from a thread about questions to ask a custom builder or maybe to ask yourself...

> The custom bike process is about you and what you want, not
> about what the builder wants to build for you. If the builder tells
> you they won't build something you want, that's when you should
> look somewhere else.
this is news to me.
the custom bike process might involve what you want, but the
custom frame process normally allows for abuilder to get a 'fit'
dialed in, but the resultant measurements that dictate how it all
works are left to the builder, until you have designed bicycles
(for different folks and for a myriad of applications), you're best
to leave it at the door. framebuilders of any degree of experience
know far more about what goes where than the client who is solely
concerned with fit. and if the concern even veers toward how it all
works, the maker still has a better grasp of how it all performs in
a 3d plane.
> Some people want some strange things built, who is the builder
> to disagree with them if that's what they want? Before it's built
> the buyer has to sign off on the build anyway, releasing the builder
> of liability if the buyer doesn't like it.
i know few commercial builders that would build something they
don't believe in and just dismiss it all with a signed release. why
on earth would you make something you couldn't endorse?!
having said that, i expect folks to add a builder's name!
> As for the word “custom”, that can be tricky to define. As far
> as I know, most so-called “custom” builders are not really a
> true custom builder at all. I would call them semi-custom production
> builder. For me, a true custom builder can do a lot more than just
> building the same frame geometry with different dimensions.
> Some favorite builders talked about on this board cannot even
> fulfill a simple request, let alone building a one of the kind custom frame.
ya' got that right atmo!
personally, i don't consider myself a custom maker at all, despite
the fact that all orders precede the build as a matter of fact, the
last time i 'let' a client in on the design process was circa 1978
after a national team rider, club mate, and close personal friend
had one made, and then - despite getting to the top rung here in
the states - had a miserable time of it at the tour del'avenir which,
at the time, was the tdf for international amateurs. it's a true story,
and it's buried in this link:
see the paragraph that starts,
"I think the line in the sand came when one of my clients..."
to wit, the framebuilder adeptly designs a bicycle to suit to particular
fit needs (if any) of a client. otherwise, he makes the frame that he
makes and knows, rather than stand there andbe a welder-for-hire.
that's my professional opinion atmo!
> So essentially buyers should just shut up and let the builder
> build what ever bike he feels like?
no not at all.
quite the contrary -
we listen!
> A custom builder may know how to build a bike, but in reality
> knows nothing about the buyer. The buyer may not even really
> know what they want other than a piece of eye candy that will
> be envious to their peers.
the builds knows about the buyer by asking, taking measurements,
exchanging emails and phone calls, and riding with him/her if he/she
pays a visit.
> However, just because an individual doesn't know how to weld
> a bike or pick the proper tubing doesn't mean they don't know
> what they need in a frame. To assume that all buyers are idiots
> and should bow down to the builders expertiese is egotistical.
i think you are either projecting, or tryng to put words in my mouth.
> As far as getting the "Fit" dialed in, that can be done with a fitting
> at a LHS, or just from riding a lot and making adjustments as you
> go along. The more you ride the more you know. The builder doesn't
> have to be involved in the "Fit" process, in fact some custom builders
> are not involved in it at all because they have a fitting done by somebody
> else and have the dimensions sent into them.Besides "Fit" is a personal
> preference. Some builders like laid back angles, other like steep angles.
> That's part of the process of picking a builder. If you know you need
> steep angles and you go with a builder that likes laid back angles you
> are going to butt heads.
builders don't "choose" angles willy-nilly or for the sake of a
trend; angles are chosen to yield the proper position as well as,
in the case of steering, yield the correct trail and "feel" for the
order at hand.
> If you ask any rider that has been riding for several years they
> can tell you at a minimum, what TT length and STA works best
> for them.

and if that is the case, the builder replicates them. heck, i know i do.
> As a builder you build what "YOU" think will work, howver what
> works is greatly debatable. You have your idea, other builders
> have theirs and customers have theirs. If you don't want to build
> a bike for somebody don't. It's a pretty simple concept, however
> at the same time, I would expect you would be talked about in a
> negative fashion by that prospective customer.You obvioulsy feel
> that you know so much more than the customer that it sounds
> like you don't take much of their wants into consideration. You
> make the bike you "think" they will like, not the bike they are
> asking for. If it works for you, good for you.
i think you've misunderstood my reply, so i apologize for being
so succinct. anyway - i'm off for a ride.
> This is what he said, verbatim:
> "the custom bike process might involve what you want, but
> the custom frame process normally allows for a builder to
> get a 'fit' dialed in, but the resultant measurements that dictate
> how it all works are left to the builder, until you have designed
> bicycles (for different folks and for a myriad of applications),
> you're best to leave it at the door. frame builders of any degree
> of experience know far more about what goes where than the
> client who is solely concerned with fit. and if the concern even
> veers toward how it all works, the maker still has a better grasp
> of how it all performs in a 3d plane."

> You can take it however you want it, but to me that says the buyer
> should give the builder their dimensions and what they want it to
> ride like, then be quiet and let the builder do his thing.
i kinda sorta did say this, but without the hyperbole. and ps -
you kinda sorta said you agreed with it above in post 15...
you: "
This I agree with, which is why you don't see many buyers
specifiying tube sets, diameters, etc."
> They know better in every way because the buyer is an ignorant
> dolt that doesn't know anything about the building/fitting process
> of bike building.
but i NEVER said or implied this!
> I see this a lot from "Experts" who deal with hobbyists (not
> just in cycling). The "Experts" feel they are far beyond the
> level of knowledge of the hobbyist and they don't like people
> stepping on their toes. Those at the highest level of anything
> generally have huge egos regardless of how humble they may
> appear.The reality is most serious hobbyists know quite a bit
> about the whole process, from how bikes are built to the fitting
> process and what their needs are. To make the assumption
> at any level that a rider doesn't know what their needs are is
> egotistical because it says "I'm smarter than you are when it
> comes to this so listen to me and not what your body tells you".
as i posted, the decisions i make (wrt rider fit) are based on
a collaboration between the client and myself.
> Regardless of what anybody says, when somebody decides
> to get a custom made bike it's about the "Buyer" and not the "Builder".
actually, it's about the buyer and the builder. that's why, after
what is usually exhaustive research, the buyer commissions
the builder. these are not impulse purchases. there are no surprises.

> To an extent I agree and to an extent I disagree.
are you a blonde?
> There seems to be this "Ora" around frame builders that
> they are mythical beings and are the only ones that know
> anything about building bikes. Granted they know a lot more
> than most people and their experience is invaluable, but the
> simple fact is there are a lot of people out there that are quite
> knowledgeable about the process, but don't have the time, too
> ls or facilities to do it themselves and are willing to pay somebody
> to do it for them.
i wasn't gonna go there, but i agree with wookie. we all
have hearts of gold, so it is in fact fair to state that there
is an "Ora" thing going on here atmo.
otoh, mebbe he means "Orca". i do know 2-3 builders that
are real large, as in
larger than life...
> In my case, I gave the builder a set of parameters that "I"
> wanted and asked him to build a bike around those, which he
> did a marvelous job of doing. It's very out of the norm and a lot
> of "Established" builders would probably scoff at my bike.
> However, I could give a rats butt about what they think since
> the bike was built for me and what I wanted not for them and
> what they wanted.
i think you're overthinking this - or at least assuming you
know alot about what we all do and will do, and whether it's
the kind of work that'll sustain a commercial enterprise. note:
this is when woody allen grabs marshall macluhan who, in turns
says the the audience:
"you know nothing about my work..."
anyway, we are all professional, despite the aura surrounding
what we do, and can be quite understanding at times. so why
not post a pic of what you ride, and also explain how you articulated
all the info as well as how the chosen one got it all done for you.
> Thank you for your invaluable comments on this discussion.
> I am in fact...Not blonde, but I'm sure that makes little to no
> difference to you. I guess if somebody doesn't think like you
> do or want a bike designed like you design them they are "Blonde"
> or as you were hinting at "Stupid". This coming from one of the
> more esteemed builders out there? BTW...It was supposed to be
> "Aura" but I'm sure you were smart enough to figure that out,
> at least I hope so.
you agreed and disagreed simultaneously (in the post above...)
hence the hair color wild guess. sorry. for a moment there i thought
i sensed some levity. i must be in the wrong room.
> If you did a quick search under my user name you would find
> out plenty about my bike, why I wanted what I did and pictures
> of the bike that I ride. Heck, clicking on my user gallery should
> bring up pictures of my bike.
thanks -
it's all so clandestine! (note: that was levity). i wasn't interested
in jumping through a hoop anddoing the industrial espionage
thang, thus i axed for a pic. now i have to decide whether to
pursue this search stuff...
> As I said to the original poster, and several times in this discussion:
> when going with an independent frame manufacturer if you have
> something out of the norm ask them if they will do it or not. If they
> won't, move on until you find somebody who thinks/builds like you
> want your bike to be.
i'll find a pic somehow, but what did you want that was
out of the norm, and why?
> How about this one:When you first started building frames,
> whose frames were you trying to emulate? At the Handmade
> Bike Show I got answers ranging from "Waterford" to "the
> classic Italian steel frames of the 60's and 70's".
i have had only 2 framebuilders-as-muses in my life. initially
it was bill hurlow, a man that made/sold me 2 frames even
before i worked in a bicycle store. were it not for wb hurlow,
those frames, and the way he seemed to take everything along
the way so personally, i would never have wanted to pursue
all this. he was the original role model.
years later, after i had made waves on my own and felt that
there must be more to all this, i adopted mr nagasawa as a
muse. i already had been drawn in to the japanese culture thing
(apologies for trivializing it. i'm really trying to be concise...) after
seeing a film and reading about how the nation gives certain
craftsman national living treasure status (and i dug that concept),
so i found a place in mylife for a nagasawa and his framebuilding
ways to somehowget into my psyche and allow he (and his ways)
to, er, percolate.

as far as i am concerned, these 2 men were/are framebuilder's
framebuilders, and - in my mind - can do no wrong.
of course, most of this happened before the mtb era, but i am
easily reminded that we all come from something, and we all
copy, steal, and borrow along the way.
i think it's safe to say that, while i have looked at other
bicycles over the years - and very few have i looked at twice,
my only industry role models were the 2 men mentioned here.
> It's that last sentence that perplexes me. Or strikes me as being
> oddly reactionary...or maybe arrogantly ignorant (though I swear
> I'm not saying that just to insult you).If I'm talking to an experienced
> professional in *any* industry, even the same industry that I've
> spent years working in myself, and they tell me that some idea
> of mine "won't work", I am way too curious, way too hungry for
> information & knowledge to simply move along without at least
> engaging in a (perhaps brief) dialog about *WHY* they think it
> won't work. And maybe, just maybe, I'll learn something. But
> you're not even talking about an industry you've worked in
> (framebuilding), you're talking about an industry whose products
> you consume. And while an experienced cyclists, someone who
> has ridden dozens of bicycles in their lifetime, can certainly
> develop a lot of refined information about the type of bicycle
> they prefer (as clearly you have), does it really strike you as
> odd that someone who has built hundreds of bicycles in their
> lifetime might have some insight into the behavior of the materials
> and/or their execution that maybe just might have eluded the
> end user?
this resonates with me.
to wit there is a certain breed of cat that only sees framebuilding
as some craft or trade, and owing to the consumer-goods nature
of the way bicycles are sold, thinks it's more than fine to tell folks
how to make them. i understand the mindset that gets one to this place,
even if i don't endorse it. it's the same reasoning that gets folks alarmed
when i suggest that they, "...wouldn't tell a physician what to prescribe
for what ails them" because they think of us as far less trained than
a person who has a diploma hanging in the office. all professional
f'builders that i know are gracious, accomodating, and quite concilliatory.
but they are also opinionated, and rightfully so; they are the ones
dispensing the goods and (most) have been doing so for decades
and have designed and brazed up thousands of frames. if we ultimately
pull rank on an order, it's not just to hear ourselves bark. people come
to us because we have experience and a body of work. for those
that can't comprehend this, it's a good thing thing there are
entities that will do anything for the money, because that's
what this issue boils down to. as an experienced builder and
also a racer with a cat 2 license, i am not afraid to say that some
designs wrt fit and how a bicycle works are not rationale and i will
not make them,and have had this tact since 1978 - the last year that
i accepted an order designed end-to-end by a client. as dave inferred,
it simply is not worth it to have one's name attached to what we'd
feel is inferior work.