The Angry Singlespeeder: This 4th of July, Buy Something American Made

Opinion
This holiday, support bike industry manufacturers who make stuff right here in the U.S and A.

Editor’s Note: The Angry Singlespeeder is a collection of mercurial musings from contributing editor Kurt Gensheimer. In no way do his maniacal diatribes about all things bike oriented represent the opinions of Mtbr, RoadBikeReview, or any of their employees, contractors, janitorial staff, family members, household pets, or any other creature, living or dead. You can submit questions or comments to Kurt at singlespeeder@consumerreview.com. And make sure to check out Kurt’s previous columns.

As you’re standing around the barbeque this Fourth of July stuffing your gullet with hot dogs, potato chips, sudsy libations and apple pie while watching your neighbor light his backyard on fire with rogue bottle rockets, think about your next bike-oriented purchase. Whether it’s something as small and inexpensive as a pair of grips or something as wallet busting as an entire bike, do our entire country a favor and buy American.

Most people are patriotic in their spending habits when it comes to talking about spending money. They’ll tell you that they buy American all day long. But when it comes time to open their measly wallet, they look at the increased cost of the American product versus the overseas one, and they suddenly turn into the consumer version of Benedict Arnold.

Talk is cheap; even cheaper than the endless container ships of junk being shipped across the Pacific. Don’t get me wrong, there are of course many high quality products coming from outside the US, but for a little bit more money, you can have a quality American made product that helps support the resurgence of American manufacturers.

Spending money is a hell of a lot easier than making it, but many people think spending it on a quality, American made product is difficult because most everything is made overseas these days. While it’s true that it’s not simple to source products with a Made in USA badge, nothing in this life worthwhile is easy. God forbid we have to take a few minutes, use our brains and scour the Internet.

 
Intense Cycles has been American made since its inception in 1991, and made patriotic bikes like this for Shaun Palmer.

But the reality is that buying American-made actually isn’t as difficult as you might think. Thankfully for us lazy folk who simply can’t be bothered with doing our own research, there’s a terrific website featuring American-made mountain bike parts called Oldglorymtb.com.

Old Glory has a long, long list from A to Z of custom American frame builders. Working with virtually all materials from steel and aluminum to titanium, carbon fiber and even bamboo for crying out loud, there’s a builder perfectly suited for everyone. And if you want to really localize your patriotism, find a custom builder close to your hometown and buy from them. Not only will you get an incredible customer service experience, but you’ll also have a completely unique and custom bike tailor-made for you.

Even if you’re not in the market for a new bike, Old Glory can still help you source American-made components. Yes, there actually still is such a beast. Not every stem, seatpost and handlebar is made overseas. Popular brands like Chris King, Cane Creek, Moots, DEAN, ESI, ENVE, Hadley, Industry 9, Lynskey, ODI, Oury, Paul, Phil Wood, Thomson, Wheelsmith, White Brothers and White Industries all make components right here in the United States.

 
Chris King Precision Components are all made in Oregon.

With a list of names like this, you could possibly build an entire mountain bike with American-made parts. It would be a bit of a challenge for a geared bike, since most drivetrains are made in Taiwan, but as the ASS always says, “derailleurs are for failures”. Building an entirely red, white and blue singlespeed is no sweat.

What about American-made clothing? You’re in luck there too. Companies like Voler, Canari, Club Ride, Alchemist, DirtBaggies, Sock Guy, Pace Sportswear and Boure make their garments employing American workers in American factories.

If you’re looking for a new set of lights for night rides, then check out Jet Lites, Light and Motion, DiNotte Lighting and NiteRider, all of whom make their lights on American soil.

If you’re the do-it-yourself type and love to buy tools as much as new bike parts, then buy from Park Tool. Based in Minnesota, most of their 300-product catalog is made in the USA. How can you tell which Park Tool is American-made or not? American-made Park Tools say “Park Tool USA” on them. If it just says “Park Tool”, it was made overseas.

 
Shinola Bikes are all designed and assembled in Detroit, with their steel lugged frames and forks being made by Waterford in Wisconsin.

One of the most interesting American bike brand stories is Shinola. In addition to making handcrafted steel commuter bicycles in a renovated Detroit factory, Shinola also handcrafts beautiful precision watches. Their dedication to American manufacturing and the city of Detroit is the cornerstone of the Shinola brand, and simply looking at their website conjures up a deeply patriotic feeling. Even if you don’t need a new watch or commuter bike, the Shinola story is so compelling that it makes you want to buy one anyway.

Every steel lugged Shinola frame and fork is handmade in Wisconsin by Waterford Precision Cycle, the same company that made the iconic Schwinn Paramount. Hand polished head badges, custom Shinola dropouts and classic leather saddles round out an American-made product that’s as much a work of art as it is a form of transportation.

Now I know some people in the industry will get all defensive and bent out of shape about this article, thinking that I’m hating on companies who do business overseas. I want to make it clear that I’m not Asia bashing. I have a lot of Asian-made products myself. But if we want to see a positive change in our country, we need to stop buying everything we own from overseas manufacturers and start supporting good ‘ol ‘Merica.

 
Since 1981, Moots has built handmade frames in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Over the next 10 years, as the Asian factory worker continues to grow in prosperity, buying cars, TVs, houses, designer clothing and God knows what else, the cost of doing business in Asia must rise to feed the financial needs of workers who’ve fallen into constant consumption mode.

If we can simultaneously help support a resurgent American manufacturing economy by purchasing more American products, many businesses that are overseas now will see the changing dynamic and start coming back. If consumers demand American made, bike brands will have to deliver American made. And perhaps blighted, post-industrial places like Detroit will see a revival, only this time the revolution will be pedal powered, not gasoline powered.

List your favorite American made bike brands in the comments below.

The Angry Singlespeeder: This 4th of July, Buy Something American Made Gallery
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Moots

Since 1981, Moots has built handmade frames in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
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Shinola

Shinola Bikes are all designed and assembled in Detroit, with their steel lugged frames and forks being made by Waterford in Wisconsin.
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Palmer Intense

Intense Cycles has been American made since its inception in 1991, and made patriotic bikes like this for Shaun Palmer.
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Chris King

Chris King Precision Components are all made in Oregon.
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About the author: Kurt Gensheimer

Kurt Gensheimer thinks the bicycle is man’s most perfect invention. He firmly believes ‘singlespeed’ is a compound word. He sometimes wears a disco ball helmet. He is also known as Genshammer. He is a Gemini and sleeps outside in a hammock.


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  • Fran says:

    USA USA USA. Love my country and my Lynskey Ridgeline SS!

  • David says:

    Chris king hubs are the only hubs for me….
    Just bought a transition transam and it rocks!!

  • pimpbot says:

    I love my RacerX29er and now my new Titus Rockstar. The Rockstar is at least half made in the US… the front half. The carbon rear comes from Taiwan or China, probably China. I did put a Cane Creek 110 headset on her.

  • PUNKY says:

    As a Canuck, I seem to have a soft spot for the Canadian goods. And who can say no to some locally CNC’ed goods from Chromag, Straitline, Blackspire, or Raceface?

  • Ben Drawbaugh says:

    Do you want your kids to be a factory worker, or an engineer? That’s what I thought.

    I believe in freedom and I believe in capitalism and that means I can’t get behind the idea to buy something because of where it is made instead of because of the quality and the price.

  • Patrick says:

    I was going to buy a RaceFace chainring… that’s American made right (it’s still north america!).

  • alias says:

    I challenge you to find simple neccesities such as a chain or tire made in USA. ….not gonna happen my friend!

  • Big foot Jr says:

    Get a US made 1UP bike rack..save yourself some money in the long run.

  • Steve says:

    Trek still makes a few bikes in Wisconsin!

  • Barry Glading says:

    My ’07 Turner 5 Spot feels like it’s pretty American. Ask DT :-). CK headset too.
    Good words to make us think – thanks.

  • Rob says:

    REEB CYCLES, INDUSTRY NINE CANE CREEK ALL HUGE WINNERS

  • Mike says:

    sorry but from the economic standpoint this is a stupid idea. If you’re buying all american to a degree it means that it will be more expensive. If it’s more expensive it means that you can buy less of it since presumably you have finite amount of money. If you can only buy so much of it, you’re not spending your money on other things, simultaneously hurting workers that produce those other things.
    Also, if buying american is good, why not buy only from your own state? And how about buying from your own city only? Soon you will find out that you can’t really buy everything from your own city or you’re sacrificing the quality/cost.

    So, thank you but no thank you. I’ll buy what I find to be the best deal regardless where it came from. And there will be very little people who would resist riding chinese carbon fiber sub 20lb bike for less than $2000.

    • Todd says:

      I am a singlespeeder and an economist, and I approve this message.

    • sean lavelle says:

      So if you are US person selling and no one buys your stuff coz theyd rather feed/support communists instead, you OK with that? or you have government job perhaps and live off my tax$$?

  • bond007jms says:

    Turner – Made in America and built to last…’05 still going strong! Thanks DT!!!

  • ptsube says:

    Just bought a 1up USA quik-rack. Made in the USA.

  • bryan says:

    I want to buy American as much as possible but the reality is in many cases I have to compromise. I would love to buy exclusively American made frames and parts, but for practicality sake I’m relegated to what my local bike shops carry. I believe it’s just as important to support your local bike shops and mechanics than to stick to your guns and buy only “all American”, having to inevitably buy through an online supply house on the other side of the country. “American made” is a very grey topic. American cars may have many of their parts made outside our borders and sometimes final assembly may be in Canada or Mexico. My latest large purchase was a Nissan, the majority of the parts made in Japan but assembled here in the USA. The sad reality is most of us cannot afford frames made here in the USA because they are so pricey. At the risk of starting a political debate our federal (and New York state where I live) government has made it all but impossible for small businesses to survive. Operating costs must go up to support your workforce with livable wages and benefits, the higher your costs the less attractive your product or services to the average consumer. Our federal government has failed miserably to keep manufacturing here in this country and offer incentives to bring them back home. I work for a tiny company and can vouch for the fact that the smaller your company is your taxes go through the roof, and health care benefits and insurance rates among everything else are a tough pill to swallow.The article is a valid one for sure but this is a prickly topic to tackle.

  • happy bill says:

    I just bought a wolftooth chainring. Yes im a shop employee and get fantastic deals, but i wanted to help out a new company and i have happy to pay full retail for the chainring.

    We all get further if we all help each other out a bit.

    Bill

  • jm_lh says:

    as a European though, I prefer European made. But what counts most, is that I have whatever is best at the price-point I can afford. And if an American product comes out on top, I will surely buy it.

  • Chris M says:

    I have a Lynskey with CK hubs, CK headset and Thomson cockpit. Most everything else there’s no choice but asian made.

    I feel that the quality of CK and Thomson exceeds most imports so I am good with the premium prices. That said, not everyone can afford premium brands and there will always be a strong market for “lesser” quality imports.

  • rain says:

    Regardless of what I choose to buy, I’ve no interest in telling others it’s my way or the highway. Yes, there is still cutting edge manufacturing taking place in the US but since I’m never in the market for high tech weaponry most of my bike stuff happens to be made elsewhere here on earth.

  • Rick says:

    You should reearch flag protocol…it is disrespecting our flag by wearing it.

  • Raymond says:

    Do we want our kids to be factory workers or unemployed? To the guy ^^^. All you guys do is gripe that foreigners are taking our jobs but are to prideful to work them anyways. Engineers are going the way of the factory workers too as we fill these spots with overseas brains. It’s too bad when you adopt the lifestyle that involves cheaper by all means, even when it ruins our own economy while making other nations richer. Mcdonalds is cheaper than buying and making your own food, maybe you should eat there allday. Sometimes you have to pay for quality. thats why i wont buy cheap unbranded chinese frames off ebay. Buy american, even better buy local as long as the quality is there. Thompson, Enve, Ck, Paul. I don’t buy only american, and not always high quality in every aspect of my commerce, but I do when it’s worthwhile, and when I can. And when I don’t I always wish I did.

  • Tim says:

    If I hear one more of you hippie idiots telling me to buy American I’m gonna snap. Its called free trade and it makes each of our lives much, much better. I dont know about you but I’m glad I dont live in a nation that produces the worlds useless crap. I like breathing clean air and having an abundance of non-factory jobs available to me. If another place can do the same quality work for cheaper, then by golly they should be doing it. I dont know about you but I enjoy riding on my American designed, Chinese built 2007 Specialized singlespeed hardtail 26er. Get on my level or get outta my face.

  • Bob says:

    “Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.”
    - Albert Einstein

  • RussS says:

    Just need to look at how bad our economy is. While I blame the manufacturers to some extent for taking manufacturing off-shore, in some ways I can not blame them. Take the US auto industry for example – guys doing menial tasks were/are being paid far in excess of what that task was truly worth. I know a lot of people at different levels in the auto industry and also in the IT industry and if certain unions exercised just a little restraint in the way they operated we would still have thriving industry in both areas.
    I could rattle on at length, but will just say that Angry has made some valid points and if we want our industry to survive we do need to support them. Sure we can’t but everything locally made, but even if we only buy the occassional product where in the past we purchased everything imported we are doing something.

  • Deity says:

    I’m british, I like some british made parts and british made bikes. I like some american made parts and american made bikes, same for canada and probably other western countries I’ve not even realised.

    I also like well made products with high quality as well as good value.

    As a result I’m impartial (I believe) as to where a product is made as long as the manufacturing is sound. For example, Giant is a Taiwanese company, they make good bikes that are of high quality. (I’m not suggesting nobody has ever had an issue with them, but overall this is broadly true.) As a result I’m more likely to buy a giant than an Orange or an Intense because I’ve had first hand experience of them being manufactured poorly (more so than giant, and I’ve dealt with more giants).

    Take hope for example, I’ve used hope brakes in the past, but I’ve swapped to shimano because they’ve been more reliable for me.

    The best thing in my opinion is to support the manufacturers that do a good job, regardless of where they’re made, rather than buying dodgy knock off products from ebay that may have fallen off the back of a lorry or are cheap (and possibly dangerous) copies. Nobody wants a carbon seatpost in their arse.

    This will encourage all companies to focus on the build quality and sound/innovative design of their products, rather than just relying on blind national pride.

    If a product is made as well (or maybe even better) overseas for less then it means companies can either make larger profits to reinvest into R&D or they can pass the savings onto the consumer. Either way, the consumer benefits.

    Lastly on a side note; “USA USA USA” is the most moronic chant in the history of mankind, please do your country a favour and never chant it, you make americans look like inbred imbeciles. Have some pride and dignity as country like the United States should have.

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