Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Odd Bikes on eBay and elsewhere - beware!

A few years ago I came oh-so-close to buying a 'Mercier' road bike from eBay that seemed just too good to be true. In fact, I think those bikes are too good to be true.

(It was much like this Motobecane)

It had Shimano 105's, decent wheels, and the frame looked OK, all for $1,000 I think it was... And the description for the bike I almost got stated the Mercier was an old European bicycle maker, and that Lance Armstrong once rode once of them in his early years. But after a little Googling, it was obvious that:

a) Mercier was no longer European, it was registered to a Florida resident
b) This eBay seller was also selling Dawes bikes, and whaddya know? Both sites are registered to the SAME town in Florida!

Want proof?

Domain info for

Domain Name..........
Creation Date........ 2001-09-01
Registration Date.... 2001-09-01
Expiry Date.......... 2008-09-01
Organisation Name.... J. Mukhalis
Organisation Address. 176 Summerfield
Organisation Address.
Organisation Address. Ponte Vedra
Organisation Address. 32082
Organisation Address. FL
Organisation Address. UNITED STATES

Domain info for

Domain Name..........
Creation Date........ 2004-04-30
Registration Date.... 2004-04-30
Expiry Date.......... 2014-04-30
Organisation Name.... spratt cycle support, inc
Organisation Address. 3203 old barn court
Organisation Address.
Organisation Address. ponte vedra beach

Organisation Address. 32082
Organisation Address. FL
Organisation Address. UNITED STATES

That's odd, these two 'classic' road bike brands have their site's owners listed in the same town in Florida?! Funny.

On posts from this seller, you'll see descriptions like this:

Motobecane is one of the top names in the bike business - 80 years old, winner of the Tour d' France, winner of several world championships, inventor of the moped and of dual suspension bicycles.

But DrPete pretty much summed it up on

Motobecane, Dawes, Bottecchia, and Mercier are brand names that WERE once major european bike manufacturers. Bottecchia still is--in Italy. Moto USA, Dawes USA, Bott. USA, and Mercier USA are, in reality, brand names that were bought by Cycle Spectrum USA, AKA They purchase frames in bulk from Taiwan, usually models that were designed for/by other major manufacturers (KHS, Fuji, etc.) and sell them with components and all. The frames are actually decent quality in the vast majority of cases, so it's not like they're shoddy. In fact, if you're on a budget and willing to do a little self-assembly and/or pay for a shop to do assembly and tune-up work, then it's a decent way to buy an enthusiast-level bike on a budget. Just don't be fooled into thinking that you're getting a "real" Dawes/Mercier/Moto/etc.

I think you can add Windsor to that list as well. I'm not saying no-one should buy and ride these bikes, hell, I'm happy if people are just riding! But beware of what you're buying, and don't believe an eBay seller just because they have 99.9% feedback.

Moral of the story: support your local bike shop!!


Anonymous said...

I just purchased a mercier aero tt from bikes direct for $699.00 No bike store could come close with a bike equipped as such, plus no shippig or tax. who cares if the frame is made in china or asia or mars for that matter. the quality is still excellent if not better!

matt m said...

I just don't like how BikesDirect feels they need to use lies to sell their products.

I have no doubt the bikes themselves are quality, I just hate their marketing practices.

Enjoy the new bike!

JC said...

"I just don't like how BikesDirect feels they need to use lies to sell their products."

They're lying by saying that Mercier has been around for 80 years? Well, that's a true statement -- someone else just bought it from where it originally was.

Anyhow, they, now BikesDirect, buy bulk from Taiwan, etc -- question: where do you think they make trek, specialized...and so on frames?

Same place.

They're just selling you the name; different products, same old story. I'm all for supporting local businesses, but if they can't pass me the savings, well, i'm practical enough to find another place that will.

matt m said...

"They're lying by saying that Mercier has been around for 80 years? Well, that's a true statement -- someone else just bought it from where it originally was."

Yes, the bought the name, but that's it. They didn't purchase the engineering & whatnot that went into the old brand of Motobecane, yet they want you to think that they did.

It's just that these bikes seem too good to be true (some of the bikes sell for the cost of the compoenents alone!), which smells really, really fishy to me.

My bike was made in Italy, at least it says so - but these days, who knows??

Again, I want people on bikes - any bike - I just feel bad for anyone who buys a Moto thinking they're riding a French bike (which is what I came really close to doing a few years back).

I have no problem with bikes from Taiwan, I just wish they'd stop piping the "80 years of excellence crap" - it's a one-guy operation run out of Texas, as far as I can tell. And there's not a whole lot of R&D happening there, he's just a marketing guru I guess.

Unknown said...

So if I buy a chevy truck that has been around since 1911 but is now owned by uncle Obama I shouldn't believe their marketing either? Your logic is flawed. The buying and selling of names of manufacturers has taken place for years. The tooling and such is sometimes sold with the name but not always. This does not make the product or the company bad.

matt m said...

Chris, how can they claim anything related to the original engineering, or what Lance rode, if it wasn't even the same owner/bikes?

They bought the equivalent of labels/stickers, not blue prints. Huge difference.

Read the post again, look at the facts; BikesDirect falsely advertises that their "company" (pick one) has been around for a LONG TIME. That instills a sense of confidence that they know how to make bikes. Why do they lie about that?

I have no problem with people buying BD bikes, but I just wish BikesDirect would be honest about their products..

Also, I've seen plenty of BikesDirect "shills" (some have even admitted they were paid!) to post on about BD bikes and how much they like them.. is that legit? Uh, nope. Not even close. How do you explain that one?

And since this is my blog, I get the last word. No more comments here, save it for someone who cares. How ya like that?

In the end, I think people should support their local bikeshop, and not hunt around for these crazy deals. You get what you pay for I guess.

The end.