$300 on eBay: Your $4000 Frame

Jun 26 2009

If there’s a bike company that exemplifies everything I find ludicrous about the industry, it would be Kuota. From their rococo frame designs, paint jobs (or lack thereof), and high price tags, right down to the .it URL (even Campy isn’t that brand-obsessed), you’d be hard pressed to find a bike trying harder to draw attention away the shortcomings of its rider’s pe…personality.


Even worse, of course, was having to endure the masturbatory, scienceless prose of Charles Manantan at Pez every time he got set up with another bike (“…the vibration that does make it’s[sic] way up all the curves doesn’t get focused directly toward your butt via the seat tube, but rather skirts around it and goes to the top tube!”). His Kuota reviews always aroused particular ire in me, probably because I’m the sort of guy who enjoys spending a few minutes Googling things. Consider the following passage from his Khan review:

I don’t mean to get boring here, but I have to speak about the build quality. It is the logical result when the factory is an ISO 9002 approved facility. That means they have to live up to top flight standards not generally associated with the cycling industry.

ISO 9002, in case you’re wondering, has nothing to do with bikes. It’s a now-obsolete set of standards for running a quality management system. Here it is at a fish wholesaler in Japan. The China Bicycle Corporation, makers of this awesome ride and thousands more like it, is among this apparently select fraternity of manufacturers able to boast ISO 9000 certification as part of their press kit.


Anyway, I mention this because something interesting came up in eBay’s automatically generated “we think you’ll like” widget today. I don’t want (and shouldn’t have) to tell you it’s a Kuota Kredo—mostly because of the flood of “OMG weave angle is *totally* different” comments—but I will say that eBay is chock full of them, and at very reasonable prices, too.

So the next time a salesman, or some douchey Fred of a rider gets uppity about his bike, feel free to redirect him (they are almost invariably male) this post. Because while it’s especially satisfying to see a Kuota sold like this, the fact remains that this sort of thing happens to nearly every brand—and many end up back on the market, often wearing someone else’s paint.

By now, it should be common knowledge world’s bike frames are all produced in the same handful of East Asian factories—and for the most part, those factories do an awesome job. Certainly, outside the realm of custom-fit rigs from Serotta and Indy Fab, you will never notice the difference between the finest stuff Shenzhen churns out, and factory-built rides from Euro brands like Time.

If you’re in the market for a new rig, focus on fit, parts, cost, and service (in that order) and do your best to forget that any of that other stuff even exists.

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