It’s not news when a giant parts manufacturer/distributor knocks off a small independent company by making and selling look-alike products that have popular appeal. In the motorcycle aftermarket, that’s been a common scenario for decades. And though precedence certainly doesn’t excuse the deed, it does serve as a caution for companies that produce and market new products of their own design.
The French motorcycle parts manufacturer EMD (Esteves Motorcycle Design) is learning this tough lesson now as parts distributor Zodiac has recently begun to produce and sell parts that are so similar to EMD’s there’s really little question about their source. Sure, everything is derivative, from rock music to fashion to motorcycle parts, and creative minds often assimilate and combine ideas whose origins are indeterminate. But in this instance, well, look at the pictures and decide for yourself.
Stand-up companies such as W&W Cycles in Germany reacted to the knock-offs by placing the following message next to all EMD product they sell: “Not here! Yeah, there is stuff out there that almost looks like the real thing and costs less. Not here at W&W CYCLES, though. If you feel like supporting product pirates rather than the originators and makers of high-quality parts for your bike, fine with us. We’re gonna stick with the real thing.”
That’s a bold stand and W&W deserves kudos for taking it but it’s also the same decision each of us make when we spend our money on anything we buy, anytime we shop. Whether it’s that hammer or wrench from the overseas importer instead of a longtime U.S. retailer or getting your favorite package of coffee from Walmart instead of the grocery store because it’s a dollar cheaper at the big box store – these consumer buying decisions compound every hour of every day to make or break smaller companies and they resonate not only in the U.S. economy but worldwide. When you sell out to save a dollar, you’re essentially playing roulette with your neighbor’s job. And that’s a fact.
In this case, it’s contrary to the spirit of biking in several ways: first one company is blatantly copying another in our very small industry. Then the damage multiplies when riders looking to save a few dollars buy the cheaply produced knock off, knowingly or not.
It’s a sad story that reminds us: you can’t count on encountering integrity, not even in the motorcycle community. Something you can count on that’s worth remembering is the proverbial adage: you get what you pay for.
In Europe: www.estmd.com
In the U.S.: www.emd-part-usa.com