Anyone who knows me is aware of my bike obsession. Riding and building them with an occasional race in mind is what I like to do. As the seasons change and fall arrives, I begin my yearly bike audit. This includes assessing the bikes that I have, and then determining what major service needs to be performed on them, as well as which bike I would like to replace. This year is no different, or so it seemed. With plans in the works to build a new tandem for my wife and me, along with the consideration of a full-suspension cross country bike, the possibility of building a snow bike and the desire to replace my 26-inch wheeled single speed mountain bike with a 29er version, all of these bikes have left me considering quite a few options with regards to components. Additionally, when I assemble a new bike it is often from the frame up. Rarely do I ever buy a complete bike. While I have nothing against complete bikes, I am pretty particular about the components.
Thus, fall is also a good time for me to start gathering parts since this is also the time that others are shedding parts. I should add that it has been years since I have worked in a bike shop, which afforded me the privilege of deep discounts. As I’ve found sometimes buying outside of a retailer can be necessary if the budget is limited and deals are needed to complete a project. The VeloSwap and other bike shows are full of goodies, as is the online world that includes eBay and Craiglist. However, a recent post on Full Speed Ahead’s (FSA) website might make me rethink my plans. The company isn’t cracking down on sale of used products, but instead is addressing a far more ominous menace.
It appears that an issue once thought to only plague large corporations including Apple, Oakley and Nike is now making its way to smaller brands as well – counterfeits. If you have bought anything through online auctions such as eBay, you are aware of how difficult it is to determine if a seller is legitimate. Along with the anxiety of waiting to see if a part for your bike even shows up, you might now have to worry if the item that you purchased is even authentic. Once an item is purchased from a non-retail sellers (meaning auctions, forums or even discount sites), there often is no warranty from the manufacturer. This is usually not an issue due to the substantial savings off of the suggested retail price; but if it is not even authentic, that can be a bigger issue – especially for your own safety. If a fake pair of Oakley glasses or Nike shoes fail, a major injury is not likely to occur; but if a fake FSA stem breaks while riding a downhill run at 30 miles per hour, death is possible. This is certainly not good.
(Video after the jump)
Italian video regarding a counterfeit bust
Since 2009, FSA has been aggressively fighting the issue of counterfeits. Along with the obvious safety concerns, these counterfeits also erode the FSA brand. FSA has actively pursued cases in Italy, China and Taiwan and are acutely aware that the issue needs to be stopped at the source. According to the company:
It came to the attention of Tien Hsin Industries Co., Ltd., the Taiwan-based manufacturer of FSA branded products, that certain bicycle retail stores in Taiwan were selling counterfeit FSA goods. Tien Hsin contracted private investigators who staked out the retailers, documented deliveries of counterfeit goods, followed the delivery trucks to the warehouses, and eventually to the manufacturers, and delivered complete documentation to Tien Hsin.
Armed with this evidence, Tien Hsin was able to engage the Taiwan police, and gain trademark infringement convictions in Taiwan court of the retailers, re-sellers, and manufacturers, through trademark infringement. The re-sellers and manufacturers either paid restitution, or were sentenced to time in jail for their illegal activities. Since that time, counterfeit copies of some FSA products have begun to find their way into the markets in Europe and the USA.
While FSA is addressing this issue, it appears to be a growing concern. With the statement posted on their website, they are making the public, manufacturers and unlicensed resellers aware that they are still actively pursuing these counterfeits. They are ‘firing a warning shot over the bow’ letting people know that the small amount of money that they may save buying or make by selling counterfeits might cost them dearly.
Full Speed Ahead is committed to pursuing and litigating any entity that knowingly or unknowingly sells, distributes, or manufacturers counterfeit goods which infringe our trademarks, designs, or patents to the full extent of the law.
The counterfeit issues that FSA is fighting will me think twice before making a purchase outside of an authorized reseller, especially for parts that could result in serious injury or death if they fail. It certainly will not stop me from checking out the VeloSwap or buying an item through eBay that I can verify is authentic, but it has made me more aware that the issue of counterfeits can plague even the smaller manufacturers. So before laying down your hard earned cash – buyer beware.