China and The Culture of Quality

A Look at the Quality of Chinese E-Bikes.

         ON CHINA, part 3

 

This is the 3rd installment of our Blog Posts about the role of the Chinese Mainland manufacturing in the E-Bike industry. (All future references to “China” our to the mainland only).   It is prompted by the recent publication of www.badpowerbikes.com.  A controversial site. 

 The E-Bike industry has, for years,  a love hate relationship with China. As we know from recent headlines, our industry is not alone.  

 

China makes more E-Bikes than any other nation.  The Chinese people alone own 150 million of them.  While China is in many ways a developing nation, its military has reached world superpower status, most  of its 1.4 billion people still live a 3rd world existence. Chinese E-Bikes are primarily built for the Chinese market, and thus are built very cheaply, usually costing (in China) between $200 and $500.  As in all things, you get what you pay for.  

 

The problem in the US Market is that E-Bikes built in China are built in the same factories.  Inevitably, the culture of low quality is imprinted. www.badpowerbikes.com discusses the result of this problem.

 

 This problem does not extend to Taiwanese production.  We have found that Taiwan’s culture of quality is very similar to Europe’s.

 

The Chinese quality issue can be overcome, but only by large committed firms, willing to base large numbers of Western quality control monitors in the Chinese factories.

 

The best example of this process is probably in your pocket.  The IPhone, which is built in Shenzen, China. A fair argument could be made that is one of the world’s most perfect products.  How is that achieved? There are more than 3000 Apple employees from the US, who live and work in Shenzen, monitoring and guiding the manufacture of the IPhone. 

 

Seattle E-Bike has long been  a store where you could shop many quality European Brands: Stromer, Wallerang, Abus, Gazelle Urban Arrow, Rayvolt, Brooks, Selle Royal, GoCycle, Torqeedo, and others.  We do have to compete on price, and so we do stock some Asian Brands. However, we are, with one exception are in the process of eliminating Chinese made bikes from our brand lineup.

 

There are more than a hundred parts and components on an E-Bike, and it is unavoidable in our world trading system that  some of them will be of Chinese content, even on a Swiss or Swedish Bike. It is the way of the world. However, by carefully choosing our vendors, we can be confident that by specification and inspection, they are ensuring that all of their parts and components are of high quality.  

 

                                                           

 

Now for the exception.  At the beginning of the year, we were approached by Giant Bicycles to carry their E-Bike line.  We decided to do so. Giant makes many of its bikes in China, so why did we do that? Because they are analogous to Apple. Giant is by far, the world’s largest manufacturer of Bicycles.  More than $2 billion a year in sales. This gives them the financial power to place large numbers of Western quality control personnel in China. In addition, Giant also has large factories in Taiwan and the Netherlands, so there is a cultural cross pollination.  And that culture is quality. We are delighted, and our customers our delighted with Giant E-Bikes. Quality builds, quality components, great performance, very low problem rate, and all at excellent price points.  

 

Do we still have some Chinese Brands in the store?  Yes, but not for long. You may have noted we have been having a clearance sale.  One of its purposes is to clear out, at very aggressive pricing, our remaining China built brands, Giant excepted.   

 

Our sale just officially ended, but the clearance pricing on those brands will continue.

 

 

 

Finally, back to www.badpowerbikes.com.  We do not endorse its contents.  However, for years, we have had people bring Radpower Bikes in for repair, since our techs are so highly respected.  Based our on our observations, and the occasions on which we had to inform these customers that the work that needed to be done at a minimum would not leave them with a bike that was worth our trouble and their money, we read 

 

www.badpowerbikes.com with interest.  Some time ago, we had stopped taking in Rad Power Bikes for repair.  Their prices are unbeatable, and they are the market leader in our neck of the woods.  But maybe you do get what you pay for.