Rip off and duplicate

The practice of letting others go through the effort of coming up with an original concept, developing and validating it, with all the expense and effort that entails – to then simply rip off the product by launching a cheap copy is a phenomenon that our industry is not immune to.

Still, the case with the cheap copies of Uli Distel’s spikes is especially blatant. Let us not support brands and manfacturers indulging in these kind of practices, as it really literally is ripping off our own scene!

Below is the statement that Uli released regarding these copies. Please help spread the word…

Heidelberg, 10.04.2019

Dear arborist community,

probably we are already a bit late, but we feel more than ever the need to inform and warn you about copies of our well known and valued tree climbers made in Europe. The copies come from China and are distributed

  • in Italy by Gardenforst with their own brand “Raptor”
  • in Spain by Podapro with their own brand “Bistel”. Maybe also in other countries by now.

On normal product pictures you can barely spot a difference between our climbers and the copy. We had been curious what to expect for such little money, so we purchased a pair ourselves some time ago. We can say that our climbers had been copied in every detail, just in very poor quality. Here are some com- parison pictures with explanations for the difference of the copy and an original Distel climber from 2017. Because this is the version which has been copied. We improve our climbers every year. Please see below for the changes of the current model.

  • The outside of the cuff: The copy shows a matt finish with huge defects on the surface. Also note the poor milling and the surface failures on the aluminium shank.
  • The inside of the cuff: The hook strap is glued in with so much glue that the hooks are drowned in glue, so that they loose their function.
  • Lower shank: Two striking defects on the underside of the shank, probably from bending (note that the copy has an exponential bending radius while the Distels have two bending radii, giving it its typical edgy look).
  • Lower strap: Distels come with original Weaver-strap (note the WL under the buckle). The copy comes with a plastic toy strap.
  • Gaff: By any goodwill, you cannot call the gaff of the copy as precision cast. Big steel noses all around. Distel gaffs come with a matt anti-rust coating.Please be aware that we compared here the one-to-one copy from 2017. This version of our climber is now two years old. The current model of 2019 has the following improvements: Improved material for the shells, black PTFE-coating for the gaffs, sewn-in ring instead of cinch-bar, hook-and-loop attachment instead of rivets. And they also come with our own “Distel”-Logo.

To verify the poor look we conducted load tests.

  • Hardness tests: Both, the steel gaff and the aluminium shank of the copy, seem not to be hardened. The hardness of the aluminium shank is too soft and not measurable with our Rockwell hardness test machine.
Steel Gaff in HRC10-2047
Aluminium Shank in HRBNot possible56
  • Load test for the copy strap: The leather part which holds the buckle snaps very early at around 65 kg of load. In our opinion this is a serious risk. The hole cuts out at around 110 kg load. The plastic strap itself holds quite a lot as it stretches to infinity.

• ASTM static load test with 330 kg load for gaff and shank: The upper part of the shank bends like a bow and that also permanent. The same applies for the gaff which looks like a ski-jumping hill after the test.

In our opinion, it is more fun burning money than buying those climbers and risking your life. If you look for serious climbers for arborist work, look for well established brands like Buckingham, Bashlin, Edelrid or Distel.

Climb safe,

Uli Distel
Inventor of the Distel-hitch

Climbers Forum at the German Tree Care Days

Here is some footage from this year’s Climbers’ Forum at the German Tree Care Days in Augsburg and also some thoughts regarding what we would like it to be and what makes it special.

There were certainly lots of special moments this year. I leave Augsburg feeling content and enriched – not to mention rather tired, to boot. I will try to write up a bit on my personal highlights in the near future, but for starters here is the video… thanks to Vito for filming and editing.

And here are some photos of the set-up, event and tear-down: