Why buy from a US-based seller if you live in the US?
Originally Posted by ratdog
The "stand behind" factor is a big difference which is not realized, not thought about, by US consumers who buy bikes from off-shore sellers. The bike may be unsafe, contain manufacturing defects that are not obvious but only show up when someone is injured by breakage, and yet the US consumer will never know that they are riding a potential time-bomb. When you fill out that warranty registration card, or make a purchase from a US retailer or US-located online seller, that information goes into the records of the seller for possible future contact if a hazardous defect is discovered.
Originally Posted by Pinigis
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission is supposed to be notified very promptly when a manufacturer, importer, or retailer becomes aware of hazardous product defects. Usually the manufacturer or importer makes concerted efforts to notify people who have the defective product, by email, direct mailings, press releases, notices to their distributors and retailers, posters in the retail stores, etc. The CPSC has the power to order recalls for repair or replacement or refund, and the power to fine and prosecute and jail those bad apples in the US who don't comply with the safety laws of the US. CPSC regulations require that manufacturers and importers certify that their products have been tested (either in-house or by third party testing labs) and were found to meet the safety standards if the product has such standards.
Bicycles are covered under the regulation known as 16 CFR 1512, which includes some very specific engineering requirements. Not every possible defect can be detected by testing that way. For example, the CFR 1512 does not specify any fatigue tests, just static strength tests. It's well known that aluminum is prone to fatigue failure. That is, after repeated flexing under loads, microfractures develop within the aluminum and propagate during repeated use until the fracture causes the part to break. Steel is much, much, less prone to fatigue fractures, since it tends to yield and bend permanently rather than cracking. Carbon fiber parts are brittle and although strong they snap when bent too far, so weak designs in carbon fiber may show up on the static testing.
Reputable manufacturers and importers have product liability insurance and recall insurance so they can follow through with their legal and moral responsibility to fix problems, pay for the consequences of injuries caused by their defective products, and/or refund the consumer. Every year, bicycle products of all sorts are discovered to be defective in some manner resulting in breakage and injury, sometimes very severe injury or death. You can see the history of bicycle recalls at the CPSC website: CPSC Home | CPSC.gov and SaferProducts.gov. What kinds of things have broken and resulted in recalls?: Crank arms, steering stems that break at welds, frames that break at welds, pedals that break at their axle and fall off, chains, brakes, seat posts, forks, you name it. And these faulty products didn't just come from no-name, off-brand, or big-box retail discount stores. Some of the top name brands in the US bike market have had recalls.
Do you think that a bike you buy from someone on eBay or AliExpress or Amazon who is a guy selling out of his home in mainland China is going to provide you with protection in that manner? The answer is no. The CPSC only has jurisdiction within the US and can't pursue foreign manufacturers and sellers unless they have a US presence on the ground. I'll bet that most of the China sellers don't even know if the product they're selling has been certified to meet the Chinese safety regulations, much less the US or European or Canadian or wherever. By the way, the Canadian equivalent of the US CPSC has even more far reaching requirements which make it a duty of the importer or manufacturer in Canada to report any defect they discover anywhere in the world, not just those that occur in Canada.
Think about this when you decide to shop around at a local bike shop for a particular bike and then go online to buy a cheaper one from someone outside of the US or your own home country where you live.
Photos of the Free Ride 12" super-compact folding bike from China
Here are photos of my Free Ride bike that arrived by FedEx International Economy shipping from an AliExpress store called "Best Outdoor". I show it as it looked when I opened the black plastic bag in which it was wrapped inside the shipping carton, some closeups, and for comparison with a 20" folding bike, I show it next to a Schwinn Loop. Notice that the front brake pad was rubbing the tire as it arrived from the factory, and the brake cables were too loose, and front brake caliper needed centering.
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I'll take more photos when our weather improves. It's raining today and tomorrow. We need the water, so I'm not complaining.