Bike Frames Made in Taiwan, China or the USA…Does it Really MatterDavid Etchison from Jonesboro has a few ideas about where bike frames come from, and the possible dubiousness of their origins, he also comes up with an answer to the problem of how to get a “homegrown” frame. We agree and also disagree and explain why…
Question: Just a thought on the frame issue. If you want a real American, English, French or Italian frame, the best thing is to have local small frame manufacturers make one for you.
This way you know where it came from and who made it. It may cost more, but in my opinion, it is worth the difference because if you get a good quality frame, it can last a lifetime. And the big boys (mass bike makers) will cheat whenever they can. So if a frame is made in China, but painted in the US, they can say “Made in America”. I call it lying, they call it a marketing strategy.
The following youtube video features the engineering of the Trek Madone, one of the lightest bikes in the industry:
Yes, we agree with most of what you say, the best way to make sure you know where your frame is coming from is to source it yourself, but with small producers, unless you see the man building your frame you can not be sure where it has come from.
If we are talking about steel or alloy, then this is quite possibly made in house, but if you want titanium or carbon then the setup costs, for a small producer, would be prohibitive. The small producers have to buy from somewhere else and that place will be Taiwan or China and they will have little control over the production because they will only be buying small amounts at a time.
The big companies will have a lot more control on how the frames are made, the design will be theirs and they will check closely for any bad quality, these big producers are strong enough to reject goods that are not up to their standards. I don’t like the idea of being told a lie, but then if the frame is of top quality should you worry about where it was built? The cost of manufacture in the East is cheaper, as we know and it seems like everything is being made in China, but they are getting very good at it.
I have a question for you, what about carbon forks? You have had your frame made by a local builder, but he will put carbon forks on it, where did they come from? I have ridden on a broken frame, it stayed together until I stopped safely, now when forks break it usually happens quickly and you don’t know until you are on the road. So you also have to think of about forks.
The conclusion is to get a good frame and if you can find out where it was made all the better if it was made in China or Taiwan then don’t worry as long as it is of good quality and the big companies shouldn’t sell you something that is not up to standard. Thanks for your e-mail David, it’s a tricky subject.