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  1. #1
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    Frames/month production

    Hi,
    How many frames/month can one person produce? I know it is going to vary depending on how detailed the work is... but I just want to have a feeling about it. I am thinking about opening a small frame building shop, but I can not even guess the amount of frames I am able to do.

    thanks

  2. #2
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    It will vary by experience/technique/frame type. For a straightforward mountain/road frame with nothing super weird, I can easily build a frame in <6 hours if I stay moderately focused. In practice I often go for rides, have people drop by to chat, answer the phone, etc, so it ends up taking quite a bit longer. That's for TIG. Fillet brazing will be a lot slower, lugs will (usually) be a little slower. Practice makes things faster, good tools make things faster, etc.

    So my not-very-helpful answer is that it varies a lot. I spend *most* of my time on the phone/email/designing/shipping/cleaning/ordering/organizing stuff, not in the shop cutting up metal or welding. So the speed at which you build the physical bike frames is only a small part of the equation. If you are super motivated and fast I can imagine doing 2-3 per week. I do 1-2 because I like to have a life and actually ride my bikes as well as build them.

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

  3. #3
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    Hi Walt,

    That was very helpful! That's exactly what I needed! I was very unspecific on the question, but your got it. I guess every one will spend time with these other tasks, so for sure this time needs to be considered! I am just afraid of doing the math now... seems difficult to make this profitable! Well, I guess tons of happiness come along right? kkk

    thanks again!

  4. #4
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    I think basically if you can't produce a frame a week, and get all of the necessary overhead/administrative tasks done as well, you should not try to sell frames. If you're doing really, really high end stuff you might be able to go a little slower and make it worthwhile, but the $4500 lugged road frame market is a hard one to break into.

    I've said it many times before and I'll say it again: building the frames is the easy part. It's the other stuff that trips most people up.

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

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michel_Ventura View Post
    I can not even guess the amount of frames I am able to do.
    then I suggest you're not ready to open a framebuilding shop.

  6. #6
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    I'm sure I could build 25-30 bikes a month. That's really not the important part, the important part is how many you can sell a month. That's the part I have no idea about. And the supply line is a little fragile for that kind of volume, importing parts would start to be an important part of the job.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
    I'm sure I could build 25-30 bikes a month. That's really not the important part, the important part is how many you can sell a month. That's the part I have no idea about. And the supply line is a little fragile for that kind of volume, importing parts would start to be an important part of the job.
    That's a lot for a 1 person shop. We struggled to do 10 a month with 2 of us (frames, painting and component assembly).

    The biggest issue with volume isn't necessarily building the frames it's managing the customers. If you're doing volume, but still have a waiting list you can easily have 30 or 40 'live' customers at any one time. Each one of those (rightly) feels he's special and demands attention.

    If you're doing 30 a month (based on a 5 day week), that's 1.5 bikes a day that you need to prep, assemble the components (build wheels?) and pack and ship. You also need to order parts, manage customers, pay bills, have holidays, get sick, buy tools, make fixtures, eat lunch, chase suppliers, manage the fragile supply chain, manage your inventory....

    Oh, and somewhere in there you also need to build one and a half frames (and forks?) a day? I've not mentioned paint yet......

    Steven

  8. #8
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    Reputation: whydomylegshurt?'s Avatar
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    OP, are you dingo boy?

  9. #9
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    Perhaps the question is: How many can you sell?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by shandcycles View Post
    Oh, and somewhere in there you also need to build one and a half frames (and forks?) a day? I've not mentioned paint yet......

    Steven
    Ya, I didn't say I could sell, design, build, and offer customer service on 30 complete bikes a month, that would be a fairly outrageous claim. I'm not even saying I could design and build 30 frames a month absent any of the other tasks, I am pretty sure I could not.

    Ask anyone that builds frames for sale in a small shop, building frames is not the main job of a framebuilder.

  11. #11
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    The focal point of having a LBS over a facility for producing frames has oft been debated.
    However, it is the contact point with your potential customer base that is most important and though the internet has opened up a new frontier, personal contact makes it the most effective tool. No sales = no frames to build, period. When I was in the bike trade (LBS), you could sell a production bike, a frame and build it up, or construct a frame to the clients needs. Often, customers did not even consider a specific build until it was offered, and then there was an opportunity. Personally, I built more wheels up and made more money doing that type of work than was ever on offer doing frames.

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

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michel_Ventura View Post
    Hi Walt,

    That was very helpful! That's exactly what I needed! I was very unspecific on the question, but your got it. I guess every one will spend time with these other tasks, so for sure this time needs to be considered! I am just afraid of doing the math now... seems difficult to make this profitable! Well, I guess tons of happiness come along right? kkk

    thanks again!
    Brazilian internet laugh is so easy to recognize... It's the first time I'll post on this forum just because you're my homie.

    I'm starting a shop in Porto Alegre and I can produce one frame in about 1.5 days. Fillet brazed, no braze-ons and no paint. My workshop is pretty simple, I use a jig that I made by myself (wich takes a lot to set up) and files for mitering.

    But, as said above, working on the frame is just a small fraction of the job. Customers is Brazil are very easy to find as there is absolutely almost no one doing framebuilding jobs and the only steel bikes available are crappy old ten speeds, but the rest of the work is exhausting.

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