So today I’m working on a Ti frame for a customer in FL, Cyrille. I hope to have it done and ready to ship tomorrow. As soon as I’m done with her I’ll start another Ti frame for Tim W. with a carbon seat tube and seat stay. Both customers are return customers. Cyrille is on her second frame and Tim is on his fourth.
As I said in my last post I like to build frames “One at a time from start to finish”. When a customer orders a frame I start my 10 stage order process with them. As we move along the process and design their frame we get to a point when we choose their tubes. Tube choices can be overwhelming and some customers after having done a lot of research really worry about how we can ever narrow the choices and find exactly what they need.
When choosing tubes, although it can seem daunting it’s actually pretty straight forward. Customer priorities point me towards the tubes pretty quickly. Using the process of elimination I can eliminate 95% of the choices right off the bat. First is material. One of the first discussion I have with my customer (typically in their research phase) is about which material will best suit them. Once we center on the material we focus on mechanical properties and tube spec. I only build with “best of breed” so I like to cherry pick all the major manufacturers top of the line tubes depending on the customer. Each customer has a preference for their balance of weight vs. durability and stiffness vs. compliance. They also have aesthetic preferences. Each tube on the frame is selected specifically to meet these preferences. We work together to define and balance these considerations and allow the process to direct us to the tube choice.
Once the tube have been selected we incorporate them into the frame design. We may still have work to do on other parts of the frame design such as fit, geometry, braze-on’s or parts specs but as soon as we settle on tubes I order them so they are ready to go when the customers frame design is complete and approved and their turn rolls around. Once the material arrives it is placed in a box with the customer name on it. Each customer has their own box and when it’s their turn I pull that box and that is the frame I work on until it’s complete. I like to focus on one frame at a time for a lot of reasons but the most important is that it allows me to focus on that customer without destraction or confusion. That way I’m buiding a bike for a person and not just a bike. I think it’ s the key differentiator between a true one man custom shop and alternatives. Knowing your framebuilder and woking directly with them is why people come to me and and my customers deserve the single minded attention they get when I build frames “One at a time from start to finish”.