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  1. #1
    pvd
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    The 'advice post'

    I figure that I should post this here as it should get here eventually....

    Bits of advice for the aspiring framebuilder | Peter Verdone Designs


  2. #2
    Bike Freak
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    I saw your post on the framebuilders group on facebook and was wondering when it would end up over hear as well.

    Great article and unfortunately it seems to have fallen on deaf ears over there.
    My bikes [Fe][C]ycles

  3. #3
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    Great read !
    don't tell me, "Show Me " !

  4. #4
    Randomhead
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    it's a connundrum for a lot of people, build or ride? I have build a lot of frames, but I'm a rank beginner as far as MTB frames go. In any event, my philosophy in life is that everyone has something to teach me. That's one reason I always try to make friends with the janitors

  5. #5
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    I read this last night. Great stuff. My shtick is road bikes and derivatives -- I don't (and won't) build MTBs. I'm keeping my focus narrow and to where my experience lies. 35 years of riding and racing, plus a ton of study of geometry has educated me on bike design. In my case, though, it's that basic metal fab stuff that needs my attention. I'm starting slow, never intend to make this a full-time gig, and am willing to let the growth be organic.

  6. #6
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    I like it - especially the part about staying in the game of actually riding what you build. Too many folks out there with geometry ideas set in stone from 10 or 15 years ago - hell, how many times is ANY aspect of frame geometry actually discussed in an article about a builder or on a builder's site? They all have some boilerplate about "fit is key" but fit is basically easy. Putting the wheels where they need to go and getting all the other aspects of the design right so that you and your bike can handle the terrain you want ideally to is much, much harder.

    There are only a handful of builders out there I'd ever hire for just that reason - tons of people are great at sticking tubes together, but so are people in Taiwan. If I'm paying for custom I want guru-level understanding of the latest and greatest (as well as old school and everything in between) geometry and tech. Doesn't mean I *need* or even want the latest and greatest, but if the builder isn't up to speed... not good.

    -Walt
    Waltworks Custom Bicycles
    Park City, UT USA
    www.waltworks.com
    waltworks.blogspot.com

  7. #7
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    People get into frame building for different reasons. I try not to judge others.

    I happen to be more on the Peter end of the spectrum, making frames for myself that are outside the range of dimensions available on the market. I probably wouldn't be building frames if I were the size of the average American male. I agree that there are so many options out there of cheap, well-built, stock frames that should allow most people to be fit to one. I don't fall into an income bracket that allows me to buy custom purely for style either.

    After building a few frames I've found that I enjoy the design and execution, probably more so since it's a big change up from my job. I have no aspirations of becoming a professional frame builder as I know far too well that I suck at several aspects of the profession (especially the business ones) and I require significant improvement in others. Still, I have a lot of fun building and I learn a lot from each frame I build.

    How much geometry and fitting work do professional frame builders actually do? That seems to be your main gripe. I know that I would be specifying enough parameters with an order that there wouldn't be much latitude for a builder to make the bike suck. I could see how a pairing of inexperienced rider and inexperienced builder could end in disaster, but my impression has been that most customers are seeking a custom bike because they know exactly what they want. School me.

    I do really like this:

    "Learn that incredible bicycles can be put together very inexpensively as they are the result of a collection of good choices rather than amount of money spent."

  8. #8
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    Many customers have something very specific in mind but don't know enough about frame geometry that they are going to get what they want. Others have a vague set of feelings and desires and want you to turn that into their dream bike. Others really do have it all figured out and are basically just hiring you to troubleshoot and fabricate.

    I figure I'm a sort of bicycle concierge. We'll get you fitted right, we'll get you on a geometry that works for what you want to do, we'll make sure all the parts you want to use are compatible (and often source them), etc. Style/look comes into that too sometimes, but not always. So each customer brings something different to the table but you would be wrong to believe that it's mostly people with tons of frame geometry knowledge.

    -Walt
    Waltworks Custom Bicycles
    Park City, UT USA
    www.waltworks.com
    waltworks.blogspot.com

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt View Post
    Many customers have something very specific in mind but don't know enough about frame geometry that they are going to get what they want. Others have a vague set of feelings and desires and want you to turn that into their dream bike. Others really do have it all figured out and are basically just hiring you to troubleshoot and fabricate.

    I figure I'm a sort of bicycle concierge. We'll get you fitted right, we'll get you on a geometry that works for what you want to do, we'll make sure all the parts you want to use are compatible (and often source them), etc. Style/look comes into that too sometimes, but not always. So each customer brings something different to the table but you would be wrong to believe that it's mostly people with tons of frame geometry knowledge.

    -Walt
    I agree whole heartedly with all that has been said and commend you all for your positions and mature outlook. I fit in with you all here.

    Peter does mention the way the forum perhaps has become a bit repetitive and that will always be true in this field due to new-comers starting out. They don't bring anything new to the table , but with patience, I find it very satisfying that a person has fronted up, given themselves a challenge and came out with a result, and to me that is worth gold.

    Eric
    If I don't make an attempt, how will I know if it will work?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt View Post
    So each customer brings something different to the table but you would be wrong to believe that it's mostly people with tons of frame geometry knowledge.

    -Walt
    Thanks for correcting my speculations. I've always assumed that the customer would be the one putting in the miles Peter talks about to develop their well-developed model of a perfect bike to pass along to the builder.

    Reason Walt is a pro and I'm not:

    Quote Originally Posted by Walt View Post
    Others have a vague set of feelings and desires and want you to turn that into their dream bike.
    I don't work well with feelings and desires.

  11. #11
    will rant for food
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    Peter, I hope you don't take this as flattery: I listen to motorcyclists in particular when it comes to bike handling feedback. That's why I listen to you even when you're unnecessarily gruff

    When I first started reading your stuff three years ago, I thought "Man this guy is DARK about how seriously he takes bicycles, and why should I care about this from a guy who doesn't sell bicycles anyway?"

    Since then, I've befriended a number of people who handle mountain bikes exceptionally well, and one day I noticed they had something in common - motorcycles.

    They all had very specific opinions about tires and suspension, and I hinged on their every word because I had just spent time trying to hang onto their back wheel in tight singletrack, and I always found myself coughing up a lung. Sure, they were in most cases fitter than me, but I'd spent enough time foot racing that I can analyze while in pain: they were putting down fewer pedal strokes than I was. They were more efficient through all the esses, took hits the best, etc. THESE are the riders I needed to immerse myself in.

    So, that's why I listen to you now - the connection with motorcycles.

    I find some frame builders are like registered nurses. Discouraging of newcomers...

    ...because the stakes are high. You make a mistake, it's someone's teeth / life / etc.

    Somewhere in between those two ellipsis, there's a thing that happens, that no one here has the power to stop, called Calculated Risk. I don't think one *absolutely* needs to have been a cyclist for 20 years before they're allowed to start selling frames. Everyone's story is different. I think a builder should be honest with their clientele about what their qualifications are. If I wanted to phrase that negatively, I have no hurt feelings whatsoever about some moron who didn't do any research wasting money on some other moron who didn't do HIS research either.

    If you didn't vet your builder before spending two grand or whatever on a frame, that's your fault. I'm going to be straight with my customers - you're handing money over to a newbie. If experimentation is a problem for you, well, I don't need bad press, I'd rather refer you to a builder who might be more appropriate for what is sought after.

    It's like the "entry level position, five years required experience" thing.

    I was going to be unimpressed if you didn't include the last part of item 9. For me the tipping point was when I was asked a question at a standup meeting and I didn't even realize it. Not even in the background conversation storage zone, I was fully invested in thinking about how to ream carbon fiber without making a hazardous mess. It occurred to me that I had become a chair warmer from 9 to 5, and that taking my employer's money was at that point un-American.

    For other newbies that might be reading this... four years in and I'm calling myself newbie...

    Consider the words of your elders, watch your wallet like a hawk, talk to people from other sporting disciplines. Talk to anyone who will listen.

    Most importantly when looking for help, show signs of prior struggle. Sending a pic will get a potential mentor's attention way faster than words.
    Latitude: 44.93 N

  12. #12
    pvd
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    Thanks Drew.

  13. #13
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    Peter. I read the post, and in my lengthy 4 years of experience I don't think I could have summed it up better.
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  14. #14
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    Great article. I sometimes fantasize about building a frame. I probably never will, but I am definitely going to start measuring my bikes and documenting them.

    I want to understand why some bikes are more comfortable and/or better handling and I think this will be a great start.

    Thanks.

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