There is a worrying trend in the bike world. I suppose the same thing happens for other areas of industry but working in the bike trade I see more and more copycat manufacturers emerging every year and they’re ripping people off.
They produce cheap, knock-off bikes parading as quality alternatives or worse, the actual original.
Some companies in China have an annoying habit of selecting something that has been built and designed with integrity and then copying it to the tee with shoddy workmanship and dangerous materials.
Recently we saw a Brompton copy emerge from Taiwan. To many it was the ultimate rip-off.
The Brompton Company has taken years to hone its folding bike into the ultimate commuter vehicle, with the utmost safety and quality.
An electric version is still behind the curtain yet to be unveiled until the company is 100 per cent happy with its specification. It has been more than three years since I saw the prototype.
The company that guards its designs so passionately saw a Taiwanese factory copy every part of it, literally overnight, swopping important components that make it plainly indestructible and producing a death trap that has the life span of a gnat.
The main ingredient that overwhelmed everybody was the slashing of the price by more than a third, leaving poor unknowing consumers to test ride something that was superglued together.
An utter crime if you ask me but even eBay had them listed for a time.
An even scarier rip-off came my way last week as I saw a counterfeit tricycle needing repair, the kind with the big box on the front that can hold the whole family.
On the face of it everything looked kosher but as I discussed the repair with the genuine UK distributor it quickly became quickly the child- carrying tricycle had been copied and downgraded from the original, leaving the unwitting customer with a death trap.
In the past few years I have seen Pashley rip- offs and Dutch bike rip-offs. They rattle and shake along compared to their properly-made counterparts.
What cannot be made safe is a bike with folding elements or something designed to carry large weights when the copycat manufacturers have used lower grade steels or cut corners on safety elements.
If you want a cheap version of the real thing don’t expect it to last as long or stay together forever.
Just beware when you are buying second-hand, like the trike I saw which on the face of it had a reputable manufacturer’s stickers on it but turned out to be a Chinese copy.
Best to do your homework before you part with your cash.