There is a short answer and a long(ish) answer to this.
Short answer: Carbon fiber bicycle frames are made using a number of manufacturing techniques, the most common being CNC-machined molds in which carbon fiber sheets are layered, impregnated with resin then cured to make the final frame structure. Development of bicycle carbon frame molds, from design to production, is very expensive (between $5000-7000 per mold plus incidental expenses, per size..do the math on one bike model with 4-7 sizes). We are a very small company, and our philosophy is to offer highly affordable carbon bikes at a fraction of the price of mega-brand offerings (where you are often paying mostly for the brand aura more than groundbreaking technologies in carbon frame construction).
Our carbon frames come out of molds shared with a number of other bicycle brands to keep our costs low and focus our resources on three things beyond “just the bike“: 1) development of specific product features (read below, offering both stock builds and custom builds to suit the needs of Canadian riders and 3) offering a level of after-sale services that build long-lasting trust in the Montu brand.
It can be argued that anyone can just sell bicycles. We believe that the only way to build sustainable growth in our brand is to build a relationship with the wider riding community in Ontario and beyond by not only offering a product with premium features at a very affordable price point, but also offering value-added services beyond “just the bike”.
The longer answer:
There is something known as open/shared/semi-open molds in the bicycle industry. The Big Names in this business own their molds (i.e. are proprietary, no one else can sell a frame out of the same mold). Many new/small bicycle brands benefit from open or shared molds in getting a foothold in the market due to the low cost of product development compared to “from scratch” design and development. You would be surprised to learn that some rather well-known brands in the industry use open molds in some or all their product lines. In some cases, brands will have an exclusivity contract with the factory by which the factory can offer sales out of the same mold to other customers after the contract expires. In others, in the case of full-suspension mountain bike frames, companies might use an open mold front triangle and a proprietary mold for the rear triangle (rear triangles are far less expensive to develop because a single mold is often used across the sizing range).
The world of bicycle carbon manufacturing is actually so multifaceted and complex that a quick answer will most definitely be a gross oversimplification of how things work behind the scenes of developing new bikes. While we share the basic mold with other companies, we pick our manufacturing partners very carefully and have an open feedback loop with our them by which we’ve had specific things improved like the carbon layup, cable routing, surface finish, bearing seat tolerances and internal construction.
Other brands exist that use the same carbon molds (hence, you may see other brands with bikes that look like ours). Again: these shared molds allow us to keep costs manageable and offer bikes at extremely competitive price points. We iterate. We bring incremental improvements to the final products that include improved bearing seat tolerances (no creaking bottom brackets), tuned carbon layup for higher strength-to-weight ratios, and improvements to frameset construction and finish that allow us to confidently offer a warranty that is on par with the “Big Names” in the bike business in Canada.
Can you buy a bike that looks the same from other brands or, in some cases, factory direct? Sure. Are all open mold frames, regardless of branding, have the same quality? Certainly not. There is a vast spectrum of variance in terms of quality, construction and finish. Will it come with the iterative improvements we mentioned above and the backing of a Canadian business? There are so many options out there that only you, the customer, can find out by making informed purchase choices. The wonderful thing about the capitalist marketplace, though, is the menu of choices it affords customers. Competition is a good thing.
At the upper echelons of bicycle manufacturing, unique “proprietary” molds offer you – the rider – little beyond absolute uniqueness, proprietary component standards with doubtful benefits and maybe fancy paintwork. There are certainly well-established companies exploring the cutting edge of bicycle composites manufacturing, such as emerging filament-wound manufacturing and other new techniques, but there are vastly different price brackets and feature/value ratios to consider unless a purchase budget is not a concern.
Non-proprietary and open standards are all adopted in the upper tiers of the open/shared mold world, to which our frames belong. The construction quality of our frames are on par with Big Name brands, and we back this up with a solid warranty and after-sale service. All complete bikes are assembled and checked on a 28-point checklist in our workshop in Arnprior, Ontario.
We offer a two-year warranty on all frames as well as a crash replacement policy in Canada. We are extremely transparent when it comes to how and where our frames are made. Get in touch if you have further questions!