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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all...

For years, I've dreamed about my ultimate road bike; the light, responsive, high-end road bike of my dreams!

I'm finally thinking of getting it, and am torn about materials...

I've always ridden steel bikes; every bike I own is steel, and it's what I'm used to. More than 10 years ago, I had my local bike shop build me up a road bike with a Gunnar Sport frame and Campy Centaur parts, with a triple and a pretty wide gear range in the back, to handle all the hills we've got in the San Francisco area. After years of riding this, I realized that this bike is kind of a dual-purpose bike... a "light touring" bike that can also be used for long local rides... but not something leaning more to the "racing bike" style I now would like... something good just for long local rides, hill climbing, speedy, responsive, etc.

I originally intended on getting a custom carbon Calfee Dragonfly frame, since I'm from Santa Cruz and that's where Calfee is, and I know the company and like their work. However, after thinking about it and reading some articles, I'm wondering if I should broaden my horizons. I'm also worrying about how well a carbon bike - even a really good one like a Calfee - will hold up over the years, since carbon is more fragile than other materials.

My main desires for a frame are:

  • Made by a small, privately held company with quality "artisan" type work
  • Light and responsive
  • Beautiful
  • Customized (perhaps - off-the-shelf could work, though there's a few things I want that are different from most frames)
  • Durable and long-lasting
  • Classic geometry (mostly flat top-tube, slim round tubing, etc.)

After some discussion with my local bike shop owner, I've come down to 3 possibilities (based on materials):

  1. A custom carbon Calfee Dragonfly, as above (locally made)
  2. A custom titanium Moots (the Vamoots, most likely) (in Colorado)
  3. A custom lugged steel frame, probably from Rex Cycles (locally made)

What do you all think? I mean this to be my "dream bike", hopefully to last a lifetime. I intended, at least initially, to move all my Campy Centaur parts onto the new frame, and use it until I can afford to upgrade to Record, perhaps, or Chorus.

Any and all suggestions and words of wisdom appreciated! :)

- Tim
 

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As someone with two Ti bikes....I vote for Ti or maybe stainless.

The newest addition to the stable, Carver Gravel Grinder with Di2 hydraulic, 700Cx44mm tires




Ol Faithful Seven Axiom Race roadie with Campag Chorus 11s

 

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Good non-weight weenie carbon bikes really aren't fragile.

That being said I had a carbon wonder bike that I put about 45K on and it was great but my new Seven Axiom blows it away.
Moots is fine as are others, I'm sure, but as far as experience and R & D goes Seven would be leader in class.

Passoni would be a good choice if you're looking to dump a ton of coin on something beautiful. Same for Baum.
 

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My favorite domestic custom makers:
Richard Sachs - the Godfather of custom American bike making. I'm not even sure you can order from him any more. His frames are beautifully understated and immaculately made.
Firefly- custom Ti shop out of Boston. Incredible anodization, perfect welds.
Bishop- detail oriented steel builder. He files all of his lugs to perfection. His frames are all uniquely elegant.
Black Cat- new school leader, very modern lugwork and dropouts. Incredible paint. Really, really hard to get.
English Cycles - retro-modernity par excellence. Spare, minimalist TIG welded designs that look stunning in person.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
My favorite domestic custom makers:
Richard Sachs - the Godfather of custom American bike making. I'm not even sure you can order from him any more. His frames are beautifully understated and immaculately made.
Firefly- custom Ti shop out of Boston. Incredible anodization, perfect welds.
Bishop- detail oriented steel builder. He files all of his lugs to perfection. His frames are all uniquely elegant.
Black Cat- new school leader, very modern lugwork and dropouts. Incredible paint. Really, really hard to get.
English Cycles - retro-modernity par excellence. Spare, minimalist TIG welded designs that look stunning in person.
One of the local bike mechanics I most respect told me that if he were to get a Ti or Carbon bike now, Firefly would be his choice. I'll be seriously looking into them... I don't want to have to fly to Boston, but I'd do it for the best frame. :)

He also mentioned Columbine, which are pretty fantastic, though maybe a bit more fancy than I need...

Columbine Cycle Works: Our Bicycles

- Tim
 

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Adorable Furry Hombre
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One of the local bike mechanics I most respect told me that if he were to get a Ti or Carbon bike now, Firefly would be his choice. I'll be seriously looking into them... I don't want to have to fly to Boston, but I'd do it for the best frame. :)

He also mentioned Columbine, which are pretty fantastic, though maybe a bit more fancy than I need...

Columbine Cycle Works: Our Bicycles

- Tim

I'd so have done a Firefly for my Unpavement Bike if it was in the budgetary cards.


Or how about asking Kirk to do a frame with his new brazing technique?

https://www.bikerumor.com/2017/03/16/nahbs-2017-construction-division-winners-kirk-eriksen-alchemy/
 

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I'd contact Firefly and spec out your dream titanium/carbon hybrid road frame. You can avoid the compromises that bike companies force down our backs like press fit bb's , maybe use direct mount caliper brakes which normally are found only on aero bikes etc. Lots of possibilities.
 

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As someone with two Ti bikes....I vote for Ti or maybe stainless.

The newest addition to the stable, Carver Gravel Grinder with Di2 hydraulic, 700Cx44mm tires






Ol Faithful Seven Axiom Race roadie with Campag Chorus 11s

If I got another bike I'd want to do a chariot like that so I could carry tons of supplies and extra clothing for Spring and Fall riding where its just so hard to dress right for the entire day without having a ton of items stuffed in my jersey pockets
 

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If I got another bike I'd want to do a chariot like that so I could carry tons of supplies and extra clothing for Spring and Fall riding where its just so hard to dress right for the entire day without having a ton of items stuffed in my jersey pockets

I had been thinking of doing an unpavement bike for years. Started the build in January, and just finished it last week. Between prices on everything going up, wages not, and homicidal drivers it was time. I'm aiming to bank much more of my miles on gravel/dirt and away from careless and homicidal drivers (even before the Scarponi crash today). Currently have 44mm tires on it with clearance to spare, handle dirt and gravel and light single-track just fine.

Finally got the rear rack mounted today, took some ingenuity. This frameset is from Carver, OEM'd by Lynskey and forked off their GR250. Forrest Carver is a great guy to talk to.

Did a build log over in the Gravel/CX sub of BikeForums start to finish. All pics are Imgur, so you shouldn't even need to be a member to see em over there: Carver Gravel Grinder Build: Country Road/Gravel Assault Bike - Bike Forums




 

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Hi all...

For years, I've dreamed about my ultimate road bike; the light, responsive, high-end road bike of my dreams!

I'm finally thinking of getting it, and am torn about materials...

I've always ridden steel bikes; every bike I own is steel, and it's what I'm used to. More than 10 years ago, I had my local bike shop build me up a road bike with a Gunnar Sport frame and Campy Centaur parts, with a triple and a pretty wide gear range in the back, to handle all the hills we've got in the San Francisco area. After years of riding this, I realized that this bike is kind of a dual-purpose bike... a "light touring" bike that can also be used for long local rides... but not something leaning more to the "racing bike" style I now would like... something good just for long local rides, hill climbing, speedy, responsive, etc.

...snip...

What do you all think? I mean this to be my "dream bike", hopefully to last a lifetime. I intended, at least initially, to move all my Campy Centaur parts onto the new frame, and use it until I can afford to upgrade to Record, perhaps, or Chorus.

Any and all suggestions and words of wisdom appreciated! :)

- Tim
A few years ago, I thought about getting one bike to do a lot of different types of riding. But there were too many compromises. So I got two bikes:

A fast road bike in carbon. The newer "endurance" frames have a little taller head tube, and the bike fits great. Di2 shifting for the local rolling hills. I shift a lot.

A Ti bike for everything else: long solo day rides with a rack bag and fenders. Triple crank for good cadence through the range and low gears. Occasional credit card touring. Handle either 25-30c road tires, or 40c knobby tires for gravel roads or crushed stone trails. Ti so I wouldn't worry about minor dings or chips.

~~~~~~~~~~~
It's a great plan for me. I really like both bikes.
I assumed you'd keep your current bike, then I saw you might move the drivetrain over. I'd keep the older bike along with the new fast bike.

Carbon
The fast carbon bike is great for my faster group rides and for big event rides that have rest stops.

You really need to try Ultegra Di2. I still have Campagnolo on my Ti bike and it's great for that bike. But I really like the Di2 shifting : rear shifts are instant even under load, and I shift the front rings way more often since it's easy and fast. The bike has quick steering response, but is very comfortable on rough roads -- the new wider rims have my 23c tires measuring 26 mm, and I use lower air pressure to match the increased volume.

I wouldn't make a "classic" frame style a priority, but look for the fit and ride quality.

Ti All-day or adventure bike
I keep fenders and a lightweight rear rack on my Ti bike, and usually have 28c tires on it. It's great for wet roads or a chance of rain. For cooler rides, I can have lots of layers to add or shed, and bring food or extra water on long day rides.

Wider gravel tires take me off paved roads. There's a limit on how a bike like this handles really bumpy surfaces -- those need suspension or larger than 40c tires. But reasonable unpaved paths or roads are fun. The tires and frame really handle bumpy rides very well.

I've got pretty low gears to get up long steep road climbs, and up moderate gravel roads.

Repairability
Carbon bikes can be repaired -- cut out the break, add new carbon layers, repaint. It's impressive what can be fixed.
I've seen a few Ti bike with cracks -- either in a stay tube or at a weld. It's expensive to fix if not under warranty. On the other hand, for dings and fall damage -- it's easy to see if the frame is still rideable.
 
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