I almost hit ‘send’ on this email response. Thought better of it. What do you think?
I bracketed anything that might be viewed as a criticism to any builder other than myself, or might be considered personal info.
I’m posting this to illustrate the fact that it’s a 2-way conversation between a builder and a customer to achieve what both are looking to get and to make both parties happy in the end, and not just what one person’s ideas about the process should be. And this is the lesser seen part of the hours builders pour into their craft: communication. Clearly this was not a good fit for customer-builder.
I must admit that I’m a little floored by this chain of email communication. Without really asking me to address any of your concerns with a build, you launched into criticisms about my website and photography and design aesthetic (what you could make out from the lack of quality in photos). I’m honestly not sure at all what you hoped to gain from this experience, being unable to listen and ask questions, rather giving opinions where they do nothing to elevate the conversation. To be blunt, I feel like you’ve wasted my time. Since I know nothing about you, your background and experience as a rider, designer, or fabricator, I have to take your critical thoughts with a grain of salt.
Best of luck in your search for a builder. I certainly don’t envy the task of successfully managing your expectations during a build.
Sent from my iPad
I was just looking over your website updates, materials and flickr pictures. The market for custom work is competitive these days, so I don’t envy your task. I like your design thinking, so I want to see you succeed. In that spirit, this is what jumped out at me from my point of view:
The links at the bottom of the page, especially to the photos and philosophy of the frame we obvious, and I almost overlooked them. On my iPad the links looked like normal text.
Photos need to reflect both your best work and what the customer should expect at their price point.
The photos are a bit rough, blown highlights, shaky, distracting backgrounds, look like they were shot with a cell phone
Missing things I would like to see like tire/chain stay/crank clearances, bridges and boss details, fender attachments, chain stay forming, fork crown, all things that set expectations at a price point.
I think many builders either lack the desire or ability to do good photos, or think giving an honest expectation will loose sales. Either way, if I haven’t seen their work, I will pass.
rear dropouts do not appear as one with the frame
seat stays that terminated inelegantly (red bike especially)
Paint obscured lug work
One lug that looked filed was a bit rolled off rather than an even taper, but that may have been due to paint – powder coat and lugs are a tough combo
Hand lettering looked too home made and positioned where the water bottle would cover it
One rack had open tubes facing forward
Showing raw brazing work is hard to make look impressive, truth is I think many such photos are a creative fiction
The fork bend appears slightly sharp in the middle, not a smooth radius, but may be an optical illusion
If I am willing to do internal wiring, I would deal with installing the BB so the wire would not be exposed. I also worry about water from the front wheel here.
I liked my bikes in the 70s that ran the shifter cables over the BB
On the positive side:
I like the thoughtful design and attempts to address real world issues like changing a flat and carrying a larger load
The racks look very impressive, and the fabrication photos have good content if unfortunate backgrounds
If having integrated racks was my top concern, this would be the selling point
The bikes overall look good
Raw brazing on the lugwork looks clean
Seeing bikes being ridden out in the real world is good, I think some of the more successful websites give the impression you are joining a special and happy club
I think lots of filing is often a substitute for good torch work, and doing less finish work in certain areas can be quite acceptable to be cost effective. But some areas simply need more attention to make a frame look like one piece, and not an assemblage of separate parts.
To be honest, construction that is a bit raw is not a deal breaker. My current Al frame is basic flat patterns, ovalized pipes and decent welds, no supplemental cosmetic work at all. But it was full custom at $800 (2010). My steel Zinn was $1500 (1994) with fully filed oversize fillet brazing and wet paint; very pretty (too bad the guys philosophy is so…)
Obviously I speak only for myself. My feeling right now is that if I received a custom frame at this price point with the level of finish I am seeing, I would regret not having gone another route.
Thanks for taking the time to work with me. I will be following you progress in the future.
Let me look this over this weekend and get back to you about it.
Sent from my iPhone
My fit is attached. Sheet 1 has my basic metrics. The 120mm stem seems long to me, where my current bike uses a 75mm stem and longer top tube, but also concerned about shimmy. Sheet 2 is a dimensional study I was doing, but I defer to your experience.
I had a fit kit done in 93 which got me in the ballpark. Not very professional by today’s standard. My first custom frame was by Leonnard Zinn, [...] The fit dimensions attached are after 20 years of dialing them in and 3 custom frames later. My comfortable time in the saddle is much longer now than ever before. I have no particular issues, just everything gets equally unpleasant.
Mileage will probably be 3-4000 miles per year. I currently do longer rides on a recumbent because of discomfort from supporting my weight. 200k is about my limit on an upright, but maybe we can double that.
Most riding is on the flat, but longer rides involve very long and steep climbs. I am currently using 180mm cranks, typically turning 80-100 rpm, but am planning to go down to 175mm which seems to get me another 10rpm and more net power. I regularly power over short climbs out of the saddle, and alternate on longer climbs. Because I will use this for commuting with frequent stops, a low bottom bracket would be appreciated.
I am currently using a Rotor Q-ring on my extremely stiff aluminum bike, with the lobes positioned almost like a biopace chainring. I seem to have a square spot in my pedal stroke near the bottom and this dials it out.
The decision on racks comes down to how well integrated it is. The Grand Boise racks look nice in pictures, so hopefully you put up some pictures that show the benefits of going custom. I assume option B is the one that comes with integral light mount? The Grand Bois racks seem to use a bolt on adapter to mount an upright Edilux, which seems like a reliability issue. But it would be cheaper to buy a hanging light.
How about a Decaleur? Given my handlebar height this may need to be headset mounted. I do not want it cantilevered from the rack. I doubt I will remove the bag very often.
Most of the standard parts will come from my current bike. I will be doing the build and wheels myself. I would like all machining complete and any final alignment done. I have done aluminum fenders, but if any special forming is needed, I would want those done.
As for general appearance, I plan to never wear tweed. I will use some contemporary parts like stem, brifters and Avid Ultimate cantilevers. Downtube shifter bosses just in case.
Thanks so much for the thorough feedback. It is very appreciated. I am addressing many of the issues with the website redesign (I wish it were done now, truth be told), so it’s good to know that I’m on the right track.
I would love to see your metrics concerning bike fit. It sounds like you probably have a professional fit done? A couple of things that I consider when selecting tubing is overall rider height, weight and cadence norms.
I’d need to see your sizing requirements to make sure, but I recently built a size 64 seat tube bike that fit the GB28 without any trickery. There are, of course, a few things to consider.
As for the scope of the project at this point, it breaks down as such:
Option A–A semi custom Geometery spec’d to the individual rider. With all necessary braze ons, and internally run lighting wiring, honjo fenders and headset installed and a Grand Bois Rack (with normal low-rider attachments for aftermarket racks). $3075
Option B– Same as above except custom front handlebar bag rack instead of GB rack. $3525
Option C– same as option B but also includes custom low riders. $3875
It should be noted that the racks are chrome plated and light mounting is integral with the design. I of course can offer partial build specs or a full build as necessary, just ask.
I originally envisioned this project as growing to a point where it was an ‘off the shelf’ production model, but through the process I’ve learned a lot about what riders are looking for and semi custom fit, along with rider tuned handling make that unlikely. As for timeline, a project like this would be delivered in this coming winter.
I hope this clears things up for you, and thanks for being patient with me through this whole website frustration. Let me know of any more questions you may have.
Sent from my iPad
I can give you one opinion, as someone well read, having ordered several custom frames from various makers, but have not owned a proper Jan Heine type rando bike… which is where I learned of your work.
I am looking for value over ultimate perfection, but I very much want the uncompromising ride quality. It seems like you are offering very good value for a high level of integration. A lesser bike I am looking at is Boulder, which suggests the advantage of Waterford’s more advanced fabrication equipment, but all off the shelf racks and parts. I am unclear what benefit that is to me, and they are [...]
Stock geometry suggests good value and a proven design. It also shows you make what I am looking for and have experience with my size.
Custom suggests mainly correct tubing choice for my weight and riding style, but also no odd stem length or rise. It must be offered.
I do want to see that you will review my basic fit specifications and make a recommendation which is best.
Your low rider rack is a real standout offering, but I am not sure I will use it. It surely adds significant cost. If I did need it, this would be a deciding factor to go with your offering. Personally I wouldn’t balk at ordering an off the shelf lowrider later even if it is a compromise, just tell me what will fit.
I do want a well integrated handlebar bag with decaleur, which seems to be a common weak point on most offerings. The stem mount is the question. The rack itself can be a Nitto, but the light mount could be better. I might want an option not attached to the brake bosses.
Properly installed fenders are a good offering. It tells me you know how to design your frames for them (since you want to make it easy for yourself), and that you care what works good with your bikes. Fully built bikes are a similar deal, but I want mainly the specialized parts.
Other website stuff that is nice to see:
More sexy pictures
Color options and examples
Built up bikes – frames alone don’t do much for me
Tall and short bikes with special considerations
Some baseline costing and for major options
Some of your thoughts about the bike and your vision, how you arrived at the design.
What information you would like to see to kick off the process.
At the moment this particular offering seems lacking love on your website. Your heart seems to be more into the fat tire road bike. The rack and level of integration suggests otherwise. It is confusing. If it weren’t for the BQ articles, I would not have contacted you for a rando based on the website alone.
Hope this mess helps.
I can send you a detailed drawing on my fit requirements when you are ready to get the ball rolling.
Sent from my iPad
It’s still a bit in progress. I’d love to get some feedback as to what you’d like to see on there?
Custom geometry, or stock?
Custom racks, or using Grand Bois-Nitto made racks…
Sent from my iPad
Did you get that information on the CF together?
I no longer see the dimensions on your website.
Sent from my iPad
Thanks for getting in touch.
I think we could accommodate your requests. I’m currently revamping the CF project and the website, so the information up there isn’t as up to date as it could be.
Let me wrap up a few things and I’ll send out the full details of the CF line in the next day or so.
Sent from my iPhone
Comment: It looks like your 64 or 66 frameset would be a good match for my goals except I have my heart (and backside) set on the 650b x 42 compass tires. The 700c x 32 I use now are too small.
Is that doable?
I am also looking for that tuned flex that larger frames seem to have trouble achieving.
Time: August 10, 2014 at 7:49 am
IP Address: 18.104.22.168
Contact Form URL: http://www.cyclesjbryant.com/cf/