Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 52
  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    36

    Black Sheep does quality work; patience is our part of the deal

    I've read the post concerning Black sheep Bikes and communication, and because I understand the frustration expressed but know James does quality work, I have a question. How much is patience our part of the deal we have with a builder?

    Black Sheep Bikes and James do excellent work and can be counted on do go above and beyond to satisfy customers.

    My sense is that with the move to a new shop and the flood of orders that resulted from NAHBS, BS is balancing how much communication can be done in a day if the product produced is going to be quality.

    Personally, I've had James do three frames, and each was on-time within a week. The uniqueness of each frame can only be accomplished by an independent frame builder. The result is a frame that would be hard to ever part with.

    I have to mention that the quality of his work is matched by a high degree of integrity.
    For that reason, after searching wide to find who might be the best person to bring to the University of Iowa to do a week-long workshop in our frame building courses, we chose James.

    I'm not aware of a frame builder who at times does not struggle to balance producing with picking up the phone.

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    201

    this is more the difference between TI and steel

    As a BS owner and very very very happy one at that, I can reply.

    TI, even today has crappy lead in times that is part of the problem. Also, the Black Sheep can be a little late, but the frames are *****in. Compare Vanilla Cycles or Richard Sachs.

    Now, compare this to steel, every steel frame I have ever ordered has come in on time, except for Trailmaster no. 5 which was alot late, but ahem, that was 1980 when everyone, except Tom Ritchey, did not know what was going on. Try Rock Lobster or any excellent steel bike frame builder and you will the time frame is reasonable.

    VTW

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Reputation: mbeardsl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    554
    I am a very happy customer as well as I said in the other post, but this a REVIEW site and as such is one thing that keeps builders honest and aware of their strengths/shortcomings from the customer's perspective.

    Patience IS part of the deal, but you may seem to be missing that the other end has to be honored as well or its not a deal. There a lot of details that others (and myself) aren't posting about their experiences - no reason to put everything out there when we don't know the whole story and people read into everything.

    The other post started as a "is this normal?" post that then migrated to a "this was my experience, hope yours is better if you go down this road" post. I don't think there's any harm in that and honestly I see there is some benefit to BS by seeing this stuff out there. They've been told in person, but when that stops helping, this is the next best alternative. I will always recommend them but because of my experience my recommendation will always have qualifiers that are aimed in helping the prospective customer get what they want. That is very different from not recommending them. Feel free to PM me if anyone would like to discuss off forums.

  4. #4
    Slow But Still Pedaling
    Reputation: JimInSF's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    477
    I agree gravelrd - I was there to get the final details nailed down and pick my bike up in person last month and it was ready to ride the same day I got there, which was around the same schedule Todd had originally quoted me when I put my deposit in.

    It's easy to get wound up about timing when you've got thousands of dollars invested and been waiting for your bike for months, which is unavoidable even if they are on time down to the minute, and they can't always be that for this kind of product. Being patient is easier said than done, and when you get impatient, this tends to compound itself in your head, and probably isn't that helpful in allowing them time to build bikes (or motivationally) either.

    This is a small, small shop, building world class one of a kind art bikes that vary in time considerably from project to project, trying to satisfy as much demand as they can and expanding very slowly and carefully to do that with integrity and quality. It behooves potential buyers to stay on top of the details to make sure all the right parts are specified and there on time (as opposed to, say, picking spokes that require nipples that won't fit your wheels, or ordering your own fork and shifter and having them not show up on time... ), and to establish a schedule, and check on it, but not bug them overly much.

    Like I said in my build report thread, I also highly recommend going there in person to get your bike - you'll get a lot more out of the whole experience, or at least I did.

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Reputation: mbeardsl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    554
    I'm leaving this one alone as the details of my experience make it sound worse than it is, but I think its fair to say you had a different experience as many others have had as well on both ends of the spectrum. Remember you ordered yours after me and got it before (well, I guess not technically )!

    I will say that "bugging them overly much" was the only thing that worked in my instance. If I hadn't been a jerk who knows if I'd still be waiting. That being said I'd buy another bike and use your advice, going there seems to be the ticket and I'd love to see the place.

    For what it's worth, I set a PB on my local fav trail on the 36er today!! Was trying to keep within 5% of my 29er best time and beat it by 8% instead. This thing is awesome!!!!!

  6. #6
    Slow But Still Pedaling
    Reputation: JimInSF's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    477
    Indeed Matt, totally agreed, different experiences of course make for different thoughts on some of these things - but yours came out pretty well in the end too I think. Re: beating the 29er time significantly, this is interesting - seems what they say about the 36ers being surprisingly fast may be true!

  7. #7
    mtbr member
    Reputation: mbeardsl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    554
    Agree 100%.

    I've always heard 10% slower...
    The really interesting thing is that's a front suspended 29er vs a rigid 36er on VERY rooty terrain albeit generally flat (75ft/mi). I'm not saying my arms and hands aren't sore but I'd have never expected to beat that time at the same effort level in the same (if not worse) shape.

    Oh, and NO headset issues today after trying to beat the crap out of it. Also adjusted the HACS which took a good 10 seconds, so much easier than my EBB in the 29er and no creaking whatsoever.

  8. #8
    Slow But Still Pedaling
    Reputation: JimInSF's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    477
    Ah, but that approach angle thing is probably huge for things like that - as someone here pointed out, it won't help with cushioning a drop, but when it comes to rolling over stuff like rocks and roots, the 36er wheels probably rule. Awesome. With ride time on such a machine, whatever delivery stress there was hopefully fades into the distance... perhaps I'll have them build me a FS 36er next time...

  9. #9
    mtbr member
    Reputation: mbeardsl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    554
    What delivery stress?

    And don't think I haven't dreamt about flex plates and custom Kilo forks Someone here has posted thoughts on building his own FS 36er (may have been the guy building a tandem?) but not sure they've looked at it in detail yet.

    When I was talking to builders they ALL said no need for any suspension (must live in areas w/o roots and rocks). I could see not needing rear with the long chain and seats stays, although that would be the easy one to fabricate. Front suspension would be difficult or very expensive. An Actiontec style fork was what I had in mind as it would be easier than having White Bros or someone make a custom fork that would be in the thousands alone but builders said it wouldnt be strong enough and would increase your HT angle/decrease standover/etc. But still.....

  10. #10
    Moderator Moderator
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    3,926

    Actiontec = no go

    Hey Mbeard -

    Just FYI, the reason nobody wants to do an Actiontec setup is that even for a 29er, they tend to need constant rebuilds due to the fairly small surface area in contact between the bearings and the piston splines. With 29ers, I've seen the shock unit have to be rebuilt at least once a season by Russ with larger bearings to eliminate the fore/aft and rotational play (VERY disconcerting, trust me!) With a fork long enough for a 36er wheel, this problem would end up being much, much worse due to the increased leverage.

    A Cannondale headshock unit (needle bearings!) would do the trick, though. I just built one (not for a 36er, though) as a test setup for a customer, and I might do more in the future if it works out well.

    I don't think it makes much sense to do rear suspension for a 36er, but it could certainly be done for enough scratch. A high or low single pivot design would be relatively easy to do.

    -Walt

    Quote Originally Posted by mbeardsl View Post
    What delivery stress?

    And don't think I haven't dreamt about flex plates and custom Kilo forks Someone here has posted thoughts on building his own FS 36er (may have been the guy building a tandem?) but not sure they've looked at it in detail yet.

    When I was talking to builders they ALL said no need for any suspension (must live in areas w/o roots and rocks). I could see not needing rear with the long chain and seats stays, although that would be the easy one to fabricate. Front suspension would be difficult or very expensive. An Actiontec style fork was what I had in mind as it would be easier than having White Bros or someone make a custom fork that would be in the thousands alone but builders said it wouldnt be strong enough and would increase your HT angle/decrease standover/etc. But still.....
    Waltworks Custom Bicycles
    Park City, UT USA
    www.waltworks.com
    waltworks.blogspot.com

  11. #11
    mtbr member
    Reputation: erol/frost's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    486
    Patience AND communication which BS seems to lack any know-how of. I`m slightly disgusted that one needs to stoop down to the pissed-of level to get the BS-crew in gear and am contemplating asking for my deposit back

    Edit: Just got of the phone with James, or, the call got terminated, and he promised me that the frame should be done on september 10th. We`ll see
    Last edited by erol/frost; 09-02-2011 at 11:54 AM.
    WTB: Ritchey Plexus
    DiNotte 200 lights

    automobiliana.blogspot.se

  12. #12
    mtbr member
    Reputation: mbeardsl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    554
    Quote Originally Posted by erol/frost View Post
    Patience AND communication which BS seems to lack any know-how of. I`m slightly disgusted that one needs to stoop down to the pissed-of level to get the BS-crew in gear and am contemplating asking for my deposit back

    Edit: Just got of the phone with James, or, the call got terminated, and he promised me that the frame should be done on september 10th. We`ll see
    Hang in there, when you get it, you'll be pleased (whenever that is).
    Small consolation for the stress but it is what it is at this point anyways right?

  13. #13
    mtbr member
    Reputation: mbeardsl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    554
    Quote Originally Posted by Walt View Post
    Hey Mbeard -

    Just FYI, the reason nobody wants to do an Actiontec setup is that even for a 29er, they tend to need constant rebuilds due to the fairly small surface area in contact between the bearings and the piston splines. With a fork long enough for a 36er wheel, this problem would end up being much, much worse due to the increased leverage.

    A Cannondale headshock unit (needle bearings!) would do the trick, though. I just built one (not for a 36er, though) as a test setup for a customer, and I might do more in the future if it works out well.

    -Walt
    I'm sure the wheel weight doesn't help either. Cutting that down would make for a more forgiving front end in general I'd think. I've seen a little more headset play after another bumpy ride yesterday with everything torqued down considerably and I definitely need to work on my hand/arm strength for endurance ST rides with a rigid fork so I may legitimately look into front sus at some point.

    I guess I should have said Actiontec-style. I completely forgot about the Headshok. I'll be interested to hear how your build holds up and to see if you ever do a 36er setup like that (I'd be a happy beta-tester, hint hint, wouldn't mind different forks for different moods ).

    How do you think the extra height in the fork would affect handling? Can you correct that somewhat with altering the trail built into the fork to account for a slightly slacker HTA?

  14. #14
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    6
    great ride
    Last edited by gosoulride; 09-16-2011 at 09:11 AM.

  15. #15
    Moderator Moderator
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    3,926

    Not a retrofit

    The headshock requires a totally different steerer/headtube/headset, so this would not be a retrofittable fork for any current frame, except *maybe* a 44mm ID setup (and I'd have to think about whether even that would work).

    So the head tube angle question is irrelevant - you'd need this to be a full frame/fork build from the ground up to make it work for a 36er.

    If the HS works out well, I may very well build myself one (I have wanted a 36er of my own for quite a while!) next year. Keep an eye on the blog, I'll post about it if I do it.

    -Walt

    Quote Originally Posted by mbeardsl View Post
    I'm sure the wheel weight doesn't help either. Cutting that down would make for a more forgiving front end in general I'd think. I've seen a little more headset play after another bumpy ride yesterday with everything torqued down considerably and I definitely need to work on my hand/arm strength for endurance ST rides with a rigid fork so I may legitimately look into front sus at some point.

    I guess I should have said Actiontec-style. I completely forgot about the Headshok. I'll be interested to hear how your build holds up and to see if you ever do a 36er setup like that (I'd be a happy beta-tester, hint hint, wouldn't mind different forks for different moods ).

    How do you think the extra height in the fork would affect handling? Can you correct that somewhat with altering the trail built into the fork to account for a slightly slacker HTA?
    Waltworks Custom Bicycles
    Park City, UT USA
    www.waltworks.com
    waltworks.blogspot.com

  16. #16
    mtbr member
    Reputation: erol/frost's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    486
    Quote Originally Posted by gosoulride View Post
    Wish I had fully understood this when I paid such a premium for this idea that is still materializing
    Thanks for speaking up
    WTB: Ritchey Plexus
    DiNotte 200 lights

    automobiliana.blogspot.se

  17. #17
    Slow But Still Pedaling
    Reputation: JimInSF's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    477
    Um, yeah, that's a heck of a first post. It's interesting that folks report such dramatically different experiences though - some have ordered bikes, even several bikes over time, and never had an issue with lateness or anything else, and I myself never experienced them as anything but responsive and up front - it's not my job to defend these guys, but they answered or returned my calls and emails, usually very promptly, and I tried not to abuse them. And the bike they built for me was a masterpiece - notwithstanding my very unusual, difficult and time consuming requests.

    I can't imagine James or Todd having told anyone they'd have lead time of less than 5 or 6 months at any time in the recent past, but we have folks reporting here that the the BS guys said 3 months (and in another thread one guy said 6 weeks!), which is crazy and anyone who's ever read anything about them would know is utterly impossible at least in recent years. And then to reportedly deliver a bike that broke shortly after arrival, already months late, and not promptly repair it? This simply does not sound like the James I got to know at all (and not only did I work with him on building my own fairly unique bike, I have watched him and the rest of the staff there work in person, for days, not minutes) - this suggests missing pieces of story to me, at the very least.

  18. #18
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    6
    congrats on your experience. Sweet bike
    Last edited by gosoulride; 09-14-2011 at 05:15 PM.

  19. #19
    mtbr member
    Reputation: mbeardsl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    554
    Quote Originally Posted by JimInSF View Post
    Um, yeah, that's a heck of a first post. It's interesting that folks report such dramatically different experiences though - some have ordered bikes, even several bikes over time, and never had an issue with lateness or anything else, and I myself never experienced them as anything but responsive and up front - it's not my job to defend these guys, but they answered or returned my calls and emails, usually very promptly, and I tried not to abuse them. And the bike they built for me was a masterpiece - notwithstanding my very unusual, difficult and time consuming requests.

    I can't imagine James or Todd having told anyone they'd have lead time of less than 5 or 6 months at any time in the recent past, but we have folks reporting here that the the BS guys said 3 months (and in another thread one guy said 6 weeks!), which is crazy and anyone who's ever read anything about them would know is utterly impossible at least in recent years. And then to reportedly deliver a bike that broke shortly after arrival, already months late, and not promptly repair it? This simply does not sound like the James I got to know at all (and not only did I work with him on building my own fairly unique bike, I have watched him and the rest of the staff there work in person, for days, not minutes) - this suggests missing pieces of story to me, at the very least.
    Yeah we could argue validity of any of these posts but in the end I think it's fair to not discount anyone's experience because yours is different. It's just as good for people to hear your story as it is poor experiences. I'm not trying to sway anyone away from BS (actually trying to sway people towards them) but letting them know what they may OR may not get themselves into as a result.

    Also remember that BS makes their own bed. I'm sure there are a few crazy customers out there, but I can think of very few ways for a 5 month build to turn into 9 due to the customer. Unless unreturned calls, email, missing parts, etc are all figments of my imagination (or I'm a complete liar)...

    BTW, a 4 hour ride turned into 6 today after stopping 6+ times (lost count) to discuss the bike. Still nobody has requested a ride...

  20. #20
    mtbr member
    Reputation: mbeardsl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    554
    Quote Originally Posted by Walt View Post
    The headshock requires a totally different steerer/headtube/headset, so this would not be a retrofittable fork for any current frame, except *maybe* a 44mm ID setup (and I'd have to think about whether even that would work).

    So the head tube angle question is irrelevant - you'd need this to be a full frame/fork build from the ground up to make it work for a 36er.

    If the HS works out well, I may very well build myself one (I have wanted a 36er of my own for quite a while!) next year. Keep an eye on the blog, I'll post about it if I do it.

    -Walt
    Ahhhhh, didn't realize it was proprietary.

    Well then, how many 36ers does one man need... one rigid and one full sus?

    Look forward to seeing it pop up on your blog at some point.

  21. #21
    Slow But Still Pedaling
    Reputation: JimInSF's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    477
    Interesting. That is indeed a very, very ugly picture soulride, I'm just flagging we don't know all the facts (are you riding DH and weigh 280? ), and your desire not to go into too much detail seems reasonable. Could be they're just adapting better over time to dramatically increased demand (better prediction of wait time), etc., or who knows, and hopefully we never experience anything like what you report. Most importantly, I hope your bike is back in action soon! If my experience with James is any indication, he will make it right.

  22. #22
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    6
    best of luck
    Last edited by gosoulride; 09-05-2011 at 10:22 PM.

  23. #23
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Posts
    107
    I own a number of custom bikes, albeit road and cyclocross.

    My bikes are made by:

    Derek Bailey / Chris DeKerf
    Doug Curtiss
    Dario Pegoretti
    Carl Strong
    Randy Cunningham

    I very much enjoy all of the bikes, but of that list of builders the only one I own multiples of are those from Carl Strong.

    Frame building is a business. It isn't alchemy or black magic. There is art involved, and there is science involved, but it is a business and the reality is that there is no excuse for anyone who wishes to remain in business to allow for deadlines or promises to slide. If the business is the subject of threads like this one, "the product is great, you just have to be patient" - in my view that is not excusable.

    Carl Strong is a perfect example of how the business should be run.

    You place your order after extensive consultation with Carl about what you want. You finalize and sign off on the design, At that point you are told when the frame will be finished and ready to ship to you.

    I own 4 frames made by Carl and the only one that missed the deadline ( by 2 weeks ) was due to Spectrum Powdercoaters getting backed up with special orders for NAHBS.

    It's a business and you are the customer. Being forced to wait without any word, or missed or sliding timelines is not OK.

  24. #24
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    6
    yeauh.
    Last edited by gosoulride; 09-14-2011 at 05:16 PM.

  25. #25
    mtbr member
    Reputation: erol/frost's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    486
    Amen TMB
    WTB: Ritchey Plexus
    DiNotte 200 lights

    automobiliana.blogspot.se

Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Black Sheep
    By Visicypher in forum Custom Builders & Other Manufacturers
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 08-09-2007, 08:31 PM
  2. Patience, patience, Great Falls
    By Fischman in forum Idaho, Montana, Wyoming
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 06-22-2007, 04:47 PM
  3. So... Yet another Black Sheep
    By 1 Speed in forum 29er Bikes
    Replies: 23
    Last Post: 05-05-2007, 09:42 AM
  4. Black Sheep
    By Visicypher in forum Custom Builders & Other Manufacturers
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 03-12-2007, 02:57 PM
  5. Black Sheep URL?
    By jonnyoxygen in forum 29er Bikes
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 04-26-2006, 11:13 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •