Tuesday, August 30

Made in China

While I did grow up during the twilight years of the Cold War, I don't harbor specific hatred for the last remaining communist superpower in the world. Just because people have different colored skin and differently shaped eyes is not a reason to dislike them in my book. In fact, I don't even dislike the Chinese because they are communists. I don't dislike people from China period. Even if they were to pee on my rug.

Yesterday I googled "Are Cannondale bikes made in the USA?" and came across a forum thread where someone asked exactly that question because they wouldn't buy one if they were made in China. And then the other members of the forum proceeded to lambast the poor guy for being a narrow-minded bigot. As far as I could tell the originator of the thread never countered the aggression, and it was hot. I don't think the poor guy had anything against the Chinese specifically...

At my LBS they carry both Raleigh and Cannondale mountain bikes. I really liked the price and setup of the Raleigh Talus 29er. I loved the XXIX+G but the price is a few hundred more than I can justify spending on a second bike at this juncture in my life. And then I discovered that Raleigh bikes are made in China. Instantly my amore for them waned.

So I knew the shop carries Cannondale as well. The Cannonball was a US made aluminum framed bike and I love it. From a sustainability perspective my 17 year old bike goes a long way. So my question to myself was: "Are Cannondale bikes (still) made in the USA?" It seemed like somewhere in the depths of memory was something I heard in passing that indicated C'dale bikes were no longer made in the US.

So my google search provided some answers and a few questions.

As best I can tell at this time Cannondale bikes are made in Taiwan and assembled in the US. Rockshox are also made overseas, as are many of the parts and components of today's big brands.

It's disheartening, and not because I don't like Chinamen who build our railroads and then pee on our rugs, but because from a sustainability standpoint even a bicycle has too big a carbon footprint.

I would love to be able to afford a locally made bicycle. But the unfortunate factor is the cost. I just cannot afford a locally built custom bike. And there really are no locally made spec bikes.

I looked at Yeti and they are obscenely expensive. I would kill for a Spot bike with a Gates Carbon Drive but I'd have to rob a bank as well. Let's not even discuss Moots...

Mosaic bike built in Boulder: $3,500

So as a financially poor non-racing mountain biker who just wants to have fun and do one insanely difficult race in his life, but who is also conscious of his ecological footprint, I am limited to just not buying a bike at all. End of story.

How many practical miles would I have to ride my foreign made bike to offset the carbon impact of its construction and delivery? That, Dear Readers, is a fine questions and a potential challenge if I do say so myself!

I will get back to you on this one...

Oh, and please don't be sad for me if I go through with buying the Cannondale Trail SL 2. Don't hate me. At the very least I am doing my homework before buying the bike and trying to make the ecologically conscious decision.

The issue with "Made in China" isn't China. If I lived in China then it would make perfect sense. Heck "Made in Italy" is no better, even though I drool at the thought of a real Italian made bike. The problem is in the impact on our environment this type of consumerism causes. We have to look at our purchases with a keener eye and make better decisions. Our economies and our environment will not tolerate many more decades of this insane behavior.

I wish I had the luxury of a huge career change to make my own bikes. Of course I don't, and of course I'd have to charge an arm an a leg to get by.

Yeti ARC $2,200

Moots Rigormootis FRAME ONLY - $2775

Spot Rocker Geared or belt drive $3,600

The Yeti ARC is the closest to cost efficient for me, but again, that kind of money is not doable for many people. If cost were no object I'd go for a Moots or a Spot in a heartbeat. Moots are made in Steamboat Springs and Spot and Yeti are made here in Golden.

My problem isn't one of choice, but of a lack of affluence. I just don't have the money to make the choice I want to make. So how does that factor into market economics?

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