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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
RBR Community - I am trying to narrow down my decision in regards to a reasonably priced custom titanium road bike builder. I thought that I had narrowed my decision down to Form/Merlin Cycles. It seems that their reputation for fabrication and finish is excellent and they have a good lineage (Titus Titanium).

Conversely, I have recently discovered from a few existing owners and LBS owners that their customer service (i.e. getting the order right and delivery promise time frames) has a lot to be desired. Does anyone in the RBR community have any experiences good or bad? I have a number of friends that have had horrible experiences with custom steel and titanium builders as it relates to the issues mentioned above...I do not want to lay down a $1,500 deposit and then wait 6-9 months for any frame.

Any experiences or knowledge of this new builder is greatly appreciated. Also, let me know about your good experiences, maybe $500 extra for the right builder is money well spent.

CDIDriver
 

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RBR Community - I am trying to narrow down my decision in regards to a reasonably priced custom titanium road bike builder. I thought that I had narrowed my decision down to Form/Merlin Cycles. It seems that their reputation for fabrication and finish is excellent and they have a good lineage (Titus Titanium).

Conversely, I have recently discovered from a few existing owners and LBS owners that their customer service (i.e. getting the order right and delivery promise time frames) has a lot to be desired. Does anyone in the RBR community have any experiences good or bad? I have a number of friends that have had horrible experiences with custom steel and titanium builders as it relates to the issues mentioned above...I do not want to lay down a $1,500 deposit and then wait 6-9 months for any frame.

Any experiences or knowledge of this new builder is greatly appreciated. Also, let me know about your good experiences, maybe $500 extra for the right builder is money well spent.

CDIDriver
You should ask them directly what their lead time is.
I thought I had heard that Form were now saying their lead time had extended.
I have a friend who has a Form.
Beautiful bike and a brand that I would consider having in my stable.

His Form is about 3 years old so they are not really a new builder.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
FTR - Thanks for your response...with regards to asking builders their lead times, been there done that, it is my personal experience and collection of verified stories that custom bike builders rarely honor their lead time quote. It really comes down to will the delivery date be 4 weeks or 4 months late. I am glad that to hear that your friends Form turned out great, I am less worried with their workmanship and more worried about waiting 6-9 months or not getting the execution right. Thanks FTR!

You should ask them directly what their lead time is.
I thought I had heard that Form were now saying their lead time had extended.
I have a friend who has a Form.
Beautiful bike and a brand that I would consider having in my stable.

His Form is about 3 years old so they are not really a new builder.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hi Mike T - Absolutely, sorry I was not quite clear in my initial posting, as I mentioned, if have to spend an extra $500 to work with the right builder I probably should. I really want to work with right builder and and not wait 6-9 months for the delivery. Thanks

You stuck on Form or are you open to suggestions?
 

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Hi Mike T - Absolutely, sorry I was not quite clear in my initial posting, as I mentioned, if have to spend an extra $500 to work with the right builder I probably should. I really want to work with right builder and and not wait 6-9 months for the delivery. Thanks
Ok, look at Jim Kish then. Mine was delivered as promised - not even 4 days late, never mind 4 weeks. Plus, it was just about the lowest priced true custom from a 1-man N.American shop. I'm starting my third year on it and I still can't fault it. His finish, IMO, is the best Ti finish out there - you can touch it up or re-do it with 3M maroon Sotchbrite. Try that with a blasted finish.

Here's my post on it -

http://forums.roadbikereview.com/custom-builders/my-kish-247292.html

If I remember correctly it was 7 weeks delivery. I might have that info in that thread. Edit - it was 8 weeks.

Another one I considered was a Steve Potts.
 

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FTR - Thanks for your response...with regards to asking builders their lead times, been there done that, it is my personal experience and collection of verified stories that custom bike builders rarely honor their lead time quote. It really comes down to will the delivery date be 4 weeks or 4 months late. I am glad that to hear that your friends Form turned out great, I am less worried with their workmanship and more worried about waiting 6-9 months or not getting the execution right. Thanks FTR!
Yep, agreed.
I am yet to see a custom bike delivered on time either.
Is there a reason you are going custom rather than off the shelf ti?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Well with respect to custom vs off the shelf, I wish the off the shelf builders would build the new style titanium bikes (i.e. 44mm headtube, oversized downtube, and sloping top tube) I am not aware of any builders that are offering those build features in a stock configuration?

Thanks,

Yep, agreed.
I am yet to see a custom bike delivered on time either.
Is there a reason you are going custom rather than off the shelf ti?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks Mike T - I have Kish as a consideration, however, I am kinda focused on a west coast builder in the event that something happens in the future. I have heard great things about Kish and his work is amazing, but I am trying to keep the frame cost under $3K with some upgrades.

Ok, look at Jim Kish then. Mine was delivered as promised - not even 4 days late, never mind 4 weeks. Plus, it was just about the lowest priced true custom from a 1-man N.American shop. I'm starting my third year on it and I still can't fault it. His finish, IMO, is the best Ti finish out there - you can touch it up or re-do it with 3M maroon Sotchbrite. Try that with a blasted finish.

Here's my post on it -

http://forums.roadbikereview.com/custom-builders/my-kish-247292.html

If I remember correctly it was 7 weeks delivery. I might have that info in that thread. Edit - it was 8 weeks.

Another one I considered was a Steve Potts.
 

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Thanks Mike T - I have Kish as a consideration, however, I am kinda focused on a west coast builder in the event that something happens in the future. I have heard great things about Kish and his work is amazing, but I am trying to keep the frame cost under $3K with some upgrades.
Kish was west coast (San Luis Obispo) until last year and Potts is West Coast. Kish is under 3k (still) for his base frame and I don't recall what Potts is but it's tough to stay under 3k for custom.

Maybe you should have stated earlier that you wanted a west coast builder.
 

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I am yet to see a custom bike delivered on time either.
When going custom you have to do your homework. I've had three custom frames done in recent years and all were on time - True North here in Canada (6 weeks - the promised week), Seven Cycles (7 weeks - the promised week) and Kish (8 weeks - the promised week).

Then there is the unfortunate thread on this site of the Dean - that was well over a year late. So if homework is done, no-one will ever order from Dean - unless they don't mind a pie-in-the-sky delivery date.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Agreed I should have noted that in my original post...yes you are right $3K custom is tough to find...I am struggling to understand why a custom ti frame is $3K +

Thanks Mike T


Kish was west coast (San Luis Obispo) until last year and Potts is West Coast. Kish is under 3k (still) for his base frame and I don't recall what Potts is but it's tough to stay under 3k for custom.

Maybe you should have stated earlier that you wanted a west coast builder.
 

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Agreed I should have noted that in my original post...yes you are right $3K custom is tough to find...I am struggling to understand why a custom ti frame is $3K +

Thanks Mike T
If you are wondering why there's a difference in pricing between something one-off made by a craftsman to specific requirements, and apparently in a time and at a place of your choosing, as compared to something built to repeatable standards in a factory environment, you might have missed a bit of economics education. You can have cheaper if you want common, or if you are willing to wait, choose a less-expensive, easier-to-work raw material, or if you are less concerned with it coming from a certain zip code. You are effectively paying an upcharge for each of those - and you wonder why it costs more?

You might reconsider your 'west coast' requirement. Unless they just so happen to be in the same city as you, there'd be shipping involved anyway, and it really doesn't matter all that much whether UPS takes it to San Diego or Kalamazoo. Except that one will have less built-in cost in terms of real estate, taxes, etc - and so might be able to offer a better bargain.

Some other builders you might have an interest in talking to are Quiring (in MI) or Ti Cycles in OR.

Sorry, no direct information on Form themselves, beyond what's been discussed here and on other boards.
 

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Davidson and Rodriguez seem to be right up your alley.

Frame pricing between makers can be misleading if you don't take into account that some of them quote a low price without the $500 fork and some of them quote a higher price but as a frameset.

Waterford comes to mind.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
danl1 - Agreed, it is unfortunate that I have undergraduate degrees in finance, marketing and real estate and that I am surprised that $600 in titanium tubes yields a $2-$3K profit per frame and why not more craftsmen have not entered the space to satisfy the supply and demand dynamic. Most of the top steel or titanium builders quote a 6-12 month delivery date or have 20-30 frame builds in their pipeline.

The reason I would like to work with a geographically close builder is a result of a frame builder taking my $600 deposit and then mid-night moving to another state after building dozens of bikes over several year period. if someone wants to take my money, I want the ability to knock on their door and get results.

danl1 many thanks for your perspective.

If you are wondering why there's a difference in pricing between something one-off made by a craftsman to specific requirements, and apparently in a time and at a place of your choosing, as compared to something built to repeatable standards in a factory environment, you might have missed a bit of economics education. You can have cheaper if you want common, or if you are willing to wait, choose a less-expensive, easier-to-work raw material, or if you are less concerned with it coming from a certain zip code. You are effectively paying an upcharge for each of those - and you wonder why it costs more?

You might reconsider your 'west coast' requirement. Unless they just so happen to be in the same city as you, there'd be shipping involved anyway, and it really doesn't matter all that much whether UPS takes it to San Diego or Kalamazoo. Except that one will have less built-in cost in terms of real estate, taxes, etc - and so might be able to offer a better bargain.

Some other builders you might have an interest in talking to are Quiring (in MI) or Ti Cycles in OR.

Sorry, no direct information on Form themselves, beyond what's been discussed here and on other boards.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks BOLG, I agree, thanks for the suggestion, I was not aware of Rodriquez, does Waterford build titanium...I re-check their website.

Best,


Davidson and Rodriguez seem to be right up your alley.

Frame pricing between makers can be misleading if you don't take into account that some of them quote a low price without the $500 fork and some of them quote a higher price but as a frameset.

Waterford comes to mind.
 

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Thanks BOLG, I agree, thanks for the suggestion, I was not aware of Rodriquez, does Waterford build titanium...I re-check their website.

Best,
No Waterford doesn't do Ti but they price their frame without the fork which at first impression makes the price look low.
 

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The reason I would like to work with a geographically close builder is a result of a frame builder taking my $600 deposit and then mid-night moving to another state after building dozens of bikes over several year period. if someone wants to take my money, I want the ability to knock on their door and get results.
If you are looking at builders who have been around for awhile and have a good reputation, your fear of them walking away with your money should be balanced against what you gain by dealing with them. Many of the people/companies in this thread have an excellent reputation. And if someone is going to steal or go bankrupt, there is little you can do in the way of self-help, without risking your own liberty or civil liability.

The main reason to be near a builder is if you want him to personally measure you or if you want to pick-up the bike (fully built) from him and have him do a fitting session with you. Otherwise, put distance (if that is important) as one of many factors to consider. If you want custom, you really want to be happy with everything about the transaction - looks, fit, price, build quality, experience in dealing with the builder, followup, etc.

Of course, your concern about theft and distance simply may be higher on your list than mine.
 
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