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  1. #1
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    New question here. Custom F/S Opinions

    I have made numerous posts over the last couple of months as I try to figure out what to treat myself with for my 40th this year. I think I am ready to go the full suspension route. I am huge fan of dealing with small builders who are passionate about their craft! I currently ride a dedicated geared MC Ute and a Rick Hunter Crosser. I had pretty much settled on a Moots smoothie as the ultimate gift, but as I approach crunch time wondering whether I should look towards some of the smaller builders as well. I like the Titus racer-X design and am toying with an exogrid racer-x designed for 100mm fork. I like what Carl at Vicious Cycles is doing by mating his steel front triangle with a Titus licensed rear end and the Sycip brothers are building some beautiful steel F/S rigs with the Ventana rear end. I guess the thing that was drawing me to a Ti bike was the durability of the frame material. Should I expect modern steel microalloys to last anywhere as long as a Ti frame?? Any thoughts from Sycip or Vicious owners?? Thanx in advance. I seem to take forever to make decisions like this. I still blame myself for Matt Chester getting out of the multi geared biz. Figured dealing with me while I shopped for a frame builder 3 years ago was toooo much for him!!

  2. #2
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    I have no complaints about my Custom F/S....

    It is strong (I am 5'11" and 230 lbs), light (built with XTR, 26lbs) and responsive. I was a little skeptical about the steel front triangle at first. I thought you wouldn't beable to tell the difference between Steel and AL. Wrong. The bike loves to climb (Unfortunately, I don't) and decends great. On with the pictures!
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  3. #3
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    I've worked in the trade for over 12 years and I've recently started bringing Vicious Cycles frames to the UK. What can I say about them? The attention to detail and level of finish is stunning, better than I've seen on some custom frames! The welding is truly wonderful deep even penetration all round. on the hardtails all the tubes with the exception of the seat tube are sealed to aid against corrosion. The final point has to be the paint... you think of it they'll paint it.

  4. #4
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    You guys are going to hate me for this...

    Ive been in the business for a long time, too. my opinion on f/s bikes goes like this. (pull your lighters out and prepare to flame away):
    A dual suspension bike is no longer a work of riding art like say an impressive ti or steel hardtail. In my opinion. it is a structure built to facilitate movement of two seperate wheels controlled by valved shock absorbers. like a race car chassis or a motorcycle frame. it is part of a machine. why does this matter? if you want to have a wheel travel in the precise, controlled manner that the designer of the frame and shock intend, you have to remove outside influence such as lateral flex. why aluminum works best here, is its inherant properties of stiffness. lack of flex allows the bike to work as intended. FS frames by nature are not keepers either. if ridden the wear out, and in some cases, fast. there will be multiple pivot points that will all require replacement parts on a regular basis. if you fail to replace these parts quickly, than you end up with wallowed out frame parts, shock eyelets, etc. sure in theory you can replace those parts, but in reality, the shock makers may no longer make the same shock, so the eyelet to eyelet distance may change, causing the bike builder to build a different shock mount, rocker arm, bridge piece, etc. when this happens, there may be no small parts around to fix your bike, and small builders, especially, don't keep inventory laying around for old frame desings, due to financial reasons. you end up needing a new frame. im not saying don't buy a nice fs frame, mind you, titus and vicious build nice stuff, i just believe if you are worried about durabuility on the fs frame, you need to buy a really nice hardtail as a keeper and a well design aluminum, cheaper fs frame that you can afford to replace every few years made by someone who builds a lot of fs bikes. that being said, ive never ridden a steel or ti fs bike, due to being six two and two hundred pounds. aluminum fs bikes flex enough at my size. really, unless you are not going to ride it, fs bikes are throwaways. You all can dispute my observations all you want, but this has been my experience in the business. enjoy your search, and enjoy what ever you purchase

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by olds_cool
    . You all can dispute my observations all you want, but this has been my experience in the business.
    Several of you points may have been valid a decade ago, when FS first started to become popular, but they just aren't anymore.

    Sorry, that's all there is to it.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Halloween
    Several of you points may have been valid a decade ago, when FS first started to become popular, but they just aren't anymore.

    Sorry, that's all there is to it.
    gotta disagree with you. i see a lot of high end fs stuff, and nothing much has changed. actuation, overall durability, etc, has improved with time, but what happens to metal under stress hasn't changed. neither has structural engineering or stress points. sure some have been reduced. granted, bearing longevity has increased, and shock life have increased, because issues of shock/bearing support have been addressed. but i still don't see too many four year old fs bikes that are in good shape or even repairable, due to lack of shock or frame parts being available. im not saying a steel or ti bike cant be stiff enough to not destroy the bearings in the pivots; tubing may have improved greatly, but im just saying don't expect an fs bike to last forever. by virtue of the fact, if nothing else, that you may not be able to repair it two or three years down the road. try to find LTS pivots, try to find parts for a shock a billy, try to buy a rear shock for an early yeti fs, even titus has changed the rear end of their racer x in the last two years. fs bikes are like good tools. they wear out, and you replace them, or you deal with sub-standard performance. (keep in mind, im east coast, and spend a lot of time in the mud.) at least now, many manufacturers are using common sealed mech bearings, that you can buy at a bearing store. i understand where you are coming from, but ive seen too many problems in the biz to really feel any other way. ride em' hard, enjoy em' for what they are, and replace them before the fail.

  7. #7
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    I didn't want to do this earlier, but here goes...
    Quote Originally Posted by olds_cool
    by virtue of the fact, if nothing else, that you may not be able to repair it two or three years down the road. try to find LTS pivots
    That is a company (GT) that went bankrupt, certainly not a good example
    try to find parts for a shock a billy
    Again, bankrupt company. Do you thing one could reapiar hardtail Kleins if they hadn't been bought by Trek
    try to buy a rear shock for an early yeti fs
    Ok, you got me, those Yetis use a one inch stroke Risse shock, but nothing current does, or ever will again.
    even titus has changed the rear end of their racer x in the last two years
    So? That doesn't mean one can't get parts?
    fs bikes are like good tools. they wear out, and you replace them, or you deal with sub-standard performance. (keep in mind, im east coast, and spend a lot of time in the mud.) way. ride em' hard, enjoy em' for what they are, and replace them before the fail.
    Now down to my final point: Can you please explain to me why a Turner Five Spot or Titus Racer-X isn't going to last the same lifetime as a Merlin or Indy Fab hardtail?
    Last edited by Halloween; 02-22-2004 at 03:59 PM.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Halloween
    I didn't want to do this earlier, but here goes...
    That is a company (GT) that went bankrupt, certainly not a good exampleAgain, bankrupt company. Do you thing one could reapiar hardtail Kleins if they hadn't been bought by Trek Ok, you got me, those Yetis use a one inch stroke Risse shock, but nothing current does, or ever will again.So? That doesn't mean one can't get parts?Now down to my final point: Can you please explain to me why a Turner Five Spot or Titus Racer-X isn't going to last the same lifetime as a Merlin or Indy Fab hardtail?
    sure, i'll tell you why. moving parts. look. say five years from now you walllow out a rocker arm on one of those bikes. assuming those two companies change designs between now and then, as they have every other year to improve their designs, what makes YOU think that they would have five year old rocker arms laying around. there is a post on the turner board about a guy with an older model getting new bushings for his pivots, and them not being exactly the right length, as i understood his post. they were NEWER. they were possibly LONGER. that was all they had in stock. now bushings can be shaved down. on the ellsworth board people constantly remark about how they couldn't get a three year old rear triangle to fit their three year old bike when it broke. why? he doesn't make them anymore, he has moved on. that's why fs bikes won't last forever. eventually you won't be able to fix it. same with forks. most companies don't stock repair parts for three year old forks anymore. when it goes, it goes for good, unless they have what you want to fix it in old stock. a frame designed for verticle travel doesn't deal well with side load over time. as in jumping a small jump and landing slightly crooked these impacts add up to stressers on the shocks, rockers, bearings. check out an electric motor that had a slightly warped armature. blows the bearings to hell. same forces apply in side loading a suspension design. it'll last a while, but there will be a limit to the cycles it can withstand before wallowing, or cracking will occur. as for GT bicycles, i worked for them before they went belly up, and you couldn't get LTS parts two years after they stopped making the frame. you couldn't get compatable i-drive parts for some models after the second production year. they changed stuff and didn't want to invest in old repair parts. that was how i saw it, not how the company explained it. thing is, with an fs frame the frame absorbs the impact and funnels it to the shocks, with a hardtail the tires and the rider absorb the majority of the impacts, thus stressing the frame less, plus hardtails tend to go slower in challenging terrain. please don't think im slamming the quality of those bikes the gentleman is checking out, because im not. ive just seen way too many times, how people react when their six month old bike needs completely rebuilt with bushings, bearings, eyelet mounts, etc. people should realize that an fs rig has many more factors contributing to its durability than just the brand name or material from which it is made. and as for titus or ellsworth or vicious. what makes YOU think that they are immune to bankruptcy. did you ever expect gt to bite it? fat city? my point there is where are you going to get parts for a racer x if for some reason titus folds. you just never know. same thing applies to the guy with the worn out shock a billy. he never expected chris chance to cash it in i bet. i should have kept my mouth shut, i guess. i'll stop acting like a know it all now. thanks for letting me try to explain myself.
    oh yeah, the yeti i was referring to was the one with the rock shox coil shock specailly designed for the yeti as-3 in 97 or 98. and no, you can't get a new shock for it, as we tried many times. throw er' away or hang er on the wall, cause rock shox got sold, and couldn't even fix the shocks anymore.

  9. #9
    Edibles
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    get a life,and dont ruin the trails when it's muddy!!

  10. #10
    drc
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    consider a 29er

    Lenz Leviathan available, Airborne to come out with 4" travel FS, Moots soft tail on the market. I love my 29er hardtail and can hardly wait to get a FS.

  11. #11
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    Retrotec builder, Curtis Inglis, will also build a steel dualie with a Titus rear triangle under his "Inglis" brand.

    Buy products mentioned in this post: Roach Motels and Flowbee Hair Cutting System

  12. #12
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    What about I.F.? Everybody was all excited about the D.W. Link suspension a while back, though now you hear nothing.

    I don't know if IF cancelled the project, but that'd be your custom Ti FS right there.

    A Titus would also be a good choice. They know how to make a very rigid Ti frame. Custom geometry, too, but exogrid seems like a waste of money. Go with the regular frame and donate the extra to a worthwhile charity. It isn't gonna help anyone stuck inside your downtube. (as if anyone really needs a Titanium bicycle ; ))

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  13. #13
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    Custom F/S Mountain Bike

    I'm in the same boat. I am looking at the Titus Racer X, Moots, or the Seven Duo. I know some of these bikes don't make sense, but I want a bike that's a rideable work of art. I am leaning towards the Seven Duo after reading a lot about them and the way they build their frames (get a catalog, it's amazing the work that goes into one of their rides). Even though custom frames cost more, the quality of work is worth it in my opinion. I had a Moots Mootaineer, and now I'm sorry I sold it (it was a great bike).

    Quote Originally Posted by MTBDad
    I have made numerous posts over the last couple of months as I try to figure out what to treat myself with for my 40th this year. I think I am ready to go the full suspension route. I am huge fan of dealing with small builders who are passionate about their craft! I currently ride a dedicated geared MC Ute and a Rick Hunter Crosser. I had pretty much settled on a Moots smoothie as the ultimate gift, but as I approach crunch time wondering whether I should look towards some of the smaller builders as well. I like the Titus racer-X design and am toying with an exogrid racer-x designed for 100mm fork. I like what Carl at Vicious Cycles is doing by mating his steel front triangle with a Titus licensed rear end and the Sycip brothers are building some beautiful steel F/S rigs with the Ventana rear end. I guess the thing that was drawing me to a Ti bike was the durability of the frame material. Should I expect modern steel microalloys to last anywhere as long as a Ti frame?? Any thoughts from Sycip or Vicious owners?? Thanx in advance. I seem to take forever to make decisions like this. I still blame myself for Matt Chester getting out of the multi geared biz. Figured dealing with me while I shopped for a frame builder 3 years ago was toooo much for him!!

  14. #14
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    Well I started this thread...

    six months ago and will be building up my new smoothie to celebrate my 40th on friday. I am really psyched with my choice! Kinda sad though to take apart the Chester hardtail after four years of yeoman service!! It will be reborn as a fully rigid 1x9 / SS.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Halloween
    Several of you points may have been valid a decade ago, when FS first started to become popular, but they just aren't anymore.

    Sorry, that's all there is to it.
    physics haven't changed in a decade, however. full suspension bikes, while immensely better today than they were ten years ago in regards to performance and durability are still suseptable to the same wear and fatigue problems they were in the past, granted at a slower rate, even with improvements in technology.

    case in point: a good friend of mine is currently riding his second rear triangle on a Santa Cruz blur in a time frame of just shy of 1 year.

    granted the blur is a new bike design and parts are relatively easy to come by. but the fact remains that in less than a year's time of hardcore riding, he had fatigued the rear triangle of a very good bike. his steel hardtail is still ticking after 5 years of similar riding.



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  16. #16
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    I agreee with olds cool,

    If I was in the market for a bike with rear travel I would buy a pivotless softtail..

    At the LBS I work at we get a lot of people buying or looking at the Epics, and FSR's and other FS bikes alike. A lot of times the people that are interested in buying these FS bikes are blind to the fact that they require Alot of regular maintenence, especially when they ride it hard/fast offroad in dirt, rain etc. Once dirt/rust gets in those pivots, it can screw up your new toy very fast, especially if you don't know how to take care of your bike. Sometimes we end up working on some old or new FS bikes and we end up replacing all of the parts in the pivots b/c that is the only way to fix their problem, or the pivots get wallered out and the whole back end or frame is screwd; if the design is over 4 or 5 years old, good luck finding the parts you need. One guy was so attached to his wallerd out early FSR design that he wanted us to buy a parts replacement kit for his old bike. We spent hours dealing with the customer, hours diagnosing the bike and taking the bike apart/cleaning it, it ended up being that, we couldn't get that kit. The guy was upset, because he spent a lot of money on the bike in the original purchase, and he had to pay us for our shop time, for us to tell him his bike was a tired, wallered out terd that was too old to fix.

    If you do want a fs bike get something that makes you happy, and take care of it better then you would any other bike, and be able to deal with knowing that a few years down the road you won't be able to fix the problems... you will have. The only time I have seen a OLD FS bike come in for service that did not have problems was when someone brought in a bike that had hardly been ridden
    Last edited by HellMuttCracker; 08-31-2004 at 08:32 PM.

  17. #17
    Kam
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    custom silk ti....

    just throw in another contender...john castellano is taking orders for a rebirth of the silk ti. supossedly full custom with 2" of pivotless travel. and, steve potts will be welding, so i've heard. 2" of travel will take the edge off anything on a xc/trail ride and you'll have hardtail efficiency. at $3k frame only, i'm out.



    Quote Originally Posted by MTBDad
    I have made numerous posts over the last couple of months as I try to figure out what to treat myself with for my 40th this year. I think I am ready to go the full suspension route. I am huge fan of dealing with small builders who are passionate about their craft! I currently ride a dedicated geared MC Ute and a Rick Hunter Crosser. I had pretty much settled on a Moots smoothie as the ultimate gift, but as I approach crunch time wondering whether I should look towards some of the smaller builders as well. I like the Titus racer-X design and am toying with an exogrid racer-x designed for 100mm fork. I like what Carl at Vicious Cycles is doing by mating his steel front triangle with a Titus licensed rear end and the Sycip brothers are building some beautiful steel F/S rigs with the Ventana rear end. I guess the thing that was drawing me to a Ti bike was the durability of the frame material. Should I expect modern steel microalloys to last anywhere as long as a Ti frame?? Any thoughts from Sycip or Vicious owners?? Thanx in advance. I seem to take forever to make decisions like this. I still blame myself for Matt Chester getting out of the multi geared biz. Figured dealing with me while I shopped for a frame builder 3 years ago was toooo much for him!!

  18. #18
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    IF or Maverick

    Whilst all the manufacturers mentioned above make wonderful bikes (and I speak as the owner of a Vicious Slider), I doubt that any of them will have the performance of a Maverick American or IF Tungsten Electrode (which is likely to reach production soon).

    You can have Spectrum do you a nice custom paint job on a Mav (with Mav fork) which would out-perform anything on the trail and comes from a small company of nice people. I don't own either of these bikes (who does!), but have spent a little time on the IF and a lot on the Mav. I own a 5 Spot which is an awesome trail bike, but probably not what you're after.

    Having said all that the Vicious full-susser looks great, especially in that matte army green :^) Try before you buy...
    'The Fear' is your friend...

  19. #19
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    Custom FS

    I have had good experiences with both big and small companies on replacement parts. Cannondale will give you there latest frame if they don't have what you need. And as far as small builders go they don't have the sales to absorb that kind of hit but I personally broke a Foes weasle 4+ years out of warranty and Foes offered me there latest frame at less than half retail, and I've known people in the same situation with Ellsworths and Intenses that were given the same opportunity. But be nice to them, they dont have to do it and I've known a guy who demanded they give him a new frame for one that was out of warranty and threatened them with legal action right from the start and he didn't get the same courtesy.

  20. #20
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    Tungsten Electrode

    Quote Originally Posted by Deano
    Whilst all the manufacturers mentioned above make wonderful bikes (and I speak as the owner of a Vicious Slider), I doubt that any of them will have the performance of a Maverick American or IF Tungsten Electrode (which is likely to reach production soon).

    You can have Spectrum do you a nice custom paint job on a Mav (with Mav fork) which would out-perform anything on the trail and comes from a small company of nice people. I don't own either of these bikes (who does!), but have spent a little time on the IF and a lot on the Mav. I own a 5 Spot which is an awesome trail bike, but probably not what you're after.

    Having said all that the Vicious full-susser looks great, especially in that matte army green :^) Try before you buy...
    Hey man, if you have ridden the IF proto would you please post a ride report? After I rob a bank I am interested in this frame and would like to know the ride qualities of the DW suspension. How active is it? Does it ride similar to a FSR type (spot)? Does it remain active on the climb for tech ascents like the Spot? How 'bout performance under braking? I love the quality that IF puts into their bikes and am hoping that the Tungsten Electrode really works out for them-if the suspension performs it seems that this bike could be the ultimate custom FS.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kam
    just throw in another contender...john castellano is taking orders for a rebirth of the silk ti. supossedly full custom with 2" of pivotless travel. and, steve potts will be welding, so i've heard. 2" of travel will take the edge off anything on a xc/trail ride and you'll have hardtail efficiency. at $3k frame only, i'm out.
    Oh crap... I guess I won't be getting a four inch trail bike this year.
    I have an old Silk Ti and I emailed him about doing a custom ti with disk brakes last year. I wanted a customer silk ti and it looks like I may actaully get one. Yippie!

    I just want to add there is no mention of this on his website.
    Last edited by Braids; 10-08-2004 at 10:32 AM. Reason: typos

  22. #22
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    There are big differences in frame stiffness between the various FS bikes out there...
    I will say Titus and Ventana build the stiffest frames for a given weight/travel range
    We hear all the time from guys coming from other FS frames how shocked they are at the frame stiffness and how well it tracks and that they "finally get it when people talk about frame stiffness"

    I am 200 lbs and ride a Ti version of our Hammerhead 100X
    I had been on the al version for a few years and did back to back rides, I can tell no difference whatsoever in front triangle flex or stiffness between the two, at all
    my bike has an oversized downtube which helps of course

    With Titus you get full custom geometry when you go Ti, sort of the "price of admission" so to speak..
    I will say I don't think there's a really good reason to go Ti front triangle unless you need custom or have a Ti fetish, I mean, sure, it has a lifetime warranty and no paint to mess with, but their al frames hold up to abuse...
    They use industry standard cartridge bearings you can buy anywhere and they stand behind their products, even past the official warranty period with no BS

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