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Yamaguchi Team USA Road — The Problem Child

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Yamaguchi Team USA Road — The Problem Child

Old 09-27-22, 03:32 PM
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natenineten
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Yamaguchi Team USA Road — The Problem Child

crosspost from paceline
Long story here but wanted to get it out there in case anyone's thinking of getting a Yamaguchi or has anything to add in terms of their experience and or what you would do in this situation. I know that this may be quite unique as I have heard good experiences with Yamaguchi in the past.

I ordered my Yamaguchi Team USA Road in April 2021, wait time was estimated to be 6–8 months. It turned out to be about 16 months before I got the frame, which was fine, but I'm pretty unhappy about it on all fronts.

— Communication. Communicating with Koichi was pretty less than ideal. Really long gaps of not hearing back and some questions being ignored. He apparently was sick somewhere in the gap, which is totally understandable, but never communicated to me until well after.

-Deposit received April 21
-I didn't hear anything back until Dec (I had asked a few clarity questions)
-Frame dimensions given Mar 22
-Frame built mid Apr 22
-First paint job Jul 6


— The paint. I had a detailed doc with the paint that I wanted and countless reference images. I know paint is never perfect, especially with image references but the photo he sent me, the color was definitely wrong.

*Reference color Left, Initial paint job, Right




Koichi agreed the paint was wrong and said the painter would redo it. Month later I got photos of it. The paint was better, not quite right, but hard to tell with his photo of it. I decided to settle on the color as I wasn't going to get anything better and couldn't ask to repaint again.





— The Frame. I got the frame, opened it up. Fork looked great. Took out the frame, there was a significant dent in the headtube with some of the clearcoat scraped off. It wasn't particularly packed well. Light bubble wrap and some cardboard spacers. But that's only a part of it. The paint job is really poor. Unacceptable by my standards.

-The clearcoat is barely applied
-The yellow detail work looks like an afterthought, almost like DIY nail polish.
-Chip/dent in the rear brake bridge
-The decals are poorly applied. They're above the clearcoat which is fine, but there are wrinkly and some bubbling as well as just blatant misalignment.
-Worse off are the top tube decals. They're just thick clear stickers that look cheap and came already starting to peel off.










Just overall a bit disappointing. The frame itself looks great aside from the dent but the finishing is beyond subpar for the cost/wait time. I don't know if Koichi really looks at the finishing on the frames or not, but I assume he would not be happy with this. I also don't know if the painter half-assed the bike the second time around after being forced to repaint it.

— The Kicker. I reached out to Koichi immediately after I noticed the dent. I mentioned the dent as well as that I wasn't particularly happy with the finishing on the frame. I have yet to hear back. It's been 3 weeks now. I sent a follow up email, I've tried calling. I even sent a letter in the mail (that's how you have to pay him) to make sure either him or his wife sees it.

I'm in a bind because the frame isn't usable as is and I'm not happy with the finishing. There's a chance I can bend this back into round, or I can get it fixed from a local (NYC) builder, perhaps. But then I'm looking at paying several hundred out of pocket for the repair plus potentially a full repaint if the headtube needs to be replaced. I'm trying to give him a little more time to sort this but I'm running out of options. I also need to explore if I even want to keep the bike after having dealt with all these issues. There are things that I can live with but all of them together.. Woof.

Hoping he can make it right but figured I would lay out the situation in case some of you are jonesing to order a Yamaguchi. This may be a one-off situation, but it's not ideal nonetheless.


tl;dr Yamaguchi sent me a dented frame with a bad paint job and he isn't responding to me

Curious to what you'd all do in my position here.
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Old 09-27-22, 03:50 PM
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Oooof. Your pictures speak volumes. Completely unacceptable.

I’ll leave it to others concerning your recourse. I don’t know this manufacturer. This sounds like a problem that won’t end well.
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Old 09-27-22, 04:44 PM
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Take it to a local frame maker and have them fix it. Should not require replacing the head tube or repaint unless the paint is brittle. 100-150 is my estimate. With the troubles you have had it makes no sense to me to go back to the maker for a solution.
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Old 09-27-22, 06:18 PM
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I'd be embarrassed to have my signature on that. Judging by the looks maybe he is hoping it will fall off.
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Old 09-28-22, 12:42 AM
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Wow, I can scarcely believe that’s a Yamaguchi; I’ve only seen one, and it looked professionally done…as I recall from many years ago, but it was, at that time, a well used racer. Also, though, I didn’t even know he was still making frames.

I also thought True Temper quit bicycle tubing several years ago.

So, that the frame even exists is a surprise, but that it exists as it does, in such a poor, cheap state, is shocking.

Are you sure you ordered from “the” Yamaguchi?! I’m only half joking.
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Old 09-28-22, 05:12 AM
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Originally Posted by TiHabanero View Post
Take it to a local frame maker and have them fix it. Should not require replacing the head tube or repaint unless the paint is brittle. 100-150 is my estimate. With the troubles you have had it makes no sense to me to go back to the maker for a solution.
This is one of the plans. It's not been easy to source a local builder in NYC atm. Obviously my concern is dumping more money into as well as not being happy with how it looks regardless if I get the headtube fixed.

Originally Posted by chaadster
I also thought True Temper quit bicycle tubing several years ago.
Yes, Yamaguchi is one of the few that still has some True Temper left. This tubeset is from when he collaborated and designed his own tubes with them so he is the only person with this particular tubing. But True Temper did stop making tubing some time ago.

Last edited by natenineten; 09-28-22 at 05:34 AM.
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Old 09-28-22, 05:40 AM
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First I've heard of that frame builder, had to look it up. Figure it wasn't cheap. Looks like they're based in Colorado, so if you can't get a response, at least you can get courts involved. I'd want a refund on that--doesn't look like a top level frame that would demand the big bucks.
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Old 09-28-22, 06:31 AM
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I don't mind the color. Kind of a cool metallic blue. But coupled with that yellow...no thanks.

I didn't realize they were in Colorado. You definitely have some legal recourse. Completely unacceptable for a custom frame, and for the amount you (no doubt) paid for it. It should be perfection; nothing less.

Forget the frame damage. Decals on top of the clear coat and stickers? Again, unacceptable.

I'd demand a full refund. I'm sure there are plenty of just-as-talented (if not more so) American framebuilders who aren't resting on their laurels.

Last edited by smd4; 09-28-22 at 07:05 AM.
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Old 09-28-22, 07:00 AM
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If that's a professional job, then I ought to get a job painting bike frames. I could do as well as that, and I have little experience painting bikes. The yellow paint in the accent holes looks extremely amateurish.
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Old 09-28-22, 08:37 AM
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Originally Posted by natenineten View Post


.
I am surprised the head tube opening isn't reinforced with a lug like the seat tube opening is.
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Old 09-28-22, 08:51 AM
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I think the nicest parts of the frame are the rear dropout lugs. Kinda neat looking.

It's pretty bad when the painter leaves a visible smudge of yellow paint (which shows now as green) on the blue fork crown...

Last edited by smd4; 09-28-22 at 08:54 AM.
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Old 09-28-22, 08:55 AM
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natenineten
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Originally Posted by smd4 View Post
I don't mind the color. Kind of a cool metallic blue. But coupled with that yellow...no thanks.

I didn't realize they were in Colorado. You definitely have some legal recourse. Completely unacceptable for a custom frame, and for the amount you (no doubt) paid for it. It should be perfection; nothing less.

Forget the frame damage. Decals on top of the clear coat and stickers? Again, unacceptable.

I'd demand a full refund. I'm sure there are plenty of just-as-talented (if not more so) American framebuilders who aren't resting on their laurels.
Yea, well the problem right now is I can't even get a hold of him. So we'll see what happens I guess. I was hoping some would say that fixing the headtube myself may be an option, but at this point, is that worth it.

Originally Posted by icemilkcoffee
I am surprised the head tube opening isn't reinforced with a lug like the seat tube opening is.
He's known for his fillet brazing, so a lot of his bikes are brazed like mine. Which is what I wanted.
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Old 09-28-22, 09:05 AM
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Originally Posted by natenineten View Post
Yea, well the problem right now is I can't even get a hold of him. So we'll see what happens I guess. I was hoping some would say that fixing the headtube myself may be an option, but at this point, is that worth it.
Even if you fix the head tube, will you ever be happy with this bike? What's that worth to you? This should have been the bike of your dreams.

I'm guessing you paid, what? A couple thou at least? Maybe a LOT more? For what is looking more and more like an amateur-hour POS? Yes, it's worth it to get what you want at that price. It's a CUSTOM frame! For me at this point it would be a matter of principle.

Start sending him your demands. Using FedEx or certified mail, with tracking/signature requests. After your paper trail is established, the services of an attorney might be in order. I would be looking for a full refund, myself, or at the bare minimum, the amount needed to cover frame repairs and a complete re-paint.
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Old 09-28-22, 09:07 AM
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natenineten
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Originally Posted by smd4 View Post
Even if you fix the head tube, will you ever be happy with this bike? What's that worth to you? This should have been the bike of your dreams.

I'm guessing you paid, what? A couple thou at least? Maybe a LOT more? For what is looking more and more like an amateur-hour POS? Yes, it's worth it to get what you want at that price. It's a CUSTOM frame! For me at this point it would be a matter of principle.

Start sending him your demands. Using FedEx or certified mail, with tracking/signature requests. After your paper trail is established, the services of an attorney might be in order.
Right, this is the question for sure. If the headtube gets fixed at his cost I still am not happy with the cosmetic finish of the bike. That can be fixed out of pocket but would bring me back a lot more. If he doesn't offer to someone right the ship with the headtube AND the paint/decals, then I would push for a full refund.
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Old 09-28-22, 09:14 AM
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Originally Posted by natenineten View Post
Right, this is the question for sure. If the headtube gets fixed at his cost I still am not happy with the cosmetic finish of the bike. That can be fixed out of pocket but would bring me back a lot more. If he doesn't offer to someone right the ship with the headtube AND the paint/decals, then I would push for a full refund.
Definitely. I had edited my post to add, "...at the bare minimum, the amount needed to cover frame repairs and a complete re-paint."
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Old 09-28-22, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by natenineten View Post
— Communication. Communicating with Koichi was pretty less than ideal. Really long gaps of not hearing back and some questions being ignored. He apparently was sick somewhere in the gap, which is totally understandable, but never communicated to me until well after.

-Deposit received April 21
-I didn't hear anything back until Dec (I had asked a few clarity questions)
-Frame dimensions given Mar 22
-Frame built mid Apr 22
-First paint job Jul 6
You realize that he may have not made the frame. It would not surprise me if due to health reasons someone else made it.

It is quite common in the surfboard industry to have ghost shapers. Especially if the “legend” has aged and can no longer produce the same quantity and quality. Usually it will be someone who can replicate the quality, but not always, the “legend” may still sign it.

John
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Old 09-28-22, 10:23 AM
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natenineten
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Originally Posted by 70sSanO View Post
You realize that he may have not made the frame. It would not surprise me if due to health reasons someone else made it.

It is quite common in the surfboard industry to have ghost shapers. Especially if the “legend” has aged and can no longer produce the same quantity and quality. Usually it will be someone who can replicate the quality, but not always, the “legend” may still sign it.

John
I'm not going to go that far. Is it possible? I suppose, but unlikely I think. He's teaching his frame building classes and still handles the torch from what we can tell on instagram. The actual construction of the frame is everything I wanted it to be. It's the finishing and obviously the dent combined with zero response after multiple attempts.
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Old 09-28-22, 10:30 AM
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If you can get the frame repaired and finished exactly how you want it--without you having to pay out-of-pocket for them--then I think you'll be delighted. See if he'll throw in all the appropriate decals/stickers.
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Old 09-28-22, 10:49 AM
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I agree. I want the frame. I love what Koichi does. I just want it to be what we all understand his work to be. If he makes it right, water under the bridge. But it's clearly going to be an uphill battle atm.
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Old 09-28-22, 11:01 AM
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paint reminds me of alonsos f1 winning Renault
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Old 09-28-22, 05:37 PM
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I recently had similar but not as bad problems with a custom frame I ordered from the UK.
Funny thing is the paint colors are very close to yours.
Problems I had were:
Front wheel has to be pushed into fork because dropout opening is undersized.
Front and rear brakes have different reach requirements, got very lucky to find some nice brakes with enough adjustment range.
Seatpost would not go in, had to take it to it to a local frame builder to have the seat tube reamed.
Paint overspray on BB threads, had to take to LBS to have it chased and faced.

None of these were show stoppers. just unexpected inconvenience and minor extra cost but in the end it turned out well.
There is a risk when you order a custom frame from overseas for things to go wrong and when they do you may have limited options.
Communication can be difficult.
If I were you I would demand to have the problems fixed and paid for either by the builder or locally.
Good luck.
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Old 09-29-22, 06:27 AM
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Originally Posted by jnbrown View Post
I recently had similar but not as bad problems with a custom frame I ordered from the UK.
Funny thing is the paint colors are very close to yours.
Problems I had were:
Front wheel has to be pushed into fork because dropout opening is undersized.
Front and rear brakes have different reach requirements, got very lucky to find some nice brakes with enough adjustment range.
Seatpost would not go in, had to take it to it to a local frame builder to have the seat tube reamed.
Paint overspray on BB threads, had to take to LBS to have it chased and faced.

None of these were show stoppers. just unexpected inconvenience and minor extra cost but in the end it turned out well.
There is a risk when you order a custom frame from overseas for things to go wrong and when they do you may have limited options.
Communication can be difficult.
Yea, I actually have paint on the BB threads as well so that and the seat tube have to be reamed. And for what it's worth, Yamaguchi is in Rifle, CO, not Japan. Hearing some of the other small things you had to fix makes me want to test out this frame as is to see if there are other issues but I can't risk it atm.
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Old 09-29-22, 08:07 AM
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Wonder how the quality of paint and decals would have been if you had accepted the original rendition. Either way you got hosed, good luck with the resolution.
Tim
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Old 09-29-22, 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by TiHabanero View Post
Take it to a local frame maker and have them fix it. Should not require replacing the head tube or repaint unless the paint is brittle. 100-150 is my estimate. With the troubles you have had it makes no sense to me to go back to the maker for a solution.
that wont fix the atrocious sticker application and doesnt fix the awful paint fill in the lug windows.
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Old 09-29-22, 01:19 PM
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I’ve wanted to attend his frame building class. I don’t have the budget or time to do so but I thought it would be amazing. Pair it with a climbing trip at the park and it would be a great week.

I’m disappointed to see a frame finished worse than what any of us could have done DIY.

I wonder if he just repainted it instead of a full bead blast? Trying to save on costs etc.
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