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Bikexchange logo, link to Home       False & Misleading Statements    Bikexchange logo, link to Home

By Andy Wallen (aka Andy the Mechanic)

Folks who work in bike shops are frequently required to give customers bits of information which sound completely preposterous.

These bits of info can be total falsehoods, such as "Women's bikes break," which usually means that they don't have a women's bike in stock, or "Aluminum doesn't rust," which means that they really want you to buy what they have in stock, rather than a steel bike you saw somewhere else.

Unbelievable as this may seem, some of these preposterous tidbits happen to be true. Back in the 80's, The 7-11 team rode bikes that had huge Huffy decals on them. We all knew that these were made by Serota, and that they cost as much as a container of Santa Fe's, and that nobody would ever race a true Huffy, but there were pictures of the team and their red Huffys every where. This type of deception has gone, probably forever.

Now most people know that Lopes and Donavan rode Intense M1s, not Mongoose, and that Virenque's climbing bike is a Litespeed, and so on. This happens because the sponsors pay the teams, and that doesn't necessarily mean they make the bikes, or the riders prefer a bike that the sponsor cannot produce.

There are "domestic content" laws that many bicycle companies have taken advantage of. It is legal for a company to import frames from China or Taiwan, made out of Asian steel, hang a bunch of Asian parts on it and stick a "made in the USA of domestic and foreign parts" sticker on it. This bugs me for a couple of reasons. One, I live in an area which has been dependent on industry and manufacturing for its economy, and a lot of our customers have union jobs. It is very important to these people to buy American. It is also our policy to sell American, unless there is no choice. Some guy across town will tell you that a Raleigh priced at $199 is made in America, and he'll show you the sticker to prove it. My American made bikes cost almost three times that, so what's the difference? You've seen the foreign and domestic parts sticker, and you don't want to spend a lot, so who are you gonna believe?

The truth is that most bicycle companies do not manufacture; they source. They have frames made wherever it is cheapest, and the rest of the parts come from several sources. In fact, with the exception of a few micro brew type builders (Ibis, Indy, you know, those guys), only Cannondale manufactures all of its frames in the US. Trek/Fisher makes most of their frames here. Schwinn/GT only makes the top shelf stuff here. All the other companies source their bikes and put their stickers on them. Sad but true.

We used to sell Mongoose. Like most other bike companies, Mongoose sourced frames from the big Taiwan factories, and put the appropriate level of Shimano and/or Gripshift on them and sold them to bike shops. Since they were made in the same factories as all the other bike brands, and since they had the same Shimano goodies as the next brand, then they were at least as good as all the others.

But now there are two Mongooses. The Brunswick company, which also owns Roadmaster, has brought out a department store Mongoose, which is no shop level Mongoose. They don't have Shimano drivetrains, or good wheels. They have cheesy shocks, and they have a full suspension bike for $199. You've heard that Mongoose was a good bike. You've seen them in bike shops, and you know people who have spent over $300 on one. Now you can buy one at Wal-mart. Are you going to believe my "preposterous" story that these bikes are more akin to their Roadmaster cousins than to the shop level Mongoose, that they are not made by the same company, or are you going to buy that $199 full suspension model, which is cheaper than our lowest priced rigid Mongoose?

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