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  1. #1
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    Looking for a builder to a custom 36 inch wheel mountain bike

    Thought I would change the title and ask a different question, rather than start a new thread in order not to clutter the forum. Aside from Waltworks, Black Sheep and Dirty Sixer, does anyone here build 36er's or know somebody who might? Walt has a long wait, and I am dubious about BS, and Dirty Sixer is sold out.

    I have emailed lots of builders and most people don't want to get into it, probably because of the cost associated with building a new jig for a 22" XL 36er frame.


    Can anyone suggest some frame builders who make frames and forks for less than 1800 dollars total? I know a few builders will make custom chromoly frames for 1200-1400 dollars but I would love to get some suggestions? As a side note, I am not really interested in debating the pros and cons of 36 inch wheel mountain bikes, I just want to find a custom builder whose rates are comparatively inexpensive.

    EDIT --- After doing some research I've found that I might have to shell out $1800-2500 for a custom steel 36er frame and fork. I am ok with a tig welded chromoly frame and fork in that price range, it does not have to filet-brazed. If there are other custom frame builders out there who can build mountain frames for 36 inch wheels please let me know, thanks!
    Last edited by phoenixbikes; 07-20-2020 at 12:36 AM.

  2. #2
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    Click here:

    https://www.marinobike.com/

    UncaJohn

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    I am aware of Marino bikes, thanks man. What I am looking for is a U.S.-based frame builder who charges between $1000-2000 for a custom chromoly frame. I had a custom bike built years ago but I am not inclined to get another bike from this person so I am looking for a new builder whose prices are reasonable. It is weird how many frame builders don't list prices on their websites for custom frames.

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    Most do? At least most I have seen do.

  5. #5
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    by "reasonable" you seem to mean that you want someone to do something very difficult for almost no profit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by phoenixbikes View Post
    I am aware of Marino bikes, thanks man. What I am looking for is a U.S.-based frame builder who charges between $1000-2000 for a custom chromoly frame. I had a custom bike built years ago but I am not inclined to get another bike from this person so I am looking for a new builder whose prices are reasonable. It is weird how many frame builders don't list prices on their websites for custom frames.
    I think waltworks is $2000 for a custom hardtail frame.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    by "reasonable" you seem to mean that you want someone to do something very difficult for almost no profit.
    The American dream

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    Good luck

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    Careful where you go with this. You might get exactly what you're asking for. A cheap custom POS.

    There is one builder you should absolutely avoid...

    If I were looking for a custom steel frame today, for under $2k, for a no BS build that will stand the test of time, Walt from Waltworks is the first guy that comes to mind. He's very up to speed on modern trends/designs and is a strait shooter. Plus he builds sick frames at a reasonable price.

    There are a handful of others I would consider but I appreciate all that Walt has contributed here on MTBR in the past.

    +1 for what Mack_Turtle said.
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  10. #10
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    Especially since Walt was one of the people that made decent 36" tires a reality...

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    by "reasonable" you seem to mean that you want someone to do something very difficult for almost no profit.
    Hallelujha.

    to be fair though its not that hard not to make a profit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by compositepro View Post
    Hallelujha.

    to be fair though its not that hard not to make a profit.
    I resent that

    (sarcasm flag)
    Disclaimer: I run Regular Cycles (officialy in 2016, functionally in 2020).

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    Thanks for the replies that were helpful. Definitely not trying to rip anybody off for their labor time and expertise. I respect good craftmanship and know it is worth paying for.
    I am excited enough about this project that I have increased my budget.

    I know Walt has done lots of 36er frames. He's a sure bet on getting a 36er frame that's spot-on right and it might well be worth the long wait. He is busy, understandably. It might take a solid 6 months for him to have time because of the high demand for his custom frames. I'd like to get this done sooner if possible.

    I am considering a custom titanium frame and the builders I have in mind are Dean Bikes and Carver Bikes. Does anybody have strong opinions on which one might be better? I've heard that some Dean frames had such steep head angles that they might have been production mistakes or some other weird fluke, but I read that years ago and it may have been erroneous anyway. I own a 1995 Dean Colonel with a longish (440mm) rigid fork which slacks out the head angle. I love the handling.

    On the other hand, Carver Bikes seems like a good value and that option might be cheaper. It might be possible to get a Kona P2 carbon fatbike fork to fit a 36 inch wheel. If so that would save me some money over a custom fork but I don't know if it will work. If not, I will have to get a custom fork too and the total cost for the Carver frame and fork might be about the same as the Dean frame and fork. Carver bikes seems like they offer good craftsmanship but I am curious what people who are really familiar with titanium frames would say about the quality, in comparison to Dean Bikes.

    One consideration is that Carver Bikes are made overseas, and that it would almost certainly take another month to 6 weeks to get the frame in my hands. Dean is located in Boulder, Colorado and I am in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

    The other option I am pursuing is a custom 36er frame from Charlie O'Leary, who is here in Santa Fe. His bikes are sweet and I would appreciate having the bike done at a frame shop I can visit in person, within a 10 minute drive. He is not sure he can do it yet but he is looking into it and I am keeping my fingers crossed that he will be able to do it.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by phoenixbikes View Post
    Thanks for the replies that were helpful. Definitely not trying to rip anybody off for their labor time and expertise. I respect good craftmanship and know it is worth paying for.
    I am excited enough about this project that I have increased my budget.

    I know Walt has done lots of 36er frames. He's a sure bet on getting a 36er frame that's spot-on right and it might well be worth the long wait. He is busy, understandably. It might take a solid 6 months for him to have time because of the high demand for his custom frames. I'd like to get this done sooner if possible.

    I am considering a custom titanium frame and the builders I have in mind are Dean Bikes and Carver Bikes. Does anybody have strong opinions on which one might be better? I've heard that some Dean frames had such steep head angles that they might have been production mistakes or some other weird fluke, but I read that years ago and it may have been erroneous anyway. I own a 1995 Dean Colonel with a longish (440mm) rigid fork which slacks out the head angle. I love the handling.

    On the other hand, Carver Bikes seems like a good value and that option might be cheaper. It might be possible to get a Kona P2 carbon fatbike fork to fit a 36 inch wheel. If so that would save me some money over a custom fork but I don't know if it will work. If not, I will have to get a custom fork too and the total cost for the Carver frame and fork might be about the same as the Dean frame and fork. Carver bikes seems like they offer good craftsmanship but I am curious what people who are really familiar with titanium frames would say about the quality, in comparison to Dean Bikes.

    One consideration is that Carver Bikes are made overseas, and that it would almost certainly take another month to 6 weeks to get the frame in my hands. Dean is located in Boulder, Colorado and I am in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

    The other option I am pursuing is a custom 36er frame from Charlie O'Leary, who is here in Santa Fe. His bikes are sweet and I would appreciate having the bike done at a frame shop I can visit in person, within a 10 minute drive. He is not sure he can do it yet but he is looking into it and I am keeping my fingers crossed that he will be able to do it.
    Your local guy sounds like a good option if you can make that work. Tbh, I didn't even know Dean was still in business. I've heard enough bad feedback about them that I just wrote them off completely a long time ago. I'd be wary of the lead time on the Carver. There's a lot of delays with international production and shipments right now. If that ends up taking 4-6 months or more to get into your hands, you might wish you just gave your deposit to Walt. What sucks is giving someone a deposit and then watch as they drag it out for a year or more. At least you can be confident that someone like Walt is a straight shooter.

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  15. #15
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    GT87, What have you heard about Dean specifically? I am wary of sinking my money into the wrong place.

  16. #16
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    Least expensive custom steel frames?-good-fast-cheap14.jpg

  17. #17
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    make it yourself

  18. #18
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    No good

    Quote Originally Posted by Train Wreck View Post
    make it yourself



    You missed where I wrote 'thanks for the replies that were helpful'.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by dr.welby View Post
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Good-fast-and-cheap14.jpg 
Views:	27 
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ID:	1349545
    I am familiar with this rule and I am not a fool. Go back and reread the sentence which says 'I am excited enough about this project that I have increased my budget'.


  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by phoenixbikes View Post
    You missed where I wrote 'thanks for the replies that were helpful'.
    Not the answer you wanted to hear? It really is a cheapskates' best option.

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    Quote Originally Posted by phoenixbikes View Post
    I am considering a custom titanium frame and the builders I have in mind are Dean Bikes and Carver Bikes. Does anybody have strong opinions on which one might be better?
    Yeah, you're comparing apples to oranges. These two do not belong in the same conversation.

    There's lots of great Ti frame builders out there, Dean being one of them. Also Moots, Seven, Naked, Oddity, Black Sheep, 44 Bikes, Eriksen, Firefly, Strong, Stinner, Sklar, Funk, Dean, and many more.

    There's also some inexpensive overseas Ti builders like Carver that I'm less familiar with. Honestly the two shouldn't really be compared directly IMO, it's a different level of quality, experience, and price. That's not to say that you can't get a good quality cheap Ti frame from overseas, just that you should understand the differences.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Train Wreck View Post
    Not the answer you wanted to hear? It really is a cheapskates' best option.

    Now, go back and reread the sentence which says 'I am excited enough about this project that I have increased my budget.'

    I am not a cheapskate at all and I am not trying to rip anyone off for their time.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by *OneSpeed* View Post
    There's also some inexpensive overseas Ti builders like Carver that I'm less familiar with. Honestly the two shouldn't really be compared directly IMO, it's a different level of quality, experience, and price. That's not to say that you can't get a good quality cheap Ti frame from overseas, just that you should understand the differences.
    And those differences are?

    FWIW I talked to Carver last week and I believe they told me they were around 12 weeks out for custom frames.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by *OneSpeed* View Post
    Yeah, you're comparing apples to oranges. These two do not belong in the same conversation.

    There's lots of great Ti frame builders out there, Dean being one of them. Also Moots, Seven, Naked, Oddity, Black Sheep, 44 Bikes, Eriksen, Firefly, Strong, Stinner, Sklar, Funk, Dean, and many more.

    There's also some inexpensive overseas Ti builders like Carver that I'm less familiar with. Honestly the two shouldn't really be compared directly IMO, it's a different level of quality, experience, and price. That's not to say that you can't get a good quality cheap Ti frame from overseas, just that you should understand the differences.
    This is exactly the kind of response I was looking for rather than 'build it yourself' because I am not a framebuilder. Thank you! OnesSpeed, in your opinion is the difference more in the tubing quality or the weld quality? Or both?

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    Quote Originally Posted by phoenixbikes View Post
    This is exactly the kind of response I was looking for rather than 'build it yourself' because I am not a framebuilder. Thank you! OnesSpeed, in your opinion is the difference more in the tubing quality or the weld quality? Or both?
    Tubing quality, craftsmanship, builder/buyer experience, attention to small details, geometry/design, ride quality, fit, the list goes on.

    You can still get good strong welds from overseas, but a US builders welds will be prettier.

    Yes, every detail can/will be scrutinized by a US custom frame builder. But it often comes at the cost of time and money. But, it's a once in a lifetime (for most) kind of experience, and a lifetime investment.

    OTOH, if you just want a good ti frame with 'these' geometry numbers, someone overseas will gladly make it for you. It will just be more utilitarian in a sense. It will probably (hopefully) ride pretty well, but they're not going to order in special tubes based on your weight, local terrain, riding style, etc. They're going to use the tubes they have on the shelf.

    A US builder (the good ones) will hand select each tube in the frame based on the size, geometry, customers desires, etc. They will use different tube diameters and butting profiles for each customer. This is where the extra cost comes from, it's a higher level of frame building. Customized, even tuned, just for you. Including fit.

    There's nothing wrong with an off the shelf Ti frame, even if you choose the geometry numbers. 99.99% of the cycling population ride off the shelf frames.

    Like I was saying, it's apples and oranges.

    Personally I would rather have a custom steel frame from a quality builder than a Ti frame made overseas. This is the sweet spot for quality, value, and awesomeness in my book.

    Hope that helps.
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    Exactly the kind of information I was looking for. Much appreciated! I hope Charlie O'Leary here in Santa Fe can do the frame and fork. He works in steel and his work is top notch.

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    Quote Originally Posted by *OneSpeed* View Post
    Personally I would rather have a custom steel frame from a quality builder than a Ti frame made overseas. This is the sweet spot for quality, value, and awesomeness in my book.

    Hope that helps.
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  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by phoenixbikes View Post
    GT87, What have you heard about Dean specifically? I am wary of sinking my money into the wrong place.
    Just enough anecdotal internet horror stories of questionable quality and terrible customer service that I completely wrote them off many years ago. Honestly I assumed they were out of business by now. I just googled "Dean mtbr" and the most recent thread was from 2012, and 3/5 of the search results were rant/warning threads. Only firsthand experience I have had is a guy I worked with at a shop ordered a SS frame from them in ~2004 and returned it because of some quality issues... seriously off-center/crooked bottle cage mounts being the one that I remember, and they were a hassle to deal with.

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  29. #29
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    DEAN might have a new sheriff

    Quote Originally Posted by GT87 View Post
    Just enough anecdotal internet horror stories of questionable quality and terrible customer service that I completely wrote them off many years ago. Honestly I assumed they were out of business by now. I just googled "Dean mtbr" and the most recent thread was from 2012, and 3/5 of the search results were rant/warning threads. Only firsthand experience I have had is a guy I worked with at a shop ordered a SS frame from them in ~2004 and returned it because of some quality issues... seriously off-center/crooked bottle cage mounts being the one that I remember, and they were a hassle to deal with.

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    There might be a new sheriff at Dean. A Facebook page I follow on ti bikes has some pictures up from one of their guys. Ari Emmet I believe is the name. You might want to give them a second look.

    If the cards fall into place for me, my next frame will most likely be a Dean.

    Just an FYI...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ottoreni View Post
    There might be a new sheriff at Dean. A Facebook page I follow on ti bikes has some pictures up from one of their guys. Ari Emmet I believe is the name. You might want to give them a second look.

    If the cards fall into place for me, my next frame will most likely be a Dean.

    Just an FYI...

    I will chime in on this as well; Yes, in a manner of speaking, there is a new sheriff over at DEAN. Ari Emmet is with Dean bikes and he is a good dude. He worked with me/helped run a program or two at the non-profit bike shop in Boulder, CO for a while before he got connected with DEAN. I have also read some of those negative stories/reviews from older posts, but I think that they are really trying to change things.

    John (original Dean) is still involved, they are branching out some and importing some high end german brands/products as well, and he is also a good guy. I think some mistakes were made around the late 00's/early 10's, which is when some of his apprentice frame builders branched off into their own high-end boutique brands so that may play a factor into those complaints. Mistakes/errors happen, and I think that they are trying to overcome/rebuild from those mistakes is good.

    36", I am not sure if that is in their wheelhouse, but an email wouldn't hurt. Ari is a straight shooter, and I think he will be honest at least, whether it is outside of their skillset/overbudget/etc, I think he'll let you know.
    Silly bike things happening.

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