If it has to be one of the countries we beat in the war, now overcharging me for the products of their manufacturing industries, let that country be Italy. Whenever the Japanese rip me off, I sense the hand of some suited up company man who would kill himself rather than return a loss to his shareholders. When I was told a broken gear cable would mean spending $600 for a new pair of Shimano STI levers, because Shimano will not sell small parts, or even a solitary right lever, those Japanese CEOs were all I could think of.
When the Germans leave me feeling used and abused, all I can think of is that giant hole in their middle market.
With the Germans it’s either Mercedes or VW Beetles, and nothing between. When they get together to form a brand, they decide whether to do “German engineering” or “Jerry-Built”, their only two shticks. When buying German you will either score something like a Rohloff hub that will work for your descendants, or be left scratching your head as to why your Busch & Muller lights work when they please.
You’re never left feeling cold after paying too much to an Italian. You feel more like Cosimo I de’ Medic, granted the privilege of supporting their guild. If something doesn’t quite function, then that is by tradition. And if some cable gets lost inside a Campagnolo STI lever, they will sell you one part, not two complete levers, as Shimano insist.