Image is everything.
Oh yes it is.
The way I figure, when it comes to a hand built frame, technically they're all the same.
I mean the builder is limited by the technical aspects of a bicycle.
Geometry, type of tubes, etc.
When choosing a custom frame builder, I think it would be nearly impossible to make a wrong choice.
So what's it all come down to?
Well in looking at the offerings of a bunch of builders, I think it comes down to aesthetics.
How it all looks when it's all put together.
For instance, I keep going back to look at them sexy seat stays over at Signal Cycles:
A few other builders do S bend stays, but no one does the Coke Bottle figure better.
I'm a bit particular about that Coke bottle shape, I use it in my own work and you gotta admit, it's a lot better than looking at some straight stays.
I like the stays on the thin side, the thicker stays for some reason just don't appeal to me.
Straight and thick.
Thin and curvy.
The finish also needs consideration.
I mean some folks just seem to do stuff right, like Dave Kirk and how he attaches the seat stays to the seat tube:
That's some signature work right there.
I mean I don't look down at the seat tube seat stay junction while I'm riding around, but it's pretty nice to know that it's there.
If you know what I mean.
Then there's all the extra blingness, stuff like Eric Estlund is doing over at Winter Bicycles:
The extra head tube work is done using what he calls bi-laminate construction.
Now that's what I call custom work!
Of course all this steel goodness does not come cheap.
More on this later.
The trick here, is to find someone who can put it all together.
I seem to want a little bit of this and a little bit of that to make my dream frame come together.
I mean I'm not looking for some bicycle with like a GAGILLION hours of work in it.
In fact, I'm finding that my needs are running more on the subtle side.
We're talking about a bicycle here, not something to hang on my wall.
On the other hand, seeing what some of these folks out there can do with a frame is pretty amazing, elevating a craft to an art form.
Thing is, I'm not really sure I want to ride around on a piece of art.