I was watching Ridiculousness this morning (I love that show) and saw a funny commercial for a $20 fake diamond ring that they said would “inspire gasps of envy”. Yeah, sure. You get what you pay for, right?
First, before I get into the topic of fake bikes, I’d like to take a second to dispel a bit of a myth… The only people who are impressed by a nice bike, beyond a simple, “hey, cool bike”, are people who don’t know anything about bikes. This isn’t golf where the rule is “if you can’t play good, look good”. For follow cyclists, how one rides what they have is far more important. A person who rides a $1,000 entry-level road bike well will be welcomed into the group while a person who rides a $10,000 dream machine poorly will be dropped every time (the group will find your weakness and attack you there).
That said, I, like many others who are into cycling, have seen some pretty ridiculous prices on the Chinese knockoff sites like Alibaba and seen frames that look a lot like my Venge for $650 while the original goes for $2,500, almost four times the cost of the knockoff. Granted, you’ve got R&D costs in there, where the knockoff company just copies the hard work the folks at Specialized did, but when you consider that only Trek makes their top-end frames in the US (in Wisconsin), I can’t help but wonder what gives… If that wasn’t enough, I look at the S-Works Aerofly handlebar I just paid $300 for and I can find a knockoff for a hundred bucks, it can be a little bit of a bummer. Of course, I’ve written about fake bikes before, with photos of catastrophic failures but even I can’t help wonder if I’m getting hosed just a little more than a little bit.
Well, every once in a while the internet gives back though. Check out this site, authored by a guy who buys and builds knockoff bikes. He’s had wheels overheat causing rims to disintegrate and his brake posts pull through the frame, seat post clamps break and a whole host of other issues ranging from odd clicks to complete breakdowns in the equipment. I can’t even imagine. I have an issue, I take it to the shop, it’s fixed (for free) in a matter of hours or they even work around rain days so I don’t have to miss time riding in the case of my minor crank warranty issue. Point is, while the author of that site may have saved a couple of grand on his bike, while he’s chasing craftsmanship issue after issue, I’m on the road…
I have no doubt that there are plenty of people out there who are quite happy with their knockoff bikes and parts but the simple fact of the matter is, I’d rather pay extra and trust what I’ve bought than end up with a mushed skull having saved $2,000.
“the group will find your weakness and attack you there” wow, sounds a bit vicious. Is it really like that?
Oh yeah. You have to look at advanced (22-24 mph average) cycling through the eyes of a cyclist though. We’re flying down the road at 23-28 mph with 6″ to 1′ between our wheels. If someone does something stupid, even as simple as adjusting their position on the saddle, at the wrong time and you can cause a catastrophic accident. Guys die on club rides so you have to approach the ride carefully. If someone is dangerous on a bike, almost causes an accident (I’ve seen it), they will be dropped. Usually in our group they’ll ramp the speed up to somewhere close to 30 mph on a flat or slight incline. If that doesn’t work, it’s 25-28 mph up a decent hill. Seen it happen, even did it myself a few times.
Getting home to the wife and kids is a little more important than preserving the feelings of someone who’s putting the rest of us in danger.
The slower club rides (15-17 mph average) are quite a bit more forgiving and where one starts to learn how to maintain a proper line and speed.
I completely agree. I have a friend of a friend – a guy who is a seriously good amateur racer – who swears by these websites offering carbon copies of Pinarello’s and Colnago’s. I would always be worried about the quality and safety of the thing. Like you, I’d rather pay full price for a bike with a guarantee of quality.