Yet Another Cycling Forum

Off Topic => The Pub => Topic started by: T42 on 13 July, 2021, 03:13:17 pm

Title: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: T42 on 13 July, 2021, 03:13:17 pm
Ken Burns' series about the US Civil War has an episode called The Age of Shoddy that mentions, among other things, a contractor who supplied cardboard-soled boots to the Union Army and got away with it by explaining that the order had been for cavalry boots, not boots you could march in.

Fast forward 150-ish years.  In 2015 I bought a pair of DHB Aeron gloves and then, since they were so good, another two pairs. I later went back to order more but they were always out of stock. Earlier this year, though, I managed to get a pair and was disgusted to find that they were far inferior to the 2015 model - lighter material, smaller gel pads, and the snotwipe area gone.

In 2007 I bought a Topeak Tourguide HB bag, which I have used on every ride since.  It's a nice size, it has good side & front pockets, the fabric in all the pockets is reinforced and although it's not billed as waterproof the main compartment has withstood 24 hours of the heaviest rain Finisterre could provide, and that without a rain cover.  It's still fine if a bit used by now: the map case took flight during PBP 2015 and the carrying handle could do with some urgent TLC, so last week I ordered the same bag again.

Got it yesterday and it's going back today. The material is lighter and feels cheap, the zips on the side pockets are shorter and they stick, and the map case is 50% smaller.  The side and front pockets deform easily, and although it's still billed as 5 litres it is visibly smaller than the old model.  It's crappy. 

The Age of Shoddy is back again.
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: citoyen on 13 July, 2021, 03:52:44 pm
If you're buying budget brands like dhb and Topeak, it's hardly surprising - all their stuff is made to hit a price point. When costs go up, quality goes down.

The differences are probably a sign that they've switched to a cheaper supplier.
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: mark on 13 July, 2021, 04:29:33 pm
I don't think The Age of Shoddy ever left us, it's been with us as long as commercial activity has existed. Companies get bought and sold as the founders age and want to retire, or market forces make it impossible for the founders of a company to continue making a product the way they originally did. Sooner or later a company comes under the control of a person or persons who don't give a rat's ass about the original product, they just want to use the company's reputation to make as much money as they can with as little effort as possible.That's what seems to have happened with your handlebar bags and your gloves.
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: ian on 13 July, 2021, 04:42:58 pm
There's a lot more outsourcing, especially to China, where they take the spec and make it cheaper.

Realistically, that up-front price is what most people see, especially for mass-market products. You'll sell far more of a crappy version for £20 than a better version for £40, and in total, that'll be more revenue.
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: nicknack on 13 July, 2021, 04:43:38 pm
M&S mens underwear. It's worse every time I buy some.
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: Mr Larrington on 13 July, 2021, 05:23:16 pm
A minion in Condor Cycles said the same about the Carnac shoes I was looking to replace about 15 years ago.  Production moved to Romania, quality sank.  Fortunately he had a couple of NOS pairs in my size in the cupboard, so I bought them :thumbsup:
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: TheLurker on 13 July, 2021, 05:50:33 pm
Quote from: mark
....Sooner or later a company comes under the control of a person or persons who don't give a rat's ass about the original product, they just want to use the company's reputation to make as much money as they can with as little effort as possible.
See also: Hewlett-Packard,  IBM ...
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: citoyen on 13 July, 2021, 06:05:56 pm
Quote from: mark
....Sooner or later a company comes under the control of a person or persons who don't give a rat's ass about the original product, they just want to use the company's reputation to make as much money as they can with as little effort as possible.
See also: Hewlett-Packard,  IBM ...

Not to mention countless other brands that were once markers of quality, until they were bought up by Sports Direct...
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: rr on 13 July, 2021, 06:07:20 pm
Quote from: mark
....Sooner or later a company comes under the control of a person or persons who don't give a rat's ass about the original product, they just want to use the company's reputation to make as much money as they can with as little effort as possible.
See also: Hewlett-Packard,  IBM ...
Karrimor

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Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: citoyen on 13 July, 2021, 06:19:07 pm
Karrimor

...being a prime example of:

...brands that were once markers of quality, until they were bought up by Sports Direct...
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: Canardly on 13 July, 2021, 06:26:46 pm
It seems some manufacturers are now employing a tactic of producing high quality product for initial review by influencers and thereafter replacing components with lower spec parts for retail. Not good.
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: ian on 13 July, 2021, 07:40:22 pm
There are also plenty of brands that once they've achieved their market value are bought up by venture capital or private equity and consequently stripped.
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: Lightning Phil on 13 July, 2021, 07:46:22 pm
Quote from: mark
....Sooner or later a company comes under the control of a person or persons who don't give a rat's ass about the original product, they just want to use the company's reputation to make as much money as they can with as little effort as possible.
See also: Hewlett-Packard,  IBM ...
Karrimor

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My 1970/80s rucksacks are still going.
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: rr on 13 July, 2021, 07:48:43 pm
Quote from: mark
....Sooner or later a company comes under the control of a person or persons who don't give a rat's ass about the original product, they just want to use the company's reputation to make as much money as they can with as little effort as possible.
See also: Hewlett-Packard,  IBM ...
Karrimor

Sent from my moto x4 using Tapatalk

My 1970/80s rucksacks are still going.
Mine too

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Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: bhoot on 13 July, 2021, 08:09:29 pm
Another one with an 80s Karrimor here! Maybe we need a "show us your old rucksack" thread! Although mine does need repairing again.
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: andytheflyer on 13 July, 2021, 08:12:33 pm
M&S mens underwear. It's worse every time I buy some.
And their socks.  They seem to go into holes within 3 or 4 washes these days. I had hoped that the 15 or so pairs I have in stock would see me out.  But maybe not.
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: Paul H on 13 July, 2021, 09:19:35 pm
M&S mens underwear. It's worse every time I buy some.
Got to feel a bit sorry for M&S - when they were trying to maintain quality and their products cost 30 -50% more than other High St brands their market share was plummeting.  Now their prices are in line and their quality gets criticised.
Compare that to Primark, however much you loath the disposable nature of their products, they've understood their customers, they know people love to shop and to have new things.  As long as it's cheap enough, they don't mind that it doesn't last, they can have the pleasure of more shopping.
I can still find quality stuff, it just takes some looking for and the days when spending a little more got you a lot better has gone, the differential is widening.
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: diapsaon0 on 13 July, 2021, 09:21:18 pm
Some things are as good as ever - Carradice being a prime example.
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: Andrew Br on 13 July, 2021, 09:43:21 pm
Some things are as good as ever - Carradice being a prime example.

^This.

FWIW, my mum used to work at Karrimor, first at their Haslingden factory then in Accrington and, finally, at the purpose built Clayton-le-Moors factory.
I also worked for them on Saturday mornings when I turned 16. It was my first job.
I subsequently worked at the Accrington factory during summer holidays from 6th form and Uni.

By and large the Parsons family who owned and ran the company were very fair employers and they were quite innovative. For instance, they were early "off-shorers". They developed a cheaper/simpler range of rucsacs that were made, IIRC in Malaysia. I don't remember it being a success perhaps because buyers of Karrimor products went for high spec stuff and the "Made in Britain" tag was still important then.
Karrimor also got into mountain bikes quite early; they were the UK agent for Mongoose. It wasn't a success but, on the bright side, I got my MTB at a huge reduction when they were getting rid of the stock when they gave it up. My mum's discount was a further bonus  :thumbsup:.

In some respects, I think Karrimor were too far in front of the curve; the early bird catches the worm but the second mouse gets the cheese.

Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: rogerzilla on 13 July, 2021, 09:47:05 pm
Carradices from the 70s are slightly better.  The buckles are stitched in, not riveted in, and there's no nylon drawstring "mouth" to fail, just a couple of cotton duck flaps and ties.  The reflective triangle (fluo orange by day, red by night) was also much better than today's Scotchlite patch.
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: Kim on 13 July, 2021, 09:49:02 pm
Also at some point they stopped making Prima rack bags.
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: quixoticgeek on 13 July, 2021, 10:36:38 pm
M&S mens underwear. It's worse every time I buy some.
And their socks.  They seem to go into holes within 3 or 4 washes these days. I had hoped that the 15 or so pairs I have in stock would see me out.  But maybe not.

A few years ago I switched to Darn Tough socks. I have 6 pairs of various weights, and when ever they get a hole, i just post them back, and a new pair arrive in the post a few days later. Socks as a Service. It's saved me quite a bit in total cost of ownership for socks.

J
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: Paul H on 13 July, 2021, 11:12:04 pm
Some things are as good as ever - Carradice being a prime example.
Maybe so their original products that they still make in house, but to compete on price they outsourced the cheaper CarraDry range, which looks like imitation Ortlieb but nothing like as good. Not sure about the CarraDura range, but it's half the price of the Super C stuff, so wherever made it's been done to that price point.
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: nicknack on 13 July, 2021, 11:18:16 pm
they can have the pleasure of more shopping.
That's something I will never understand.
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: Jaded on 13 July, 2021, 11:20:21 pm
M&S mens underwear. It's worse every time I buy some.

Could you stop buying it, please?
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: nicknack on 13 July, 2021, 11:31:44 pm
M&S mens underwear. It's worse every time I buy some.

Could you stop buying it, please?
Commando?
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: hatler on 13 July, 2021, 11:38:53 pm
M&S mens underwear. It's worse every time I buy some.

Could you stop buying it, please?
Commando?
Nope. He is concerned that every time you buy it, the quality drops (because you bought it).

I never have had a flair for explaining humour, apologies.
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: Jaded on 13 July, 2021, 11:50:34 pm
 :thumbsup:
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: nicknack on 14 July, 2021, 12:08:43 am
M&S mens underwear. It's worse every time I buy some.

Could you stop buying it, please?
Commando?
Nope. He is concerned that every time you buy it, the quality drops (because you bought it).

I never have had a flair for explaining humour, apologies.
Doh!
It's been a long utterly shit day.  ;D
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: FifeingEejit on 14 July, 2021, 12:25:21 am
Another one with an 80s Karrimor here! Maybe we need a "show us your old rucksack" thread! Although mine does need repairing again.
One of my hiking club mates still uses a Rucksack he bought in 1980.
Cantbremember what is it but I probably have pictures

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Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: FifeingEejit on 14 July, 2021, 12:27:49 am
M&S mens underwear. It's worse every time I buy some.
And their socks.  They seem to go into holes within 3 or 4 washes these days. I had hoped that the 15 or so pairs I have in stock would see me out.  But maybe not.

A few years ago I switched to Darn Tough socks. I have 6 pairs of various weights, and when ever they get a hole, i just post them back, and a new pair arrive in the post a few days later. Socks as a Service. It's saved me quite a bit in total cost of ownership for socks.

J
Ta, I was about to ask what the company you had previously recommended was as I put my foot through a sock the other day.

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Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: T42 on 14 July, 2021, 07:53:24 am
If you're buying budget brands like dhb and Topeak, it's hardly surprising - all their stuff is made to hit a price point. When costs go up, quality goes down.

The differences are probably a sign that they've switched to a cheaper supplier.

Topeak wasn't a budget brand when I bought my first one: the design was brilliant and the thing has lasted 14 years.  As regards DHB, I was using Specialized gloves until they brought out a design that rubbed my palms raw, and I tried a few other brands I didn't like before finding my first DHB gloves, which were brilliant.  How much do you want to spend on "reputable" gloves you can't wear?
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: Cudzoziemiec on 14 July, 2021, 08:59:43 am
My Topeak Road Master Blaster pump, bought a couple of years ago, is excellent. In addition to having the most preposterous name of any cycling product ever!
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: Cudzoziemiec on 14 July, 2021, 09:03:01 am
Some things are as good as ever - Carradice being a prime example.
Maybe so their original products that they still make in house, but to compete on price they outsourced the cheaper CarraDry range, which looks like imitation Ortlieb but nothing like as good. Not sure about the CarraDura range, but it's half the price of the Super C stuff, so wherever made it's been done to that price point.
Those products are also signed by the makers in squiggly biro, or certainly were when I bought my CarraDry bar bag; about 2015 or so.
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: T42 on 14 July, 2021, 09:10:39 am
My Topeak Road Master Blaster pump, bought a couple of years ago, is excellent. In addition to having the most preposterous name of any cycling product ever!

Metformin turns me into a master blaster every time I go for a ride.
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: citoyen on 14 July, 2021, 09:34:10 am
Topeak wasn't a budget brand when I bought my first one

Topeak has always been a cost-conscious brand. Which is not to say all their stuff is cheap but that it is made to a price point rather than a quality-first approach.

Many of their products are (or were) well designed, but they have never made their own stuff - it's always farmed out to external suppliers. This is what makes them different to traditional brands like Carradice, or what Karrimor used to be. Nothing has changed about the way Topeak is run, except that perhaps they're now having to cut more corners to keep prices in line with what consumers want to pay.

As for dhb, I wouldn't be surprised if the quality of their stuff improves now they've been taken over by the Germans.

Gloves are such a personal thing that paying more is no guarantee you'll get something that fits you well and is comfortable.
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: Cudzoziemiec on 14 July, 2021, 09:41:34 am
A minion in Condor Cycles said the same about the Carnac shoes I was looking to replace about 15 years ago.  Production moved to Romania, quality sank.  Fortunately he had a couple of NOS pairs in my size in the cupboard, so I bought them :thumbsup:
Carnac was bought up by Planet X.
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: citoyen on 14 July, 2021, 09:49:40 am
A minion in Condor Cycles said the same about the Carnac shoes I was looking to replace about 15 years ago.  Production moved to Romania, quality sank.  Fortunately he had a couple of NOS pairs in my size in the cupboard, so I bought them :thumbsup:
Carnac was bought up by Planet X.

My "Holdsworth" is a cheapo Planet X effort. I had to confess as much recently to a road worker who was admiring it while I was stopped at the lights.

You can't trust any labels these days.
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: T42 on 14 July, 2021, 09:53:56 am
Topeak wasn't a budget brand when I bought my first one

Topeak has always been a cost-conscious brand. Which is not to say all their stuff is cheap but that it is made to a price point rather than a quality-first approach.

Many of their products are (or were) well designed, but they have never made their own stuff - it's always farmed out to external suppliers. This is what makes them different to traditional brands like Carradice, or what Karrimor used to be. Nothing has changed about the way Topeak is run, except that perhaps they're now having to cut more corners to keep prices in line with what consumers want to pay.

Never looked into Topeak's details that much, just liked the design.  Mind you, the stitching on a side pocket of the Topeak rack pack I bought at the same time as the HB bag burst when I shoved too much into it a couple of years later, but I blamed myself for that.

Quote
As for dhb, I wouldn't be surprised if the quality of their stuff improves now they've been taken over by the Germans.

Devoutly to be wished.

Quote
Gloves are such a personal thing that paying more is no guarantee you'll get something that fits you well and is comfortable.

Ain't that the truth. Find one you like and buy a dozen pairs. Then of course after a year you find that they've stretched or something.
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: T42 on 14 July, 2021, 10:07:15 am
A minion in Condor Cycles said the same about the Carnac shoes I was looking to replace about 15 years ago.  Production moved to Romania, quality sank.  Fortunately he had a couple of NOS pairs in my size in the cupboard, so I bought them :thumbsup:
Carnac was bought up by Planet X.

My first Carnacs lasted ~10 years, second pair around 5 with the help of Shoe Goo.
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: Paul H on 14 July, 2021, 10:13:17 am
Some things are as good as ever - Carradice being a prime example.
Maybe so their original products that they still make in house, but to compete on price they outsourced the cheaper CarraDry range, which looks like imitation Ortlieb but nothing like as good. Not sure about the CarraDura range, but it's half the price of the Super C stuff, so wherever made it's been done to that price point.
Those products are also signed by the makers in squiggly biro, or certainly were when I bought my CarraDry bar bag; about 2015 or so.
Maybe some final finishing takes place in their workshop, or maybe it's some QC, but the manufacturing is outsourced.  Of course they want to give the impression otherwise, it's that reputation they're trading on.
A quick look at their website will show that some products have a Made in Britain symbol on the product page and the ranges I've mentioned don't.
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: rogerzilla on 14 July, 2021, 11:05:02 am
Sidi shoes are covered in Italian branding but most, if not all, are made in Romania now.
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: rafletcher on 14 July, 2021, 01:41:18 pm
Sidi shoes are covered in Italian branding but most, if not all, are made in Romania now.

Along with Assos kit, amongst other places. And their sizing went to to shit too.
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: phantasmagoriana on 14 July, 2021, 01:54:00 pm
I've always thought of Topeak as more mid-market than budget. But maybe I'm just cheap.

Anyway, my Joe Blow Max was one of the very first items of cycling stuff I bought, way back in 2009. It's still going strong, and is just about the only thing I've not found an excuse to upgrade/replace over the years. I've had a Road Morph for nearly as long (though that doesn't get used as much, being used for visitations only) and that's also held up well.
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: grams on 14 July, 2021, 02:04:02 pm
My ca. 1981 Bickerton has a rock hard plastic "Brooks" saddle. I'm not sure where that fits into this.

The plastic era is strangely missing from their company history.
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: FifeingEejit on 14 July, 2021, 02:08:33 pm


I've always thought of Topeak as more mid-market than budget. But maybe I'm just cheap.

I'd agree however theres a conflation here between point in the market and how to budget manufacturing.

Quality end products are often also produced to a price point.

Carradice for example could if they wanted increase their target cost to manufacture and price, just shove on solid gold rivets.
They're working to where they want to price their goods while still being good quality.

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Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: T42 on 14 July, 2021, 02:33:09 pm
There's a parallel with the tool market. Cheap knock-offs of Stanley planes drove Stanley to drop their quality to survive. Some brands simply sold out to the outfits that were driving them under, so that a famous name on a product is no longer any guarantee of quality.
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: rogerzilla on 14 July, 2021, 02:50:24 pm
The Chinese factories will make impeccable stuff if the client specifies it properly, pays them sufficiently, and monitors quality.  Miss one of the three, and shite comes out.  There may be a tendency for Chinese factories to cut corners and try to rip off the client, but UK factories will do that too, if not closely monitored.  In any supplier relationship, the client wants as much as possible for as little money as possible, and the factory wants the exact opposite.

Short version: if a company offshores and the quality goes south, it's their fault.
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: T42 on 14 July, 2021, 03:14:37 pm
Yes.  There's also the dodge where a Chinese factory makes more than the quantity demanded by its Western client and flogs the surplus off cheaply under a different name.  I've seen this particularly with photo paraphernalia but it's hardly limited to that.
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: archy on 14 July, 2021, 08:50:31 pm
My Chinese made circular saw is a nice bit of kit - Bosch brand. It’s Chinese made predecessor had quickly become trash -Macallister brand.

Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: TheLurker on 14 July, 2021, 09:19:08 pm
About a month ago I finally binned(1) the Qualcast push mower.  Important parts(2) were made of plastic cheese and were no longer repairable.  I am now using the Ginge(3) push mower that my parents bought in 1968.  It was in weekly use for 20-22 years, and then had a further 10 years of occasional use before being moved to the reserve list. The only reason I didn't start using it again a few (4) years ago was that the Qualcast was still usable. I fully expect the machine to see me out.



(1) Waiting trip to tip
(2) Wheel bearing cages, ratchets & pawls
(3) https://www.vhgmc.co.uk/2017/11/ginge-mowers-and-tools/
     It may be a Prisma.
(4) Between 5 & 10.
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: grams on 14 July, 2021, 09:29:11 pm
Survivorship bias means everything made in 1968 that fell to bits in a week is long since at the bottom of the landfill.
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: Kim on 14 July, 2021, 09:30:23 pm
Yes.  There's also the dodge where a Chinese factory makes more than the quantity demanded by its Western client and flogs the surplus ones that fail quality control off cheaply under a different name.

FTFY

See half of the stuff on Aliexpress.

Sometimes it matters, much of the time it doesn't.  The trick is knowing the difference.
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: rogerzilla on 15 July, 2021, 07:53:45 am
Is the etymology of Aliexpress from Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves?
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: Cudzoziemiec on 15 July, 2021, 07:55:21 am
Carradices from the 70s are slightly better.  The buckles are stitched in, not riveted in, and there's no nylon drawstring "mouth" to fail, just a couple of cotton duck flaps and ties.  The reflective triangle (fluo orange by day, red by night) was also much better than today's Scotchlite patch.
They still use the fluoro-reflective material on some products, eg the Super C rack pack: https://www.carradice.co.uk/bags/rack-packs-stuff-sacks/super-c-rackbag
As they're happy to make one-off versions of their products (at least the cotton duck stuff) for a modest premium, they'd probably make a saddlebag or panniers with that material for you. It does fade though (I think it's an inevitable consequence of fluorescence).
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: ian on 15 July, 2021, 10:18:33 am
Survivorship bias means everything made in 1968 that fell to bits in a week is long since at the bottom of the landfill.

Indeed.

It's also true that while everyone says they want quality and will pay more for it, when it comes to paying, they don't.
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: TheLurker on 15 July, 2021, 07:30:09 pm
Survivorship bias means everything made in 1968 that fell to bits in a week is long since at the bottom of the landfill.
Yup, but I think the OP's point is that it's very now difficult to buy anything other than instant-landfill tat and knowing how skint my parents were in 1968 they would *not* have bought the most expensive machine in the shop.
Title: Re: The New Age of Shoddy
Post by: T42 on 16 July, 2021, 11:21:26 am
Yes.  There's also the dodge where a Chinese factory makes more than the quantity demanded by its Western client and flogs the surplus ones that fail quality control off cheaply under a different name.

FTFY


Point.  A noticeable difference is that the cheap ones stink of something like creosote. Maybe it's the fag-smoke.