Jobs Off-Shore = Innovation Off-Shore

With the next few posts, I am going to wax philosophical on the very real issue of Americans losing jobs to foreign countries and make a case for the fact that when we lose jobs, we also lose our edge on bicycle innovation. To clarify, many of you may believe that when I say the word innovation, I mean something mechanically different than what came before. That is a valid argument. However, innovation, to me, can mean a different type of paint job, structural configuration, new rim styles, or just something that produces an emotional response that wasn't present before. I have commented on several occasions about my belief that the brand 'Next', produced by Pacific Cycles and sold at Wal-Mart are uninspiring, cheap and basically a piece of junk. I still hold that opinion. Even those bicycles can be reworked to a point that they do produce an emotional response and a need to own by the buying public.

Before I go any further note: I AM NOT SAYING THESE BIKES ARE THE FUNK!

I have posted several pictures that I came across during the research phase of my project for your review. I can't honestly say that they made me 'Freak Out' but they are very nice and different type of designs. The mountain bike in the top right hand corner has a very eye catching paint job, loud attention getting tires and the seat ties in nicely with the over all color scheme. The Design directly below this paragraph is sure to get the attention of any browser looking for something that is different and eye catching. The description says it is a Mountain Bike and my initial thought was "This doesn't look like a Mountain Bike". After further consideration I recanted my statement and thought "Who am I to say what a Mountain Bike should look like." Yes, me! Now if I am on the search for funk and innovation and I thought like that, what are people who design bikes and are in the business thinking?

Anyone can tell a company's overall thought process by the products they produce. A company's culture is determined by those in charge. 4 of the last 5 designs I have seen that emotionally move me have been produced by foreign companies. More about this in my next posting. Back to the title of this post. With the loss of jobs, comes the loss of inspiring thought to produce innovative products in any particular field. The bicycle industry was HUGE in this country during the hey-day of American Cycle Racing in the late 19th century. Bicycle factories where popping up all over the East Coast and HOOOTTT products soon followed. Innovations such as the 'Chain less Bicycle' which was developed specifically for Marshall 'Major' Taylor to smash all velodrome speed records came along.

We went from the old school 'High Wheel' Bicycles to what came to be known as 'Safety Bicycles' which survive even to this day. The auto industry came along a few years later and the hey-day of American Bicycle Racing had passed. Racing was still popular in Europe and Australia during these years but the damage was done to the American Bicycle scene. I do not know if we can get back there and take over the bicycle innovation business, but what I do know is that the American bicycle design crowd (myself included) should really take a hard look at what we are doing and how we are doing it.

Whoever you are, email me and let's get a dialogue going on what we can do to bring the funk back into the marketplace. Sit back and enjoy these CHINESE designs for now. I will post again soon and continue this dialogue. My next post will be a stunner to most of you. It deals with the obesity in this country and unfortunately with the fact that we have become and indoor culture and how this has affected our ability to innovate with bicycles.


Post a Comment 2 comments:

spikedjuice said...

arent most bikes made in china brian d

December 11, 2007 at 11:35 AM

Brian D. said...


YES!The reason for this is that China produces products at a cost that no American company can compete with.They don't pay their workers a decent wage,since the country is communist, they don't have to worry about any huge labor movements that will push wages up so in effect, no U.S. company can do what they do at the price they do it.

The American stock market demands profitability for any company to provide what is known as 'Shareholder value'. It is a double edged sword so to speak. The average stock holder wants a dividend and the price of their stock to go up, this means cutting costs and in any business the biggest cost is 'Labor' and 'Product'.

The double edge sword I speak of is this. a majority of those same stock holders want their value to increase so companies have to go off-shore where labor is cheaper and ultimately, those stock holders ARE gaining stock value while at the same time losing their jobs because of off-shore movement. Figure that out.

December 11, 2007 at 11:44 AM

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