To Catch a Counterfeiter: The Sketchy World of Fake Bike Gear @bicyclingmag
PHOTO BY MICHAEL KUNDRY (LEFT), HUNTER FREEMAN (RIGHT)
The in-house testing lab at the Morgan Hill, California, headquarters of Specialized Bicycle Components is a gleaming example of engineering efficiency: a spacious, well-lit shop where brutish machines rip and wrench bicycle frames and parts to—and past—their limits.
On this particular morning, a special frame sits on the frontal-impact rig. The Venge is an intimidating broadsword of a bike, with a menacing coat of matte-black paint bisected on the down tube by a murderous red slash. A bright white decal spells "McLaren" on the top tube, the logo of Britain’s storied supercar maker and F1 racing team, and Specialized’s longtime technology partner.
The pedal-fatigue test is long and numbingly dull. Test engineers fix the fork to a rigid point on the test jig, and the rear dropouts to an extension that simulates how a frame pivots over the rear tire’s contact patch. The final piece is a dummy drivetrain—including a cassette, chain, and overbuilt crankarms (both oriented at an angle to sustain maximum power transfer). Over the next 14 hours, the test machine alternately slams each crankarm with an excess of 1,200 N of force for 100,000 cycles—essentially a 120-rpm sprint for 14 hours straight. The test is meant to simulate cumulative pedal forces from years of riding.