$300 on eBay: Your $4000 Frame

Jun 26 2009

If there’s a bike company that exemplifies everything I find ludicrous about the industry, it would be Kuota. From their rococo frame designs, paint jobs (or lack thereof), and high price tags, right down to the .it URL (even Campy isn’t that brand-obsessed), you’d be hard pressed to find a bike trying harder to draw attention away the shortcomings of its rider’s pe…personality.


Even worse, of course, was having to endure the masturbatory, scienceless prose of Charles Manantan at Pez every time he got set up with another bike (“…the vibration that does make it’s[sic] way up all the curves doesn’t get focused directly toward your butt via the seat tube, but rather skirts around it and goes to the top tube!”). His Kuota reviews always aroused particular ire in me, probably because I’m the sort of guy who enjoys spending a few minutes Googling things. Consider the following passage from his Khan review:

I don’t mean to get boring here, but I have to speak about the build quality. It is the logical result when the factory is an ISO 9002 approved facility. That means they have to live up to top flight standards not generally associated with the cycling industry.

ISO 9002, in case you’re wondering, has nothing to do with bikes. It’s a now-obsolete set of standards for running a quality management system. Here it is at a fish wholesaler in Japan. The China Bicycle Corporation, makers of this awesome ride and thousands more like it, is among this apparently select fraternity of manufacturers able to boast ISO 9000 certification as part of their press kit.


Anyway, I mention this because something interesting came up in eBay’s automatically generated “we think you’ll like” widget today. I don’t want (and shouldn’t have) to tell you it’s a Kuota Kredo—mostly because of the flood of “OMG weave angle is *totally* different” comments—but I will say that eBay is chock full of them, and at very reasonable prices, too.

So the next time a salesman, or some douchey Fred of a rider gets uppity about his bike, feel free to redirect him (they are almost invariably male) this post. Because while it’s especially satisfying to see a Kuota sold like this, the fact remains that this sort of thing happens to nearly every brand—and many end up back on the market, often wearing someone else’s paint.

By now, it should be common knowledge world’s bike frames are all produced in the same handful of East Asian factories—and for the most part, those factories do an awesome job. Certainly, outside the realm of custom-fit rigs from Serotta and Indy Fab, you will never notice the difference between the finest stuff Shenzhen churns out, and factory-built rides from Euro brands like Time.

If you’re in the market for a new rig, focus on fit, parts, cost, and service (in that order) and do your best to forget that any of that other stuff even exists.

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5 Responses to “$300 on eBay: Your $4000 Frame”

  1. anon 27 June 2009 at 11:21 am #

    “you’d be hard pressed to find a bike trying harder to draw attention away the shortcomings of its rider’s pe…personality”

    The first to pop in my mind was the final brand mentioned…

  2. rainbow 28 June 2009 at 8:30 pm #

    No thanks, I may be a total tech fashionista and that’s butt Versace!

  3. Frankielof 29 June 2009 at 11:17 am #

    Where to start on this one? Having spent a fair amount of time in factories in mainland China to date I have been a little reluctant to make the jump to a frame manufactured there. The reasons for this are not what you may think. I generally find the Chinese people to be extremely hardworking. I have been amazed at the dedication and effort on the factory floor.

    The issue is with management. The culture in China is so class oriented, and owners of companies are so high in that class that money is the only driving factor in decision making. The thought is always about productivity and profit. Now I am high enough in the organization of a multi-billion dollar company and P&L is important to me, but there is a limit. Owners of companies in China do not take the lives of their workforce or the consumer into account when making a decision. They are insulated from this by the hierarchy of their companies and will end up forcing some middle manager to “fall on the sword”. Look at the toy industry using lead paint as a perfect example. That is an extreme example, but I have seen day to day decision to run unsafe tooling, out of spec parts, the use of files and rework to overcompensate for poor quality.

    ISO 9002 certification means nothing in reality. I have seen documentation forged and altered to show the required compliance more than would be considered reasonable, and since the auditing has become a P&L for the companies that do it how unbiased can the audits really be anymore? Most companies can hide away the dirt for the 2 – 4 days of an audit and make everything look good.

    The final scary thing about the frame on E-bay. I have done my fair share of shopping in the markets of China. I love the bardering and getting a “good deal”, but buying a knock off purse for my wife or a shirt that made it’s way out the back door of a factory is one thing. I will never rely on a blackmarket shirt going around a corner in a crit at 30 mph. Who know’s how safe that unmarked Kuota really is? Did it pass final inspection? What it a reject that someone snuck out the door? Not something that I would want to find out at the wrong moment.

  4. Mark W 29 June 2009 at 3:55 pm #

    LMAO, that Kredo pic is from like 5-6 years ago? Same with the Khan review, so no big shock that the info is dated…

    If you’re going to write about cycling product, it might help to understand the industry a little better.

    Once the molds for a company are no longer used, the manufacturer, after an agreed delay, can choose to do a Knock off…

    That’s the case here and likely the reason they used different carbon. Very frequently they also have to use different layup and material when they take over the mold…

    If you wanted to be a little more recent example, you might have noted the Vellum Edge and the Pinarello F413 were virtually the same bike when sold at the same time a year or so ago…

    More recent example is the VeloVie 300 and the VanDessel with just the seat tube looking different. But then those frames are also using different fiber so calling them the same would be wrong too.

  5. Mr. Bill 5 July 2010 at 1:22 am #

    I happen to agree with most of the post, not because I had a Kredo built while I lived in Germany 2006 -2008 and love it, but the facts are obvious. Dated is really a factor when you’re talking high end, the technology is pushed forward every year. I do question the post from Frankielof, concerning China, there’s a big difference from products produced in Taiwan vs. Mainland (PRC) China. I’ve spent a great deal of my life off and on in Asia first in Japan in the military 1978-80 to my current civilian position in South Korea. Taiwan has a long standing track record of production of all levels of bicycles and parts for a multitude of manufactures from all over the globe. Much like HTC in the phone industry, key companies in Taiwan have produced the high end frames and products for European and US based bike brands for decades. With the PRC track record I’m sure some are making the leap to the cheaper option, but that same track record represents a red flag to many!

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