Wednesday, May 12, 2010

No Thanks! I'll Wait For The Knock-off.

Funny thing about people. They want "the best", but they don't want to pay anything for it. Hey, I am as guilty as the next guy when it comes to this. However; I kind of get queasy when the way that you are getting "the best" is by buying a "knock-off" of someone's product.

It's one thing to get a "bro-deal", or score a product for a crazy cheap price. That's super cool, and we all aspire to that. It is the bargain hunter in us all, the way we stretch our dollars and make our hobbies and passions fit into our budgets for the necessities of life. I get that part.

But it bothers me when I see a company spend a lot of money and time to develope a product and then to have their contracted manufacturer, or another company altogether pretty much copy all the salient features of the original desgin and sell it out for peanuts. Well, I should say that it isn't the companies that are doing this that bother me. No- it is the folks voting with their dollars this way that bother's me.

I mean, how can you fault the companies that do this sort of marketing? If we as consumers don't seem to care about the "original design" and the people behind it, then the companies making the copy-cat bikes will make money. Hey- that's the whole point about being in business, making money.

I suppose there will always be those folks that just do not give a rip about supporting the folks whose ideas are being taken and sold down the river. Maybe they think the original design's makers are ripping us off, or whatever. I don't know. I don't pretend to have the answers to this snarl of an issue, but I do know it makes me feel slimy when I have done the "knock-off" product instead of the original. I guess that's my issue.

Well, I just hope we as mountain bikers utilize the information we have available and make a wiser decision. Ya know- if it weren't for the folks willing to take the initial risk, we wouldn't have more choices. I say support those folks. You can vote how you see fit.

19 comments:

dicky said...

I want two. Is there a price break in pairs?

mw said...

3 bikes from the same small builder is me trying to show support

martini said...

yup. Post this on Mtbeer. See what kind of response you get there!

Guitar Ted said...

@martini: Sorry, not up for all the H8erade that would generate there!

d.p. said...

If they hadn't out-sourced, they would have had control. Pretty interesting the discussion about intellectual property ends with the bottom line at the consumer level and not brand management level. How about mw's dropbar Soulcraft and certain mass produced varieties that followed?

Guitar Ted said...

@d.p. In the realm of ideas, you know well that there is very little that is new. In the case of Soulcraft/mw's rig, I think that falls uneder the realm of "inspiration" and not "rip-off". Soulcraft not having a Fargo type bike in their line up at that time.

No, what gets me is when you have a trend setting product that was brought to market that has something different put together from other inspirations and then that product is "copied" and bought by end users who are either (a) ignorant of the source of the product, or (b) know that it is a copy and buy it anyway.

That's what is bugging me, but again, maybe it's just me.

Guitar Ted said...

By the way, it is also of interest that Salsa is producing a bike now with a scary close drop out to a small custom builder, Black Cat. It is my understanding that Salsa and Black Cat have spoken directly about this and that there is some sort of understanding involved amongst the two parties.

In my mind, a "cottage builder", like Black Cat, who is only going to be able to support a small amount of the market place, (Can we say tiny amount?), and isn't going to be harmed by a bigger companies mass production of the part, (Salsa), has a different feel to it alltogether.

I doubt Black Cat's sales will be altered, or affected in any way other than positively by this sort of deal. Look how much the companies name has come up because of Salsa's Altenator drop out. That's some pretty nice free recognition there for a guy who has a small business that can't afford to advertise on that sort of scale. (Assuming he would even want that)

Vertigo Cycles said...

GT - "nothing is new" is a comment that gets to me as it's commonly used as a justification to appropriate someone else's design. When it comes to outsourcing the manufacturing to China, a place that seems to have no concept of IP and seems to be protected from litigation, what else could be expected? This sort of thing has been happening since outsourced manufacturing was invented. It doesn't make it right, but it's expected if not accepted.

The same thing happens amongst small builders and larger manufacturers on all levels. The greater public doesn't necessarily know the genesis of any given design, nor do they know some of the back door bullshit that goes on in the industry. Consumers can hardly be blamed for buying into cheap product when everyone else up the line has a history of ripping off ideas. Responsibility starts at the top.

d.p. said...

Ok, inspired. I'm not knocking Salsa, I'm saying the line is fuzzy. The point is the design work isn't always the bottom line. If the only difference is color and graphics (same mfg) are you willing to pay for the brand. Box store shoppers would say no. Would brand managers meet the price point and sales goals with tighter control and domestic production?

How long until we see one branded "motobecane?"

Kid Riemer said...

GT - I don't want to lead anyone on here.

We happened to run into Todd from Black Cat in his hometown. It was a chance meeting.

I still haven't looked at his dropout but will go online today to check it out.

All I know is that ours does some things differently than his. That is based on what I've been told by people. I believe there are other companies on the market that also use a similar system. Some might even be bigger than Salsa.

That's all I even want to comment on it.

As to your larger topic in general...

That is what happens in business. It happens in every industry. A phone is made with a certain feature...soon others are made that mimic it. A car of a certain size, body type, and gas mileage is made...soon three other brands have versions of the same thing. A clothing brand creates a new type of garment...that's available a few months later from several other manufacturers.

The bottom line is that whether it is good or bad, right or wrong, it drives development.

And I'm out. No further responses from me on this.

MG said...

R&D=Rip off & Duplicate... Regardless of how good it ever is, it'll never be the real thing, and that's something that every owner of one of those frames will always know.

... And everybody that sees them riding around on that frame will know it too. At that point, you have to ask yourself what saving a few bucks is really worth...

MG said...

... and now I'll also say out of the other side of my mouth, that from a geometry perspective, virtually everything has been tried before, so anyone claiming a certain geometry, or BB-drop, or whatever, to be "their geometry" and nobody else's... Well, to me that's just silly. Because if you look back through the history of the bicycle, chances are whatever numbers you're looking for have been tried before. Modern frame configurations and materials are changing the game and making old numbers work in new ways, but to claim anything geometric as "proprietary" in bicycles isn't something that makes a lot of sense from a marketing standpoint.

Guitar Ted said...

Well, as I say in my post, I don't have the answers to any of this. I think that as consumers get more information, you might start to see more reactions like mine, and more reactions like those on mtbr.com that say, "we don't care, stick it to "The Man" "

It's interesting, and as most say here, there is nothing new about it. I am just seeing more and more discussion and comments about these practices. I personally don't think it is cool to "copy-cat" a design blatantly and turn around and undercut the market.

That's maybe the artist in me speaking. I don't know, but I will be watching this. I think we're going to see some changes coming because of it.

jpelton said...

It is called a patent. Cane Creek, Trek, Shimano all use them to protect their great ideas. Whatever company is being copied should have used this legal means to protect their idea.
This is almost like buying generic drugs. I am not paying more because Viagra because Phizer developed it. I am buying the generic every time.
Granted Viagra does not have a warranty like GF, Specialized, or some of the big manufactures. A company that stands behind its product is worth supporting.
Why buy carbon fiber anyways, when you can get a complete aluminum bike for the same price? I have two great bikes that cost less than $1500 each.

MG said...

... Vertigo, you make a couple of good points. Responsibility does start at the top, but I also think you need to consider that similar ideas can come from different sources. If two in different places have similar needs and riding styles, it's totally possible for similar concepts to come forth from two independent minds (at least as I see it).

OK, like Kid, I've said what I have to say on this. Back to work...

Paul said...

I see your point GT, but this obviously is happening everywhere. I am going to continue to buy my generic contact solution, ibuprofen, cereal, etc. It is every where.

d.p. said...

pss can I get one of those LeFisher proper-rods cyclocross bikes with the pair-0-gone sliders?

Vertigo Cycles said...

GT - RE: two sources of idea origination...

No doubt about that at all. It's completely possible that two (or more) people will come up with a very similar concept if the environmental conditions are similar. I know it's happened, I've seen it happen. I thought we were discussing blatant ripping off. For example, Michail Coustellier, a mechanical engineer and father of two of the best trials riders in the world, developed a frame design (not geometry) for a stock trials bike. He outsourced the work to Pulo who promptly added the design to their catalog and then sold it under their house brand (I can't recall which, Echo, Python, something). They just out and out stole it and undercut the price by more than half. What was Michael to do? The same thing happened to Kestrel, it even happened to me SEVERAL TIMES. That's one of the reasons I don't post as much on my flickr site anymore.

Anyhow, I'm not ignorant and I know it's common practice no matter how I feel about it. At the risk of sounding like a complete wanker, I love bikes and what they represent so much, and it kills me a little bit every time someone in our industry willfully chooses not to do the right thing. Sometimes I want to walk away from the industry completely.

Guitar Ted said...

@Vertigo Cycles: Well, I brought up the Salsa Altenator because it is a topic that comes up during discussions like these, so I figured I would broach that subject first, but yes, I agree with you. It is the blatant rip offs that I am referring to.

Again, folks will vote with their dollars however they see fit. I am just saying I think with today's instantaneous access to information we will begin to see a change in the landscape in regards to this subject.