Author Topic: I'm In China; Tell Me What You Need To Know.  (Read 1215 times)

intellikat

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I'm In China; Tell Me What You Need To Know.
« on: February 08, 2017, 11:23:47 PM »
That was the best subject line I could think of to get people's attention :)

I mentioned this yesterday in the "Introduce Yourself" thread, but will repost here as well:

Two and a half years ago I moved to Guangzhou, China. In my first year, I started to ride the local trails as well as connect with local riders. I also started to learn a bit about the manufacturers and companies here in Guangdong. I began to read forums online where non-Chinese riders overseas were sharing information on frames and components (mostly carbon).

I had the idea then of launching a simple website where myself and a partner reviewed and provided technical info and ride impressions on frames and components. I'm a passionate trail/enduro rider and builder who has toured and raced in the US, Australia, and SE Asia. My partner is a sponsored xc/road rider for a Chinese brand (Camp) who also works for WTB.

Unfortunately, my partner couldn't commit at the time due to race and travel schedules, and I was bogged down in launching the Art and Drama programs at an international school here (my day job). So, we put the site on hold.

Recently, I've re-evaluated the model and am looking at coming back into it. I'd love to provide firsthand resources and information to riders in communities like Chinertown or MTBR who don't have the benefit of being in physical contact with the manufacturers and products they are sifting through online, and who also don't speak Chinese when it might help. Being something of middle-men here, we might be able to create a valuable interface between the two worlds on a number of levels.

So here comes the question.

There are frames and components popping up all the time on old and new manufacturer's sites, as well as on seller's sites like AliExpress or DHGate. Some provide decent info on geometry, materials, etc., but some don't. And sometimes we aren't sure if we trust the info they provide. And sometimes, even when we do trust them, we would like to hear stories of others who have ridden the stuff first. More pics and even video would be great, too...

What Chinese frames and components (very specifically) are most intriguing to you right now that you might like more info on?

Post your links and details on what you want to know below. If we some patterns in gear people are interested in, and it looks worth the investigation, we'll go have a look. The goal is for us to find some of the best products within a subset (i.e. best carbon hardtail 29er, best 27.5 trailbike, best fatbike, best carbon 29er wheelset, etc.)

As we are in mainland China (Guangdong) we will want to stick to this area for now... within the proximity of Guangzhou, Dongguan, and Shenzhen. Most manufacturers will have an address on their site.


"A woman needs a man like a fish needs slacker geometry, a longer wheelbase, and at least 150mm of travel." - Irina Dunn (loosely quoted)

intellikat

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Re: I'm In China; Tell Me What You Need To Know.
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2017, 02:10:25 AM »
There is a very real possibility of our dealing with the better manufacturers directly and trying to provide the same products to buyers with some better compensation (quicker shipping times, our own quality assurance and customer service, custom paint schemes, etc.). It really a matter of finding out which frames and wheelsets are of the most interest, and what problems and/or added options would make for a better experience. We have access to warehousing, shipping, and the web to do this... we just don't know if we can offer something better than the current distributors like Carbon Speed or others can. It really depends on what everyone wants, and if they aren't currently fully satisfied (or could be even more satisfied).
"A woman needs a man like a fish needs slacker geometry, a longer wheelbase, and at least 150mm of travel." - Irina Dunn (loosely quoted)

intellikat

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Re: I'm In China; Tell Me What You Need To Know.
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2017, 02:12:16 AM »
Though Xiamen is further east, we should be able to deal with manufacturers there as well.
"A woman needs a man like a fish needs slacker geometry, a longer wheelbase, and at least 150mm of travel." - Irina Dunn (loosely quoted)

SportingGoods

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Re: I'm In China; Tell Me What You Need To Know.
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2017, 04:14:25 AM »
Welcome.

First... I'm afraid we get a problem here (well, I do - I'm just a member of this forum, not an admin). As you perfectly understand, confidence is the key when we talk about sending hundreds of dollars to someone we don't know on the opposite side of the globe. The 2 messages above don't help you. Your first message talks about building a website, a source of information. Nice of you, really. I'd love to get an insight in local fabs, see video, product reviews, interviews, better understand the ecosystem, etc...

Then a day later you turn into a vendor, asking blunt questions. In a nutshell this:
- How can we be better then our competitors?
- Which products do you want?
Honestly, I'd expect you to tell me how you are better and I'd expect you to use your incredible access to local fabs to identify the products that are better then the current offering.

And again, don't play this game. Who are you? Be clear, specific or trust will definitely be lost. If you don't know yet who you are (could well be!), take 6-12 month to think about it and come back when you have this defined.

intellikat

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Re: I'm In China; Tell Me What You Need To Know.
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2017, 05:07:49 AM »
Thanks Sporting Goods.

In a previous message on the Welcome Thread yesterday I wrote that I was doing old school market research. My two partners and I aren't a business as of yet. I'm a former artist, writer, actor, and director who now teaches those things. One of my partners is a rep for WTB in China and a sponsored rider. The third partner does manufacturing and sales (of his own products). The first two of us are bikers ourselves, and there's no need to explain further the passion that comes with that. The third really just likes a good idea.

The "old school market research" is simply asking you what works and doesn't work. What you want and don't want. If we can access the same products from the same (or better) manufacturers and add value to them through any number of things (quick shipments, more details specs, ride reviews, customer service in English, etc.) we want to look at doing that. I know the market is saturated with Chinese sites like www.xmcarbonspeed.com/, and if they are working fine for most people, we wouldn't put any time or effort into trying to things better.

I think everyone here would love to be riding and reviewing bike gear to some degree. In fact, most here are doing that in their spare time for free. Usually we do such things out of a natural love for things like cycling. Yet in this case, we are looking at attempting more than buying one frame we particularly like and documenting the assembly of it. We'd like to approach various manufacturers and potentially buy and demo a number of frames and components. That's not necessarily easy or free. Yeah, we'd enjoy it. But it's not sustainable to do over time as a hobby. We would need to incorporate a workable business model for any kind of substantial web presence (ad-supported, distribution of products ourselves, etc.). No game being played here; just trying to find if there is a way we can provide something that is beneficial from our position in the middle. It would be substantial content we would want to provide.

And yes, that would take time. I'm not looking at this happening overnight. Right now, I'm just asking questions about how the current structure for finding information on products and purchasing them from Chinese distributors is working for you. Their sites do look alot more organized now than they did even 18 months ago (I noticed one site... www.oem-carbon.com had been taken down by an legal response by Specialized, though).

So, it's just the simple questions I asked... no requests for credit card or MTCN numbers :) Are you satisfied with the relationship to current vendors, or is there a way this could be improved? If the products are fine, and it's just access to more information... cool. We'll consider the possibilities of a review site only. If the option to get the same products quicker, cheaper, or with other options sounds like a good thing... cool. We'd look into that.

The purpose of this thread is to speak generally about things, so we know if it's worth pursuing. It does take time, effort, and monetary investment, but we'd love take a shot at it if it could work.

All I'm asking is your opinion on these things. Frames and components (or even manufacturers) to look into, and whether or not it would be worth setting up an alternate way of obtaining them.

All input is welcome!

« Last Edit: February 09, 2017, 05:13:36 AM by intellikat »
"A woman needs a man like a fish needs slacker geometry, a longer wheelbase, and at least 150mm of travel." - Irina Dunn (loosely quoted)

JohnSpeed

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Re: I'm In China; Tell Me What You Need To Know.
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2017, 07:01:37 AM »
Interesting.

What I'd like to know is what big name brand companies are using the same exact manufacturers and frames that are being sold for three times the price but are of the same quality as a generic chiner frame?

Also, are there different tiers of quality or are they the exact same? If there are different quality tiers what are the differences?

I know you asked for questions on specific fra,especially and components, but I think the general info I'm asking about would be very valuable to know for the consumerchant trying to make their choice.

Thanks.

intellikat

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Re: I'm In China; Tell Me What You Need To Know.
« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2017, 07:44:41 AM »
Hey JohnSpeed.

To answer your first question bluntly (in my understanding thus far), the answer is "none".

The reasons for this are many. Unfortunately, you'll never find "the same quality" in a generic chiner frame that you will find in a Scott, Giant, or Specialized. The reason is because "quality" comes from a number of areas... some of these areas occurring after the production process. There is always that possibility (not necessarily a myth) of frames going out the back door of a factory that would have otherwise been supplied to a big name-- and this might be closest to "the same quality" that you refer to. Of course, the big brands have an interest in this not occurring, and even more so, the OEMs may have an interest (to put it mildly) in this not occurring, as their clients are the big western brands. There are many stories of apparent "grey-market" frames out the back door, counterfeits that are nearly identical and never have an issue, or nearly identical and then fail after a year, etc. etc. It's really a difficult one to comment on with authority, or to say specifically where or how you could access a guaranteed product of "the same quality" through this kind of channel.

However, there may be some areas of "quality" you would be happy to sacrifice for a lower cost. This is, I think, the whole point of forums like those on Chinertown and MTBR, right?

If you want to know which OEMs are manufacturing frames for the big brands, you can find that information online. A good primer (thought a little old now) is here.

If you want to know what other frames leave the same OEM that manufactures a big brand, some of that information can be found online, and some of that would be accessible to me through networking or visiting a factory here in Guangdong. Some Chinese websites have this information, but you would need to be able to read Mandarin. Some of my Chinese friends, or friends of friends within the industry do know some of this information, and that actually might be valuable information to compile into an e-book, website, or listing of some kind.

In my understanding, the OEMs that have contracts with top-tier global brands (like Scott) as well as those who produce high quality frames solely for the Chinese market (my partner rides for a decent Chinese brand called Camp, manufactured by the OEM Shenzhen Kespor Bicycle Co., Ltd. will be capable of producing quality products. Obviously, right? These OEMs would be valuable to locate, and to query as to which frames they manufacture, and where they end up.

I think I'm sort of back-engineering a question underneath your question... which is everyone's question... where can we get a great frame at a great price?

I should say, publicly, at this point, that there is the ethical dilemma of counterfeits... either out the backdoor/on the black market, or in a design cloned by a different OEM than the one supplying frames for a big brand. I've seen websites/pages taken down by the big brands because of this; today I saw one that was there a year ago shut down sometime recently by Specialized.

There are different tiers of quality-- in terms of design, materials (for instance: carbon), processes, quality assurance, and support. There's another category in there I'm missing at the moment but it's getting late here :) Alot of that information is available here on Chinertown, on MTBR, and elsewhere online, although having that in one place (an e-book, website, or listing) would be useful, too, for reference.

Thanks for sharing your interests/questions. That gives me some ideas on what information might be useful to compile. Hopefully that primer I linked (and its links) is useful and/or interesting to you for now. I can't fully comment now on things like the backdoor/black market frames as it's nothing I've experienced firsthand... although it might be interesting to investigate. Most of the "counterfeits" or clones I have seen were laughable, and Specialized wouldn't waste their time chasing them down, although it is annoying to see your name being used to sell products, I'm sure.

That's a completely different topic related to manufacturing and marketing here in China...

« Last Edit: February 09, 2017, 11:00:52 PM by intellikat »
"A woman needs a man like a fish needs slacker geometry, a longer wheelbase, and at least 150mm of travel." - Irina Dunn (loosely quoted)

carbonazza

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Re: I'm In China; Tell Me What You Need To Know.
« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2017, 04:42:59 AM »
Hi Intellikat,
Thanks for trying something new here !
If you can, I'm looking for a gravel frame that has a very relaxed geometry( high stack, small reach ).

intellikat

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Re: I'm In China; Tell Me What You Need To Know.
« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2017, 02:41:51 AM »
Ok, carbonazza. Thanks!
"A woman needs a man like a fish needs slacker geometry, a longer wheelbase, and at least 150mm of travel." - Irina Dunn (loosely quoted)

MTB2223

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Re: I'm In China; Tell Me What You Need To Know.
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2017, 02:53:44 AM »
Hi Intellikat,
Thanks for trying something new here !
If you can, I'm looking for a gravel frame that has a very relaxed geometry( high stack, small reach ).
I'm in the same position. Peter have got a new gravel frame on his website, the CS-065, http://www.xmcarbonspeed.com/Productinfo.asp?f=1480 . I like the looks, the axles. But have doubts on the seatclamp mechanisme. And yes, the stack isn't that high.

intellikat

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Re: I'm In China; Tell Me What You Need To Know.
« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2017, 05:26:58 AM »
OK, cool. Thanks.
"A woman needs a man like a fish needs slacker geometry, a longer wheelbase, and at least 150mm of travel." - Irina Dunn (loosely quoted)

carbonazza

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Re: I'm In China; Tell Me What You Need To Know.
« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2017, 06:36:22 AM »
@MTB2223, Maybe we can both put some gentle pressure on Peter :)

He had planned at some point a gravel bike with an excellent geometry.
But his factory decided to build another one :(
If it is built, I buy it in a blink.


Hi Intellikat,
Thanks for trying something new here !
If you can, I'm looking for a gravel frame that has a very relaxed geometry( high stack, small reach ).
I'm in the same position. Peter have got a new gravel frame on his website, the CS-065, http://www.xmcarbonspeed.com/Productinfo.asp?f=1480 . I like the looks, the axles. But have doubts on the seatclamp mechanisme. And yes, the stack isn't that high.

intellikat

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Re: I'm In China; Tell Me What You Need To Know.
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2017, 07:01:25 AM »
I'll contact Peter.
"A woman needs a man like a fish needs slacker geometry, a longer wheelbase, and at least 150mm of travel." - Irina Dunn (loosely quoted)

carbonazza

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Re: I'm In China; Tell Me What You Need To Know.
« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2017, 08:32:47 AM »

tripleDot

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Re: I'm In China; Tell Me What You Need To Know.
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2017, 12:04:07 PM »
Is this going to be strictly about carbon fibre frames?  I'm considering a titanium gravel bike frame custom built by a Chinese company in Xiamen.