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Old 12-03-11, 08:47 PM   #1
Don in Austin
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CF frame #4 just got to US customs

Building my 4th no-name-CF-frame-from-China bike. The first two frames I got on e-bay. One was a 26 MTB frame, one a 700c road frame. I got CF seatpost, bars, headsets, and for the road bike a CF fork, at the same time. Excellent value and NO problems with the frames or components whatsoever. A serious roadie customer of mine was showing off his custom CF road bike that cost him $7k a while back, and I showed him my frankenbike flat bar road bike creation with the frame and fork from China. A year later I met him on a big group ride and damned if his wife wasn't riding a bike with the identical frame and fork as mine!

Next I bought a CF cyclocross frame and CF components from China and was a little scared about sending money directly to Ms. Fanny Ding, Guangdong, Mainland China. Indeed, she did NOT give me an accurate date as to when the frame would arrive -- it arrived two weeks head of what she told me! No problems whatsoever with any of the pieces.

My 29er internal cable CF frame is in the US at customs according to EMS tracking -- less than a week after I sent money through PayPal. Thank you Jason Chen!

My experience is do not be afraid to buy these pieces -- you can build a whole custom bike for less than what a frame alone with a well-known logo would cost.

Don't need no stinking Trek or Cervelo logos on my bikes, I take some of my savings and give it to the custom pinstripe dude.

Don in Austin
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Old 12-03-11, 09:15 PM   #2
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Yup. China is eating our lunch. Hard to fault individuals for sourcing their parts there when our home based OEMs are doing the same.
Not sayin' I like it.
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Old 12-04-11, 08:14 AM   #3
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Yup. China is eating our lunch. Hard to fault individuals for sourcing their parts there when our home based OEMs are doing the same.
Not sayin' I like it.
It all comes from China. Just a question of paying $4-$500 for a CF frame or $1500 up for a frame with a logo.

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Old 12-04-11, 08:24 AM   #4
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Yup. China is eating our lunch. Hard to fault individuals for sourcing their parts there when our home based OEMs are doing the same.
Not sayin' I like it.
Even the Italian based OEM's are doing the same thing but adding enough local stuff to be able to say "Made in Italy" on them.

Don; Can you claim to your customers the frames are "Custom-ized" after you pay the duty?
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Old 12-04-11, 08:55 AM   #5
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At this point in time, there is a difference between mainland China and Taiwan in terms of where the most expensive bicycle frames are made. The dividing line, on a complete bike, seems to be about $1500 or so at this point. In other words, most complete bikes from reputable mainstream bike brands in the U.S, will have their frames manufactured in mainland China if the bike has an MSRP of $1500 (roughly) or less, and the frames will be made in Taiwan if the MSRP of the complete bike is over about $1500-$2000. That is a sliding scale; in just the four years I've been in the bike business, I've seen that differential change from about a $1000 dividing line to about a $1500 dividing line. I think it will continue to change, of course; more capital is pouring into mainland China and they will produce more and more higher end frames as things progress. And there are exceptions, too, of course, depending on the brand.

What I do know is that we do not, and have never had, a bicycle frame in our shop where the complete bike retailed for over $1500 or $1600 and the frame was made in China. Not yet. Any bike that retails for, let's say, $2000 or more, with the brands we carry (and they are a couple of big ones, based in the U.S.), has always had Taiwan-built frames. There has been a LOT of capital invested in Taiwan for the purpose of building high end bicycle frames. Mainland China is catching up, but they're not there yet.

What's the actual difference in the frames? Well, in the world of bicycles, higher price almost always means lower weight. So it simply means that almost all of the lightest frames, at this point in time, are made in Taiwan, not mainland China. The manufacturing processes to manufacture the lightest frames are more involved, more refined, etc, etc, and so they cost more. If you're one of those who just wants to say "I have a carbon fiber frame" then it won't matter, and this is actually a big factor in selling carbon fiber bicycle frames. But don't fool yourself into thinking that just because you have a "carbon fiber frame" that it's the same as a frame on a $7000 bike. The fact that it's made of "carbon fiber" means just that, nothing more. Hell, we sell water bottle cages that are made of "carbon fiber".

I'll add that I wish more products that are designed and marketed by U.S. companies were actually still made in the U.S., but they're not. Like Dan Burkhart implied, it's the way things are, but it doesn't mean we have to like it. And I most definitely do not like it. And I do recognize that mainland China, in the mainstream bicycle industry, is a huge player and is getting bigger all the time.

But one thing I would ask Don in Austin: are you making a distinction between Taiwan and China, or are you lumping the two together as one? Did your frames come from mainland China, or Taiwan?

Edit: to clarify, in regard to the "dividing line" I mentioned above with regard to Taiwan and China, I'm not necessarily talking about carbon fiber frames, but aluminum and steel, too. In fact, we have NEVER had a carbon fiber frame in our shop that was made in mainland China, only Taiwan. i.e., we've never had a carbon fiber framed bike that retailed for less than about $1700 or $1800 and the frames are all made in Taiwan on these bikes.

Last edited by well biked; 12-04-11 at 09:06 AM.
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Old 12-04-11, 09:34 AM   #6
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Even the Italian based OEM's are doing the same thing but adding enough local stuff to be able to say "Made in Italy" on them.

Don; Can you claim to your customers the frames are "Custom-ized" after you pay the duty?
Again, there's a distinction between China and Taiwan in regard to those Italian brands; but yes, they do pull some shenanigans with the "made in Italy" thing.

I seem to remember from previous posts that Don in Austin is in the auto repair business, not the bike business. So when he says "one of my customers" I assume he means one of his auto repair customers who happens to have a bike. Correct me if I'm wrong on this, Don.
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Old 12-04-11, 01:28 PM   #7
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Again, there's a distinction between China and Taiwan in regard to those Italian brands; but yes, they do pull some shenanigans with the "made in Italy" thing.

I seem to remember from previous posts that Don in Austin is in the auto repair business, not the bike business. So when he says "one of my customers" I assume he means one of his auto repair customers who happens to have a bike. Correct me if I'm wrong on this, Don.
I do, indeed, have an auto repair business. That is what finances my cycling passion! Yes, I work on Jay's and his family's cars. Jay is a hard-core roadie. I understand his custom road bike made it on to the front page of some cycling magazine.

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Old 12-04-11, 01:31 PM   #8
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Even the Italian based OEM's are doing the same thing but adding enough local stuff to be able to say "Made in Italy" on them.

Don; Can you claim to your customers the frames are "Custom-ized" after you pay the duty?
All the frames I have bought have been for my own bikes. The customer I referred to is a customer of Don's Automotive besides being an avid road biker. He bought the frame for his wife's bike on e-bay.

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Old 12-04-11, 02:03 PM   #9
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At this point in time, there is a difference between mainland China and Taiwan in terms of where the most expensive bicycle frames are made. The dividing line, on a complete bike, seems to be about $1500 or so at this point. In other words, most complete bikes from reputable mainstream bike brands in the U.S, will have their frames manufactured in mainland China if the bike has an MSRP of $1500 (roughly) or less, and the frames will be made in Taiwan if the MSRP of the complete bike is over about $1500-$2000. That is a sliding scale; in just the four years I've been in the bike business, I've seen that differential change from about a $1000 dividing line to about a $1500 dividing line. I think it will continue to change, of course; more capital is pouring into mainland China and they will produce more and more higher end frames as things progress. And there are exceptions, too, of course, depending on the brand.

What I do know is that we do not, and have never had, a bicycle frame in our shop where the complete bike retailed for over $1500 or $1600 and the frame was made in China. Not yet. Any bike that retails for, let's say, $2000 or more, with the brands we carry (and they are a couple of big ones, based in the U.S.), has always had Taiwan-built frames. There has been a LOT of capital invested in Taiwan for the purpose of building high end bicycle frames. Mainland China is catching up, but they're not there yet.

What's the actual difference in the frames? Well, in the world of bicycles, higher price almost always means lower weight. So it simply means that almost all of the lightest frames, at this point in time, are made in Taiwan, not mainland China. The manufacturing processes to manufacture the lightest frames are more involved, more refined, etc, etc, and so they cost more. If you're one of those who just wants to say "I have a carbon fiber frame" then it won't matter, and this is actually a big factor in selling carbon fiber bicycle frames. But don't fool yourself into thinking that just because you have a "carbon fiber frame" that it's the same as a frame on a $7000 bike. The fact that it's made of "carbon fiber" means just that, nothing more. Hell, we sell water bottle cages that are made of "carbon fiber".

I'll add that I wish more products that are designed and marketed by U.S. companies were actually still made in the U.S., but they're not. Like Dan Burkhart implied, it's the way things are, but it doesn't mean we have to like it. And I most definitely do not like it. And I do recognize that mainland China, in the mainstream bicycle industry, is a huge player and is getting bigger all the time.

But one thing I would ask Don in Austin: are you making a distinction between Taiwan and China, or are you lumping the two together as one? Did your frames come from mainland China, or Taiwan?

Edit: to clarify, in regard to the "dividing line" I mentioned above with regard to Taiwan and China, I'm not necessarily talking about carbon fiber frames, but aluminum and steel, too. In fact, we have NEVER had a carbon fiber frame in our shop that was made in mainland China, only Taiwan. i.e., we've never had a carbon fiber framed bike that retailed for less than about $1700 or $1800 and the frames are all made in Taiwan on these bikes.
The last two frames were from mainland China. The 26 MTB frame -- I don't remember. I don't remember where the road bike frame was shipped from, but a very similar frame is currently being sold out of Hong Kong. The frames all weigh in the 1100-1200g range. Thank you for informing me of the mainland/Taiwan distinction.

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Old 12-04-11, 02:33 PM   #10
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Thank you for informing me of the mainland/Taiwan distinction.
No problem, glad to do it. And do keep in mind that the dynamic seems to be changing each year. Surly's, as far as I know, are the lowest priced frames and complete bikes we carry that are made in Taiwan. Anything else at that price point is made in China. We carry a full lineup from a couple of large, mainstream brands, we keep a few Surlys in stock, and we try to have one other niche brand (exclusively high end) in stock as well. The whole Taiwan/China dynamic has been an eye opener for me as well over the last four years. We have carried (but no longer do at this time) a very nice Italian brand that has almost all of their bikes made in Taiwan at this time. To their credit, they are not one of the Italian brands that plays games with the "made in Italy" label. But the couple of their models that actually are made in Italy, they're proud of that (and should be) and make it known.

I remember very well when some very nice, value-packed bikes were made in Japan. Nowadays, if you're into vintage bikes that pack decent quality and don't demand collector prices, the Japanese brands from the '80's are great. The economics of having things made in Japan changed drastically by the late'80's, early '90's, and Taiwan became the "new Japan" in terms of manufacturing because of lower costs. We're still seeing the results of that today, and again, a LOT of money has been put into very sophisticated manufacturing facilities in Taiwan over the years.

We've had a few complete bikes in our shop that were sub-15lbs., and believe me, the characteristics of the Taiwanese-built carbon fiber frames on these bikes is extremely impressive. Lots of engineering involved. The coolest thing about being in this business is that we get to talk to and meet the designers of these frames occasionally. They are passionate about their products, and the processes in manufacturing them are pretty amazing.
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Old 12-04-11, 06:02 PM   #11
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Perhaps you can satisfy my idle curiosity, well biked. I bought an ADK carbon frame and the box and frame said "Made in Taiwan." When I investigated the company online it seemed that their offices are in Taiwan but factory is in China. Is that accurate and, if so, does that mean the Taiwanese are engaging in the same sort of game-playing as the Italians referenced earlier?
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Old 12-04-11, 06:22 PM   #12
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I have nothing against doing business with Chinese or Taiwanese manufacturers and exporters, and I've heard from several sources that the best consumer-grade CF fabrication happens in Taiwan. Too bad, I'd prefer to buy locally. On the other hand, whom would you contact should you have a warranty or product liability problem?
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Old 12-04-11, 06:31 PM   #13
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Don, Can you post a link to the outfit in China that you purchased directly from?
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Old 12-04-11, 07:04 PM   #14
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Don, Can you post a link to the outfit in China that you purchased directly from?
+1

I'd been toying with the idea of building up a Chinese carbon frame if I can acquire some money in the near future.. Would like to know which ones you've dealt with, rather than buying a frame completely blind.

What seller(s) did you buy from on ebay?
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Old 12-04-11, 07:28 PM   #15
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Perhaps you can satisfy my idle curiosity, well biked. I bought an ADK carbon frame and the box and frame said "Made in Taiwan." When I investigated the company online it seemed that their offices are in Taiwan but factory is in China. Is that accurate and, if so, does that mean the Taiwanese are engaging in the same sort of game-playing as the Italians referenced earlier?
I really don't know anything about ADK, sorry. There are several well established and well respected frame manufacturers in Taiwan, that actually manufacture most of the higher end carbon fiber frames in the world right now for the various bike brands. The relationship between the bike companies and these factories is a close one, as you might imagine. With a little effort I can tell which factory a Taiwan-built frame in our shop was built in, for example.

Last edited by well biked; 12-04-11 at 08:08 PM.
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Old 12-04-11, 09:33 PM   #16
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Don, Can you post a link to the outfit in China that you purchased directly from?
Two different outfits.

This one is on the way -- not matte, but gloss finish with fork, seatpost and headset: http://www.alibaba.com/product-gs/47...inish.html?s=p It has left US customs per EMS tracking so I expect to see it in a few days.

This one has already been built: http://www.alibaba.com/product-gs/48...rame_fork.html Don't be put off by 6 piece minimum, they will waive that. It got here two weeks early. I made it into a cool commuter bike with Shimano Alfine 8 speed internal hub and a compact double up front.

To inquire effectively you will have to install the Alibaba "trade Manager" software. Very simple and easy. Jason Chen's English was damn near as good as mine, Fanny Ding's English was clearly not her primary language but communication was no problem.

If you don't see it, go ahead and ask to get headset, handlebars etc. as part of the package.

The first two frames I bought a couple of years ago were ebay purchases from sellers that I am not sure are still active. I can find out where Jay bought the road frame identical to the one I bought earlier.

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Old 12-05-11, 06:57 AM   #17
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The National Bicycle Dealers Association estimated that some 99% of the bicycles sold in the USA in 2010 were imported from either Taiwan or China (source).
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Old 12-05-11, 05:32 PM   #18
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HOLY CRAP!!

It got here today! I made the PP payment on Nov 27th. Order looks perfect and frame and other pieces look real slick. Can't wait till Thursday ( one of my days off in semi-retirement ) to built and ride the sucker!

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Old 12-05-11, 05:53 PM   #19
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can you post a pic or two?
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Old 12-05-11, 08:07 PM   #20
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can you post a pic or two?
Before or after my pinstriper does his number on it?

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Old 12-06-11, 09:38 AM   #21
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Don
I can't believe you are building another bike.
I think you need to bite the bullet and put drop bars on this one, Ha Ha.
It's been very cold up here, single digits this morning, been riding the trainer the last couple days.

Take care and hope you post some pics when it is done.

Bob In S.D.
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Old 12-06-11, 01:25 PM   #22
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Bob...

I said I was through, but you know -- N +1. This one will have butterfly touring bars. 29er frame w solid fork, 700x(skinny)32s. 50/34 front, 11-34 9 speed rear. Little longer wheelbase than I am used to -- should be nice and stable for higher road and downhill speeds. The butterfly bars have a configuration to avoid excessive reach despite size 19 frame. ( Ordinarily I would use 16 or 17.) Should have everything to put it together Thursday.

Been (relatively) cold here also. Don't have a trainer to ride, but did 10 x 100 = 1000 reps on the leg press at the gym Sunday.

See you in the spring, and I WILL send pics.

Don
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Old 12-06-11, 01:51 PM   #23
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Before or after my pinstriper does his number on it?

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before, and also after if possible. please.
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Old 12-24-11, 10:37 PM   #24
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before, and also after if possible. please.
I have been emphatically told NOT to have this bike pinstriped -- told that would spoil the simple bold lines. I tend to agree. I have put a couple of hundred miles on it and it is fast enough and super comfortable. I really like the "butterfly" or "trekking" bars -- best of everything to my taste.












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Old 12-25-11, 09:21 AM   #25
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I like the pink accents. Any specific reason for them?
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