The debate has raged for years with people on both sides of the fence (and the ocean) saying they can build a better bike. While I believe that a fully-trained welder in Taiwan or China can produce just as high-quality of a product as a welder in North America, there are many other emotions and environmental considerations that can also be thrown into the mix–thus mucking the waters even more.

If I were a bike manufacturer–even a high-end custom bike manufacturer–I’d have to look long and hard at my costs and the viability of manufacturing my product here in the States or overseas. Turning a blind eye to the lower-cost options available overseas could lead to lower profits, but, in the end, is profit the only measure of a company’s success?  I don’t think so and I’m sure you don’t either.

Ellsworth Bikes: Dedicated to Sustainability

In the case of Ellsworth Bikes, they are still dedicated to hand-building all their framesets here in the States. The quality and function of every Ellsworth bike I’ve ridden goes without saying, but it does come at a price, of course.  However, consider all the other factors that make a company “successful” and you’ll see that Ellsworth is not only producing high-quality bikes, but they are doing it the right way.

Here are a few examples of the sustainable business practices of Ellsworth Bikes:

  • All frameset manufacturing is done in the USA, thus reducing shipping and worldwide energy use to transport frames overseas
  • Solar, geothermal and wind (Q2 2009) power results in energy neutral or energy producing facilities
  • Aluminum waste is collected and recycled
  • They are working on the ability to remove a pivot bolt or two from the rear triangle and reduce the container size and costs of shipping framesets
  • Anodized, not powder-coated results in lighter weight and reduction of paint wastes
  • Laser-etched logos eliminate sticker use and waste while increasing durability
  • Simple tube usage with limited need for extra molds or unnecessary manufacturing processes
  • Founding Sponsor of to promote the benefits of cycling to their health, the environment and their local economy
  • They support the protection of rainforests with every Rainforest Green and breast and ovarian cancer with Project Pink frames

Admittedly, I haven’t dug into the intricate details of every other “Made in the USA” mountain bike manufacturer (Turner, Intense, Ventana, Moots or Foes Racing all come to mind) like I have Ellsworth, but after looking over their Web sites, it seems as though Ellsworth has put a lot more focus and effort into their sustainable business practices. I’m sure the others are making strides in this regard, but I applaud Tony Ellsworth for leading the way.

I’ve ridden great bikes manufactured overseas and I’ve likewise ridden great bikes made entirely in North America. Ultimately, the decision to buy an Ellsworth, Turner, Intense, Kona, Transition or Trek will come down to the ride qualities as well as the close-held personal values of the consumer.  While price remains king for many consumers, there are companies that buck that trend by selling on intangible, yet core values that go beyond the bottom line. Apple, BMW and Kjus Skiwear are a few examples. If Ellsworth sticks to these core principles, they can definitely be added to that mix.

More Info: Visit

NOTE: The information in this article primarily refers to the Ellsworth framesets, which are all designed and manufactured in the USA. Ellsworth complete bikes (The Ride and Glimpse) are assembled overseas from US-made materials in factories that meet Ellsworth’s sustainability guidelines.

About Author

A Seattle native, Jason developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 --sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.


  1. As it turns out, there’s a whole lot of greenwashing going on all over the place. Subsequent contact with other manufacturers and industry insiders do question some of Tony Ellsworth’s claims. I don’t have the personal experience to refute everything claimed by Ellsworth.

    I can tell you this… at least Ellsworth as a company has this in the front of their minds and is dedicated to supporting good causes and sustainable business practices. It’s progress that some may still refute, but progress nonetheless.

    Here’s the beat-down I unleashed on MTBR from this original article:

  2. Michael Applegate on

    08 Yeti 575 owner. “Wish I had bought Ellsworth. F-n Yeti posers from Colorado selling Taiwan bikes.

  3. Yeah… for some, the “Made in USA” is super-important. Yeti does design everything here in the States, but I believe most (if not all) of their frames are now manufactured in high-quality facilities overseas.

    In a global marketplace, it’s hard to completely shun them for doing this, but there are alternatives should you wish to “Buy 100% American”. Here are a few:

    Ellsworth Frames (complete bikes are built in Taiwan)

    But even then, some of the materials sourcing could be from other locations outside of the USA. For example, I know that titanium is mined in abundance in Russia and many titanium bikes contain Russian-produced titanium.

    Like I said, in a global marketplace, it’s tough to say something is 100% American or 100% Canadian, etc.

    Do you like your 575? That’s an awesome trailbike…

  4. Ellsworth makes their frames here thus saving shippng cost… hmmm….
    But we as a consumer pay hell of a premium for it.
    Are we really paying extra for ‘quality’ or just for high labor cost?

  5. “Quality” is a tough one to argue. The reality is that welders everywhere can produce just as good of an end product–regardless of geographic location. With the right specs, preparation and quality control, a welder in Asia will produce just the same quality of a bike as one in the States (just being fair).

    The difference is where your dollar goes. But, this article is a bit out of date at this point since Ellsworth now produces carbon frames overseas and the Glimpse (Epiphany clone) overseas as well. I’m not so sure where “The Ride” line of bikes are manufactured either.

    While Tony is a great friend and I respect what he’s doing (trying to keep production in the States), he has to keep up with the times in price and materials. To do carbon, you have to go overseas. They are specialists in the stuff and very few facilities can compete with what they are laying down in Taiwan, etc.

    So, the “quality” is relative, I suppose. But, with proper selection, you can get a 100% Made in USA frame from Ellsworth. The main MTB lineup is 100% sourced and built in the USA. You get to vote with your wallet.

  6. Roger Gorman on

    A non US citizen or someone not living in the US could probably care less if a bike, or anything, is made in the USA, but a US citizen or even someone just living here should very much. Losing jobs and manufacturing ability, backbones of any nation, destroys any standard of living there might be, and is a sure fire road to disaster. Look at the wonderful shape of our country now, in it’s downward spiral, while all the countries our manufacturing has been sent to are booming.

    It’s ridiculous for anyone to say that people of any certain nationality are better or more productive workers just because if their nationality. Plenty of things come into play that drives those issues other than that. Yes a welder or assembly worker in one country is, or can be, just as good as one in any other country. The same can be said about ANY profession, engineers included. Too many people in the USA seem to be on their high horses, they deserve high paying jobs and cheap costing products but to them their fellow country people don’t deserve a decent paying job. Amazingly they don’t seem to realize if millions of fellow country people are unemployed and out of work, aside from being devastating to those individuals as well as putting a burden on our system, the necessary costs of running the country is being shouldered by fewer and fewer people. People without jobs or no money can’t pay taxes. Even worse, the high riders don’t realize they’re no more important than anyone else.

    There has always been international commerce, period. The new “Global Economy” is nothing but a scam to justify companies exploiting workers in countries where a decent standard of living, human rights and environmental concerns are unheard of. Our country is being sold out and given away for the benefit of a small percentage of our population, a group of people who for the most part were already well off to begin with. Any US citizen or person living and working in the USA, who isn’t a part of the outsourcing scam should be very concerned about the lack of, and loss of things being made here, it’s destroying our country. The lack of manufacturing touches more than just manufacturing workers.

  7. man screw that u mean 2 tell me that these flipin bean counters cain’t pay sum poor slob 2 tig up some frames? when stinkin China can pay a livin wage to it’s workers i might think about buyin one. man i’m PISSED i went 2 the trek dealer and was ready 2 lay down 5k on new bike today and i cain’t buy one with a U,S made frame. bought a brand new trek from the same dealer 6 or 7 years ago U.S madee frame Anchor bay bike and fitness. i put that bike thru hell tons of miles tons of jumps and no problem!!!! SCREW U TREK

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