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.
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 [email protected]. And make sure to check out Kurt’s previous columns.