Nothing will cross over except, maybe, a small amount of the tube manufacturing and cutting lines but most of those are still in pretty active use for the auto industry and not geared for anything as thin wall as bikes see.
you have to keep in mind that much of bike production, or any production work these days, while hand handled is very much an automated process and the machines required to do the work are very, very dedicated to the task at hand and adaptation from what application to the other is, if even possible, far from cost effective.
Getting people to do the manufacturing work itself, and even the more skilled work of maintaining the plant equipment is also going to be an issue for you. As a society we have fucked ourselves by pushing people away from high skill blue collar jobs to low skill white collar jobs that require a degree but very little specific knowledge or skill. This has resulted in a stigma around real blue collar work when in many cases it requires more intelligence and skill then many white collar jobs. even with decent pay you may have a hard time getting people to move to manufacturing jobs when white collar stuff is 'what they are supposed to do to get ahead.' I see people all the time who are smart and skilled enough to make a killing as a plumber become wage slaves in an office for 50% less because they don't want to be a plumber...
One thing to remember is that the bicycle industry has nothing to do with the 'quality crisis' you see in low end bikes as much as the consumer does; unless you are able to create a new mindset in a society that has been trained by advertising for years that cheap is the best value then you are never going to be able to pay a decent wage to produce a decent bike that will actually sell in any kind of volume because it will always be passed up for the cheaper alternative by the average American consumer.
Sam Van Dellen said:One of the reasons Detroit calls for this so strongly is that there is so much left over from the big auto, although not everything will transfer over. One of the many reasons that I think this or something like it MUST happen is that quality standards are plummeting in the bicycle industry. If companies and employees had as their primary goal to provide every customer with an awesome bike, knew their labors were valued, and that it was worth taking the time, I really believe we could turn around the QC problem. Also, my goal is not merely to produce bikes in the US, but to give Detroit a way to once again be an integral part of the US economy. One of my goals is to give Detroit the tools it needs to transform itself, with jobs for everyone who wants one. If real money is flowing into Detroit, the city can revitalize, rebuild, and have infrastructure that will be people friendly, not just car friendly. I see this not just as an opportunity for Detroit, but a model for lots of rust-belt cities. I see a future where youth are trained in manufacturing, not just burger flipping and paper pushing. Any of the aspects of my plan taken on their own would fail. The broader vision is why I see this as a real possibility, as something that can and will alter the way we operate in this country.
notoriousDUG said:Best of luck but to be very honest with you the only real thing I think you may accomplish is raising the price of bicycles...
However if you have any questions regarding the tooling and machinery moving costs associated with set up or the set up of full scale production please feel free to contact me. One of the largest hidden costs of a project like this is the cost of tooling that everyplace else already has in place. Often times this can be offset by purchasing used equipment but due to the fact that so much is done overseas the cost of transport will be a massive issue.
Thanks for all the info about the tooling, I really appreciate what you said, and I will now be taking that into account in my plans. In regards to the "cheapest is best" thing, I fully intend to attack that as part of the "re-valuing of the bicycle" Ad campaign I want to do. Part of the sweeping plan to re-introduce manufacturing into our society is a re-valuing of the jobs required to do that manufacturing, which may take a little time, but really, will work out pretty well for everyone I think. I'm aware of the current social stigma of working with your hands, but I also think that our country is not filled with idiots, and a government-backed push to get our economy to a sustainable place will be likely to get people interested in getting involved in stuff. Also, the vast unemployment crisis our country is in the middle of will, I believe, help us get people to figure out that maybe we as a country, and they as people, need to try out some different careers.
You give a lot more credit to people then I do.
I do not think even for a second that any kind of program, regardless of what it is backed by, is going to undue years of people being trained that white collar is where it's at and that blue collar is 2nd rate. As soon as you try to push people into those fields you are going to see cries of discrimination based on race, socio-economic status, education, etc, etc... because after so many years of hearing that college and a job in an office where the only path to success when we try and steer people away form that path they will respond by feeling that you are 'holding them back' or 'putting them down' by pointing them to a career in the trades.
I think it's an interesting and ambitious idea and really do wish you luck but I think you may be tilting at windmills; however if you have any questions I can answer or require any info I may be able to provide feel free to ask.
Taiwanese bikes are also cheaper because of their vertical integration in the market. A majority of bike components are also made in Taiwan, which lowers the cost of complete bikes since the components from the factory next door are all partially installed before boxing and shipping across the Pacific. On the other hand, if you are manufacturing frames in Detroit while sourcing components from Taiwan, the U.S. distributer will inevitably take a cut....
Bike manufacturing in Taiwan is actually slowly being moved to China, as more and more Chinese factories become ISO 9001 compliant.
Along those lines, would you consider approaching Giant Bicycles (who actually does make most of the bikes in the world for various brands) and discuss with them the possibility of moving some of their manufacturing (at least for the US market) to Detroit? Similar to how Toyota opened plants in the U.S. last year. Maybe even talk to Toyota to discuss their rationale and business strategy behind their move and see if it applies to the bike industry.
Mr. Van Dellen, Have you ever been to Detroit? Have you ever ridden a bike in Detroit? Your stereotypical (and often offensive) generalizations show your understanding of the city is limited to surfing a couple web sites -- with Wikipedia not being one of them.
Mr. Scott, my generalizations are not intended to offend, they are intended to get people moving. I appreciate the feedback, and I sincerely apologize for any offense given. I would be VERY happy if you would help me edit what I have to say so that I can inspire the bicycle industry to move without offending the people of Detroit. Please feel free to email me at Treechunk@gmail.com
Todd Scott said:Mr. Van Dellen, Have you ever been to Detroit? Have you ever ridden a bike in Detroit? Your stereotypical (and often offensive) generalizations show your understanding of the city is limited to surfing a couple web sites -- with Wikipedia not being one of them.
Back in the mid 90's when I owned a bike shop in Oregon, the dollar number being bandied around for a low end mountain bike from China Bike, was roughly $34.00. Complete ready to ride. Inferior steel, entry level spec, cheap labor, bad quality was all one could expect for that price, but Trek, Bianchi, Giant, Barracuda (remember them?), etc didn't care. They merely had a price point to hit. We were retailing these bikes at about $180.00.