In the world of the internet, all sorts of wild, wacky stuff has been going on, and likely will into the foreseeable future. Wiki-leaks, Facebook, internet stalking, and what have you. One of the more interesting things the "Information Highway" has brought us is knowledge of source manufacturers for our toys that we play with. In this case, it is carbon mountain bike frames.
I first came across this when I started going to Interbike again. In the Asian Pavillion, the companies from the far East were displaying their wares trying to attract companies wanting branded components. I spied a familiar looking carbon fiber and aluminum 29"er fork in one of the booths. Upon closer inspection, it was found to be the "mother fork" to about a half dozen companies 29"er forks.
It was explained to me later that these companies simply specialize in some technique or facet of bicycle production, and then hawk their services to any bicycle company willing to work with them. Nothing wrong with any of the above, really. The thing was, it used to all happen behind closed doors. Not anymore.
Now let's take the case of the two carbon fiber frames I have posted here today. One is from a new start up in Switzerland, one is from an e-mail sent to a consumer direct from the Chinese manufacturer. Are they the same frame? Well, there is plenty of evidence that suggests that the two frames, while maybe not identical, are very, very similar. Too close for comfort, really. But the price? There is a grand difference between the asking prices for these frames. That's not chump change.
The thing is, you can contact Chinese companies that are advertising directly into the U.S. and buy frames, and complete bikes, direct. By-passing the normal economy. It's a product of the internet age, and it is going to change the landscape as far as how business is done at many levels.
What will happen is anybodies guess, but it is fascinating to watch it all play out. Obviously the consumer that is looking for value and the businessman/entrepreneur is at odds in this game and changes are on the wind. I'm betting sooner than later.