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Old 05-14-10, 10:59 AM   #1
Inertianinja
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any objective data about Tawain frame quality?

is there any objective data out there about the quality of Taiwanese-made bikes vs. american-made bikes? higher rate of failure? higher number of warranty claims?

NOTE - i'm NOT talking about one-off custom frames. i'm not looking for individual annecdotes, those just start flame wars....i'm looking for actual data. this should not include components, because those are an easily-remedied cost-cutting measure. and finally, i'm not asking, because thus far i don't have any reason to care where my bike was made, all perform just fine.

reason for my question - a friend of mine was recently discouraged from buying the steel Masi he wanted because the frame is made in taiwan, not italy. he was also told that he should "jump" on any remaining Cannondale bikes that were made in the USA before they start building in Taiwan. now, i have a Bianchi, a Masi, and a Felt, all of which i believe were made overseas. they all perform very well and have clean welds. it seems to me that someone who builds a lot of frames will have skill, regardless of their country.

American cars have a stigma for poor quality, but american bikes, for some reason, have some kind of higher status. maybe it's marketing to the american consumer's patriotism.
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Old 05-14-10, 11:05 AM   #2
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I doubt you'd be able to get those numbers.

It certainly would not make sense mixing data for cheap and expensive bicycles (since these might have very different rates of failure).

Anyway, Taiwan has been the source for high-quality bicycles for years.

Cannondale has a very good reputation but their frames certainly break too (once in a while). I think the major concern with Cannondale moving overseas is that it's a change (and people are scared of changes) and being made in Taiwan makes them less of a "classic" American bicycle company and less "distinctive" (now, they are just like everybody else).

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Old 05-14-10, 12:25 PM   #3
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it's an interesting thing, in that it's so hotly debated on forums like these. people are constantly comparing frames - and the country of origin is usually part of the debate....but apparently on no objective basis.
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Old 05-14-10, 12:33 PM   #4
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it's an interesting thing, in that it's so hotly debated on forums like these. people are constantly comparing frames - and the country of origin is usually part of the debate....but apparently on no objective basis.
It would be hard to get data that was truly "objective".

The issue isn't where it is made but how carefully it's made.

At this point, Taiwan is the epicenter of high volume, high quality bicycle manufacturing (and has been for a while). It isn't in the interest of brands like Specialized, Trek, Cannondale (for their carbon frames, I believe) to have frames built which happen to have statistically significant greater rates of failure.
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Old 05-14-10, 12:37 PM   #5
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It would be hard to get data that was truly "objective".

Part of the issue isn't where it is made but how carefully it's made. At this point, Taiwan is the epicenter of high volume, high quality bicycle manufacturing (and has been for a while). It isn't in the interest of brands like Specialized, Trek, Cannondale (for their carbon frames, I believe) to have frames built which happen to have statistically significant greater rates of failure.
right. if they were failing, they wouldn't be purchased.

and also, i can't imagine that any factory that is building frames at the volume demanded by Specialized, Bianchi, etc, could be any more "careful" (which is slower, and there are only so many hours in the day) than any other and stay competitive on price.
seeing how the bikes are all about in the same price range, with the same raw materials and components, you'd have to assume that each brand's build process for their high-volume bikes is very similar.
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Old 05-14-10, 12:45 PM   #6
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right. if they were failing, they wouldn't be purchased.
Even crappy frames fail very infrequently.

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and also, i can't imagine that any factory that is building frames at the volume demanded by Specialized, Bianchi, etc, could be any more "careful" (which is slower, and there are only so many hours in the day) than any other and stay competitive on price.
Keep in mind that it's "competitive on price" for equivalent objects. If they reduce cost by producing crap (ie, by being careless), they increase the rate of warranty returns (which are expensive) and they (ultimately) kill being able to sell bicycles.

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seeing how the bikes are all about in the same price range, with the same raw materials and components, you'd have to assume that each brand's build process for their high-volume bikes is very similar.
Yes, I think it's similar. And it's very good (it seems).
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Old 05-14-10, 12:48 PM   #7
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and about the power of annecdote....

I have no personal experience with BMC Bikes, other than looking at them and thinking how hot they are.
Yet, I've seen two instances with the frame snapping...
- one Team Machine that broke at the "m", so it looked like "Tear Machine"
- one Track Machine (?) on which the frame snapped @ the headtube when crashed.
...that freaked me out.
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Old 05-14-10, 12:51 PM   #8
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and about the power of annecdote....

I have no personal experience with BMC Bikes, other than looking at them and thinking how hot they are.
Yet, I've seen two instances with the frame snapping...
- one Team Machine that broke at the "m", so it looked like "Tear Machine"
- one Track Machine (?) on which the frame snapped @ the headtube when crashed.
...that freaked me out.
These anecdotes are very powerful. That's why they provide a strong incentive for manufacturers to keep them from occurring (as a result of defects).

It's also possible that there are bad runs or bad designs.

Crashes, anyway, are exceptional situations. While carbon might not perform in the way one would like in a crash, presumably, there are other advantages that significantly outweigh these "deficiencies". "Light" bikes are clearly some sort of compromise.

It's not at all expected that one particular manufacturer's carbon frame would perform differently in a crash.

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Old 05-15-10, 09:00 AM   #9
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Remember the major difference between one bike and another is the frame. Competition in the bike business is fierce. Also, remember the LBS does not make much of their money on bike sales. They make their money on accessories and repairs & maintenance. Bike sales are merely a way to get more cylists and therefore more customers. So it is in the LBS's best interests to have their customers LOVE their bikes and ride a bunch so they will buy accessories and have repairs and maintenance done. It taiwanese bike frames had problems, the people who run the LBS would hear of it and not carry the bikes.
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Old 05-18-10, 03:24 PM   #10
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I doubt you'd be able to get those numbers.

It certainly would not make sense mixing data for cheap and expensive bicycles (since these might have very different rates of failure).

Anyway, Taiwan has been the source for high-quality bicycles for years.

Cannondale has a very good reputation but their frames certainly break too (once in a while). I think the major concern with Cannondale moving overseas is that it's a change (and people are scared of changes) and being made in Taiwan makes them less of a "classic" American bicycle company and less "distinctive" (now, they are just like everybody else).
True, but note that even they are farming out low end products to their plants in Thailand, Viet Nam, etc. Still, Giant for example, knows that their name is on the product so I doubt if they are accepting different quality standards.
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Old 05-18-10, 03:26 PM   #11
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and about the power of annecdote....

I have no personal experience with BMC Bikes, other than looking at them and thinking how hot they are.
Yet, I've seen two instances with the frame snapping...
- one Team Machine that broke at the "m", so it looked like "Tear Machine"
- one Track Machine (?) on which the frame snapped @ the headtube when crashed.
...that freaked me out.
I've also seen this happen to an aluminum framed Orbea. When you crash with the front wheel first it puts a lot of load that is distributed across a relatively small weld area.
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Old 05-18-10, 03:42 PM   #12
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If your friend was unable to snap up these US made Cannondales, he can drop by Wal Mart stores. They had a Oryx brand that is proudly MADE in USA.
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