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  1. #1
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    Beware of the Desperado

    I employed Jalon Hawk (real name Laurence B. Gust) of Desperado Cycles in Deerbrook Wisconsin to create a custom bicycle for me. 22 months and over $14,500 later (yes, I'm an idiot) all I've received are excuses, demands for more money and verbal lashings for being unwilling to pay more for the work of a "master builder".

    Be afraid. Be very afraid.

  2. #2
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    $14,500? US Dollars?!

  3. #3
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    Cycling Guy,

    While it is nice to vent online it is somewhat unfair. If this becomes a case of throwing mud. How do we know you are not some d*ck with an agenda.

    Right now you are someone without a name who has a two post history on the forum. If you have an actual case please use the court system and sue him. After you win your lawsuit feel free to post your stuff. You will be have more creditability if you use proper channels.

    I have no knowledge of you or of Jalon Hawk but a quick Google search shows that he has a page on BBB with zero complaints. If you have a material complaint take it there and/or to the court system.
    http://www.bbb.org/wisconsin/busines...k-wi-44012588/

    Good luck and let us know how it turns out.
    Mark Farnsworth, Raleigh, NC
    http://farnsworthbikes.com

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cycling_Guy
    I employed Jalon Hawk (real name Laurence B. Gust) of Desperado Cycles in Deerbrook Wisconsin to create a custom bicycle for me. 22 months and over $14,500 later (yes, I'm an idiot) all I've received are excuses, demands for more money and verbal lashings for being unwilling to pay more for the work of a "master builder".

    Be afraid. Be very afraid.
    Ummmmmmmm.......Wow. That made me stand up & pay attention. That's some serious coin!
    I'd pay a personal visit to talk that over at that level. - Steve Garro, Coconino Cycles.
    steve garro el jefe/el solo. coconino cycles www.coconinocycles.com www.coconinocycles.blogspot.com

  5. #5
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    I will build you a frame for half that price and have it to you in 3-4 weeks. My price is so low because I am not a "Master Builder".
    Beechwold Cycle Works
    Columbus, OH
    http://beechwoldcycleworks.blogspot.com

  6. #6
    pvd
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    $14,500 !!!

    Dude! I would have built you a PVD Road & Mountain frame littered with PVD parts. Why so much for a frame from some wack job noob builder?

  7. #7
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    Did you pay extra for the aerobars like the ones on the townie on the homepage picture?

    Sorry, couldn't help myself

    And for that sort of money I would not only build you a bike but it would come with the Anvil super master still attached...

    sorry, couldn't help my self again.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by pvd
    $14,500 !!!

    Dude! I would have built you a PVD Road & Mountain frame littered with PVD parts. Why so much for a frame from some wack job noob builder?
    PVD, I have to agree, but Desperado is not a newb. In fact I think he has been up to this for more than 15 years.

    I am also surprised by the dollar figure. You would have thought that for that amount of money that this person would have gone with tried and true builders who are usually known for catering to this type of build.

    I do not know this builder. I do know that he has been building silver fillet brazed bicycles for a long time and done some interesting stuff.

    I will say whenever you hear these stories, we don't know both sides and with that it is never very surprising. I mean you would never ever hear "Walt stole my money" or "Richard Sachs screwed me" It mostly seems obvious to me. I have an inside joke with a friend that we could start a bike company named "fly by night" or our favorite "FAH Q" and probably sell the shite like crazy.
    All the best,

    Dave Bohm
    Bohemian Bicycles
    http://www.bohemianbicycles.com
    &
    http://www.framebuildingschool.com

  9. #9
    DWF
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    Quote Originally Posted by j-ro
    Did you pay extra for the aerobars like the ones on the townie on the homepage picture?

    Sorry, couldn't help myself

    And for that sort of money I would not only build you a bike but it would come with the Anvil super master still attached...

    sorry, couldn't help my self again.
    That's funny though, I thought the same thing. For 14.5 I'd build the frame and throw in the dedicated tools I used to do it for free.
    A man must have enemies and places he is not welcome. In the end we are not only defined by our friends but those against us.

  10. #10
    Eric the Red
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    $14,500? Doooood, I'll do it for $8500. If you live somewhere cool, I'll deliver it in person, crash on your couch for a few days while I ride and eat all your food.


    The Desperado website looks like it hasn't been updated in 15 years, it's got Amp suspension stuff and Columbus Metax.

  11. #11
    pvd
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbohemian
    PVD, I have to agree, but Desperado is not a newb. In fact I think he has been up to this for more than 15 years.
    Sorry, I don't judge other's work by how long they have done it. I base it on the level they practice a craft. This guy is a complete newb. His bikes are rank, pedantic, and juvenile at best. I've seen folks here build their first bikes that showed more aptitude than that guy shows over the body of his complete works. Garbage.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by pvd
    Sorry, I don't judge other's work by how long they have done it. I base it on the level they practice a craft. .
    You are 100% right PVD. All too often we give credit to someone who has just survived a long time but still does not show a highly refined skill level. Time in and of itself is not an indicator of a quality product.

    I had a look at that site again and I guess he has been in business for 30 years. That is a long time for sure. I also saw this blurb about payment.

    "A $1000 non-refundable deposit is required to begin your project. This secures the client with a specific time for build; allows me a measure of commitment from the client with time taken to work out what is exactly going to be built before the time allocated, and allows the purchase of frame tubing before the build. One week before the scheduled period of build a payment in full with a casher’s check or money order. Your money is an investment of a minimal of 40 hours of work, which is the time that is specifically appointed. If it is found that there is some question of what is to be the final product, the client is responsible for making this apparent before final payment."

    I think the large deposit up front with full payment before work commences (I take 500 deposit and half at the beginning with the rest at completion) is just odd. That just isn't done in any industry.
    All the best,

    Dave Bohm
    Bohemian Bicycles
    http://www.bohemianbicycles.com
    &
    http://www.framebuildingschool.com

  13. #13
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    Very odd

    Clearly Mr. Hawk either is not a native English speaker or doesn't write well, so I don't necessarily know that my interpretation is correct, but the "If it is found that there is some question of what is to be the final product, the client is responsible for making this apparent before final payment" sentence seems crazy!

    I read that as: "I am not going to make sure we're on the same page, that is YOUR JOB. If I don't build what you want, tough."

    I mean, there are some people out there that really hated what I built them. Sometimes because I blew it, sometimes because, well, they were batsh*t crazy. Or some combination thereof. But I figure the ultimate responsibility lies with me, and that fixing what you screw up is just a cost of doing business. It does not look like that is the case with Desperado.

    Then again, we only have one side of this story. $14.5K seems outrageous for any bicycle related project that one could possibly conceive. Handing over that kind of sum without any kind of legal agreement about what was to be produced... well, I honestly do not know what to say. Could be this is a standard-issue internet hatchet job, could be Mr. Hawk is the king of the bicycle con men. No way of knowing, I guess... but for that sum, I'd have hired a lawyer rather than posting to the forum. It's not as if any of us is going to solve this.

    -Walt

    Quote Originally Posted by dbohemian
    You are 100% right PVD. All too often we give credit to someone who has just survived a long time but still does not show a highly refined skill level. Time in and of itself is not an indicator of a quality product.

    I had a look at that site again and I guess he has been in business for 30 years. That is a long time for sure. I also saw this blurb about payment.

    "A $1000 non-refundable deposit is required to begin your project. This secures the client with a specific time for build; allows me a measure of commitment from the client with time taken to work out what is exactly going to be built before the time allocated, and allows the purchase of frame tubing before the build. One week before the scheduled period of build a payment in full with a casher’s check or money order. Your money is an investment of a minimal of 40 hours of work, which is the time that is specifically appointed. If it is found that there is some question of what is to be the final product, the client is responsible for making this apparent before final payment."

    I think the large deposit up front with full payment before work commences (I take 500 deposit and half at the beginning with the rest at completion) is just odd. That just isn't done in any industry.
    Waltworks Custom Bicycles
    Park City, UT USA
    www.waltworks.com
    waltworks.blogspot.com

  14. #14
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    I met him about 15 years ago when I lived in Madison and I would be surprised if he had more than a few paying customers since then. One of those unique individuals that seem to be a part of the cycling subculture.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt
    Then again, we only have one side of this story. $14.5K seems outrageous for any bicycle related project that one could possibly conceive.
    -Walt
    A little off topic Walt but I just wanted to bring up that there are road bikes sold every day and actually many a day that are way north of 14.5k.

    I know that seems like a lot in our world but Serotta has bikes that expensive and there is a bike shop here in Tucson (Fairwheel bikes) that carries some really Uber stuff and they sell a couple of bikes like that a week other shops and manufacturers do too.

    It is a heap of money but realize it does happen, I have done it. It's just that for jobs like that I come to an understanding and take regular payments just like any home contractor would do.

    You are right, for this kind of money the only thing that will really help is a good attorney. At least they can meet together for arbitration.
    All the best,

    Dave Bohm
    Bohemian Bicycles
    http://www.bohemianbicycles.com
    &
    http://www.framebuildingschool.com

  16. #16
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    Good point...

    I realize that there are plenty of bikes out there that cost more than this. It does seem insane to me, but there are a lot of dumber things (speedboat? mistress?) to blow your money on, so more power to them, I guess.

    I guess I should have said "Any conceivable bicycle FRAME related project". Though I guess there could be some conceiveable steel frames that could cost that much...I'm struggling to think of examples, though. Then again, we don't know if this is what the fellow paid for the frame or the complete bike, or the Eiffel tower.

    As an aside, sometimes I wish I sold more road bikes. I sell a mountain bike to someone, and I tell them the complete bike is going to be $3k. Often they'll come back with something along the lines of "Well, I have a left crank that's pretty good, how much will it save me to just get the right one? What if I use my old saddle from 1993?"

    Roadies, on the other hand, don't seem to blink when I tell them that they're asking for a $7k bike. I hear a lot of "I want it to be really light/awesome/whatever. Put whatever you think is best on there." Too bad I only do like 1 or 2 a year.

    -Walt

    Quote Originally Posted by dbohemian
    A little off topic Walt but I just wanted to bring up that there are road bikes sold every day and actually many a day that are way north of 14.5k.

    I know that seems like a lot in our world but Serotta has bikes that expensive and there is a bike shop here in Tucson (Fairwheel bikes) that carries some really Uber stuff and they sell a couple of bikes like that a week other shops and manufacturers do too.

    It is a heap of money but realize it does happen, I have done it. It's just that for jobs like that I come to an understanding and take regular payments just like any home contractor would do.

    You are right, for this kind of money the only thing that will really help is a good attorney. At least they can meet together for arbitration.
    Waltworks Custom Bicycles
    Park City, UT USA
    www.waltworks.com
    waltworks.blogspot.com

  17. #17
    Old school BMXer
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    Since the OP has zero credibility and hasn't come back to comment, we don't know if the person is just some bitter ex boyfriend/girlfriend trying to seek revenge. Any further guesswork is just that. The OP gave no information about what was ordered or how it went bad - seem suspicious? I think so.
    May the air be filled with tires!

  18. #18
    Randomhead
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    if you google his first sentence, you'll find that he posted this on every forum he could find. He has answered questions on other forums.

  19. #19
    bee
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    There is no way that a steel frame is going to cost $14,500. There must be more to the story than this. Maybe it was for multiple frames, or a few tandems. Not for a single frame.

  20. #20
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    Maybe it was for a complete bike. He states on his site that all componets must be paid for in advance.
    "Parts for complete bicycle are paid in full before the build"

    Maybe they both got in over there head.

    I know of a case fifteen years ago were a very well respected builder agreed to build a Titanium Tandem for a well respected customer. It took well over a year, was around sixteen thousand dollars and then broke a short time later and then it took another year to be repaired. The tandem is still ocasionally ridden. I was just speaking with the owner a couple weeks ago. He is getting rid of some bikes but said he would be hanging onto to this particular Tandem.

    Steven

    Quote Originally Posted by bee View Post
    There is no way that a steel frame is going to cost $14,500. There must be more to the story than this. Maybe it was for multiple frames, or a few tandems. Not for a single frame.

  21. #21
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    At first I thought this guy had not updated his site since he put it up in 97. Everything on it looks to be about 15 (or more) years old but some of the photos are dated 2005. Who builds bikes like that? This has to be some kind of joke. Or is this his niche? Maybe his bikes come with a free Dokken record and t-shirt too (that would explain the crazy cost for sure!)?

    Anyway, since the OP is quiet, this is most likely a BS!

  22. #22
    Single Speed Junkie
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    Quote Originally Posted by marks_bike View Post
    At first I thought this guy had not updated his site since he put it up in 97. Everything on it looks to be about 15 (or more) years old but some of the photos are dated 2005. Who builds bikes like that? This has to be some kind of joke. Or is this his niche? Maybe his bikes come with a free Dokken record and t-shirt too (that would explain the crazy cost for sure!)?

    Anyway, since the OP is quiet, this is most likely a BS!

    Could not see anyone getting close to paying 14.5K for a frame alone. Even a complete bike decked out with all custom parts I would think would be hard pressed to get close to that figure. Agreed smelling a bit of BS perhaps mixed with a bit of truth, but that is all speculation at this point.

  23. #23
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    Hank at Henry James talks this guy up. Evidently he has secret brazing powers. Odd and eccentric, but he knows a thing or two. Some of the tube tech info on his site is great.

    -Schmitty-

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schmitty View Post
    Hank at Henry James talks this guy up. Evidently he has secret brazing powers. Odd and eccentric, but he knows a thing or two. Some of the tube tech info on his site is great.

    -Schmitty-
    Maybe he really is a Master Bilker-I-mean-builder then.

  25. #25
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    On another site the OP says it was for one frame a complete bike and some work on another bike. Not sure if he got anything done from this guy. Any how if I spent that kind of coin I'd take a little trip and have a close up and personal talk with him.

    Tim

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