Revenge of the Nerd-Boycott Fakes!
By Mike Kojima
I wrote a very similar column to this during my stint as Engineering Editor at the late great Turbo Magazine about a year ago. Even though a year has past, the main issue that is ruining our industry is still going full blast. That issue is the copying of components designed and produced by quality companies by other companies, usually of Chinese origin and dumped on our market at ultra low prices.
A lot of people in our industry bemoan the fact that the passion and innovation of the game is getting diluted by the influx of fly by night Asian companies that are in the business of making cheap knockoffs of parts made by the established performance companies. These companies sell their fake wears for a fraction of the original’s price using no cost marketing ploys on Ebay and other inexpensive direct selling arenas.
This practice pisses me off to no end; it’s ruining our industry and our hobby (or passion depending on how important cars are to you). The rips off artists incur no R&D costs and have much lower tooling costs (its way easier and cheaper to copy and reverse engineer things). They even benefit from the marketing costs an original manufacture puts into their products by making them look exactly the same or claiming it to be the same with counterfeit labeling and packaging.
Lately I have heard many times after seeing something cool and innovative at the track that a company will have no plans to sell said object “because it will just get ripped off and sold on Ebay before we can even recover the development costs”. If you feel that products from established companies are becoming stale and boring, or there is no rush to develop parts for your car, blame the copy cats. The number of smaller, more innovative and nimble companies that drive innovation in a fairly small and dynamic market like ours are dropping like flies because of the rip off artists.
|Hotshot used to be a company that made headers for models that were not quite mainstream like the Nissan Sentra, Saturns, Neons, the Ford Focus and various Toyotas. Copycat rip off artists stole all of Hotshots designs and they went out of business. You can bet that the Chinese companies that stole Hotshots designs won't come out with new headers for these less than common models. The mainstream manufactures won't make headers for your less than common car either. Need a header for your MR20 powered B16 Sentra? Well Hotshot is gone and the Chinese companies can't R&D one for you either|
Sometimes the quality of these knock offs is ok (but never as good as the original) but most of the time is quite shoddy. Many times the quality is so bad; it can actually harm your car or put your safety at risk. A good example of this is an SR20 oil pan I saw the other day. It looked just like a Greddy oil pan at first glance. I’ll call it a Freddy. The Freddy was installed on a drift car that was being worked on for a spun rod bearing at a friend of mines race prep shop.
The Freddy made me do a double take because the poor quality of the casting caught my eye, 5 feet away. I thought, WTF, Greddy doesn’t make something bad like that. On a more careful inspection the Freddy was sand cast using some kind of poor quality sand that was stuck in the metal. Rubbing the surface of the casting would cause it to shed partially embedded sand! The sand had gotten loose inside the engine and had wiped out the bearings, scored the crank and scratched up the cylinder walls. That was one expensive cheap oil pan.
Another thing I have seen lately was a rip off of a Ground Control coil over conversion kit. The kits as they sat on the shelf of a performance retail outlet looked like a Ground Control kit from a couple of feet away but the anodizing was a cheap color flash, not the corrosion resistant hard anodizing Ground Control uses. The machining was not as clean and who knows what alloy was used. The thing that made me really angry was the springs. Ground Control uses top notch Eibach ERS springs and the faker’s used uh, red springs. Who knows what spring rate these were? The wire diameter and coil count seemed identical for all 4 springs for many different applications. Not to many cars I know handle well with the same spring rate all around. This affects user safety and is morally apprehensible. Universal spring rates for all applications?! WTF!
|Volk uses FEA to pare down the weight of there forged high quality wheels without taking risks or sacrificing strength. I bet the Bolk copy of this wheel made of melted down beer cans doesn't!|
I have seen fake Volk wheels with the JLL approval standard mark faked into the wheel. Let’s call this wheel a Bolk. I know the Volk wheel was designed from the start to be a wheel forged from a high grade of aluminum. The Bolk was crudely sand cast from recycled beer cans most likely. Now I know Volks are designed using FEA stress analysis to pair the weight to a minimum, making the most of the superior mechanical properties that forging and quality wrought aluminum alloy posses. Now will the sand cast pot metal Bolks made using a design that depends of the strength of forging and quality alloy pass any sort of safety standardized testing? Probably not. Would you want to drive a set of Bolks on the track? How about having Bolks on a car driven by a family member?
At SEMA I was shocked to find a booth hawking what appeared to be fake Motons dampers. When I asked the reps what the knobs on the cannisters did, I was shocked that they told me that the knobs were for hard and harder damping? They did not know what the knob on the top of the shaft did. If you are going to copy something, at least understand what you are copying.
|Real or Fake Tial wastegate? The real Tial has a reinforced nomex silicone diaphragm, the fake one is molded rubber of unknown quality. The real wastegate has an inconel base and a stainless valve. Who knows what the fake is made of. Guess which one is likely to stick and blow your engine?|
My neighbor bought a fake Tial wastegate off of ebay for his turbo Integra. He was proud of his purchase and he argued with me at length like this faker company was Robin Hood or something. Never mind that the Fake Tial had a unreinforced stamped rubber diaphragm and a body and valve made of mystery metal. I am not sure which came first, the torn diaphragm or the stuck valve but the wastegate failed and so did his engine when it hit 30 plus PSI on pump gas. I have also seen copies of Greddy and HKS blow off valves using shoddy manufacturing and inferior materials as well.
The latest pisser was a fake turbo I saw on the net. It was a knockoff of the Garrett GT28RS. It was called the Disco French Fry! The real Garrett GT28RS turbo has an insider’s nickname, the Disco Potato. This was because it was developed for a Nissan Sentra Concept car that was nicknamed the “Disco Potato” by the motoring press because of its tuberous shape and iridescent paint job. So when the new turbo hit the market, the cars nickname stuck to the turbo and it became known as the Disco Potato turbo to denizens of chat rooms. The copy cats even ripped off the turbo’s sort of lame nickname. They should have called it a Carrot or something!
|These are real Moton Motorsports Dampers. They cost $7500 bucks and kick ass. You can bet that Lex from Moton knows what the various knobs do and can help you dial them in. The fake Montons I saw in the booth at SEMA looked exactly like this. The company reps didn't have a clue to what the knobs did. They were probably fake|
What can be done about this? Don’t buy that shit! It’s not cool; it’s as lame as fake Rolex. You might be proud of your ride but the guys in the know will clown it. Most of the time inferior parts will hurt your performance, your cars durability and maybe even your life. Its false economy. Save your money, buy real parts from real manufactures.
Now note that I have nothing wrong with inexpensive parts made in Asia. I am not that kind of brand snob. If a Chinese company comes out that flosses there own designs or there own unique variations of existing designs and sells them at a low price point, I have absolutely no problem with that. I am old enough to remember when Japanese products were laughed at too. That is capitalism at its best and a little competition is good for an industry. The issue to which I am nearly violently opposed to is the blatant rip off and copying of existing product, especially with copies of inferior quality that could be dangerous.
Join the staff at MotoIQ in this fight. MotoIQ will not use fake parts in our test cars nor accept advertising dollars from companies that produce fakes. This stance might hurt us in the short run but we will fight for the health of our industry which is rapidly disappearing. MotoIQ supports the real inventors and innovators in the Racing and High Performance Market. Fight the Power, support our industry.