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Tramps, Thieves & Copycats – How to Stop Counterfeit Motorcycle Exhausts

It was a thick and muggy night in Hong Kong. I was light-headed with a touch too much cobra-blood-and-rice-wine, and so I bought the fake Rolex. Of course, I did.

“Why did you give that greasy criminal $20 for a watch that will stop working before we get on the plane?” my wife asked.

I shrugged. There were lots of reasons, none of them good, all of them bad, and most of them to do with my vanity and despair at not ever in my life being able to buy a real Rolex.

“Cobra-blood,” I said to her, rather than admit to my failings. “It makes me crazy.”

As it turned out, the watch worked for about a month. Long enough for someone to comment on my stunning Rolex, which I immediately laughed off and declared to be a fake I had bought in a dirty Hong Kong laneway.

My beloved wife had a view on that as well.

“What’s wrong with you? You buy a fake flash watch, then immediately admit to it being a fake to the first person to admire it. And don’t give me that cobra-blood crap. You’re drinking whisky.”

I mumbled some tosh about how buying fake watches was a thing everyone did when they went to Hong Kong, and it was a bit of a laugh, and how I am really a crap bullshit-artist, especially when I’m trying to pass-off $20-worth of rubbish as a $20,000 watch.

She looked unimpressed, as she usually is when I’m trying to mutter myself out of a hole I have happily dug for myself.

MONEY TO BE MADE

The small picture here is that I bought a cheap fake watch. The larger picture is that I was one of many thousands who have done the same, and thus continued the prosperity of the fake industry.

An industry, which you can guess, is huge. How huge? According to Forbes, in 2018, counterfeit goods were the largest criminal enterprise in the world – far bigger than drugs and human trafficking – earning $1.7 trillion for the copy-cats. It is also estimated this will grow to some $2.8 trillion by 2022 and cost more than 5.4 million jobs.

The people who buy counterfeit goods can usually be placed into two camps. There are the folks who don’t care that it is counterfeit. They are brand-whores, don’t think fakes are really all that much of a problem, and simply cannot resist, say, an SC-Project exhaust for $50. And unlike my watch-buying self, they will never tell anyone they bought a counterfeit exhaust.

Motorcycle-exhaust manufacturing.
Author Boris Mihailovic

Author: Boris Mihailovic

Published in Bike Me!, MCNews.com.au, Caradvice.com.au, Red Dirt Diaries, Bikesales.com.au, Smiths Lawyers, XbHP (India), Auto Action, Australian Motorcyclist, Heavy Duty, Ozbike, Live to Ride, Australian Motorcycle News, Road Rider, Kiwi Rider, Two Wheels, Just Bikes, Motorcycling NSW, Top Gear, Wheels, Menace 2 Society, Australian Worker, Zoo, Penthouse, The Picture, People, Motorcycle News (England), Ralph, FHM, Street Machine Choppers and Motorcycle Legends.

Podcast: MotoPG – We See Dead People

Books published by Hachette: My Mother Warned Me About Blokes Like Me and At The Altar Of The Road Gods.

Book published by Shock & Awe Publishing: The Wisdom Of The Road Gods.

The Wisdom of the Road Gods

In the second camp are people who genuinely believe they are buying a big-name brand item at a fantastic price. These people are either naïve to the point of retardation, or fantastically stupid. Or both at the same time.

There are only two ways an SC-Project exhaust could ever cost $50. It’s either fake, or it’s stolen, and the thief has a truck-full of them to off-load as fast as possible. So, if it’s stolen, then you’re breaking the law when you buy it. If it’s a fake, and you unknowingly purchase the fake, you’re not breaking any law, but you are supporting a giant industry that is actively contributing to mass unemployment and the social problems that come with that.

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

And then there is the reputational damage being caused to companies like SC-Project. SC-Project quite rightly prides itself on the quality of its exhausts. So when you buy a fake CR-T exhaust, allgedly by SC-Project – coincidentally the most copied exhaust muffler on the market today – you can be guaranteed there is not a scrap of high-grade aeronautical titanium in it like there is in a real SC-Project pipe. But there is certainly a wondrous goulash of cheap drink-can aluminium, not-so-stainless steel, and re-cycled tin.

Motorcycle-exhaust manufacturing.

And, of course, you do get a bunch of guarantees with that fake SC-Project can. It’s guaranteed to:

  • Not fit unless you adjust it with a hammer.
  • Not last longer than a hangover.
  • Not sound as magnificent as a real one.
  • Not stay attached to your bike.
  • Not be welded with anything other than clay.

And if that’s the case, how do you explain this to your mates, who will be laughing at you as you pick bits of your fake SC-Project can up off the road? Do you admit to buying a fake, smile ruefully, and cop it on the chin? Or do you get all righteous and declare all SC-Project pipes are crap, and here is the evidence in your hands?

Choose the latter, and you’re out $50 and no big deal. But the reputational damage to SC-Project is tangible. And it’s not just SC-Project which is the target of copycats. Akrapovic is heavily targeted, as are other great and reputable brands, like Leo Vince, Arrows, Yoshimura, and Austin Racing.

Motorcycle-exhaust manufacturing.

For these companies, who take great pride in producing superb pipes, it’s not the loss of revenue. That is actually negligible. The fakes are being bought by people who don’t have the means to buy a genuine product, so it’s not like the genuine exhaust-pipe manufacturers are missing out. It’s not money they would have got anyway.

The war being waged by these companies against the fakers is not based on greed. The war is being fought on a different plane altogether. It’s like someone stealing your identity and committing crimes using your name. Sure, it’s not really you robbing servos, and raking up fake credit card debt, but it’s your name that’s being used in these acts. You get dirty by implication and association. It’s not you, but your name is being used.

Fake exhaust
Fake exhaust
Fake exhaust
Fake exhaust

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL

And there is another problem in this murky world of false brands and copies. Some of the copies are really very good replicas – at least to the naked eye. And what these copies rely on is your unfamiliarity with the product.

For example, if your missus has never seen a real Gucci handbag, then you’re probably safe buying her one from the boot of some bloke’s car in the pub car-park. And everything will be fine until one of her girlfriends gets a genuine Gucci handbag from her bloke, and starts laughing at your lady’s fake. You will probably die that night, but her shame will be eternal.

So “good” fakes are everywhere in the motorcycle industry, and are especially prevalent in the garment sector, but they can also be found in the exhaust market.

Fake exhaust

Most people, especially those who are not long-time riders, or mechanically inclined, would not know proper stainless from pig-iron, or titanium from Colourbond fencing. They might not even be aware that SC-Project is not spelled “SC-Projects”. All they can see is what appears to be a genuine and well-made pipe. That it will explode and kill the bloke behind him one weekend is a problem for another day. It’s a bargain! It’s a discontinued design! It’s a factory second! It’s part of an over-run on the production line! It was a display item that’s why there is no box! You’ll save 40 per cent on the retail price! FORTY PER CENT!

Fake exhaust

And so on. Sound familiar? And when it all goes to hell – and it will – this bargain hunter will be the first on social media screeching about how his SC-Project/Arrows/Akro pipe was rubbish. Will he tell anyone he bought it on the cheap? Nope. He’ll just rubbish the brand so as not to appear like the twat he is.

The solution, if there is one in a world of rip-offs, knock-offs, and forgeries, is pretty simple. It’s so simple, it’s s cliché. And it’s a cliché because it’s true. If the deal sounds too good to be true, it is too good to be true. On a deal like that, there is only one winner – and that isn’t you.

Good exhausts cost money because they’re good. They’re beautifully made, the finest materials are used, they last, they fit, they look good for the life of the exhaust, and they sound like the manufacturer wants them to sound.

You might have to save a bit longer to own such an exhaust, and you might have to eat one-minute noodles for a week or so after buying it, but that’s a small price to pay for owning the real deal.

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