Recently, Jordan over at Sick Bicycle Company made a valid industry observation regarding the terms used in bicycle manufacturer marketing, resulting in somewhat of an online backlash. Although the post was directed towards an industry generalisation of potentially misleading (albeit factually correct) marketing terminology, some saw this as a direct attack. After this, Jordan created a follow up post that gives a realistic insight into an industry so many of us know little about, yet seem to be so passionately opinionated on.
It may well not be quite so black and white, with industry nuances on ethics, both in terms of manufacturing, consumer communications and local economical impacts.
On a side-note, I wholeheartedly recommend checking these guys out if you haven’t yet. Think you’ve got the long/low/slack trend nailed, think again! This is what Jordan had to say…
After the whole “British designed” argument last week, I came away with a few thoughts about why I was so frustrated. The consumer is frustrated with ever-changing standards and feel they are being ripped off. Yet providence and shady marketing get a free pass?
Handmade: All (most) bikes are handmade; from a Halfords shopper, through to the most cutting edge carbon composite time trial bike. It’s a job that doesn’t lend itself to automation.
But it’s a word that hints at or winks at craftsmanship, artisanal processes, devotion and pride. So you can see why I would feel there is a gulf between Joe, Burf or Byran in his shed making bikes one by one for his customer, and a container of Taiwanese frames getting a nice little British flag sticker because someone once put some numbers on a piece of paper in England and emailed them to Taiwan (where it gets redrawn and made production ready).
British: Guess what? I’m not really patriotic. I find it kinda odd, people take pride in being born somewhere arbitrarily, then take the credit for its past achievements.
Britain is a tough place to start an engineering business; raw materials are expensive and we don’t have the mining or manufacturing of China, or even America on our doorstop to feed in to us. Our laws are strict and our regulations are stricter, and our rents and cost of living are way higher.
So when I said if you see a frame under £500, it wasn’t made here; we’ll that’s because a tubeset in England almost costs that much before you even take a saw and file to it. Go look at the workshops of Orange, Curtis, Roberts or BTR. Successful businesses. They are small and cramped with decades old machinery, but they are DOING IT. Against everything. That is something I feel is worth fighting for.
I see brands like Trillion now walking in to the hellfire that is U.K. production and I’m here cheering. More than ever, at this junction in the path of our relationship with Europe, we NEED industry. It’s none of MY business; other businesses don’t speak about me, why mention them? Yeah I mean when you are telling a bit of a fib you tend not to point it out. Other brands do talk about us, not openly, and in general it’s favourable. You might be surprised who we are friends with in the industry.
That aside, we’re not only a manufacturer we’re also riders. I’ve been riding 30 years and racing 25, I’ve invested every spare bit of money I’ve ever had in to the bike industry, so quite frankly I’m exactly the person who can care about it.
YOU HATE TAIWAN/ASIA : Do I? We have made, and will continue to make bikes in Taiwan. There is no magical money tree for our customers. A kid just getting in to riding can’t spend a grand on a UK built frame. We still want to design great bikes for beginners. We can’t work with Titanium easily in the U.K. (however we now have a partner in Southampton who can, so there is a great opportunity).
That said, our intention is now to bring as much manufacturing back home.
I welcome questions
But before you ask, I’m ok hun