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 RideLocal.org 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 EllsworthBikes.com/Advantage
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.