Photo credit: Wouter de Bruijn via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA
We live in a crazy world where absolutely no one can agree on anything. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the world of politics and…BIKE PARTS! Yes, there has been an ongoing battle for years and years as to whether parts made in the USA are better than those made overseas. I often think of the unlucky bastard that had to rest his buttocks on one of the first mass produced bicycle seats back in the early- to mid-1800’s, he must have been angry all the time. Fortunately, for us crazy road bikers that spend the entire summers strapped to our bicycles technology has come a long way. Now back to the debate!
When thinking about bike parts, or any other part that is manufactured by a machine for that matter, there are many things that need to be considered. Foreign Vs. domestic? Price? Is there a difference in quality and craftsmanship? Where the hell is Tajikistan? I know, that is a lot of questions that need to be answered, but fear not if anyone can make sense of it all it is this crazy bike blogger.
If you are a company, there are many benefits to having your parts manufactured both domestically and overseas. Let’s start on the foreign side. If your company took the time to move its whole production operation to some dank factory on an island off the coast of Japan, then chances are that the price you are paying per unit is a lot less than it would be if manufactured in the U.S. However, per a lot of patriotic people, there is a down side to offshore production. The main disadvantage is that of quality control. It is obvious that if you own a production factory in a small third world country half-way around the globe that management of quality control may be an issue from time to time. There are language barriers, sketchy material vendors, and logistical hurdles to maneuver, just to name a few. However, if you are manufacturing your products in the good old U S of A you may have to deal with those issues on a far lesser scale. This then begs the question, is there a PRICE to be paid for the convenience of domestic production?
Ah yes, you turn over that package of brake pads and it reads made in the USA. Makes you feel good, doesn’t it? There are many benefits to the home sourcing of factory goods, but cost-savings can’t be one, right? Don’t be so sure, these days the average overseas factory worker’s wage has gone up 18-20% per year. Hmmm, well I just booked a one-way flight to Yemen, so all future posts will be originating from that wonderful country. Another benefit to domestic part production is that of quality assurance, basically if your production is being made within your home borders it is easier to tell if there are any potential problems that need addressing. Finally, having a quick response time is nothing to be shunned. Ask the production manager of the company whose sprockets are made in Mongolia if he ever has problems relaying his client complaints. He will yes 100% of the time.
In closing, like politics, domestic vs. foreign part production is all a matter of opinion, no one is ever right, but somehow no one is ever wrong either.