Very relevant - and I believe there's another key issue, apart from perceived quality, which affects buying patterns - emotion
Some people like the idea of riding (or indeed buying/owning) anything made locally to them - a sort of display of patriotism or local pride if you like, stemming back to days when the UK actually employed people (many people) in a manufacturing industry with a respected worldwide market.
I'm refurbishing a Flying Scot roadbike because it was made in Glasgow a few miles from where I grew up. No other reason really - a decent bike yes, but in reality probably not much "better" than other contemporary frames. If I'm honest I will say I prefer to own European equipment rather than Far Eastern, but my household inevitably abounds with both.
I have Norton and Triumph motorcycles plus Kawasakis and Hondas, the latter being far superior in most respects. However the breadth of my grin when on the Norton/Triumph is what it's all about for me
I feel the same "grin factor" with bicycles and was disappointed years ago when I learned that brands such as Saracen and Orange were made abroad, but it was simple economics for the companies concerned. They're fine bikes.
I also have a 1967 Land Rover in preference to a Toyota Hilux
My dog now thinks he rules the roost BTW.
(one voters experience expressed and nothing more)
The confusion that arises over where a bike is made here in the UK still surprises me.
It truly shows that the presumption of being handbuilt in England making it a better bike, was an important factor to many consumers in the early days of the U.K mountain bike scene. And it did in fact bolster sales.
Whilst windsurfers and others saw an opportunity, they didn't have the setup/skills to build their own frames, not wanting to miss the boat, the far east was the first stop. It was no wonder it inevitably upset some of the small UK frame builders that had enjoyed success in the earlier part of the 80's, these guys jumping on the bandwagon claiming their bikes were handbuilt in the UK (when in truth Hand Assembled was far more accurate).
Given as a nation of Frame builders, (reaching hundreds in previous part of the last century, especially around the middle country)
It being "Handbuilt in England" genuinely did play a big part on how Quality was viewed.
Muddy fox, didnt rely on it as a selling tool. (by far was the cleverest image/marketing i had ever seen.)
Every frame Orange Produced was made Overseas and painted here. Even the few Orange Formulas Produced were not made by them but farmed out to small English frame builders and had their decals added. Ever mindful of that need to be seen to be Hand built in England, and to compete with the highest respected builders such as Roberts and Yates etc. The buying public little aware that they may actually be riding a Yates Frame with Orange decals.
Image was Everything and it sold bikes.....but there was still that worry that if it didn't have Handbuilt in Halifax on it.....?
Inevitably the worries of some of the smaller Frame builders here in the UK were born out, and it worked.
I just noticed a post on a current thread, posted in 2010 and it was still a common place misunderstanding. The great marketing machine had done its job.
Saracen, like many did in the early days used companies to build its frames here in the UK, as well as having success in the press with English riders overcoming massive obstacles to climb Real Mountains with their bikes, both fantastic marketing tools.
By the time the boom had hit big time, and Far east Imports baring American Brand names such as Marin, Specialized, GT etc were flooding in, Saracen needed to increase Output to keep up with both competition and Sales demand.
Production from the far east was sought, but with the issues that Orange and others had had with quality control and not wishing to loose the sales advantages of the 'Handbuilt in England' that was seen to bring with it.
All imported frames were finished by hand here in the U.K as Pete has said, braze ones were added, frames checked, prepared etc then they were powder coated and then assembled, affording a far better build quality fit and finish over its competitors and still enabling them to say to a degree "Handbuilt in England".
Later bikes like the Formula 1 Carbon frames were additionally incorporated into the range as a flagship model spec'd differently to that of the early F1s naturally Handbuilt from carbon here in the UK and Bearing the Saracen name.
So popular did the brand become, Halfords wanted to sell the brand on its UK shop floors, Saracen conscious that this might well devalue the brand image, but reluctant to loose market sales, Saracen decided to sell a range of four bikes through the Halfords network, named Saracen Eiger. These were available on shop floors, and in all honesty they differed only in name to the equivalent model in the current range, all other models were available but only to order. Given the track record of Saracens Quality control and Sales, A deal was done to have a similar product for the higher range of Carreras (halfords Own brand name). It worked.
The main difference between the Orange and Saracen brand to my mind in those early days came simply down to Quality control. Whilst to a degree both brands were finished here in the UK, one was far closer to a true Handbuilt Bike than the Other. Image wise Orange to my mind won hands Down, for Fit and Finish reliability it was Saracen.
WANTED: Kona Sex One rear brake canti hanger pivot thingy - GOT ONE!
I could be tempted by a 19" - 21" Dave Yates (mountain) frame.................and no I still don't do trail centreshttp://www.corrieyairack.org/index2.html