Comments on: A couple of new Bianchis The blog about industrial design in the bike industry Tue, 19 May 2015 21:48:27 +0000 hourly 1 By: C Fri, 19 Sep 2008 17:23:00 +0000 “I was talking about OEMS.”

Ummm…those are OEMs. Do you even know what OEM means? Keep in mind we’re talking the cycling industry definition – not aerospace or automotive definition (yes, it varies from industry industry). It’s painfully clear you’ve never worked in the bike business. In the cycling business the term OEM refers to a company which supplies parts that contribute to a final product. A company that makes a product and sells it under their own brand name is called an OBM (Own-Brand Manufacturer).

For example, Giant started out as an OEM building bikes for companies such as Schwinn. Now they’re also an OBM with only 30% of their business being OEM. See:

Try picking up a copy of BRAIN sometime and you’ll see companies such as AIM, Martec, Hodaka, HL, etc. referred to as OEMs. Do you even read BRAIN?

BTW, almost all brands rely on OEMs at one point or another. Very few major bike brands still build everything in-house. Bianchi, Colnago, Merckx, Pinarello, Orbea, etc. all rely on OEMs.

“I’m sure the Chinese factory that made contaminated baby milk powder that made everyone sick last week may also have been ISO certified.”

Well if ISO 9001 doesn’t mean much then why did **YOU** bring it up??? What was your point in mentioning it in the first place?

BTW, Giant is an OBM and is ISO 9001. So is Trek.

By: Ron Wed, 17 Sep 2008 20:11:00 +0000 Dear C

I was talking about OEMS. I’m sure plenty of Chinese and Taiwenese outsource parties are ISO certified. I’m sure the Chinese factory that made contaminated baby milk powder that made everyone sick last week may also have been ISO certified. :)

By: C Tue, 16 Sep 2008 17:48:00 +0000 “When was the last time you heard a bike manufacturer ISO 9001 certified?”

I’ve heard of quite a few ISO 9001 certified bike factories. The fact that you pose the question shows how little you know about the industry! Here’s a brief list:

Topkey (China) – they make bikes for Specialized and Cannondale (among others)

Advanced International Multitech (China) – they make bikes for Bianchi

HL Corp (Taiwan) – best known for the Zoom line of components.

Martec (Taiwan) – build for Kuota and Kestral, among others

Hodaka (Taiwan) – build for Surly, Bianchi, many others.

Giant (Taiwan) – they build for lots of people besides their own brand. They’re also one of the few companies (Time of France being the only other I know of) to build their own carbon tubes from raw fiber. Most other builders start with tubes assembled by an outside vendor.

By: C Tue, 16 Sep 2008 17:24:00 +0000 “With all due respect considering you’re a widely experienced bikeshop person, I understand that you’ll be able to produce these pictures for us to validate your input on poor quality.”

Right Ron, people who work in bike shops photograph everything they see wrong with bikes. Yeah, they have that much free time on their hands.

To be fair, things have gotten MUCH better in terms of Italian bikes. However your implication that Asian factories are inferior is a stereotype that borders on racism. Heck, even Colnago is making bikes in Asia and they’re doing it for a reason: some of those Asian factories are extremely good. Yeah, there are factories in China turning out department store junk bikes but those are hardly the same factories that Scott, Colnago, Pinarello and others are using. The Asians – and especially the Chinese – have gotten very good at working with composites. Their top factories are as good as anything you’ll find in Europe.

Also keep in mind “Made in Italy” doesn’t mean the frame was made in Italy. Import rules generally only require that the COO account for 60% of the value. This means an Italian company can buy a carbon front triangle from a factory such as Topkey (I’ll assume you know who they are!) for $400, ship it back to Italy where it gets painted and has a Columbus seat/chain stay assembly added. Due to the different labor costs the Italian paint job and Columbus stays could cost $600. Now you’re talking about a frame with a wholesale price of $1000. Since 60% of the value of the bike was added in Italy it is perfectly OK to slap a Made in Italy sticker on the bike.

The Bianchi Reparto Corse carbon bikes are an example of this. Many bear the Made in Italy sticker despite the fact that many were actually made in part or entirely by Advanced International Multitech in Taiwan ( – Note the Bianchi on the homepage)

Bike Retailer publishes a handy list every year listing the various factories around the globe and who is getting what from where. Makes for interesting reading.

There’s also a difference between “Made in Italy” and “Made by Italians”. If you buy an Italian suit don’t assume it was stitched together by guys named Danilo, Giuseppe, etc. Chances are it was stitched together by Albanian, Serb, and Turkish immigrants much in the same way a US made garment is really made by Honduran, Guatemalan, or Vietnamese immigrants. The bike industry isn’t immune to the issue of the Polish Plumber.

By: Ron Mon, 15 Sep 2008 22:03:00 +0000 Also remember, things that happened like 5-10 years ago may not be the same way things are run today. From the way I see it, quality improvement is a consistently looked upon issue in any manufacturing environment. But those companies that love to outsource jobs (in this case frame making) to ‘Asian’ factories will often not have the same level of control over production as those who will do everything inhouse. In the end, a consumer may end up with a poorly made bicycle that he can pay for later in injuries and even life.

By: Ron Mon, 15 Sep 2008 21:57:00 +0000 Dear C :

How on earth do you expect one to quantify words like “so many of those Italian frames” and “I lost track of how many Italian frames”… and the “etc” after you mentioned specific names?? Et cetra includes how many more that you haven’t mentioned? Et cetra means “the rest and so on and so forth” for heaven’s sake, not “some”!

Understood many is not all, but from the way you wrote it (including the unspecific progressions like ‘etc’), it seemed to a casual reader as if you were proceeding to convicting the Italian bicycle industry as a general.

Sorry, I don’t want to start a bird fight with you over this junk but we’d like to see some pictures of your “Colnago, Bianchi Reparto Corse, Sannino, Rossin” and other “etc” frames you IMPLIED in their desperate quality needing condition as you echoed earlier here.

With all due respect considering you’re a widely experienced bikeshop person, I understand that you’ll be able to produce these pictures for us to validate your input on poor quality.

By: C Mon, 15 Sep 2008 19:53:00 +0000 “Cyclocrossmechanic, saying all Italian bikes is poorly made is an overstatement.”


Try reading my post again and please tell me when I said all Italian bikes are poorly made? I never said ALL. I said “so many”. “So many” and “all” are not the same thing. “All” is an absolute statement while “so many” allows for exceptions. Yes, there are very well made Italian bikes and if you bothered to read my ENTIRE posting you’d see that I actually mentioned two of them by name. Since I did in fact mention two specific brands then by the very definition of the word “all” I could not have been saying all Italian bikes are poorly made as you incorrectly claim.

In my experience of working in shops and at races I’ve found many (NOTE: not ALL) Italian bikes to be wanting in the quality control department. Yes, this happens to bikes from all nations. The difference is people don’t blanket bikes from Taiwan in some sort of magical mythology the way they do the Italian bikes.

BTW, should point out that my newest bike is a steel Colnago. I absolutely freely admit I bought the bike because of how it looks. While this Colnago is much better built than my previous two Colnago bikes it’s also no better built than any of my Asian made bikes.

By: bikesgonewild Sat, 13 Sep 2008 17:55:00 +0000 …re: c's & ron's comments about the dolomiti…while the kona kapu may have been out “for two years now”, the appearance of the dolomiti has been a traditional bianchi "steel bike" look for decades, essentially…

…& while c's comments about the quality issues of various frameset builders was true, at one point in time, i think for the most part, ron's reply covers how the majority of the builders have now addressed those issues…

By: Ron Fri, 12 Sep 2008 20:41:00 +0000 If you follow the bike industry closely which I don’t think you do, geometry and shapes sometimes are reflected in more than one bike across different companies. So what? This doesn’t hold true just for Bianchi. Kona had to be smart and put a patent on their design, if anything was new at all. Did they?

Cyclocrossmechanic, saying all Italian bikes is poorly made is an overstatement. When was the last time you heard a bike manufacturer ISO 9001 certified? go figure. look, every bike will have issues here and there, I could give you single pictures and recall details for possibly every single Asian and American manufactured bike you spell out to me, because collecting that data is a side hobby of mine. some of those obscure Asian bikes you get at your shop may require no prep work like you say and may even be times cheaper, but over the long term what is their customer support for a defect issue? If you put life cycle cost for some of the cheaply made frames, you’ll be surprised that they’re way up there.

I would expect some of the issues that you’ve mentioned would have been from a while back, and those issues will have been sorted out already. They will, coz they know they won’t make money offering crappy stuff.

By: C Fri, 12 Sep 2008 16:23:00 +0000 “Its nice to see Bianchi initiating the blend of the traditional and a little of the new.”


The Dolomiti Veloce looks to be the EXACT same frame as the Kona Kapu. Of course the Kona has been out for two years now and nobody seems to have noticed.

As for Reparto Corse or Asia for the sake of quality I hope it’s Asia! Sorry but so many of those Italian bikes are so poorly built. I long ago lost track of how many Italian frames from supposed masters (Colnago, Bianchi Reparto Corse, Sannino, Rossin, etc.) would arrive needing to have seat tubes reamed, every thread retapped, rear triangles aligned, head tubes faced, etc., etc. Then factor in the occasionally thin paint, crooked decals, and pitted chrome. A few – Tomassini and De Rosa come to mind – were always good but they were the exception, not the norm.

Compare that to the nicer Asian frames that come out of the box and are ready to accept parts with no prep work. Even better than the Asian frames are the American frames.