01 December, 2008

Porteur Racks and Offshore Bags


A lot of folks have been waiting for the next shipment of Porteur racks. They are here! Rails too. Last time they sold out in a week.

On another subject, I saw an interesting statement on another blog about canvas and leather bike bags. The author said that it was easy to get such bags made in China and that that was somehow bad. I don't know about China specifically, since Velo Orange does not have any bags made in China and has never even investigated it. But I imagine the design work involved and the material sourcing and the quality control is just as hard as in any other country.

What really bothered me about this is the implication that providing more economical cycling products is a bad thing. Not everyone can afford expensive gear, like our American-made VO Porteur rack. There is a great need for good quality classic cycling gear at affordable prices no matter where it's made. The elitist attitude that good quality gear can only be made in Western Europe or the US or, perhaps, Japan, has always bugged me. I often see products from Taiwan that are better made than their US or European counterparts. What is actually easier is getting stuff made when price is no object.

70 comments:

Anonymous said...

"...the implication that providing more economical cycling products is a bad thing." I guess that is one way to read it. Or perhaps the author was hinting at a preferrence not to source goods in China, despite the perceived "value".

john

Chris Kulczycki said...

Anon, The problem with that view is that China is not just a sea of huge nameless sweat shops and factories. As in every country, there are plenty of smaller shops who's owners care about their workers and about quality. To write them off simply because you've read bad things about low-ball factories that make stuff for Old Navy, or Coach, or some other chain is very unfair.

The reason we don't make bags in China is not because I'm categorically against having stuff made there, it's because I don't have the contacts there to find a really good small shop that could make them.

Anonymous said...

I prefer not to purchase things made in China...for a number of reasons.

patates frites said...

CK,
Are the racks in this shipment originals, or are they the new pre-drilled design you promised would be coming down the pike?

Anonymous said...

Millions of childrens' toys produced with lead paint and pet food made with contaminated wheat gluten suggest there are legitimate safety concerns with products coming out of China. I assume someone is looking out to see VO bags are safe for carrying food items. Product safety comes at a cost. Who checks Chinese bike bags? The same people who passed on the toys?

Chris Kulczycki said...

These are not drilled.

Hal said...

Anon,

VO Bags are not made in China. Please read Chris's posts before you respond to them.

hal.

Anonymous said...

Hal,

Who said VO bags are made in China?

Please read the posts before you respond to them.

Anon

Anonymous said...

Not to turn this into a peeing contest, but I also do not want anything sourced in China for a multiple of reasons. I do whole-heartedly applaud, and appreciate Chris' efforts on this equipment but just would like it made here.

Anonymous said...

Not to mention the green impact of flying back and forth overseas, shipping etc., and the fact that they don't yet seem to yet have any environmental concerns. And they thought we were the unbridled capitalists.

david_nj said...

Speaking of bags, wherever they're made, it would be nice to have a plain black front rack bag. Just plain black canvas or something. My Berthoud bag looks pretty foppish, and that just ain't right.

Tom said...

Where would you prefer the bags to be made with a retail price of $350?

What working conditions to you demand from the factories for that price? The ability to form a union? If we are going to talk generalities, China is better unionized than the US, and there are plenty of poorly maintained factories in the US. Even in your city. It doesn't take much to find them either.

Would piece working at their homes be acceptable?

Where should the raw materials be sourced from? And what should those materials be?

jimmythefly said...

HA! There are legitimate safety concerns with products coming out of any country. There are at least two from the USA in the first ten on the recall list from November alone:

http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prerelnov08.html

I don't have the time to investigate every single product I buy, so using country of manufacture can sometimes be a great shortcut for helping make a consumer choice. In that same way I sometimes use who the retailer is as a shortcut, trusting certain retailers to make good choices for me, regardless of country of manufacture.

Hal said...

Ah, Internet trolls. Not posting much anymore, I forget they are still around. My apologies for disturbing them.

FWIW, Minnehaha and Acorn seem to have reasonably priced, made-in-America bags, canvas bags for those who prefer to buy American. I do not own one of their bags, so I cannot comment on their quality.

I personally support Chris and his efforts to provide good quality, relatively inexpensive cycling products.

Cheers,

hal.

Anonymous said...

Trolls? So when someone brings logic into a discussion, out comes the name calling. This is what gives us progressives a bad rap.
I fully support Chris and his efforts (I say again). If a product was a bit more and made here that's great. If it's all about self-interest, then think about how much you'll save in taxes in the long-run by keeping jobs/work/profit over here. Or just remove all E.P.A. restrictions, liveable wages etc from the equation.
There are bigger interests here than riding our little bikes down the road (though not nearly as fun!)

Anonymous said...

It appears to me that this thread of discussion could prove helpful and informative. I wish I had the skills to expand on why I think so, but lacking that, I would just like to lodge one opinion towards acceptance of goods regardless of country. This is because I value the folks in those countries as much as I value folks in other countries, and can't muster thinking that some, as a nation, are better or worse than others (though I certainly am not free of prejudice).

j.p. in denver

Anonymous said...

Chris, I don't have the time to once again argue the same old points with the same old people with too much free time, but please know that you're not alienating your entire customer base by being willing to source things from China in a responsible fashion.

johnson said...

Wow, VO and Rivendell just can't get along. Too bad. Maybe they should sorta leave each other alone rather than causing a row over personal preference.

I think that, even though VO and Riv are swinging at similar balls, they are not the same ball.

Let's examine the actual quote:

"In two weeks we'll have a new Nigel Smythe bag...the familiar features of other Nigel Smythe saddlebags----the quick-release buckles, the Scottish dry-hand duck fabric that's also used for Range Rover covers, the neat-as-a-button stitching, and the perfectly matching leather, from thick strap to thin trim (which you may take for granted, but is actually nearly seemingly impossible outside of the United Kingdom)... Price undetermined, but it won't be cheap. Cheap is easy. I get emails every other week or so from Chinese makers who have learned that we sell cottony and leathery bags, and they can make them for us really good and cheap.


I dont think rivendell is against affordable bike gear. but they are against not getting the details perfect. sometimes that perfection might involve a zip tie for a fender mount, but: it is their vision of perfection. there are plenty of great reasons to deal with an english bag maker: england is the home of tweed and waxed cotton, the home of traditional bag makers and clothiers, there is no language barrier, thus making at least part of the design and sourcing logistics easier.

implying that riv is against affordability is also misguided. they make minimal margins on most things, the MUSA line of clothing is way below retail margin standards, the quickbeam was way too cheap for how much bike it was, and even the japanese frames are sold at super low margins. this, combined with their efforts with the bleroit taiwanese frame, and the two upcoming Taiwanese frames, position them in a strong 'affordable' cycling position. let's not forget that riv also only sells SKS fenders (enshewing the more expensive and prettier honjo on the basis of function and cost), pushes wald baskets (made in america and only 20 dollars) and so on.

course, if chris wasnt writing about rivendell, then i take it all back, and then some.

i like vo, but, darn it, i love rivendell, and they made a whole lotta what we do possible and approachable in more ways than i care to list.

end of diatribe.

Anonymous said...

I fully agree. with this guy. It's kind of a cheap shot of spin at riv bikes. I buy things made here not because I hate China, but because I love my neighbor and believe that supporting him or her will benefit the community and believe that they might enjoy there jobs more making things they believe in and for people that the share a kin ship with. Like eating locally. Think Locally act neighborly. Support the artisans that are vanishing here.
And I've never made $20'000 a year in my life. Elitist?

Anonymous said...

FWIW, Minnehaha and Acorn seem to have reasonably priced, made-in-America bags, canvas bags for those who prefer to buy American. I do not own one of their bags, so I cannot comment on their quality

Not for any other reason than to set the record straight -- for the commenter who was under the impression our bags are made in the US, they are not. Our bags are made in Southern China.

Like others, there's a lot of admiration by our company for the work being done by the sponsor of this blog.

Cheers,

Mike V.
Minnehaha Bags/Banjo Brothers

Anonymous said...

To Anon 15:20, you're going to have to throw 90% of what's in your house because it's Made in China. Or you just might be Bill Gates: rich enough to afford non-Chinese goods.

johnson said...

you can be not super rich or even mildly poor like i am and avoid buying alot of chinese goods, if thats your thing (no judgement there, just sayin'). goodwill for clothing, or archival vendors like filson... i mean, i dont wanna turn THAT into a whole thing, but it can be done, and on a budget too. more effort than most wanna put into it though...

i am not responding for anon, but rather as a general rejoiner.

Anonymous said...

can o worms.

michael white

Anonymous said...

So where are the Velo Orange bags made, anyway? Not asking to stir up trouble, but I'm curious and I don't see it mentioned anywhere.

hey dude said...

This is an interesting blog... not long ago everyone was railing against Chris King products[which ARE made in good ol' America], because the lettering is too big and that some how equated to being capitialistic!! Now I'm reading a thread of comments that implies China is a wholly irresponsible country because of a few highly publicized incidents. Your comments are dripping with hatred. I think you need to spend more time riding your bike and getting some fresh air!

Anonymous said...

Chris and Grant should kiss and make up or ignore each other completely. Most of us admire both companies. This post, the nitpicking and drawing of battle lines isn't helpful to either business and certainly not to cyclists at large.

Ian Dickson said...

so, uh, those porteur racks look really nice...

biketheak said...

this is rather an incendiary topic in our current economic situation. i cant imagine that any bags made in china are "unsafe" or that the craftsmanship is anything short of stellar. the key to my wallet though is in the place that my money will get spent.
i try to support the local economy,
i will spend a little bit more if i know that my money is in turn spent locally. and keep in mind the carbon footprint of a product that could easily be manufactured nearish.

Anonymous said...

The rivendell comment struck a nerve eh? I don't think Grant was being an elitist, I am sure he doesn't source products from China for many ethical reasons(lack of pollution control, working standards,quality control issues, green impact of shipping or flying product across the world). Come on people when are you going to wake up and smell the roses, or should I say nuclear missles? Over half of the factories in China are owned by thr Chinese military, look it up if you do not believe me. I don't think you should compare Tiawan to China when it comes to quality of goods. Tiawan has better working conditions, fair wages, and modern machinery, and some pollution regulations. The average bicycle frame welder inChina makes about $4 a day, the average frame welder in Tiawan makes $14 an hour. The truth can be upsetting to people who don't want to face reality. The best way to vote is with your dollar, so let your conscience decide.

Telford said...

I'm loving my Porteur rack (picked it up from the last shipment). Quality is excellent and the rack is far less expensive than most I've seen (e.g. ANT) and STAINLESS. Highly recommended.

On the other subject...so it's only cool if I hang the Euro-Americano bags from my French bars or Japanese made Nitto seatpost? If we were talking locally crafted options then I could see an argument, but there really aren't many of those around are there? I don't see much difference once you go beyond the shores of the good 'ol US of A. Outsourcing is outsourcing (sans child labor of course). Want some US made, hand sewn bags? Check out Eric up at Epic designs in Alaska...

http://epicdesigns-ak.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Even Patagonia, one of the most socially responsible companies in the world, sources in China. They just take the time to find the good factories.

There is the big picture too. Either we trade with other countries and they eventually become friends, or we boycott them and make them enemies.

Tom said...

Wald makes seatposts and handlebars and fenders in the US.
Anyone feel like a $2 zinc plated steel post is completely appropriate and desirable on a Velo Orange Randonneur or a Richard Sachs?

Anonymous said...

No, but them baskets sure are handy!

Anonymous said...

First off, I am surprised at how uninterested I am at this general topic. It is so totally out of character for me, I should probably go to the doctor or something.
Second, I will say as a however to the first point, I do not remember ever hearing about any acrimony between Chris and Grant. They serve two distinct, if overlapping, niche markets, and from all accounts, seem to be two individuals of character and goodwill..
Third, if shopping locally was REALLY important to those who say it is, anyone who is not a citizen of Annapolis would be precluded from this discussion--VO being an online retailer, and what with every single one of us typing their comments on a computer made in China.
And lastly, we are not talking local agriculture here--nobody NEEDS anything from VO. It is a retailer of luxury bicycle parts (even if lots of it is affordable luxury). It is all lovely stuff, and I own some of it, but claiming it is anything other that playing on romantic fantasies about Proper Cycling ought to be is disengenuous. Likewise for Riv. If you are so worried about propping up evil regimes, enroll in a shop class and make a rack yourself, and find a sewing machine and make your own bags.
M Burdge

Chris Kulczycki said...

Just to be clear, there is absolutely no acrimony between Chris and Grant. We talk occasionally, though we don't always agree. But then disagreement is a good thing. In fact I like nothing more than a bit of good honest intellectual disagreement, so long as it's not personal or mean spirited.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Chris for adding some sense to this discussion. I actually went to the riv site to witness their part of these "cheap shots". I supposed if you tilt your head and certain way and squint your eyes enough, you can sorta kinda read it between the lines.

Anonymous said...

rivendell does source stuff in china:
the PP water bottles, which are the best new cycling product of this decade in my opinion.

i do like to know were stuff is made,
and was kinda disturbed that an assumption in the comments section that VO saddles are made in the US was left uncorrected (if they are from Taiwan or elsewhere).

David said...

What a can of worms.

I'd also like a pretty plain-jane bag for porting on a porteur rack. If anyone's reading, basically a messenger bag with straps on the bottom. Hey-this jsut occured to me-some R E Load bags have straps on the bottom. They call'em compression straps, but...

Tex said...

Ah, the China Problem. It is no secret that Grant prefers not to deal with China. He has his reasons, and I respect that. He's a great guy who has done wonders for the bike universe. Chris is a great guy who has no problem with sourcing things in China, so long as the things are made responsibly and well. It just could be that both positions are necessary for improvement in working conditions in China. Chris and people like him will engage the Chinese manufacturers on certain terms, which helps, and the Grants of the west provide some leverage.

Chinese people are like everyone else; just people. Maybe China is a country full of good people who happen to have a lousy and corrupt government, but I'm not feeling like throwing any stones in that direction.

Thanks, M Burdge, for helping to keep this all in perspective.

India Ink said...

Chris,

To answer your post directly, I think outsourcing is irresponsible. We have a colossol trade deficit with the entire world. At the going rate, we’ll be in such dire straits that even "cheap chic" will be too expensive for all of us.

Why not source your stuff here? A country like America has a rich heritage of manufacturing and ingenuity. Certainly, there's somone out there that can produce the items you want to sell (at a competitive price).

Also, if you want respect from your peers, you've got to start playing fair. Copying everyone else and not offering originality is a bit self-centered. Some examples:

1. You offer frames from Japan and Taiwan - just like Rivendell does.

2. You offer custom frames from American builders - just like Rivendell does.

3. You offer Berthoud knockoffs.

4. You offer Brooks saddle and bar-tape knockoffs.

5. You offer Nitto seatpost knockoffs.

6. You offer Honjo fender knockoffs.

Address these items, and you’ll be well admired.

patates frites said...

I disagree with the "knockoff" idea. I don't see these products as knockoffs, but VO's own improved versions. None of the products CK has made is exactly like the ones you mention. CK looks at some good classic products and makes similar ones that include well-thought changes and improvements. That's the way it works in all industries, whether we're talking about cars, motorcycles or microwave ovens.

Chris Kulczycki said...

India Ink,

There is nothing wrong with frames from Japan, Taiwan, or America. I've always said this. None are knockoffs. They all evolved from old European frames. But our frame geometry is nothing like Riv's. So far all our frames have been made in the USA, though that will change.

Berthoud bags are evolutions of earlier French bags. Berthoud did not design most of those bags and neither did I. No secret there. There were bags like this before Giles or I were born.

Our saddles are evolutions of Ideale, or any number of the other saddle companies. Brooks is one of dozens of companies that have made leather saddles over the years. And Brooks was not even close to being the first leather bar tape manufacturer.

Nitto seat posts are evolutions of Campy and other seat posts. Some are straight knockoffs of early Campy post. The VO seat post has little in common with the Nitto other than having 2 bolts.

Honjo fenders are reproductions of French fenders that have been made since before WW2. They are true and exact knockoffs, which I think is fantastic. Our fenders are not.

As for sourcing in the US, there are no companies that can make most of these items at prices that are even close to competitive and half the time the quality from US companies sucks. Sorry, but the really nice US-made frames and parts that we do source are the exception.

I will tolerate the occasional troll, but only those who know what they are talking about. Please don't comment here again.

jimmythefly said...

IndiaInk: Wow! That was a 10/10 troll, well written, incindeiary without looking like you're trying, factoids tenuously connected. I'll respond anyhows.

VO is only responsible to itself and it's mission/beliefs.

If you're looking to lay responsibility or blame for the trade deficit, lay it on those who've created the situation where it is in VO's best interests to source from overseas.

America still has plenty of ingenuity, it just may not be in raw manufacturing. Plenty of our companies are doing just fine right now, search in the tech/biomedical fields.

PS Knock-offs? Really? I see it as offering time-tested designs that were previously unavailable, or only available at a different price. I see it as a commitment to good design over showy unnecessary gimmickry (what passes for "originality" among many manufacturers).

Anonymous said...

You know ... when YOU all own and run companies that require products to be designed, developed, and manufactured, then possibly you might have the right to criticize others who do the same. Even then, do YOU really have the authority and expertise to know what price range VO's customers are willing to spend for a new product "X"?

Everyone's an "expert", right? Let me tell you, it isn't easy to do what VO and Rivendell do. If you think it is, then you should try it sometime. Chris has a very good idea what his customers will pay for a given product, and when he's not sure, he asks. Based on that information, he works very hard to get the very best product made that he can sell to the people who want it at the price they're willing to spend. That might mean making it in the US, it might mean making it elsewhere. Do you really think he'd have something made cheaper if we're all willing to pay more? Not likely, since it's obvious he wants to sell products he's proud of, and ones he knows you'll be proud to put on your bike.

If you don't like where something is made, or by whom, don't buy it. Go somewhere else or make your own.

And instead of throwing jabs at people like VO and Rivendell, how about simply saying "thank you" for all of the products they make and sell that make your rides more enjoyable?

Thanks to Chris and the VO Team!!

blando said...

The problem with Chinese made goods for me is twofold - first being that you generally don't know what kind of conditions the products are being made in (or whether they're being made by children, or prisoners, or what) and second being that even if they are being made in a living wage shop, living wage in China is well below that in most other countries. That's why I find, for example, Rapha's selling Chinese-made jackets for $250 to be kind of galling - I have no problem paying more money for things that are made well and made ethically, but when it's safe to say that the people who made the product are getting less than a hundredth of the retail price, something's wrong.
Also, although it may be one of those intangible things, there's something about giving money to a country where the workers are not able to elect their leaders. All things being equal, I would feel much better about buying something made in Pakistan or India than I would in China or Vietnam.
Chris, I think you've done a great job providing good products at prices that those of modest incomes can afford. But at the same time, the average VO customer is cycling because it's a hobby, not for necessity. If I need to get a razor or an appliance or whatever, I may need to buy something made in China; I accept that comes with being part of the global marketplace. However, I would rather pay more for something made in a democracy than have my recreational purchasing be subject to the same tradeoffs as my other purchases. More emotional than logical, surely, but if cyclists weren't passionate about this kind of stuff, we'd all be riding stock bikes and wearing lycra instead of wool!

Anonymous said...

"If I need to get a razor or an appliance or whatever, I may need to buy something made in China; I accept that comes with being part of the global marketplace. However, I would rather pay more for something made in a democracy than have my recreational purchasing be subject to the same tradeoffs as my other purchases. "

ok. so here are some interesting ideas, which I unfortunately don't follow. The first is the necessity/recreational purchases. are you saying that when you buy Chinese, it's always because you have to? Can you not find an antique straight razor forged of English steel, which you can strop on a good English hide? In what way do you find it more moral to make certain that your nonessential luxury items are produced in a country that gives you the warm fuzzies? The second suppostion here is equally curious to me. Ok, so we hear you, that you would rather blow all your excess cash on a nice socially-approved democracy. So what would be wrong with simply doing what you believe, rather than argue over somebody else's business practices. Hey, is anyone forcing you to buy cartridge pedals from Taiwan? Is anyone here suggesting you should be barred from riding on morally superior Japanese ball bearings? I don't think so. Unfortunately your post is only about the hundredth similar sanctimonious declaration. Hey, why not just spend your money the way you feel is correct and let others do the same--any problem with that?

here's a signature:
Michael White

Tom said...

all the acrimony about Chinese products were also thrown at Japanese products for years. Now anything made in Japan is perfectly acceptable. Then it was Taiwans turn.
What would make it acceptable? what do you want to see in the way of audits?

johnson said...

personally, i think that companies interested in human and environmental rights should personally investigate working conditions, factories, wages, environmental impacts. i know patagonia does this, to the extent that it has joined and participates in the fair labor association which conducts independant auditing of factory conditions. if you cant go yourself, perhaps having someone else check it out is the next best thing.

check out the lengthy PDF by googling 'patagona social responsability PDF.' they talk about pit falls and preventatives steps, amongst other things.

it seems like there are quite a few ways to look into monitoring things from afar. i'm not saying do any or all, that is your choice. i am saying the resources to check them out are readily availible.

blando said...

Michael,
"are you saying that when you buy Chinese, it's always because you have to? Can you not find an antique straight razor forged of English steel, which you can strop on a good English hide?"

There are many, many products where you cannot find a non-Chinese made example easily. If there is a non-Chinese alternative, I will generally choose that. The issue here is choice - there are few areas where you actually have the ability to choose a product made in a way that matches your ethics, and I would like to keep these options open rather than having everything based on the cheapest production costs available.

"The second suppostion here is equally curious to me. Ok, so we hear you, that you would rather blow all your excess cash on a nice socially-approved democracy. So what would be wrong with simply doing what you believe, rather than argue over somebody else's business practices. "

Since you apparently believe that things like individual liberty, transparent government and human rights can be summed up as 'warm fuzzies' from a 'socially-approved democracy', this is probably going to be one of those "agree to disagree" situations, since I personally think those are pretty important things even if the people in question live halfway around the world. However, I don't see how I'm arguing over VO or anyone's business practices. I like how VO (and Riv, and a number of the places I regularly order from) makes clear the country of origin of their products, which allows me to choose to buy things that match my personal priorities. I just like having choices, and would like to continue to have choices in the future.

Sorry for being 'sanctimonious' but I've always thought the purpose of comment pages was to, well, comment.

Anonymous said...

its not about the quality of the product, but who makes it and the wage they are being paid, which is not to imply you are sourcing sweat labor of any kind however this direction of thought is completely unacknowledged in your post.

For example I cannot afford to buy your porteur rack, that is a luxury though and I would rather wait to the point that I can afford it then expect you to source it somewhere else where people may not be getting paid what they are worth.

-GS

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that the poor folks in China who make so little still deserve to earn a living. I don't mind giving them a few bucks. Heck, they need it more than American workers do. We drive big SUVs to union meetings. Most of them walk and risk arrest for even going.

Anonymous said...

"Since you apparently believe that things like individual liberty, transparent government and human rights can be summed up as 'warm fuzzies' from a 'socially-approved democracy', this is probably going to be one of those "agree to disagree" situations, since I personally think those are pretty important things even if the people in question live halfway around the world."

hi. Once again I find your position unreponsive to any rational instrument at my disposal. (Please feel free to see humor in my expressions.) When I used the term "warm fuzzies" that was a slightly mocking term directed at your preference for certain economies. Surely there are problematic situations, but they often have little to do with national borders, a point that has been made above. Some might see America as a safe democracy, a "good" place to spend your cycling dollar; the quality and integrity of bikes made here (especially brands like Cannondale and Merlin) is quite well respected in Europe, for instance, where Asian-sourced bikes rule, just as they do here. (Those brands probably have more cachet in Europe than here.) But to someone else, buying American might mean something entirely different, like supporting the world's greatest exporter of war, for instance. Or the world's most wasteful energy sinkhole. Which stance is correct?

I would not choose to be oblivous to the moral or political consequences of consumerism. However, it's not as simple as some posters here make it out to be, and an ambitious company with an international vision, like VO, is probably going to challenge sensibilities in this market. If a new or newish corner can be developed while maintaining one's own brand integrity, if products that make sense to actual cyclists and help get a few cars off the streets can be brought out that not only attract lifer cyclists, but get made and bought in quantities--that still might not justify the enterprise to everyone, but it might help to be pragmatic about it.

michael white

Anonymous said...

Just throwing my hat in the ring as another person unwilling to support China-made goods.

1.) Make it
2.) Find it used
3.) Fint it union
4.) Find it local
5.) Find it domestic
6.) Find it first-world
7.) Get it from China/Forget about it/See #1.

In America, you vote with your dollars. Every. Single. Time.

johnson said...

according to the excellent book 'multitude' by hardt and negri, every action against the supranation economic empire that surrounds us is a strike against the heart of said empire. the empire is like an ether, a shapeless entity that is everywhere at once. chosing to opt out of this entity or act actively against it serves the same end: the weakening of empire. empire of course is in the interest of a strengthened empire. the multitude, ie you and me, do not factor in except as nessesary cogs that need to be oiled and functional, but not nessesarily happy. woah, where am i going with this?

geez, just look it up.

patates frites said...

Man, I bet there aren't many bike shops out there where you inquire about a rack and a handlebar bag and end up in a lively discussion about world politics, socio-economic issues, ethics, etc.

This may be...the most interesting bike shop in the world. I don't drink much beer when I ride, but when I do, I drink Dos Equis XX. Stay thirsty, my friends!

erik said...

I want a straight and thorough answer from VO regarding worker conditions in the factories that produce their goods.

I am frankly very disturbed that any discussion of wages paid, sweat shop conditions, and workers rights (all of which are most often appaling in China) was left out of the commentary.

Are such concerns simply not on the radar for this company?

It's very problematic.

Anonymous said...

Eric, These products are NOT made China. Didn't you read the post and comments?

Tom said...

After reading the Patagonia Social Corporate Responsibility white paper, ( http://www.patagonia.com/pdf/en_US/social_response2.pdf ). I am confident that all of our suppliers- including our domestic US sources- are in compliance with that document.

Have you stepped foot inside a manufacturing facility here or outside of the US? Or is this just an academic exercise for you?
The Taiwanese have it better than we do in Made-in-the USA: http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/economies/Asia-and-the-Pacific/Taiwan-WORKING-CONDITIONS.html

Although I may question your motives, I do take your demands seriously.

And to restate what has been stated over and over again, we do not source product from China, but we are not unreceptive to the idea in principle.

johnson said...

who are you asking re: the academic exercise? if we only participate in pragmatic ie non-hypothetic retoric, we are stuck without vision and experimentation...

Ian Dickson said...

Johnson, it should be obvious from context that Tom at 16:38 is replying directly to Erik at 14:58.

Anonymous said...

there are a lot of big words here.

erik said...

For what it's worth, I have been inside factories in central america--all of which were atrocious. Usually visiting such places is near impossible due to tight restrictions in order to prevent bad press, but over the course of several weeks in El Salvador i was able to access two clothing plants.

I was not a fan. That, and especially the stories I have witnessed in the lives of the workers engaged in these forms of production, haunt me.

My original post never stated you source from China, however I am worried most by the practices which go entirely unregulated in countries such as those (El Salvador at least has nominal protections that are easily circumvented--I can't imagine what occurs when the run for the bottom dollar takes precendence).

I would whole-heartedly commend and endorse anything you did as a company to audit your factories. I know Surly did something of this a while back with their facilities in Taiwan, and such efforts do make a big difference--if only in setting a precedent for the importance of respecting those who do not necessarily have a voice in the process of production.

Best Regards,

Anonymous said...

You know, this whole discussion may be rendered moot, with 533,000 people losing their jobs in November and all. Who's going to have enough money, or even think about buying luxury cycling goods at this time? CK's customer base may be limited to the very wealthy for some time to come...

Chris Kulczycki said...

Anon, I am worried about that too, but our business continues to grow, even over these past few weeks.

Tom said...

erik:
I just wrote out a beautiful piece, discussing your points, surly, working conditions, etc. Blogger hiccuped and it's lost.

Once my disappointment subsides, I'll try to remember what I wrote.

best,

tom

va home loans said...
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Cottered Crank said...

I can always tell when I have been spending too much time reading the various bike lists on the web. I've been following the silliness about the VO rack in various places, and for what it's worth, I am sure the VO porter rack is the "proper" design. *Sniff.*

Ask any reasonably competent carpenter about cantilevering a deck on the side of a house, and you will get an intelligent discussion of the same physics involved here. The VO rack looks way better than the ones with the struts all the way out to the sides. I figure I'll eventually buy a VO porteur rack, but would not consider one of the other contraptions, even if it came on a custom frame.

Tex69 said...

Tom's "all the acrimony about Chinese products were also thrown at Japanese products for years..." is rather fallacious. China's economy is a bizarre stew of ultra-capitalism and an authoritarian regime hellbent on breaking every rule of decency for another scrap of the almighty dollar/yuan. People don't want to buy Chinese not b/c they're inherently Asian but b/c their gov't has such a rotten reputation. Back in the day, Japanese products were scandalized b/c their gov't had previously gone to war with ours, not because they treated their workers, their product or their environment so poorly.

As for VO, more power to you for filling a valuable niche, but best do it as cleanly as possible. Otherwise you're another Pacific/GT/Giant/etc.

Anonymous said...

Hi Greg Hefford here:

I have a pair of red wing boots that I always wear cycling. I tried to buy another pair and was informed me that they were made in china and therefore not as high in quality as they used to be.

There is obviously a pervasive view that "made in china" is a stamp of low quality and damn those cheap ass chinese.

All I can think is- doesn't red wing shoes or any other company, take responsibility for ensuring that the degree of quality they want associated with their product is upheld? surely a parent company creates guidelines and standards that they pay for in manufacturing..

Perhaps some companies are letting shit roll downhill in their attempt to save money / survive. Perhaps they don't mind letting the public blame another country and people rather than taking it themselves?

Anonymous said...

Hi Greg again.
I forgot to mention that I went on a mission to buy the porteur rack here in toronto. It would work so well on my 73 raleigh competition with velo orange's monmartre handle bar. the rise of the bars and the second level of the porteur creates perfect lines on my bike.
But it was $220 cdn?! far too expensive.