. So if you bought a Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge, Honda, or Nissan you were buying a car with American parts in it whether or not it said "made in the USA."

Bicycles are the same. If you take any one component (or sub-assembly) and track it back to its source, you'll find probably fewer than six manufacturers of that component worldwide. Tubes? Columbus and Dedaccai (sp?). Groups? Shimano and Campagnolo. Wheels? Dozens of names but most of them run on Mavic rims and NT spokes.

An even easier example is VCRs and DVD players. There are (I believe) four manufacturers worldwide. How many brands are in your local Best Buy, a dozen?

Country of origin is a concept that is so yesterday it is almost quaint.
But you left out one piece of the Oligopolist puzzle...TJeanloz
Mar 6, 2002 1:09 PM
In the long run, oligopolists cannot compete based on price, but only based on quality differences among their products.

Sorry, I'm in the middle of studying for the CFA...
Yes ... andMcAndrus
Mar 6, 2002 1:38 PM
Ahh ... the CFA explains some of your other posts. Yes, eventually those who enter the market by competing on price will force the existing suppliers to either a) lower costs and prices to match or b) compete on brand and quality.

Which, of course, is why you see brands like Trek and Colnago working so hard to maintain their premium brand image. You could argue that in the serious recreational bicycle market this equilibrium exists today.

When this oligopolic equilibrium (sorry, it's a tongue twister) exists, the suppliers in the oligopoly will begin to raise prices because they feel they can as there's little price competition. At this point they're competing on quality and brand which is exactly where they want to be. That's when the profit margins are highest.

If they do this too long, though, they'll invite competition at the low end again who will enter the market with a lower priced item. (Does this sound like Motobecane? Mine's just as good and costs 50 percent less!!!!) If the low price entrant succeeds then the equilibrium is broken until the high cost competitors find a way to combat the new entrant.

If I were a Trek or Colnago or Cannondale marketer I'd be all over the discussion boards flaming Motobecane for poor quality. ("You know, their frames are made in Taiwan. You know what that means, don't you?")

It's kind of fun to watch all these bicycle company shenanigans and see the text book economics actually come true.
who's making LS chainstays?cyclopathic
Mar 6, 2002 9:22 AM
they don't look like Columbus..
I shudder to think...TJeanloz
Mar 6, 2002 9:43 AM
But I suspect it's Advanced Composites- they're making that TEC fork (which will go out of style faster than you can say gimmick), so they're probably doing the stays as well.
then it must becyclopathic
Mar 6, 2002 10:19 AM
really heavy and expensive ;)

I am really curious who else makes CF seatstays, most frames with carbon seatstays use Columbus. I've tried them and the ride for lack of better word is amazingly great
Not ACTJeanloz
Mar 6, 2002 10:31 AM
Advanced Composites specializes in really light and cheap:

Lightweight + cheap construction = high failure rates.
50% Correct- TaiwainHarry Hall
Mar 6, 2002 9:16 AM
Avoid country-of-origin fraud by buying steel and small builder--Della Santa, Lyon, Davidson, Simo, Baylis, Sachs--refuse to get suckered by the light weight/exotic material scam.
And use the wife's Platinum card...TJeanloz
Mar 6, 2002 9:19 AM
'Cause there ain't no way I could afford any of those.
aw geezgtx
Mar 6, 2002 9:25 AM
some of those frames on his list aren't that pricey. Hey, btw, I saw you mention once that you have a Teesdale. Seem pretty nice for the money?
aw geezTJeanloz
Mar 6, 2002 9:42 AM
I do have a Teesdale, and a Merlin and a Litespeed, so I guess I can't complain.

The Teesdale was, obviously, custom- and he did a pretty good job building what I wanted. Even if it is a fixed gear that weighs more than the Litespeed...
pretty good jobgtx
Mar 6, 2002 2:19 PM
"pretty good job" sounds like faint praise. Care to elaborate? I dealt with some of the Fishers he built back in the 80s, but otherwise don't know much about him.
It ain't perfect...TJeanloz
Mar 6, 2002 2:29 PM
I like the Teesdale, it's a good bike, and it does its job. I wanted a stiff steel bike, and I got one. It weighs on the heavy side of 21 lbs, is stiff as a fifteen year old Cannondale, and fits like a glove. It doesn't ride as well as my Litespeed (and I'm talking handling, not stiffness/road shock issues, where it also doesn't ride as well).

Basically, I think the bike was a good value, but it isn't as tuned perfectly to me as the custom Litespeed.
Mar 6, 2002 2:48 PM
I've been thinking about building the perfect rain/winter bike at some vague point in the future--with a frame designed around those "long" reach Shimano dual pivots that easily allow for fenders. Basically a cheaper version of the IF Club Racer, and I thought Teesdale might be the guy for me. Weight isn't an issue--just want a solid, quality frame that fits and is straight at a fair price. In the handling dept I'd probably just be looking for something pretty mellow/bomber--like a cross bike with a roadie bb height. Anyway...thanks for the input.
pretty good jobHarry Hall
Mar 6, 2002 4:32 PM
Teesdale mostly builds TIG frames these days. Straight, strong, light enough, and made however you want. He's been having a winter fire-sale on rec.bikes.marketplace with frames @ $500.00!
That's accurate,TJeanloz
Mar 7, 2002 6:16 AM
Tom is the perfect builder for straight, strong, light enough and custom. Just not particularly flashy or high-tech.
Fraud? Who cares where it's made? If it's a good ride,morrison
Mar 6, 2002 12:13 PM
at a good price, buy it and hit the streets!
Litespeed = Motobecane ?TZ
Mar 6, 2002 9:27 AM
Wouldn't it be funny if we found out that both companies have their frames made at the same shop? :)
Where is the anti-China crowd ?DaveL
Mar 6, 2002 10:00 AM
Does this mean that the Airborne flamers are going to pile on LS ?
Where is the anti-China crowd ?cyclaholic
Mar 6, 2002 10:48 AM
This could happen. Litespeed could get some vicious flaming over this.

Just a couple of days ago, someone in the market for a new aluminum bike asked me for my opinion on the Litespeed models. I strongly suggested that they avoid them. If you're looking at Ti, Litespeeds are worth a long look. But when it comes to the Al, especially at those prices, let the others be the guinea pigs.
Where is the anti-China crowd ?HENRY K
Mar 6, 2002 8:25 PM
Where is the anti-China crowd ?weiwentg
Mar 7, 2002 6:55 AM
first, calm down. now,


If Giant and Specialized are any indication, the Taiwanese know what they are doing. Giant is a Taiwanese company, and their frames are raced in the TDF.
A point against non-American mfg bikesBroBiker
Mar 7, 2002 11:23 AM
Earlier there was a post regarding a bike company closing a manufacturing facility in the USA and relocating mfg to Asia. Many bashed the quality (silly) and jumped on the "losing American jobs" band wagon. However, these same individuals didn't bash euro-made bikes. If your so pro American you should have purchased american made bikes. This could both increase american employment and save us jobs.

A point against non-American mfg bikesHENRY K
Mar 7, 2002 3:21 PM
the truth about litespeed aluminumfuzzybunnies
Mar 6, 2002 8:24 PM
Yes the frames are welded in tiawan, the process stops there. The frames are than shipped here to the USA for painting and initial assembly. Sitting here now I can't recall the name of the company that does so. But if you're inclined go to a shop, look on the seat tube, at the bottom in the back(near the tire) is the sticker for the company that does all the finishing touches. And yes they are american.