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Choosing a builder?

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Choosing a builder?

Old 02-18-19, 06:04 PM
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jade408
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Choosing a builder?

I am thinking about a custom frame. I have a list of potential builders - selected based on materials and the looks of the bikes in their image galleries. These people seem to make bikes with the features and configurations I want. I looked to see if they have the frame style I want.

I have a decent fitting bike, with a few smaller fit issues and some design feature requests.

I am not sure if I should prioritize getting someone who is local to me? Their level of enthusiasm with a project like mine? Years of experience? Something else.

What are your tips? How did you choose? What would you tell a newbie?
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Old 02-18-19, 06:29 PM
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Confidence in the builder's ability, the communication between the two of you, the style is in the builder's wheelhouse.

But the only time I have ordered a custom frame it was a tandem. I had high confidence in their skills, was very impressed that they were willing to incorporate my hobby building analities and they did specialize in tandems (although these days less so). Andy
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Old 02-18-19, 09:34 PM
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I see absolutely no reason to go with a local builder unless they would be your choice anyway. I think it's really important to find a person that builds bikes in the style that you want. And good builder can build anything, but it's always good if they have worked through the issues of the style of bike that you want.
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Old 02-19-19, 11:04 AM
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I've only had one bike custom built and it was a steel mountain tandem. The price was cheaper than many other top name tandem frames. Communication wasn't too bad and the backlog was manageable.
In fact, I am now in a discussion about having them build us a road tandem
Distance to you really only matters when it comes to shipping. At least IMHO.
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Old 02-19-19, 07:31 PM
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with bikeflights, it really isn't that much different to ship a frame across country vs. across the state. I would consider shipping even to Philly.
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Old 02-19-19, 10:44 PM
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more info..

UBI - Bikeschool.com has a long list of industry contacts , and their web addresses.. including frame builders
some they may have taught in a class, there (you could take)

I went with proximity (self designed project, not whole frame) Ti Cycles..







....

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Old 02-20-19, 08:14 PM
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My suggestions:
1. Look for someone who generally builds the type of bike you're looking to build (e.g., don't go to a builder who specializes in mountain bikes for a road racing bike).
2. Look for someone who builds bikes you like the look of
3. Call/email the builder and see if he/she is responsive to your needs
4. Hope you like it!
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Old 02-20-19, 08:51 PM
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If you don't have precise requirements of design type, frame/fork material preference, finish type, frame size, wheel/tire sizes, service loading, brake type, drive-train type/spacing, mudguard clearance, accessory braze-on fittings, budget and timeline get all of that nailed down before communication with a builder. Oh, and pick a color......

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Old 02-21-19, 02:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Bandera View Post
If you don't have precise requirements of design type, frame/fork material preference, finish type, frame size, wheel/tire sizes, service loading, brake type, drive-train type/spacing, mudguard clearance, accessory braze-on fittings, budget and timeline get all of that nailed down before communication with a builder. Oh, and pick a color......

-Bandera
I am nailed on frame materials, accessories braze-one, use cases, frame type, fenders, and dynamo lights.

Less certain on brakes, hub (2 choices), lugs/TIG welds/filet brazing - this is not super essential for me. Id want some advice. I have a few colors to choose from.

I have some sample bikes I like and components that I like detailed out. But they also give enough guidance on style I am interested in as well.
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Old 02-21-19, 07:00 AM
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most builders don't need that much help with those details. But that's why you should find a builder that makes bikes of the type that you want to buy
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Old 02-25-19, 09:48 AM
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Not to derail the thread. This was our tandem when it was delivered. The guy at the post office thought that I was joking when I told him that it was a tandem.
Of course it has S&S couplers.

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Old 02-25-19, 10:43 AM
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that's really neat, is the case in there too?
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Old 02-25-19, 07:10 PM
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OP, If 408 is a reference to 408 area code, there is a builder in san jose who does new frames and does mods (it might be that you might get what you want with modes) https://www.silvacycles.com/
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Old 02-26-19, 12:12 PM
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Thank you for the tips everyone. I am narrowing in on a choice!

I created my shortlist by looking for builders who seemed to do classic styled bikes as townies or transportation bikes, had a few samples in my frame style, and had the features I wanted (lighting and/or hubs). The lighting was more essential than the IGH - locally there are a few shops that are experts at wheel building for this use case and such. So it isn't as key of a build issue - at least my assumption.

I reached out to a small number to discuss the project and pricing. I have a fairly complete wishlist to share which I think helped with visioning.

Now I just have to decide custom frame or stock frame. But custom is feeling like the way to go!

SquirtDad - thanks for the tip. I am over in the East Bay these days, but it makes sense to reach out to Silva too!
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Old 02-28-19, 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
Thank you for the tips everyone. I am narrowing in on a choice!

I created my shortlist by looking for builders who seemed to do classic styled bikes as townies or transportation bikes, had a few samples in my frame style, and had the features I wanted (lighting and/or hubs). The lighting was more essential than the IGH - locally there are a few shops that are experts at wheel building for this use case and such. So it isn't as key of a build issue - at least my assumption.

I reached out to a small number to discuss the project and pricing. I have a fairly complete wishlist to share which I think helped with visioning.

Now I just have to decide custom frame or stock frame. But custom is feeling like the way to go!

SquirtDad - thanks for the tip. I am over in the East Bay these days, but it makes sense to reach out to Silva too!
@jade408 if Bronson is not in, ask for Tahn
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Old 03-01-19, 11:12 AM
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If you are looking for a classic build check out Winter Bicycles or Brian Chapman if you haven't already
https://www.flickr.com/photos/22538785@N05/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/chapmancycles/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/chapmancycles/
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Old 03-01-19, 11:32 AM
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If you want a Panasonic there is this POS - it stands for Panasonic Order System....., not what you thought
http://cycle.panasonic.jp/products/pos/
If you need help with Japanese language, I can give you some help.
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Old 03-01-19, 01:10 PM
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I sold Panasonic back in the late 1980s when they first came out with their PICS offerings. This was the predecessor to the current POS system. Panasonic (National Bike) has always flew somewhat under the radar of most bike fans. Perhaps best known for their being Schwinn's contract builder as Schwinn transitioned to the "modern" bike design. Much like Giant, Panasonic decided to start their own brand in the US (some will say after seeing where Schwinn was headed)

The bikes were always well made and cleanly finished, although most seen were fairly moderate in cost. The PICS were something special though. A notch higher on the finishing scale and available in steel, TI or Al. Andy
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Old 03-19-19, 09:52 PM
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Thanks everyone for the advice! Project is kicked off, parts are selected - now I just have to wait 2-ish months.
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Old 03-19-19, 10:02 PM
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Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
I am not sure if I should prioritize getting someone who is local to me? Their level of enthusiasm with a project like mine? Years of experience? Something else.

What are your tips? How did you choose? What would you tell a newbie?
I got mine in my own zip code.

https://caletticycles.com

Santa Cruz is close enough that you could call it local. I can give you my full review if you are interested, but briefly, it has been the best ride I have ever experienced with my clothes on.
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Old 03-19-19, 10:09 PM
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
I got mine in my own zip code.

https://caletticycles.com
Santa Cruz is close enough that you could call it local. I can give you my full review if you are interested, but briefly, it has been the best ride I have ever experienced with my clothes on.
That's awesome! I'm glad you love your bike. I had one option in Santa Cruz and they were the initial front runner. I ended up choosing someone remote, but worked out a local fitting and connected at NAHBS! So I feel fine about the distance other than of course shipping! That's the worst part.

The builder was really dialed in on my vision and had some really good recommendations and advice. And experience with the type of build I wanted. So it was a good match. A bit better than the Santa Cruz option. There are also some amazing builders in the North Bay, but they were way out of reach ($$) for me.
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Old 03-24-19, 02:22 PM
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now you know why a lot of brands use companies like Maxway Ltd in Taiwan.
as Bay Area got Tech Gentrified, its hard to cover the overhead to run a small manufacturing business there .....
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Old 03-24-19, 08:47 PM
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There's a few other reasons that CA is a hard state to set up a small manufacturing business then the Tech industry. Andy
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Old 03-25-19, 01:24 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
now you know why a lot of brands use companies like Maxway Ltd in Taiwan.
as Bay Area got Tech Gentrified, its hard to cover the overhead to run a small manufacturing business there .....
More that the Bay Area builders had way more experience than was in budget for me.

Yes, it is really really pricey in the Bay for sure. And super small manufacturing is hard. But the bigger issue is housing costs are so ridiculous that no young people can get started without a trust fund or access to a parents basement to live in. It would be impossible to get started as a frame builder now here.
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Old 03-25-19, 02:45 PM
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Yea many were already established there decades, before the Real Estate bubble began to get so big..


I like my Bike Friday, a great travel bike that fits in a Suitcase to get there..

They build in a JIT fashion .. like a Short Order Cook
road/ tour bike is built from a menu a list of parts and dimensions that suit your choice preferences....

not completely custom, but you do have input on the build , before it's shipped from Oregon ..

I have been riding this one for many years.. made some changes once it was in my hands, over the years..


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