Sunday, October 19, 2014

Fake Saddles, Counterfeit Merchandise - Lesson Learned

The fake saddle

The fake saddle

Photo the Selle San Marco sent me of the real saddle -
Note the "S" and the font used for Superleggera

The fake saddle. Note the "S" and the font used for Superleggera

I went to the Whittier Bicycle Swap meet last Saturday and bought some merchandise. Four of the five items I purchased were legitimate. One item was a counterfeit. 

I should have known better than to think a $325 saddle could have a $100 price tag, but hey - this was a swap meet. I've had similar deals in the past on legitimate merchandise, so I didn't flinch much in regards to the price. I asked the seller if he would accept $80, and he agreed without hesitation. 

The Selle San Marco (full carbon) Superleggera Racing Team ASPIDE saddle (runner up in the longest product name category three years in a row) looked new. It was (is) insanely light, topping the scales at a scant 95 grames. You can flick the surface with your fingernail and hear that resounding "tunk" of carbon. 

Yes, I was aware that fake merchandise is sometimes sold at these events. I examined the saddle and noted that the decals were on correctly, that it looked well-manufactured - no excess adhesive around the glued portions where the rails entered their mounts or other typical signs of shoddy workmanship. 

Returning home, I hopped on the computer and found that there were, indeed, several online sources for this saddle, including those that sold this model for $324, and some that sold them for $39. This was my first real clue that mine may have been a fake. I contacted Selle San Marco using their contact form from their Web site and received a prompt reply asking me to email them photos. I took some close-up pics and sent them on in.

Two days later I received this reply:

Hi Tom,
unfortunately I’ve to confirm you that the saddle is a fake!
You can understand it thanks to two things:

-       The price: most of times this saddle is very cheap (I don’t know how much you paid it)
-       carbon waist rails the shell (the part below) are shiny.
-       The logo “superleggera” is a little bit different from ours.

Attached I send you some photos of the original Aspide Superleggera.

At your disposal

So now I have, what appears to be, a finely-crafted, very light weight fake saddle. I'll attempt to ride on it around my neighborhood, but do not trust it for any serious riding. Mental images of a catastrophic carbon shell failure on a 39 mph downhill are enough for me to NOT use this for anything beyond slow, casual riding. Plus... have you ever tried riding on a hard shell carbon saddle? I have. Bought one on a lark a year ago and couldn't get halfway around the block. I don't mind thinly-padded saddles. I have a Selle Italia SLR that is plenty light (135 grams) and I can sit on that all day, but NO Padding - yeOUCH!

I should make a note that this saddle wasn't going on any daily rider. I have a weight weenie bike that I've managed to get down to 12 pounds 10 ounces, and this $80 would have brought it down two more ounces, which probably sounds insane to anyone who hasn't endeavored in a project such as this, but, to educate the uninitiated, you can expect to pay about $100 per ounce to bring a 13 pound bicycle down to 12 pounds. It's a sickness. 

You may ask why I don't simply return it to the vendor. Well, I had no time to do it the day I purchased it, but there is a chance that vendor will be there in Whittier in November. I'll probably take it back to him and ask for an exchange for some other, real merchandise. He has some nice, older Campagnolo gear that I know is legit. We'll see if he complies. As with most vendors at these things - all sales are final. I could threaten to report him, etc, but really - do I have the time to squabble over $80, and all he'd have to do is claim ignorance to the saddle's origin. Open and shut case - buyer beware. I'll update this post and let you know. 

Caveat emptor! 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Seattle Bicycle Swap Meet - September 28th 2014

From a good friend, who attended:

One of the best Seattle Bicycle Swaps was held at the Seattle center exhibition hall on Sept 28th, 2014. Its main sponsor is the cascade bicycle club. Vendors representing shops such as Recycled Cycles and Eric's shop BPASeattle dba Bikes + Art filled the hall. The mix was anything used to new to special clothing to books, art, t-shirts and stickers. 

From talking to the vendors, there was a huge interest in vintage stuff and a lot of it sold early, which brings me to my rule #1 for bicycle swaps - come EARLY. (Editor's note: My friend is right - If a swap is scheduled to start at 8:00 AM, come at 6:30. Help the vendors move their merchandise to their locations; talk to them... see what they have to offer - you get the idea. ;)

Everybody was friendly and willing to engage in conversation. Now that I have been to one bike swap (yes it was my 1st) I want to plan more!

Thanks for that report!

Now - for the readers - Have other swaps you want to tell me about? Comment below, please.

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