European importers: Are they at it?

For discussions about bikes and equipment.
Canuk
Posts: 1105
Joined: 4 Oct 2016, 11:43pm

Re: European importers: Are they at it?

Postby Canuk » 13 Dec 2018, 9:48pm

fastpedaller wrote:
Canuk wrote:So there you have it, Mercian et al are not only in the bottom leagues of OTP producers, they're also grossly overpriced compared to what is essentially a better, more refined product from a long established producer from between half and a third of the price.

Its clear its not Taiwanese producers QA and customer service that are in question, but that of the home grown British ones, who's days (when this fashion fit bespoke build begins to fade) are well and truly numbered.


Some bold statements which have been made with little evidence. I have a Spa Tourer frame, and I think it is very good (and certainly a lot better than any mass-produced UK frame from the 80's) - but I'm not sure I'd feel confident in saying it is better than a handbuilt frame from mercian or another small producer.


If you read the posts, you'll see I'm not claiming its better than a bespoke build, I'm saying that a Taiwanese Off the Peg is considerably better quality build /finish and ultimately value than a similar British Off the Peg from one of the more famous UK builders at 4 times the price for exactly the same spec. This is a ludicrous state of affairs. Like I said upthread, Taiwan is to China what Germany is to Bulgaria in terms of QA and build quality.

They're making some of the finest OTP frames in the world, and this, combined with the sure waning of bespoke builds (it is a fashion after all) spells the end for this self indulgent, priced out of business, shabby cottage industry. One look at Mercians website tells you all you need to know. It's been the same shambles ever since I can remember.

These people don't deserve your money. I hope by threads like this that some people might see the light, British is no longer best, in fact its no longer even cost effective. Take a look at the link to the Seaboard Reynolds 725 frame above, the detail, welds and finish and tell me for £329.99 you can get a comparable OTP offering in the UK. It knocks anything comparable from Mercian or BJ into a tin hat. Mercian want £1375 for precisely the same OTP offering and finish level.

£329.99 For that kind of dosh you'd be lucky to get an unpainted pair of forks from Mercian. They're at it, and when they go under I doubt many will mourn the passing.

AndyA
Posts: 393
Joined: 21 Mar 2009, 9:16pm
Location: Edinburgh

Re: European importers: Are they at it?

Postby AndyA » 13 Dec 2018, 11:04pm

Canuk wrote:
fastpedaller wrote:
Canuk wrote:So there you have it, Mercian et al are not only in the bottom leagues of OTP producers, they're also grossly overpriced compared to what is essentially a better, more refined product from a long established producer from between half and a third of the price.

Its clear its not Taiwanese producers QA and customer service that are in question, but that of the home grown British ones, who's days (when this fashion fit bespoke build begins to fade) are well and truly numbered.


Some bold statements which have been made with little evidence. I have a Spa Tourer frame, and I think it is very good (and certainly a lot better than any mass-produced UK frame from the 80's) - but I'm not sure I'd feel confident in saying it is better than a handbuilt frame from mercian or another small producer.


If you read the posts, you'll see I'm not claiming its better than a bespoke build, I'm saying that a Taiwanese Off the Peg is considerably better quality build /finish and ultimately value than a similar British Off the Peg from one of the more famous UK builders at 4 times the price for exactly the same spec. This is a ludicrous state of affairs. Like I said upthread, Taiwan is to China what Germany is to Bulgaria in terms of QA and build quality.

They're making some of the finest OTP frames in the world, and this, combined with the sure waning of bespoke builds (it is a fashion after all) spells the end for this self indulgent, priced out of business, shabby cottage industry. One look at Mercians website tells you all you need to know. It's been the same shambles ever since I can remember.

These people don't deserve your money. I hope by threads like this that some people might see the light, British is no longer best, in fact its no longer even cost effective. Take a look at the link to the Seaboard Reynolds 725 frame above, the detail, welds and finish and tell me for £329.99 you can get a comparable OTP offering in the UK. It knocks anything comparable from Mercian or BJ into a tin hat. Mercian want £1375 for precisely the same OTP offering and finish level.

£329.99 For that kind of dosh you'd be lucky to get an unpainted pair of forks from Mercian. They're at it, and when they go under I doubt many will mourn the passing.


Mercian make things one at a time, to your exact requirements and their very high standards. They use early 20th century labour intensive methods - lugged or fillet brazed.
Seaboard make 1000s at a time, and very well too. Seaboard mostly use late 20th century TIG welding, with some brazing.
They're not the same, Mercian don't do TIG, Seaboard don't do custom.
The geometry sheet on the Seaboard suggests they have some funny ideas about bike sizing - are they adjusting the head tube angle to avoid toe overlap? Why does a smaller rider need a 75.5deg seat angle? Their TIG welds are ok, not the best in the business but certainly good.
I reckon a Mercian takes at least twice the amount of time to manufacture than the Seaboard.
People the world over would mourn the passing of Mercian, but Seaboard? Seaboard who?

Brucey
Posts: 35201
Joined: 4 Jan 2012, 6:25pm

Re: European importers: Are they at it?

Postby Brucey » 13 Dec 2018, 11:24pm

its like a bloomin' cracked record isn't it? People are not stupid; if frames bought direct from Taiwan were really 'as good' as those pushed out by Mercian et al the latter wouldn't sell at all; plenty of folk will pay a premium just to have the thing custom fitted and/or finished just how they like and in many cases I don't blame them.

I've seen hundreds of frames built in Taiwan and I've owned several. Some have been alright, some I wouldn't touch with a bargepole, and some have been hilariously bad.

So you order your frame direct from Taiwan.

You get hammered for customs duties. Not so cheap now, is it?

If your 'cheap' frame turns up and it has an obvious cosmetic problem, is the wrong size or the geometry (which might be weird anyway) is not as advertised how do you resolve that?

If your 'cheap' frame cracks after a few weeks and you have to send it back, what then?

If your 'cheap' frame breaks and puts you into hospital what then?

There are some quite good reasons for buying a similar frame (or even the same frame) from a UK supplier. That is how Spa cycles operates.

https://www.spacycles.co.uk/m2b0s143p0/Parts-and-Accessories/Frames

far eastern frames start at about £365 there, and you have all the advantages of buying a proven design from a UK retailer. 'Saving' about £30 buying direct from Taiwan is suddenly not appealing for some reason...?

cheers
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Canuk
Posts: 1105
Joined: 4 Oct 2016, 11:43pm

Re: European importers: Are they at it?

Postby Canuk » 13 Dec 2018, 11:35pm

Brucey wrote:its like a bloomin' cracked record isn't it? People are not stupid; if frames bought direct from Taiwan were really 'as good' as those pushed out by Mercian et al the latter wouldn't sell at all; plenty of folk will pay a premium just to have the thing custom fitted and/or finished just how they like and in many cases I don't blame them.

I've seen hundreds of frames built in Taiwan and I've owned several. Some have been alright, some I wouldn't touch with a bargepole, and some have been hilariously bad.

So you order your frame direct from Taiwan.

You get hammered for customs duties. Not so cheap now, is it?

If your 'cheap' frame turns up and it has an obvious cosmetic problem, is the wrong size or the geometry (which might be weird anyway) is not as advertised how do you resolve that?

If your 'cheap' frame cracks after a few weeks and you have to send it back, what then?

If your 'cheap' frame breaks and puts you into hospital what then?

There are some quite good reasons for buying a similar frame (or even the same frame) from a UK supplier. That is how Spa cycles operates.

https://www.spacycles.co.uk/m2b0s143p0/Parts-and-Accessories/Frames

far eastern frames start at about £365 there, and you have all the advantages of buying a proven design from a UK retailer. 'Saving' about £30 buying direct from Taiwan is suddenly not appealing for some reason...?

cheers


If there's a broken record it's the persistent whine of scaremongering from you know who. Desperate stuff.

I point you in the direction of this 'Williams' Reynolds 853. Hand brazed, investment cast lugs, cromevelato paint finish, cast head badge: $949, or £750. Made to order from your own measurements. Delivery time around 3 weeks.

Let's compare you apples with apples then, eh?

Mercian 853, investment cast lugs, chrome finish: £1990

Estimated delivery time 10 months plus.

So, 3x the price, 15x the wait, and there's not a Mercian that could hold a candle to this frame. You might have soft remembered dreams of Mercian being great. I haven't, I had one in the 90's and it was decidedly ordinary. The only fancy thing about it was the barbers pole seat tube. Nothing special at all.

I wouldn't put a penny into Mercian. Their website says it all. Out of date, out of touch, priced out of the market, and ultimately out of time. I give them 5 years tops. When the bespoke bubble bursts (and it will) they're a gonner.
Image Attachments
Screenshot_20181214-003802.png
Screenshot_20181214-003832.png
Screenshot_20181214-002701.png
Screenshot_20181214-002606.png
Screenshot_20181214-002540.png
Last edited by Canuk on 13 Dec 2018, 11:46pm, edited 4 times in total.

JakobW
Posts: 271
Joined: 9 Jun 2014, 1:26pm
Location: The glorious West Midlands

Re: European importers: Are they at it?

Postby JakobW » 13 Dec 2018, 11:38pm

Previous thread on history of the Taiwan cycle industry: viewtopic.php?f=5&t=125702

You seem terribly excised about UK builders, Canuk - have you had any particular bad experiences? UK builders are pretty much definitionally a cottage industry these days - once Raleigh and the other big builders went there wasn't anyone left who could possibly manage the capital investment required to mass-produce frames in the UK and compete with the Far East, especially given the wage disparities. If you just want an OTP frameset with OTP geometry etc, you are never going to beat a Far Eastern mass produced frameset for VFM. But these days UK builders aren't really competing in that segment; they're either (semi-) custom (where ideally you're paying as much for the builder's expertise in tube selection and bike fitting as much as anything else), or, for their OTP frames, paying for the brand. Now the latter may be irrational, but people buy all sorts of things for all sorts of reasons, emotional and otherwise, and by the builders' waiting lists this seems to be keeping them afloat. I doubt any of them are making huge profits, mind - the closure or bankruptcy of some venerable firms over recent years is proof of that (and of course being good at making frames is no guarantee that you'll be any good at the business side of things...)

But that is drifting from the point originally made in this thread, which was about parts and components. Yes, in many cases importers are probably putting quite a steep markup on parts, but then they're probably not selling that many bits for two-decade-old carbon frames, so there will be warehousing costs etc. associated with that. For lots of folk, having a local point of contact in case of failure (and, worst case, subject to UK/EU consumer protection law) and not having to wait weeks for stuff to arrive from the other side of the planet will be worth a premium. For instance, SJS Cycles sometimes get a bit of grousing about the prices they charge for small parts, but I think most on here would agree it would be a genuine loss if they were to disappear.

Brucey
Posts: 35201
Joined: 4 Jan 2012, 6:25pm

Re: European importers: Are they at it?

Postby Brucey » 13 Dec 2018, 11:50pm

Rolls Royces are so overpriced; surely this is 'just as good'?

Image
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

thelawnet
Posts: 2156
Joined: 27 Aug 2010, 12:56am

Re: European importers: Are they at it?

Postby thelawnet » 14 Dec 2018, 9:34am

Brucey wrote:Rolls Royces are so overpriced; surely this is 'just as good'?

Image


Lincoln Town Car with some plastic bits on it? Not sure I see the connection.

On the subject of Rolls Royces you have something like this before they got turned into a German brand.

Image

The current Rolls Royce doesn't bear too much connection, it's a hideous German/Arab bling thing:

Image

If you wanted something more like the British car of old you'd be better off going Far Eastern - this is a new Toyota model:

Image

Cars are never good comparators to bicycles though just because of the level of complexity - a luxury bicycle is potentially made by one bloke in a shed, whereas a luxury car is not.

Canuk
Posts: 1105
Joined: 4 Oct 2016, 11:43pm

Re: European importers: Are they at it?

Postby Canuk » 15 Dec 2018, 7:43am

Haha! Touche' :wink:

Bien jouer!
Image Attachments
Toyota_Century_SIDE.jpg

mattsccm
Posts: 2661
Joined: 28 Nov 2009, 9:44pm

Re: European importers: Are they at it?

Postby mattsccm » 15 Dec 2018, 8:13am

I fail to see the controversy in this. If the OP doesn't want to pay inflated prices then so be it. What he is not taking into account when objecting to a mark up is that the importer is taking the risk on things not selling, covering any warranty, paying costs and most admirably making a profit through being clever. Any one can do the same but we are not all inclined to do so. That's our problem not the entrepreneurs.
Importing personally is just risk assessment just like life. I am more likely to be injured on my bike than in my bed. I still ride my bike. I am wary of cheap Chinese carbon stems but happily buy seat pins. I make my own choices. Why bother arguing over silly things?
Any one recommend a carbon seat pin supplier from China?

Canuk
Posts: 1105
Joined: 4 Oct 2016, 11:43pm

Re: European importers: Are they at it?

Postby Canuk » 15 Dec 2018, 8:21am

mattsccm wrote:I fail to see the controversy in this. If the OP doesn't want to pay inflated prices then so be it. What he is not taking into account when objecting to a mark up is that the importer is taking the risk on things not selling, covering any warranty, paying costs and most admirably making a profit through being clever. Any one can do the same but we are not all inclined to do so. That's our problem not the entrepreneurs.
Importing personally is just risk assessment just like life. I am more likely to be injured on my bike than in my bed. I still ride my bike. I am wary of cheap Chinese carbon stems but happily buy seat pins. I make my own choices. Why bother arguing over silly things?
Any one recommend a carbon seat pin supplier from China?


I could recommend you three, but there seems little point to do so as the same naysayers and risk averse merchants of doom will only find 50 things 'dangerous and potentially life threatening' about it.

I appreciate your post. What critiques of buying direct from Taiwan (my preference over China) fail or are rather unwilling to accept is that Taiwan is currently making most of the finest and respected bike parts and framesets in the world. There's no argument, its a fact. If it were not 100% true the likes of Colnago, Genesis, Trek, even Spa Cycles would not be sourcing the majority of their stock for resale from Taiwan.

We do not live in Birmingham Steel of 1957. That's all gone now, and good riddance. Taiwan make exquisite and very keenly priced top end kit and they'll get my money anyday. And I refute anyhow who criticises my right to chose what to buy, and where I buy it from.

JakobW
Posts: 271
Joined: 9 Jun 2014, 1:26pm
Location: The glorious West Midlands

Re: European importers: Are they at it?

Postby JakobW » 15 Dec 2018, 10:27am

Canuk wrote:I appreciate your post. What critiques of buying direct from Taiwan (my preference over China) fail or are rather unwilling to accept is that Taiwan is currently making most of the finest and respected bike parts and framesets in the world. There's no argument, its a fact. If it were not 100% true the likes of Colnago, Genesis, Trek, even Spa Cycles would not be sourcing the majority of their stock for resale from Taiwan.

I don't think anyone on this thread is disputing that Taiwanese builders can make some very good frames at a keen price, just pointing out that buying direct comes with its own set of drawbacks.

And I refute anyhow who criticises my right to chose what to buy, and where I buy it from.


Rebut, not refute. Again, I don't think anyone on here has suggested you have no right to spend your money however you like, but having framed your discussion in reasonably aggressive terms, and then brought in criticism of UK builders, some push-back was inevitable. This is the internet - disputation is what we do! :wink:

wjhall
Posts: 57
Joined: 1 Sep 2014, 8:46am

Re: European importers: Are they at it?

Postby wjhall » 15 Dec 2018, 4:24pm

Brucey wrote:my comment re QA clearly hasn't registered. ... ... All the big manufacturers have staff onsite at their subcontractors and their main job is to make sure that the QA is up to snuff. If you buy direct from the manufacturer it might be just as good as something else but then again it might not be subject to the same QA standards instead.....

cheers


Very much my feeling. Without your technical expertise, I prefer a UK source because it easier to deal with warranty and similar issues, for which there is a cost, which you can regard as insurance. However you also touched on an intermediate case, between the individual consumer who must depend on a suppliers reputation if buying abroad, and the big companies who can have a QA resident. There are a number of well known, well regarded UK brands that have a reputation to protect, but presumably are not able to apply the same QA monitoring because their quantities are too small to justify a resident in the foreign factory. How, in general, without naming names, do these brands ensure QA procedures that protect their reputations? Is it by careful supplier selection based on supplier reputation and then continuous experience, piggybacking on larger manufacturers choices, regular auditing, destructive sampling, ruthless delivery inspection or....?

Brucey
Posts: 35201
Joined: 4 Jan 2012, 6:25pm

Re: European importers: Are they at it?

Postby Brucey » 15 Dec 2018, 10:54pm

any or all of the above, I think. Maybe Colin will be able to say more?

cheers
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

pete75
Posts: 11646
Joined: 24 Jul 2007, 2:37pm

Re: European importers: Are they at it?

Postby pete75 » 15 Dec 2018, 11:16pm

Canuk wrote:
Brucey wrote:it is a bit like comparing a handmade suit from Jermyn Street with a 'George from Asda' one; there are obvious differences in fit, quality, price and expectation, (and how quickly they wear through the backside might not be one of them) but most folk who buy one wouldn't think to buy the other.

cheers


Yes agreed, an OTP frame from Taiwan smacks down an OTP frame from Mercian at 3x the price any day. Of course you would know that if you'd bothered to look at the link :wink:

Here, I'll make it easy for you. Look at the details, the braze ons, the quality of the joints, and tell me, for £329.99 this isn't a vastly superior and infinitely better value frameset than the bog standard, single colour OTP burnt offering from Mercian (at 3x the price)?

https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre ... 2712595371


The frame you link to has ugly, crudely welded joints. I've worked with guys who can weld more neatly than that that with a stick welder.
That sort of joining together of tubes hardly compares with Mercian's lugged frames or their well finished smoothly joined, fillet brazed lugless frames.
Oh and if you're having slow access to their website it's down to your equipment. It seems quick enough to me using a not particularly fast rural broadband connection.

Cours
Posts: 120
Joined: 20 Nov 2018, 4:16am

Re: European importers: Are they at it?

Postby Cours » 15 Dec 2018, 11:52pm

Try loading their 'store' page. How they sell anything is beyond me. Shambles doesn't quite touch the sides.

https://www.merciancycles.co.uk/store/

Embarrassing :roll: