things you should know about knock off parts

I’ve been following a thread on the Subaru forums for a couple weeks now about a guy who bought a header from a company called Batlground Motorsports in Atlanta. While Batlground claims that this header is their own production, it appears to be made by a place called privatelabelmfg, which may or may not actually be the same people.

Here’s a picture of the header:

You might say “hey, that’s a pretty smart design,” and you’d be right: Subarus benefit from having an equal length header, and this 1.5 scroll setup, as it’s called, keeps exhaust gas pulses separate until just before the turbine housing to provide some of the spool and response benefits found in a twin-scroll system.

If you’re a huge Subaru nerd like I am, you might also say “hey, that header looks really familiar,” and you would be right again. Here’s a manifold made by Full-Race:

Full-Race specializes in twin-scroll turbocharger setups and produces some of the highest quality manifolds and turbo systems on the market. They do all the work in-house in Arizona, using heavy duty tubing and robotic-tig welding to ensure these parts will withstand extreme operating conditions and never develop leaks (something common to aftermarket Subaru headers). Their exhaust manifolds are used on some of the fastest street and track cars in the world such as the Sierra Sierra time attack EVO.

From the two pictures above, you can see that the batlground/privatelabel manifold is a direct copy of the Full-Race part, right down to the product description on their site and e-bay ads:

BATLGROUND MOTORSPORTS is proud to offer our new 1.5 scroll header/up-pipe for the 2002-2007 Subaru WRX & STI with either the 2.0 or the 2.5. You must use the 2.5 oil pan for proper clearance. This header is compatible for RHD and LHD chassis.

This is the earliest spooling, equal length header with the fastest response of any stock location header. The 1.5 scroll header consists of a twin scroll lower manifold utilizing the stock location for the 1.5 scroll up-pipe. Utilizing ideal cylinder pairing and the proper implementation of twin scroll technology, huge increases at the low end, midrange and top end can be achieved while minimizing spool time and improving throttle response. Proven to make substantial horsepower and torque gains, the 1.5 scroll is the best performing.

This header is designed to optimize performance for a stock EJ engine and stock location single scroll turbo, this up pipe uses a twin-tube configuration which locates the final 2-1 merger as close to the turbine as possible. Any stock or upgraded stock style turbocharger will fit, and also stock location bolt-on GT30R and GT35R. Want to go bigger? Simply unbolt the 1.5 scroll up pipe and install a Full-Race twin scroll up pipe, turbo, downpipe and external wastegates to convert to twin scroll allowing for an easy upgrade to twin scroll GT30r, GT35R or even a GT40R.

It doesn’t get any more blatant than that- notice how they forgot to change Full-race to Batlground in there?

Here’s the actual full-race product:

Things get even better: One Subaru forum member who purchased the batlground part, on 11/30/11, mentioned that with his newly installed headers he was not hitting previous boost levels and noticed a tapping sound. The cause? Leak at the flange, due to warping and/or misalignment of the parts. The shop who did the installation managed to get them on right, most likely with a new gasket and sanding of the flanges.

Fast forward 6000 miles and less than two months, when on 1/19/2012 the same guy mentions he might have another exhaust leak. The cause? failed weld:

Manufacturer blames the heat coating and sends a new one out, although someone still has to pay for the labor to change it out. Many people in the thread applaud Batlground for having such great customer service, still hopeful it turned out to be a fluke and they’ll be able get the performance and longevity of a $1500 part for $500.

Then last week the new header arrives, gets installed, and it’s immediately apparent something is not right. Sure enough, another leak, this time at the turbo to up-pipe flange.

So, to recap:

-Company makes cheap copy of Full-Race headers
-markets them using Full-Race product description
-headers fail in short period of time
-person who bought them is out the money for the headers, the install twice over, two dyno sessions, and is now back to square one

This is a great example of why it’s good to spend a little more up front on high quality, genuine parts. Hopefully a few people will learn from this person’s experience. I should mention that privatelabel and/or batlground have many other headers for sale that also appear to be full-race copies, along with fake bride seats.

The whole story and more pictures can be found here:

22 thoughts on “things you should know about knock off parts

  1. Exactly right! I sincerely hope you guys at FR sue the living shit outta them and take every dime thye have. I’m almost tired of doing what I love doing because most of the “scene” is killed wih kids too poor to do things right.And if that sounds all high and mighty well then ohwell,I tell it like it is. This industry is dependant on it’s customers,most of which are not sponsored racers or factory teams but individuals that have passion and drive. So for every fake part that is rocked by some kid that is another real part that does’nt get sold and another chip at the structure of REAL companies that do the hard work or R&D. Pretty soon you get companies that refuse to market to automobiles that are realistically affordable like hondas,nissans and so forth. They either wither away from loss of profit or snub their proverbial noses at our scene and turn towards makes like ferrari and porche where there’s more ppl willing to spend the money for a great product. It’s a shame most kids don’t know the difference between real and fake..all I can do when I pass them on my minty volks os shake my head and hope their rotas don’t crumble from out beneath them.

  2. Just keep buying real parts, that’ll keep all of us alive who are busting our asses to make quality handbuilt parts right here in the USA. We don’t need the whole market to stay alive, and all of those China/Taiwan/Korea equipped WRX’s and STi’s come back to decent parts soon enough in the long run.

    Here’s lookin at you Megan Racing, CNT, Tsudo, GodSpeed, TurboXS, AgencyPower, invidia, OBX, Gimmick Motorsports, etc, etc, ad infinitum…eat a dick.

    P.S. Rule of thumb: If it’s polished, it wasn’t made here.

  3. Ahhh, the days of China destroying a once prosperous and fun filled industry , I see, has not changed. It’s a tough racket competing with your own product at a competitive price. Sales are so cut throat that its the sald that counts not what was sold. Geoff, I feel your pain, I know you know mine and the issues I experienced in the past. I could go on for sentences, but you know the deal. With a couple customers, I actually offered them a discount off my parts. They could trade in the copy for a discount on the same part this way they are running the real part and we have the copy which we would bring to shows for people to see. Good luck!!

  4. You can’t even completely blame this one on China. Sure, it’s likely the stuff is being made there, but Batlground is in Atlanta. And there plenty of legitimate companies who outsource manufacturing overseas. I don’t want to turn this into a huge debate about China though.

  5. There are times when the china knock-offs are good, e.g. 3sgte downpipes which are pretty simple and can be bought from ebay for 70-80$, usually theyre quite ok, with some simple polishing and last several years with no problem. But boxer headers are difficult and not prone to small misalignments of course. Great story, thanks! :)

  6. Jamal, don’t forget the third party shops who whore this crap out all day long because the margins on these parts are higher than they can garner by selling a good product to their customers. But you’re absolutely right, this is more often than not an issue of US parts ‘developers’ whoring out their manufacturing (generally of knocked off parts, sometimes of new to market parts) to Chinese suppliers. It’s not like the Chinese factories are over here scouring our shores for parts to knock off. They simply get them from a company like Batlground and the next thing you know, not only does Batlground have a manifold, but the same manifold shows up on eBay with a $123.99 price tag.

    Tune86: There is probably somebody working a desk/shop floor job at an engineering or manufacturing firm right now who once owned the performance parts company who designed that 3s downpipe… But when the time comes that you’re ready for a downpipe for a Tial hot-side GT30R, nobody’s going to be there to produce one for your community if you all keep shoveling your money into bargain basement parts that are being made by someone who doesn’t care about, nor has the capacity to, develop new parts for the 3sgte. This mentality only goes so far.

    Jamal, drop me an email, I’d love to chat more about this.

  7. Nino STRIKES AGAIN !!!
    I hate having our stuff ripped off, but unfortunatly small companies like Full Race and ourselves cannot do a lot about it with small resources at hand.

    Only thing you can say is “he, my parts were good enough for someone to want to copy them” … and then make sure as many people know that they have been ripped off as possible !!

  8. Being a proud Full Race Dealer for many years as well as working at Full Race for over 2 years i can safely say you will NEVER be disappointed with a FR product. Simply the best out there hands down. Just talk to any one who has ever used any of the Full Race products.

    (I personally use Full Race manifolds and exhausts on both my track S13 and DD 4g63 galant VR4)

  9. Great read! This is proof that people like Geoff bring great contributions to the tuner scne and evidence to back it up. Sure someone can copy the looks of the park, but they can’t back up the warranty or the performance that comes with the name brand stuff. People don’t realize that there’s a reason that the good stuff cost good money, because someone put the time into testing it to make sure it was worth the time and money.

    As always Geoff and the crew at Full-Race are always in the top bracket of customer service and support. I’ve been in contact with Geoff since 2007 and he has always been prompt with a reply to an e-mail and any advice I might need about my specific turbo set up.

  10. I remember when every Full Race manifold was a copy of someone else’s… their first ramhorn was a copy of the Kooks tubular, one of which Geoff Ricer had on his teal green LS swapped ’94 Civic hatch back in ’97-98, before he ever went to AZ State and used their machine shop to start his copycat compant, or logged onto Honda-Tech to flame mom and pop fab shops for “stealing” his (Kooks) ram horn design.

  11. Guys-

    I hope this read makes it to as many forums as posible!

    As you may already be aware of, we in the Z32 comunity have been under assault with cheap knock-offs as well. I would proudly inform you that WE, collectively are doing something about it! Through the hard efforts of a few key enthusiasts, an on-line petition was started to spread awareness of this cancer that if left untreated will eventually shut down the aftermarket developement of the COOL SHIT we like!

    I’m speaking out of turn for alot of folks that have done alot of work on this:

    As of a few days ago our #1 culprit, has been excused as a sponsor, from our largest Conference/gathering. Z-CON! This particular company, through its hefty margins and cash rich profits, has been able to sponsor many events in the past. They are usually eager and willing to be tier 1 sponsors and the easy $$$$ are tough to say no to. We’re not holding event coordinators responsible but we ARE trying to create viable alternatives to source sponsorship and making it easier for TRUE developers to participate in these functions as well.

    1 win at a time…….keep your heads up, awareness is crucial!

    PS. There are thousands of sales reps bombarding our manufacturing businesses NATONWIDE, every day. The commisions these guys get are big business, and this arena is growing daily! They aggresively look for/purchase parts and equipment to reverse engineer and produce cheaper overseas. The proffitabiltiy is hard to say no to when there are so many out there that want something at the cheapest possible price.

    The learning curve for the value of quality equipment is pretty high. GREAT READ!

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  13. Actually what most of you fail to realize is that majority of the industry’s parts are manufactured in china, Korea, and Taiwan. Yes even the big named companies do this, but it’s not always a bad thing if they have a quality inspector to inspect every part. And the fact is if all the parts That we in the import world opt for, we’re all made in the USA we wouldn’t be able to afford them, and the scene could suffer horribly.

    I would never in a million years have paid $1500 for a header either. A smarter solution? Thoroughly inspect the part before putting it on, if you see a flaw in a weld hit it before it goes on, if a weld breaks take it off re weld it. If you have to pay someone to put your header on you probably shouldn’t be modifying your car

    And I know some people aren’t going to like what I have to say, but do some dirt digging on your favorite company… Just because it says designed “here or wherever” doesn’t mean that’s where it was manufactured. You would be surprised how many we’ll known US and JDM companies manufacture in china, Korea, Taiwan

  14. well the battleground actualy shipped my boy a jdm front clip for a cressida for dirt cheap and guys are cool as hell from what he says.

    on anthor note the manifolds you buy for cheap oviously you must brace them up and reweld the existing welds. you pay for what you get. plus the length of that manifold is gunna sagg down since you put a turbo on it and motor rocks back and forth plus the weight and heat cycles like wtf dnt complain about somthing a car guy would already know. he paid a shop plus install and now ranting about his manifold when it didnt work out because a real guy would already know to brace that bitch up.

    aka a whining noobie that needs to learn his turbo shit

  15. Even full race has its dirty little lies and secrets.

    It is a quality manifold though, i know, I designed it and many others when i worked there.

    Now i’m in the process of building my own robot welder :)

  16. Dude. You guys got caught red handed.
    You get what you pay for. I run FullRace twinscroll on my Subaru. The only problem I have had is how quick power comes on. Its like a 2 stroke.
    FullRace is also the only company I know that gives a lifetime warranty on their Subaru headers. Sure the other guys might good will something. But why risk it. Why go cheap and have to pay more later.

    You get what you pay for. You can not get quality and cheap. You gotta pay to play.

  17. I suppose china has made a less expensive alternative to product production, but they are to blame. One problem is the reverse engineering that takes place and then produced in China at a much lower cost, not only hurting the orignal manufacturer, but confusing the customer. What I mean by this is the explanation of why the parts look identical but differ in price by 200-500. They dont want to hear the details they see the dollar signs.As I said this happened to us on all our parts, luckily the name was strong enough and many of the intake manifolds failed under boost and the proof was in the pudding. Another problem is they dont care about trademarks, patents or much more. I remeber back in the mid 90`s China would cruise SEMA taking pictures of products. Would you purchase a K24 motor that was made in China…probably not.

  18. Full Race has just as much dirt as everyone else. For example the sr20det street manifold they used to make is a copy of the Tomei one. Thats the same one that everyone copied. There only so many ways to make a Subaru header, you can change it a little bit but they all come out just about the same. If you want to spend $2000 then get a Full Race header. If you dont have it then buy an Invida or another header made in China. If you dont like Chinese products then you had better evaluate all the products you have purchased in the past 20 years and have a come to god meeting with yourself.

  19. So many manufacturers have moved their production to China. For example, I started doing business with factory in China that made intercoolers for ebay distributors…heavy, crappy fit and finish, basic 1991 blitz style endtanks etc. We had them making much higher grade stuff within 2 years, our endtank designs, our fin spec, etc, and commanding higher prices as well. Fast forward a couple years and they had shuffled us down the client order due to their new clients. Greddy and HKS.
    The country of manufacture isn’t the problem here, it’s the asshat that orders it instead of doing the legwork and making sure that the part is made right.

  20. Unless there is a patent infringement here, no one is copying anyone. Not defending batlground, invidia, megan or whatever, just saying if there is no patent they are not violating anything. Furthermore, its a damn pipe assembly that can be created in Catia or Solidworks in like 2 hours, its not rocket science or serious engineering. The only thing you can fault these cheapo sellers for is crappy quality assurance. And even that can be fixed with minimal cost. Basic QA 101 can resolve the quality/fitment issues.

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