Call it re-inventing the frame — if not the wheel.
U.S. bicycle makers took a decidedly modern tact in moving to frames made of carbon fiber — the same super-lightweight material used in the manufacturing of Boeing’sDreamliner — but that also required a dramatic adjustment in sourcing and production.
Because the U.S. lacks major facilities for carbon fiber, production of high-end bike frames was moved overseas.
“Except for niche brands, which account for only a few hundred bicycles a year, virtually all composite bikes are made in Asia,” says Andrew Juskaitis, global product marketing manager for Giant Bicycles. He cites labor costs, “which in America are simply too high,” as the reason for this change.
Carbon fiber is a process that requires a lot of work to be done by hand,” explains Juskaitis. “Not only is the raw material very expensive, but there is an immense amount of labor that goes into these frames.”