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high end Euro AL frames - made in Taiwan?(16 posts)

high end Euro AL frames - made in Taiwan?gtx
Oct 23, 2002 3:42 PM
The Merckx thread below got me thinking. Now that so many of the famous Euro builders (who made their name with steel) seem to be going to AL, are they still even building their own frames, or are they farming them out to Taiwan? Merckx, De Rosa, Colnago, etc. My understanding is that it doesn't take much to have a "Made in Italy/Belgium/USA" sticker.
re: high end Euro AL frames - made in Taiwan?Lactate Junkie
Oct 23, 2002 5:06 PM
A made in USA sticker is tough, that is why a lot of bikes say Designed in USA. The restrictions in Europe are less, as it has to do with the major cost. In some cases if it is painted in Europe it can say Made in... It is my understanding that most of Columbus'aluminum tubing is made in Asia, as are most of the carbon forks and stays for the various European companies. It would not suprise me if a sizable portion of the frames are made over there as well. A friend of mine in the bike industry told me he was offered a Pinerello Prince raw and unpainted from one of the Tiawanese frame makers. Who knows if some none or all of them are actually made in Tiawan. You can bet Pinerello isn't talking.
The U.S. rules changes to conform,TJeanloz
Oct 24, 2002 6:26 AM
The "Made in USA" sticker now goes to wherever the most 'value' is added. Previously, it was by weight or something. Consequently, some of the Specialized bikes (notably the super light ones) were welded in Taiwan, but painted in the U.S.; and the paint was more of a value add than the welds.

It is an interesting question though, in an increasingly small world, the bauxite for the aluminum was mined somewhere, the tubes were drawn in Italy, welded in Taiwan, and painted in the U.S.: where was the bike "made"? When does a bike become a bike?
glad to see you're still around, TJgtx
Oct 24, 2002 8:15 AM
Thought this site seemed kind of dead lately. Or maybe it's just me? I remember you saying that about the Specialized bikes.

I was just thinking that it seemed kind of weird that Merckx could ramp up AL production so fast and keep it in house. Why not go to the experts--in Taiwan? Heck, when Eddy needed good ti he farmed it out to LS. But then, I wonder if anyone would pay $2000 for a frame if they knew it was made (and by made I mean welded) in Taiwan? (or $2700 for a Pinarello, yow) Personally, if I'm gonna spend $2000 on an AL frame it's gonna be made by a known quantity like Sherwood Gibson at Ventana, not some anonymous guy in some far-away factory. If I'm gonna spend $500, however, I'll take Taiwan over anyone else.
My posting ebbs and flows,TJeanloz
Oct 24, 2002 10:02 AM
I think, like most semi-regular posters, my volume of posts ebbs and flows, mostly inversely correlated to how deep the stack of paper on my desk is.

On who makes bikes and where they're made: It used to chafe me quite a bit to know that a Litespeed was masquarading as a Trek in the Tour, or that XX brand was really made by XX 'inferior' brand. But, after a few years in the bike shop, and 'in the know', my attitude changed a little bit.

My new stance is that it doesn't really matter where things are made and who makes them. What matters is whose name is on the downtube. Why? Marketing, in any industry, is about brand protection. So Advanced Composites might produce a bunch of really awful forks, which Profile re-badges. When these forks break, it's really Profile's brand that has been damaged- not Advanced Composites. So, in the opposite case, AC makes some forks for LOOK, but LOOK demands that they be of a certain quality level to protect the brand. No LOOK forks break, and we never know that they were made in the same place as the Profile ones. There's also this idea that if some factory makes product Y of quality X, than all they can produce at is quality X. Some much better known brand might go to the same factory, and have something of much higher quality made for them. Think of it this way: is there any job that doesn't have different quality levels? I can do a great job, but I am also capable of doing a shoddy job; if you pay me more, I will do a better job.

So, a company like Eddy Merckx could subcontract out the aluminum bikes, as long as they meet [or exceed] EM quality standards. And I respect a company like that, who acknowledges that its expertise is not in aluminum, and somebody else can do the job to Eddy Merckx standards. [This is pure hypothetical, I have NO information that Merckx bikes are made anywhere except in Belgium and the United States].

In many cases, I would rather have the outsourced frame, and here's why: if they botch a frame in-house, they have an incentive to try to salvage it and sell it for full price. If an outsourcer shows up to them with an obviously 'salvaged' frame, the 'name brand' company can just reject it as out of spec. And it was my experience in the shop that 1 in 10 bikes built in Italy had some kind of 'salvaging' while I never saw one re-badged from Taiwan in the same condition.
My posting ebbs and flows,gtx
Oct 24, 2002 3:27 PM
I agree with you for the most part. It's interesting to see some of these famous old brands throw off the old world craftmanship thing in favor of the high tech thing. I think some of the pricing is getting out of hand, though, given the fact that many of these new frames are basically mass produced and disposable, too.
"Some" of the pricing is out of hand???Niwot
Oct 24, 2002 7:53 PM
I'll agree with you as long as "some" means "between 80 and 100 percent".
May surprise you here. . .rwbadley
Oct 23, 2002 9:19 PM
I agree the 'Made in Taiwan' label can sometimes infer lower quality. . .

That being said; I also have to say that having been to Taiwan several times, I have found them to be an extremely well educated population that generally has a very high work ethic. I have been surprised with how well they treat the customer, and their attention to detail.

Japan at one time had a reputation for cheap shoddy merchandise. Now the 'Made in Japan' label generally means 'the good stuff'. I think at this point I would be hesitant to buy a Chinese frame, and would view the Taiwan frame as 'the good stuff'!

I think that Made in Taiwan does not have to mean inferior quality. Tho' I have to admit it is hard to overcome the feeling of bias against it on my part. I would let the frame fit and finish speak for itself. Just think of all the money you might save!

I do like to support the home front when possible, and I proudly ride Schwinn! (the good stuff!)

not only framesI Love Shimano
Oct 23, 2002 10:58 PM
Watch out for Formula's Xero line of wheelsets. Very good stuff at a quarter of Mavic prices.
May surprise you here. . .divve
Oct 23, 2002 11:36 PM
I think the origin of "boutique" products is of great importance. For instance, if I would buy a frame from a reputable Italian manufacturer. I'd look for things such as a rich company heritage, hand built by traditional craftsmen, options to customize, personalize care, minute attention to detail, etc., etc. The frame would mean more to me than just a piece of good engineering. If I'd then find out that my carefully selected so called piece of art was made in Taiwan it would diminish the whole purpose of choosing that frame in the first place. I'd go as far to say that I'd feel cheated.
Schwinn made in USA, you are kidding aren't you???MB1
Oct 24, 2002 4:53 AM
I have done the factory tours in Taiwan-Giant, Merida, Hodaka, Kenstone and lots of others. Yes they do very good work for the money and I would have no problem riding any of their better bikes.

China bike factories on the other hand were still a little ways from having the quality I would like in a good bike although they were fine for bikes that would retail for less than $500.

Giant was making most of the better Schwinns sold in the USA the rest were from China.
'88 Waterford, '75 Paramount tandem. Works of art! :)) nmrwbadley
Oct 24, 2002 6:32 AM
Lived in Taiwan...Ouch
Oct 24, 2002 6:19 AM
for a few years. At that time, 12 years ago, Made in Taiwan was considered a mark againast a product as was made in USA. The pinnacle of quality was "Made in Japan" or "Made in Germany". Clothes, cars and electronics - the folks in Taiwan felt that the Japanese did it right.

Regarding carbon fiber: A friend, here is the US, owns a company that makes fishing poles. The company was originally based in Taiwan but now just manufactures there. They have sub-contracted much of the low end work to mainland China. The high-end, carbon fiber stuff is still done in Taiwan. He has tried to get it done in China but just can't find anyone capable of producing poles of the quality he can get from Taiwan factories.
Oh yes....Eager Beagle
Oct 24, 2002 1:26 AM
I ran through this issue with a my pal who runs the LBS where I get my bikes. He imports his own stuff in the main.

He would only say that "a surprising number of big names have most of their frames made in Taiwan". He wouldn't be drawn naming names, only to say that Pinerallo (I was riding one at the time) weren't one of them.

Interestingly, he has a number of plain unpainted frames he sourced direct from Taiwain in the shop at very low prices. He just invited me to compare these with a couple of the big name frames in the shop, and see what I noticed.

Suffice to say I didn't pay for the painted ones...
Oh yes....I Love Shimano
Oct 24, 2002 2:02 AM
hey, nothing wrong with Taiwanese frames. They're CHEAP but of HIGH QUALITY. Heck, some pros here use Taiwanese frames (some painted to look like a Bianchi, Cannondale, some use the M.O.B. brand). heck, Giant and Specialized (Allez) are made in Taiwan.
Exactly....Eager Beagle
Oct 24, 2002 6:49 AM
That's why I got one - why pay more?

To me, it seems that finishing is an issue, not the quality of the materials/design/craftsmanship (mostly automated anyway).