Have you ever wondered where your ebike is made? Maybe you’ve been told that all ebikes come from China. However, this statement is entirely untrue. It does come from an idea that is true - a LOT of the parts for bikes do come from China and many bikes are entirely "made" in China. Also, some of the necessary components on an ebike brand, such as the motors, battery cases, the controllers (CPUs), and display screens are primarily manufactured in China. So as a result, no matter where your ebike originates from, it is hard to avoid some of the parts coming from China. It is simply a reality in today's manufacturing world.
Beyond China - there are a significant number of bike brands and component suppliers spread throughout Asia, including Taiwan. Although some people will lump Taiwan in with China, they are totally different countries and of course operate differently. Many factories in both countries create excellent bike products and are the plants behind most of the North American and European brand names. Of course, here in the USA, China has been a military, political, and in many cases a trade enemy for generations, while Taiwan and other Asian countries have been our ally since WWII.
U.S. trade with China has grown enormously in recent decades and is significant for both countries. Today, the United States imports more from China than from any other country, and China is one of the largest export markets for U.S. goods and services. This trade has benefitted the United States in the form of lower prices for consumers and higher profits for corporations, but it has also come with costs. Though U.S. consumers benefit from the flood of cheaper goods from China, millions of Americans have lost their jobs due to import competition. China pressures American companies to hand over their technology, or often have pilfered it outright. A U.S. factory closes, related businesses shut their doors, and unemployment numbers in the U.S. rise.
There was optimism with China’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) twenty years ago, but that has vanished. Beijing has embraced state-led development, pouring subsidies into targeted industries to the detriment of U.S. and foreign companies. China is for China.
Meanwhile, investment by Chinese companies in the U.S. has increasingly raised national security concerns and accusations of large-scale bias, piracy, and win-lose partnerships. Rules need to be applied equally. The United Sates doesn't restrict the sale of its securities, so China invests in U.S. Treasury debt which increases the dollar relative to the value of China's currency, the yuan. This, in turn, makes Chinese goods cheaper and more attractive than U.S. goods to buyers. China is the second largest foreign holder (Japan is first), holding over a trillion dollars of U.S. debt securities.
Within the mature bicycle industry, the American consumer has lagged behind their counterparts in Europe and Asia in terms of adoption, Bicycles have commonly been used as a mode of transportation in crowded Asia, rather than as the recreational experience by most U.S. bikers. As a result, bicycle factories have produced millions of bicycles every year in Asia - for decades. It is a well developed industry, and now with advances in electronics, it is only natural their factories would quickly adopt technology advances on bikes. Container ships have simplified exports, so sending a bicycle across the water is straight forward, and the market for an Asian factory's product has become worldwide. Many European and Australian brands also rely on the Asian bike and component factories, with the containers moving products through the Suez canal to European ports.
A common perception is that things manufactured in China today are of poor quality. This is not a statement that is relevant to the times. There are many quality manufacturing successes on various products in many industries in China. Your cell phone and laptop brand are probably manufactured in China (Apple Iphone, IBM / Lenovo laptop, etc.). Also, many products manufactured in China may have problems that don’t relate to where they are manufactured, but more to where they were designed and engineered. Big brands use ODMs (“original design manufacturers”) prevalent in Asia to assemble and manufacture components of their products for them. The design process is typically where the component quality level is defined, not at the factory. American bike brands select their bike components at the engineering phase and define their duty cycle, aka quality level in conjunction with their chosen factory.
Many U.S. and foreign brands have poured billions of dollars into building manufacturing facilities in mainland China in order to exploit China’s cheap manufacturing costs—costs which one might argue were ridiculously low because of harsh (and even slave) labor conditions, lax environmental protections, and a government that says maintaining a strong manufacturing base is a key component of national security. The Chinese government subsidizes companies to win bids today so that eventually they can monopolize entire manufacturing sectors down the road. Not good for the U.S. in the long run, but in the short=term, this manufacturing shift has provided lower product costs, greater company profitability, and a higher stock price for the U.S. company. The American labor force faces worldwide competition from all continents today, not just from Asia, and China leads the pack.
Some products are purposefully engineered to be at a lower price point with lower grade components and a resulting lower duty cycle. And this well may be where the Chinese manufacturers excel in industry – looking at a Bill of Materials (BOM) and figuring ways to cut component costs right to the bone - perhaps using just the right tinsel strength material with a regimented assembly process, with little waste - perhaps a bike with a design that just goes by minimum specifications - and nothing beyond. Bikes can have rugged high quality components built for long duty cycles, and typically a higher price tag, or be inexpensive, lower price-point versions that won't withstand heavy and consistent use. Both have a place in the market.
On the higher end of engineering and manufacturing - a number of bike and bike component manufacturers in China create excellent quality products with high reliability, that are trusted and sought out by the big brands and consumers in North America and Europe. Their bikes are the higher duty cycle, higher usage rate bicycles. These big brand, historic bike companies, with their volume of sales, even provide their own critical QC personnel at the Chinese factory to insure what was engineered is what is being produced, with no material short cuts or lack of quality in manufacturing or assembly.
Pictured above - Robotic arms work on a SUV production line of a Great Wall Motors factory in Chongqing, China
Today, the reality is that almost all worldwide big and historic bike brands are using Asian or Chinese parts on their bikes. Shimano, a Japanese company, produces the most commonly used gear sets on all types of bikes across hundreds of brands. Shimano has recently expanded their large factory in Singapore. Korean based Samsung and Japanese based Panasonic produce industry leading lithium-ion battery cells for ebikes and scooters. Panasonic has partnered with Tesla in the U.S. at the Nevada Gigafactory, and is constructing their own plant in Kansas. Bafang is one of the largest electric motor manufacturers in the world, and is based in China, with a large factory in Poland. If you’ve been out testing a number of ebike brands, you will know that Bafang manufactures excellent quality engines with performance and reliability. Conclusion - it's a worldwide economy.
Recognize that there’s a difference between “designed,” “manufactured,” and “assembled,” and companies don’t always use these terms the same. We often equate the word designed with "engineered," manufactured with "made," and assembled with "constructed." You frequently may see the term “made in China, Japan, USA etc. …” on a boxed product that is yet to be fully assembled (most of the Open Road ebikes need final assembly). “Made” in the past typically meant that the product is entirely designed, manufactured, and assembled in that country. Today on many ebike brands, the three are separate, and the final factory well may function as the assembler of many parts shipped into their plant.
Almost all bikes and associated products that are designed, engineered, and hopefully patented in the U.S., are then manufactured and assembled off-shore for cost savings or labor availability. One of many similar industries to bikes are automobiles - U.S. cars are designed here, but often manufactured and assembled south of the border in Mexico. Technically, General Motors ownership is via stock certificates, so ownership of GM is world-wide, even though the company has U.S. roots. Similar to ebikes, a U.S. branded automobile like a Chevy has many parts and many contributing ODM's, such as names we recognize - Delco, Interstate, Goodyear, etc.
Our company, Open Road Motosports, unboxes, does the final assembly, the programming, and then maintenance of our ebike brands. These brands were initially manufactured, partially assembled, boxed, and shipped across the ocean in container ships from Asian factories in Taiwan, China, Singapore, Malaysia, and other locations. They arrive in the U.S., and either truck directly to us, or to our brand partner’s warehouse, where they are then forwarded on pallets to us. This model for manufacturing and delivery is followed by many large U.S. bike brands, such as Santa Cruz, Trek, and Specialized, to mention a few. Those brands use dealer networks to deliver their products to the final consumer, after final assembly and preparation.
In summary, there are good factories with excellent quality and value, and bad factories with poor quality designs, componentry, and assembly. Factories are located all over the world, so painting any one country for its manufacturing quality, with a broad brush, isn’t necessarily accurate any more. On ebikes – it is helpful to know the different parts that make up the bike and understand which are from reputable suppliers. Parts manufactured all over the world have helped create lower costs, higher quality components, and a booming ebike market.
Technical innovation, with a whirlwind of next generation improvements, is rapidly progressing the electric bike industry, and the U.S. has led in this innovation through excellence in design engineering. European engineering must also be credited, and is certainly recognized in the auto industry with brand names Americans are familiar with, such as BMW, VW, Mercedes, etc.
Asian companies have done an excellent job figuring out how to reduce costs on products engineered elsewhere, even to the point of the cardboard the product is packaged in! They are now figuring out how to sell in International markets through complete ownership of the chain, from manufacturing and assembly, to U.S. warehousing and selling, all the while owning and using their own country's personnel, and supporting them while they work in the U.S. through housing and other subsidies.
Get to know the company you will be dealing with for service. At Open Road Motosports, we strive to provide you a variety of ebike choices at different duty cycles and price points, and then provide timely service to keep you rolling … the right product, the right fit, at the right price” whether it comes from the USA, China, Canada, Germany, Taiwan, or elsewhere. We hope you truly enjoy your ride and your ebike is an excellent fit.
Open Road offers popular brands and categories of moto bikes , including Vanderhall, Ebikes, Dirt Bikes, E-bikes, Electric Motorcycles, and used motorcycles for sale. Bintelli, Recon Powerbikes, Eunorau, BTN, UBCO, Delfast, Oset, Superbolt.
We are always adding to our popular lines, with sales and service available across a variety of brands.