My good friend, and the ever talented, Jared Stone helped update the website for me over the weekend. There have been two new photosets uploaded. Kevin’s 650b Sportif is in the Road bike section, and Tracy’s 650b All-Road is in the Adventure bike section. Here is a link to the site:
Additionally there have been some significant changes to how I will offer frames. You can find these changes in the Pricing section of the website. Listed below are a few explanations of those changes.
I will now offer a 2 tier approach to the construction of the frames. I am also in the process of developing a stock geometry Randonneur bike as a third offering, but other than mentioning it in brief, I will hold off talking about that till it’s ready to go.
The 2 series of frames are Custom and Bespoke. The Custom Series will be truly unique, one-off designs. Customers will have the options of lug carving, bi-laminate or even lugs from scratch. Stainless tubing is also available in the Custom Series. These bikes will be custom fit for the customer, and will receive a single color “show” quality paint job and sterling silver head badge as standard. If you have a stash of vintage components, or plan on piecing your bike over a period of time, this would be the category of frame available for you. The Custom Series is available as either a frame/fork set or as a complete bike.
The Bespoke Series is the second category of frame offerings. These models are essentially my “signature” line as I have pieced together the best elements of framebuilding to make what I consider to be a great bike within the different disciplines of cycling. The frames are still custom fit for each customer, but there are fewer options for customization. Other then my special lug thinning, there will be no lug alterations. I am in the process of selecting 20 or so stock colors. The Bespoke bikes will only be available in stock colors.
The Bespoke Series is only available as a complete bicycle, meaning all of the components will be ordered and delivered with the frame. I am doing this for several reasons. Firstly, it allows me to build a more thoughtfully designed frame, as I will have all of the parts on hand. Secondly, it will save you, the customer, quite a bit of money as I receive OEM pricing on components. Additionally, selling a complete bike also allows me to spread out the cost of the frame, also reducing the overall cost.
If you have vintage parts, plan on piecing the bike together, or want to work with your local shop to build the bike up, then you need to go with the Custom Series. The frame will cost more, but you will get a higher level of paint work and a silver head badge as standard.
My main reason for making these changes is the great deal of work involved with making completely custom bikes. The more detailed they are, the more laborious and longer they take. It also involves a great deal of customer interaction, which is not by any means an issue, but that does add more time(I exchange about 50-plus emails with a customer) and expectations are much higher. As a result, I need to charge more for this level of work. At the same time I don’t want a price increase alienate people that want a handmade bike, but don’t necessarily need a completely customized frame.
In the process of changing how I will offer frames, I have also decided to draw a few lines in the sand. Firstly, I will only build using Columbus Tubing. Simply put, it is the best tubing available. I have now built out of nearly every tube set currently available, and Columbus has always been my go-to. The only times I have used something else is when the customer had specifically asked for something different. I inspect all tubing before building a frame both visually and mechanically, and Columbus has always had the most consistent quality out of any tube I have worked with. There is enough variety in the Columbus line for me to build a frame in any given size or for any intended purpose. I don’t want a project to be held up because I receive a bad tube and have to swap it out, and I especially don’t want a frame failure because of inconsistent wall-thicknesses or chemical composition.
The offering for lugs has also been narrowed down a little. For standard diameter frames, 1″ top tube, I will only use Henry James lugs. Once again, it is because they have the best quality. As their selection for oversize and double oversize is more limited, I will use Richard Sachs and Llewellyn for builds requiring bigger tubing.
Though this might make me look like some evil framebuilding dictator, and taking a bit of the fun of the process of getting a handmade bike, I assure you that simply isn’t the case. The reason for these changes is to provide my customers with the best possible bike, one that will suit their needs perfectly and provide them years of satisfaction. I stand by more work, and ultimately I take responsibility of the quality of the bike, but I can’t stand by materials I don’t think are suitable. These decisions do not come lightly, they are after nearly a decade of framebuilding experience and a lot of research.
The Fine Print
I want the process of ordering and building a handmade bike to be as seamless as possible. I don’t want there to be hidden costs or charges. Most of the things in the “Fine Print” wont apply to the majority of projects, but I want things to be transparent and also address some reacquiring issues.
Firstly, I have a pretty standard amount of time that it takes me to design a bike. More elaborate designs, that exceed the usual amount of computer or sketch time will be charged at $40 per hour.
For custom orders that will be delivered frame/fork, if I have I have taken time to comprise a components list and then you choose to buy the parts else where, then I will have to charge $40 per hour for my time. Though it might seem like coming up with a list of parts does not take a lot of time, it is quite the contrary. It can easily eat up half a day or more. Additionally, for projects involving vintage parts, if I have to spend time searching for the parts, figuring out their compatibility or they add time to designing the bike then the consultancy fee will apply. My reason for doing this is that I try to keep my prices as low as possible. The cost of the frame or complete bike only covers the materials, overhead and my labor. Not only do I take a hit on an already small margin, but not being paid for work I did also delays both the current and following projects. Yes, there are cheaper parts out there if you search for them, at prices I cannot compete at. But third party sites like Amazon or eBay aren’t going to honor much of a warranty and they are certainly not giving anything back to the cycling community. I have warrantied products to my own expense when the manufactures have been unwilling to do so, and I do my best to add to the “scene” by sponsoring or hosting event. This is part of the ethos of buying local or from a small business, something I feel very passionate about, and I hope you do too.
The next item on the “Fine Print” is “change of orders”. Hopefully this will cease to be an issue as I will now limit the amount of discussion of a project before it is time to really get moving. I understand people being more then eager to get started on their bike as soon as they hand the deposit over, but I have found doing so leads to an endless list of changes before the build had even started. If you order and are fitted for a road bike, and after I design the bike, you decide you want a mountain bike, then you will be charged a “change of order” fee. Additionally, any major changes after you have signed off on the final design will incur a fee.
Choosing paint is probably the hardest decision a customer will make. It is also where I have had the most issues. I would like to think that I now have a good system in place and multiple exceptionally good painters at my disposal. When choosing paint I will point you to a few online resources that has an endless selection of colors. Customers have also provided paint swatches from hardware stores or shown photos from computers. Though the majority of times this has been successful, matching paint by eye does not guarantee an exact match. There are too many variables, and thus if you are asking for something to be matched by eye, neither I nor the painter are responsible if it is not a perfect match. If you require an exact match, then you must provide a color code by making a trip to the automotive paint store and finding a color that works best for you.
In regards to pricing, the cost provided at the beginning of a project is an estimate. Even in a relatively short space of time, the costs of materials or of doing business can change. As mentioned before I work at a very small margin in order to keep my prices down, if the cost of doing business changes then that can affect my ability to do business, even in the short term. As a result, the final cost will be tallied before the delivery of the bike. You will be notified of any significant cost increases during the project.
Last but not least, I have decided to make any lug alterations or lugs from scratch “Builder’s Choice”. Lug carving is a lot of work and hard on the hands, so I need to be motivated and inspired to take on such an endeavor. I will certainly consider your preferences, but a lot of times I do not know what the design will be till I have the lug in my hand and the metal tells me what to do. This makes it hard to share any designs beforehand, but if you like any of my previous work then I am sure you will like the end result.