Counterfeiting and the Bike Industry

Hadn’t really thought about the issue of counterfeits and the bike industry before, but the problem is obvious when you see the knockoffs and photos of what can happen.


Broken at the head tube

Safety is a primary concern, of course with bikes, but also millions lost in revenue that impacts the shops and manufactures. Know a product line well and you can spot what’s not authentic, like the buckle on this Specialized shoe – they use the BOA system.

buckle not right

That’s not right, where’s the BOA system?

The frames were harder to spot what wasn’t authentic. I noticed the derailer hanger and that’s it.


A counterfeit bike

Coincidentally, a new site from Bike Store Guys sent out PR this morning about their new online business model. To complete with Amazon, eBay, and other online retailers they ship direct to customers and give participating local bike shops a cut. Bikes are picked up in store. That model has been tried before and I was critical of QBP’s Buy Local Now announced at FrostBike earlier this year. The Wiggles, Chain Reaction, and Amazon are killing margins and traffic in shops. Any cyclists looking for a deal and knows how to use Google, can find parts and bikes often below wholesale. Why that happens is more of a complex issue to get into in this post, but two decades into the Internets, the industry seems poised to do something about it.

I’d argue shops should focus on local search and mobile for a mobile audience, but hey they’re just now getting what we do here with social media.

What you can do, is pay close attention to what you’re buying online; especially from a brand name that doesn’t sell online. Also note that knock offs fly in flocks. You’ll see other brands knocked off on the same site or listing. What you can also do, is spend some money in your shop instead of always expecting the bro-deal, like triathletes do. I asked wheel makers once how they all were in business: ENVE, Reynolds, HED, MadFiber all compete at the high end for a limited number of consumers. The answer from everyone of them was this

Show a triathlete an $3K wheel set and they’ll say, “Really? That’s all for that? What a deal!”

A roadie will ask what the deal is, get one through his team, or order from Wiggles.

that's not right

What’s wrong with this jersey?


I’ve thought about counterfeit and generic carbon product a bit in a previous post:

i bet it must be fun working warrantee dept at Specialized when someone tries to warrantee a catastrophic failure on a counterfeit bike.  i bet that conversation is really pleasant

I wonder what prevents local bike shops from pulling bicycle manufacturers that allow online distribution of their frames and complete builds.  Shops that sell pinarello, willier etc have become test ride centers for competitive cyclist. If they pushed back or dropped the lines,  manufacturers would very quickly change their tune.


The red flag that the Livestrong jersey is counterfeit, I think, is that it says “Specialized.”  Lance is a Trek man.  Did I win?  :-)

Nice article.  We see this ALL THE TIME in our industry too.  Got some great stories about confronting these copy cats at tradeshows in China.  Luckily when you have patents, are loud and 6’ 2”, you usually win those small battles.  Though the war rages on…........

There’s nothing wrong with the Specialized Jersey - in fact, I think it looks totally dope! :-)

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