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philosophical ramblings from a former shop rat(35 posts)

philosophical ramblings from a former shop ratlonefrontranger
Aug 27, 2002 2:16 PM
I read something about frame alignment or lack thereof over on the Racing board, and it brought up a good point. If you are going to drop >$2000 on a frame, the darn thing better be straight from the builder, no? FWIW, I do agree.

As a Colnago buyer and former wrench in a Colnago dealer, I've seen the minor prep and alignment issues common with these frames, but the shop I worked for was a true old-school style "pro shop" that dealt with this prior to releasing the product to the consumer. It's one of those things that Euro frames seem to be "known" for; my former boss says the Pinarellos and Principias he sells are far worse than the Colnagos. I'm not talking major quality control issues here, just minor alignment, facing and thread tap that really should be checked on / done prior to any build.

My philosophical question has to do with this: I have experienced firsthand that there is a greater tradition of shop prep and "pro-shop" type mentality over in Europe. So I tend to believe that frame prep/alignment is something the Euro builder regularly skips, feeling that it is the job of the shop, not the builder, to do the final tweaking. I even had a rep at Interbike tell me with an incredulous look on his face "Why would we align the frame at the builder? It will only get misaligned in shipment, then the job must be done twice!"

Fast forward to today's Internet market. A practice that is daily becoming more common is for your independent DIY roadie type to buy a frameset using e-commerce solutions, then build it in their basement, often with little clue that frame prep should be done, or what it even is. The reverent days of worshiping at the altar of the pro shop are fast fading into history.

Add to that the number of U.S. bike shops that now deal in bulk sales, MTBs or "cross-cultural" funhogging: your local mass market or combo bike/ ski / snowboard / skateboard shops - I'm sure you know the type. They sell some road bikes on the side, but the BMX/skater type employees they've hired for their personal "flava" and # of body piercings wouldn't have a clue how to align a frame if you hit them over the head with a Campy tool.

I'd hazard a guess that your typical American framebuilder, seeing these trends, and being culturally less resistant to change than their Euro traditionalist counterpart, have adapted by shipping their frames "build-ready".

OK, I welcome any and all insightful commentary on this, including diatribes, rants, flames, whatever. Let 'er rip!
I think I may be one of your examples. Bought a Stealth frombill
Aug 27, 2002 2:24 PM
Colorado Cyclist (scandium tubing, ouzo pro fork -- hey, the fork is worth half of what I paid for the frame/fork). The thing rides pretty doggened well. BUT, when I tighten the quick release on the rear wheel, you can see the rear derailer hanger move towards the middle line of the bike -- kind of a fair amount (several mm). I'm so stupid I don't even know whether this is a problem (it actually doesn't seem to be; it doesn't inspire confidence, of course, but once the QR is tightened down the thing seems to stay in place).
The BB was faced, the threads were well-cut (although not cleaned very well), the headset cups were installed seemingly competently (although I didn't ask them to be installed), and the frame otherwise seems okay.
Aug 27, 2002 3:05 PM
Co Cyclist has a pretty good reputation, so I'm sure they did it right. It's entirely possible that your frame did somehow get slightly tweaked in shipment.

The Italian rep I talked to at Interbike was absolutely aghast that anyone would chase the BB shell threads and then ship a frame or let it sit uninstalled. His take on the matter was that the overpaint actually protects the threads (and headtube / BB faces) from being dulled or damaged, and any amount of lint and foreign matter could settle in the BB shell after chasing, causing a misthread should one try to install without re-cleaning. The basic impression I got was "do it once and do it right, or don't bother doing it at all".

IMO it's always a good idea to clean up your threads before doing any BB install, regardless of how clean they look, and then install the BB immediately afterwards. I've found that even tiny pieces of fuzz from packing material or just the random particulate matter that settles in any non-clean-room environment can cause a misthread. Use solvent to flush out any metal burrs after chasing, then follow with compressed air to really clean it up.
I actually wasn't worried about the BB (maybe more naivete)bill
Aug 27, 2002 3:17 PM
I don't have a chasing tool, but I went after it with a rag and a little brush and I think I got it pretty clean. The cups threaded in fine, in any case.
I was more worried about the rear dropout/derailer hanger -- if the QR squishes it in, doesn't that mean that it's misaligned? The wheel seems to track fine (the chainstays are of equal length), but that movement inward on the drive side scares me a little.
could be a number of thingslonefrontranger
Aug 28, 2002 4:45 AM
and might not be dropout alignment at all. Without actually seeing how the wheel goes in, I can only speculate.

1) Does it do this with more than one wheel? If so, then it may be alignment. If you've only tested it out with one wheel, then it could just be that your wheel is slightly "short" (axle tolerance). Something any experienced shop rat can tell you is that tolerances in cycling manufacturing suck.

2) Your frame may be perfectly straight according to an alignment tool, but not dead-on as far as dropout width on center, meaning your stays could be slightly "spread".

To illustrate these issues, note the following: We've got 4 identical pairs of Mavic Cosmos wheels, all using Wheels C-10 cassettes. The sets vary in axle width by 3 whole millimeters. I can't even get the "long" one (my SO's rear wheel) into my Morgul without "spreading" the stays and wrestling a bit, but it goes into his Dream just fine. Correspondingly, the "shortest" set of Cosmics (mine), when put into my Dream, does exactly what you described; you have to honk down on the Q/R a bit to "tighten" the frame to the wheel axle. But they work fine in the Morgul. All of our frames were professionaly prepped, and I had the Dream done at Vecchio's in Boulder, which is probably one of the most reliable pro shops going. Therefore I am pretty positive that all of our frames are straight.

Or it could just be that your dropout did get mildly tweaked in shipping. If you want to eliminate this possibility, go to a local pro shop and have them check it, and straighten if necessary. They can easily do this on the stand just by removing the rear wheel and using the aligment tool.
Does the bike have a replacable derailer hanger?jhr
Aug 28, 2002 5:08 AM
I have seen the described condition (rear dropout appears to move when a wheel is installed) on a number of frames (Orbea and Redline in particular) that have replaceable derailer tab/hanger . Even though the hanger is bolted to the right rear drop out with allen screws, the tab doesn't seat fully against the dropout until a wheel is inserted and a quick release tensioned. In other words the dropout and hanger are pressed together a little bit when the quick release is tightened. You can actually see the rear derailer move several mm to the left as you tighten the quick release. It never seems to cause any problems, although one could argue it makes it slightly more difficult to do a rear wheel change in a race situation.

I am not aware of what if anything can be done to fix the problem, but I haven't really tried to fix it as it seems harmless enough.

I thought about that, but the whole drop out seems to cant overbill
Aug 28, 2002 9:44 AM
so I think it probably is an alignment issue or, as LFR suggests, a dropout width/axle issue.
i've been reading some about italian framesrufus
Aug 27, 2002 3:58 PM
and it does seem that the italian builders have a lax attitude about frame alignment and finish work. issues of errant file marks and blemishes, not to mention horror stories about italian paint.

i think a lot of it may have to do with old-world views of the bike as a utilitarian tool to be ridden hard and taken care of mechanically, but not revered as a work of art. and your point about the final frame prep being the shop's responsibility probably is a good part of that as well.

of course, there are the exceptions, notably colnago and tommassini, who make works of art.
My experience matches your theoryMr Good
Aug 27, 2002 5:13 PM
My older steel frames always required shop prep. I wouldn't think of trying to build 'em up without having my trusted shop face/chase/align everything (At least for the frame's "virgin build").

Recently bought a Cannondale frameset through the mail. Asked the dealer/seller over the phone if he would prep the frame prior to shipping and he assured me that C-dale ships the bikes perfectly prepped to build. Sure enough, the BB shell was perfectly faced, with freshly cut threads, the headset is integrated campy (reducing the need to pay for skilled labor in a shop?), and the frame is aluminum, (so it had better be aligned from the builder!) Der hangar was bent, but I aligned it myself. The bike went together easily and rides great.

Some lament the use of components such as integrated headsets, cartridge bottom brackets, and threadless stems, as though cycling is losing its history or something. I personally don't think there's anything wrong with simplicity and servicability--my "modern" bike is easier to assemble and maintain than the old classics I used to ride. If an American builder can ship a frame that's perfectly prepped and ready to build, then that builder is adding value to the product.

Yet the rise of such a trend, along with modern componentry, could lead to the disappearance of the traditional pro shop. I'm no economist, but that seems to be the way the market is going. On the other hand, bicycling is not just a marketplace of commodities. There are consumers and shop owners who are passionate about bikes, so I think there will always be at least one "full service" shop in every fair-sized town (in other words, bike shops will not always gravitate toward the most economically efficient model). There's a shop across the street from me that sells BMX and inexpensive mountain bikes, and I never go in there. Even if I need Gu, water bottles, and a patch kit, I go across town to the shop with experienced pro mechanics to buy the little stuff. I doubt I'm the only person who feels better spending their money in a pro shop--I think there's always a niche for high quality and valuable service.
I suppose it's an issue of "smart consumership."sn69
Aug 28, 2002 5:46 AM
You are correct in your assessment that we are tending to buy more frequently from the internet. Likewise, in my experience I find fewer LBSs offer what I consider to be pro-level services. Rather, it seems that more and more of them are cookie cutter, "funhogging" (I like that term) brands of mid-to-low-end shops that specialize in rapid builds. I seem to find fewer wrenches who have the artisanship and zen mastery of the science. That's sad, but it's also a self-fulfilling prophecy, as it drives more of us to seek internet solutions as we school ourselves in the arcance, black art of bicycle mechanics.

When buying in that manner, however, the consumer still bears the responsibility to shop wisely and ask the right questions. My most recent purchase was from an online retailer, and I asked about alignment, prep, facing/chasing, torque settings, grease, etc.... I asked the same questions that I would have of any LBS. I'm not sure that buying a frame build-ready is bad, but you are equally correct in your assesment that the budding home wrench/builder needs to properly ensure that everything is truly ready before assembly begins.

...Thus the "arcane," the zen and the art. Frankly, I'm enjoying it more and more.
I have to weigh in...TJeanloz
Aug 28, 2002 5:53 AM
My feeling on this particular subject is that I have never seen a frame shipped from a manufacturer that was perfect. I've seen 'fully prepped' frames from manufacturers that need a tiny bit of work to make them 'perfect'. One wrong bump from UPS, and a frame may need some work. But, my experience has been that a lot of roadies are o.k. with something less than perfect.

I don't believe your run-of-the-mill roadie can assemble a frame as well as an experienced professional. I don't believe your experienced roadie can assemble a frame as well as an experienced professional. Mechanical knowledge and 'touch' comes from building ten 'pro' bikes a week for weeks on end. An average mechanic won't even notice something that a professional will see, and say: "that's a problem that I need to fix". Years, and yes, I mean YEARS of experience are the only way to recognize these issues, and understand the importance of the details.

My point is that even the best bikes come from the manufacturers at best 95% right (Italian bikes are more like 75% right), and that most roadies are content to then assemble the bike in their basement and get a bike that's 90% right (they lose 5% in assembly). Of course, there's an argument that the MTB mechanic at the local shop is going to get it only 85% right, so you're better off doing it yourself, but we'll assume you know a good mechanic (which is a HUGE assumption). But there is a net loss of quality when bikes go to ready-to-build and built at home. A lot of people won't notice it, but the quality declines a tiny bit.

I'll use myself as an example. Before I started working at a bike shop, I did all my own work. I was a bike racer; couldn't afford to have a mechanic do work that I could do as well myself. I thought my bike worked pretty well. The first summer I was at the shop, our head mechanic borrowed my bike to go to the 7-11 down the street; upon returning, he declared: "I have nothing against Dura-Ace, it's a great gruppo, but the sh!t on your bike doesn't work for crap." He proceeded to tune it up, and, while I had been previously pleased with its performance, after the tuneup, it worked magically- as opposed to just working.
good points, but hard to findDougSloan
Aug 28, 2002 6:08 AM
I wouldn't trust the idiot mechanics around here with nearly anything; inevitably, they screw things up, or completely ignore my instructions about how I want things set up, so I just have to redo things anyway. When I buy frames from them, I think the only "prep" is taking them out of the box and weighing them.

If you live in an area and know a good, not just experienced, mechanic, that's wonderful. Even in that shop, though, you might well get the junior flunky rather than the mechanic you thought would work on it.

A good mechanic may be able to adjust things perfectly the first time. Me, it might take a couple of short rides to debug them after installation. I'll get it right eventually, though.

I just put the parts onDougSloan
Aug 28, 2002 6:01 AM
When I get a bike, I just throw on the parts and everything works fine, at least as far as I know. It's hard for me to believe that bikes are that sensitive to delicate rethreading and sanitary conditions.

I can't understand how a peice of lint could fowl a bottom bracket, when I grease threads of the shell and then wrap about 4 layers of teflon tape around the bb threads. While I wipe it out with a rag, that's the extent of cleaning. I don't have problems.

Now, I've only built about 10 bikes, so I could be lucky. Some of them I've rebuilt several times, though, with different parts.

Maybe some frames are far worse than others. I suppose some could need extra care. The old style loose bottom brackets might have been more sensitive than the cartridge types, too.

While I'm pretty meticulous in my builds, taking care to get things lubed, tight, derailleurs and brakes adjusted perfectly, cables right length, etc., I've never seen a frame problem, at least that I was aware of or cause me any concern. I just wish forks came cut to the right length.

I agree with Doug!Juanmoretime
Aug 28, 2002 6:19 AM
I've built about the same amount of bikes including building up the wheels. I have also bought several frames mail order from very reliable sources. I don't beleive that a frame is that fragile to cross tread a bottom bracket by a piece of lint, unless the person doing the assembly is an idiot. As far as being shipped a prepped frame goes, I always get my frames prepped and if the shop has packed the frame properly, there is very little chance of it going out of alignment. If a frame was that fragile, what would happen if we actually rode these things any pot holes and stuff. Beyond all of this, I do beleive that extreme care must be taken during a build to do it right and that fully prepping the frame is a necessary component to proper assembly.
it's kind of a matter of percentageslonefrontranger
Aug 28, 2002 6:30 AM
TJ made a lot of good points that I'd hoped would be brought up by posting this thread. I originally thought about directing it specifically at him, but out of curiosity, I wanted to get input from everyone's experiences, good and bad.

I don't actually disagree with the tendency for U.S. builders to ship "build-ready". I also don't mind that roadies are becoming more self-sufficient. I do somewhat mourn the loss of tradition, but I agree with the other poster who said there will probably always be a pro shop available somewhere in your region to fulfill these needs.

Doug, I agree that you may be fine for years doing your own builds without meticulously checking everything, and since it's your own bike, you are able to accept and tolerate what TJ calls a "90% job". That's fine. Before I became a shop rat, I was just like TJ; everthing basically worked okay and I was happy with that. Now I get crosseyed about the slightest thing, and that's just a matter of perspective - I know now that a) it's not right, and b) how to fix it, so I don't tolerate "works okay" anymore.

It only takes screwing something up really bad once to teach you an unforgettable lesson. My first DIY BB install (before I was a shop rat) practially ruined my brand-new frame simply because I didn't take the time to clean out the threads, so I'll admit I probably go a bit overboard on this particular matter.

TJ also has a good point about building in quantity. Eventually the law of averages will catch up with you. The shop he worked for was busier than mine; in my case it was something like two dozen pro level bikes per week, but you get the drift. No mistakes are acceptable when dealing with someone else's high-end scoots, so you need to do the job 100% right, 100% of the time.

Yes, you put teflon tape in the BB shell before you install, and no it doesn't matter whether you're doing old-school loose bearing installs or modern cartridge style; threads are threads. However, I have experienced firsthand that slightly "bruised" threads or even the craziest small piece of whatever stuck *underneath* the tape (which causes a lump) can force the cup to misthread. This may only occur in 10% of cases, but when I'm dealing in my livelihood and some customer's $2000 frame, I can't afford to make that mistake even 10% of the time.
"kill your own kid"DougSloan
Aug 28, 2002 6:40 AM
This reminds me of my brother, who has two young boys. When they go waterskiing with friends, if a kid is skiing, that kid's parent must drive the boat. You can only "kill your own kid."

Maybe I figure if something is screwed up on my bikes, I can only blame myself; I suppose you're right -- if I were building a bike for someone else, and my shop's reputation depended upon doing a job permanently right the first time, I might do many things differently. Good point.

I will never, ever, screw up cutting a fork steer tube again. Some lessons are permamently etched in the brain.

A tale of two mechanics,TJeanloz
Aug 28, 2002 7:01 AM
When I was last employed at a bike shop, we had two mechanics who were deemed capable of building 'pro' bikes. Apologies to those who will recognize who these guys are.

One was a brash 'kid'; who was actually my age exactly, had worked at the shop since he was 15, and was in his first year of unsupervised pro bike builds (at age 23). He still wasn't allowed to go the real challenges alone. He was responsible for building most of the Litespeeds, and he was fast, efficient, and did a generally good job. Litespeeds (or ti bikes in general) are a good stepping stone to learn on- you can drop a 5mm wrench on them and not have to make a trip up to the painter. The kid could crank out a pro build in an afternoon, no sweat. His bikes were all then checked out mechanically, by the owner, and cosmetically, by me. Everything had to be PERFECT for the customer, and he made occasional oversights- like the logo on the headset cup wasn't perfectly located, or the label on the rim faced the wrong direction. It was the checker's job to be anal about such things.

We had another mechanic, who had been at the shop for a long time. Having him build a pro bike was an agonizingly slow process. First, he had to be in the 'mood' to do it. If he didn't feel like he was at the top of his game, he wasn't going near that custom Richard Sachs. The customer would have to wait- something they weren't always happy about. Once he started, he was impossibly slow. It could take him an afternoon to get the bottom bracket and headset it. But everything was perfect, every time. He followed the: look at the task, think about how to do it right, think about how to it better, verify your hypothesis, do the task, process. It might take him a week to build a bike. But they were as close to perfect as I've seen. Every time I had a problem in my check-over, he had an argument for why he had done it the way he had, and why my way wasn't quite as good- and he was [almost] always right. He was good, but agonizingly slow. It drove me nuts.

The net result is that there is nothing for a mechanic, or a salesperson, like having a customer swing by on their first ride on the new bike, and not be able to wipe the smile off their face. And it cuts like a knife to have them say: "it's nice, but the front derailluer doesn't seem to be perfect." If they had built it at home, the front derailluer would be really messed up, and they'd have accepted that as as good as they could make it. But perfection is the goal every time, and it's the least a pro mechanic should do for his customers.
Ha! and a followupColnagoFE
Aug 28, 2002 2:32 PM
I think I recognize the wrenches but will keep my mouth shut. So what you're saying is that the low level Bianchis and Treks got the short shrift? Who builds those up?
So how did you charge for the good but slow guy's labor?Spoke Wrench
Aug 28, 2002 3:17 PM
My rule of thumb is that figuring rent, overhead, benefits etc. a typical bike shop to be profitable, has to charge $50.00 to $60.00 per hour for labor. If it takes this guy a day to build a bike, that would be a $400.00 bike build! We won't even talk about if it ever took him a whole week to do one.

Somehow, somebody is paying for that $400.00 bike build. Either the customer says "I suppose it's a lot, but he's worth it." or the owner says "I'll write part of his salary off to sales promotion." How did that work?
We charged the same...TJeanloz
Aug 29, 2002 4:22 AM
He was slow, and it often took a week to build a bike, but was [is] also the go-to guy for all of our customers strange requests- so he is distracted quite a bit from the build. He has something of a reputation for knowing exactly what will work with what, and how well, so he tends to field a lot of questions on any given day. So he was a more valuable sales asset than just the sum of his mechanical labor.

On the question of who built the lower-end bikes, it was generally neither of these guys. Anything shy of a $2,000 bike generally comes 95% pre-assembled from the factory, and any 16 year old mechanic can easily plunk on the handlebars and adjust the derailluers. They were, of course, completely checked over by the head mechanic. If a bike cost more than $2,000 and came pre-assembled, we would generally strip it and do the assembly job right- that's just one of the differences in buying a 'stock' vs. 'pro' level bike.
Internet commerce AND old school service can coexistJohnG
Aug 28, 2002 6:20 AM
When I get my Colnago frames from Maestro they come fully "prepped". Mike does this for me for no additional cost.

ride on
buyer beware--do your researchColnagoFE
Aug 28, 2002 6:53 AM
the only problem with misaligned colnagos would be if you get a misaligned c-40. not much you can do there. i'm lucky to live in boulder, co. there are plenty of people i'd feel confident in having do work on my bike. peter (and sean) at vecchios are my first choice, but steve at louisville cyclery is also a good choice as is wheatridge if i lived down that way. not sure about pro peloton these days since ian sold the place. noticed they no longer sell colnago. seem to be geared more towards the tri market now. anyone have any firsthand experience with them? i bought my colnago there mainly because peter was wrenching there at the time and that was about the time he and sean quit and went into biz on their own taking all their tools with them. they didn't even have the proper tools to for my italian BB and they were a Colnago dealer! had to go borrow the proper tools from excel. didn't instill a lot of confidence in their work, but they seemed to do OK eventually. i never took my bike back there though once it was built up. i imagine there are plenty of towns that have shops that probably don't even know there are different kinds of BBs let along have the proper tools for them or even know that they need to be prepped in the first place. scary.
Still, anyone can make mistakessn69
Aug 28, 2002 7:34 AM
I watched my local Colnago dealer--a highly skilled wrench at that--strip the threads from a C-40's BB that he was prepping. Yikes...not sure how that played out.
darn straightlonefrontranger
Aug 28, 2002 9:17 AM
My SO happened to receive the first Colnago frameset into the shop that I eventually wound up working for. The shop was so new, in fact, that the owner had yet to receive his box of frame tools.

Too impatient to wait until the tools came in so that the owner (an exceedingly talented wrench) could do the prep, my SO and I watched in horror as the Colnago rep, who was touted by Trialtir as a "professional wrench" proceeded in an abortive attempt to tap the driveside of my SO's brand new frame utterly ass-backwards. Fortunately we stopped him before the damage became insurmountable. It was painfully obvious that, whatever this guy's credentials were (besides ownership of a $3000 box of tools he hadn't a clue how to use), he had never dealt with an Italian-threaded frame before in his life.
zinn and the art of road bike maintenance+brain=works for mephillipe
Aug 28, 2002 11:10 AM
ouch!@ that had to be painful to watch even (nm)ColnagoFE
Aug 28, 2002 12:45 PM
arrived on the scene immediately after the incidentsn69
Aug 28, 2002 12:54 PM
So, I didn't actually see the victim murdered, but I saw the corpse. Tragic, I tell you, tragic. It was a 00F colored C40, and the BB was stripped bare like a Las Vegas dancer. The poor guy was just standing there, limp and utterly defeated looking alternately at it and his own, built C40 almost as if he was apologizing to the sould of the bike. ...Tragic....
what to do?DaveG
Aug 28, 2002 1:50 PM
I'm sure these types of pro shops still exist but I'm not sure I know of any that I would trust to do this. I don't expect that will improve. When I built up my Torelli frame this spring, I skipped the pro shop "prep" treatment because 1. Torelli claims they prep their frames themselves, 2. I did not trust any local shops to do it, 3. I was not expecting any problems. Everything came out fine, so I guess I feel OK about that. Perhaps the advantages are too subtle for a novice mechanic like myself to appreciate. I can certainly see the value of chasing the BB threads, facing etc. if the builder did not do so. However, alignment is much less of a shop issue since the vast majority of high-end framesets are Aluminum or carbon which aren't real condusive to shop alignment.
which torelli? tell me your impressions.(nm)rufus
Aug 28, 2002 2:40 PM
which torelli? tell me your impressions.(nm)DaveG
Aug 28, 2002 3:15 PM
It is a Brianza frameset with steel Columbus Zona tubing. I picked it up on Ebay for $200 from a shop in Arkansas. I'm very happy with the ride and handling. Reasonably stiff but still comfortable on long rides. I ended up building it up with Campy Centaur. However, for the reputation of Torelli I am a bit dissapointed with the finish. I have a steel Marin (also Italian-made) and the welds, finish, and paint on the Marin are superior, while the Torelli is just average.
Sheesh, that's high standards...TJeanloz
Aug 29, 2002 4:26 AM
You're disappointed with the finish on a $200 frame? This is a tough crowd. All Torelli's are spec'd out to small Italian builders, and the Brianza is their lowest end frame- it's actually not even available from Torelli as a frame, only a complete bike (with Centaur).

But on the original topic, Torelli does probably the best job of anybody on prepping their frames ahead of time. This is primarily because they have to. Their business model of getting bikes from small builders means that the frames are in pretty rough shape when they arrive at Torelli, and need quite a bit of prep work- and Torelli isn't confident that their dealers can (or want) to do it.
I want it all!DaveG
Aug 29, 2002 8:32 AM
I understand its not a high-end frame although what I paid for it is far less than its worth IMO. The Brianza sells for around $1400 with mostly Mirage/Veloce componets (not Centaur) which is more than my Marin (with Veloce) so I thinks its fair to compare them head-to-head. I am very focused on the aesthetics of a bike, so given Torelli's reputation I was somewhat dissapointed in that aspect.
What's the big deal?julio
Aug 28, 2002 8:29 PM
It's just a bike!

I know I'm more mechanically inclined than most and I've spent more money on tools than I'd like to admit but I still don't understand why people think there is some magical art to bike builds and maintenance. They're just parts, you carefully install and adjust them the way they were designed to be installed and adjusted and there's your bike. If you're carefull and take the time to understand how things work before you start assembling, and use the right tools, you shouldn't have any issues. If you do have problems stop, figure out what's wrong and fix it. We're talking about nuts, bolts, cables, gears and bearings not black magic.

As much the bike industry wants you to believe your bike is as complicated and advanced as a space shuttle -IT ISN'T.
I'm must be too young to appreciate this.Leisure
Aug 29, 2002 4:42 AM
To me, I get a frame and however straight it is how good it is. I don't like the idea of a shop having to always make up for shortsights on a frame design, even if the shop does a fabulous job. I tried mildly realigning the old, nasty Trek frame presently residing on my beater bike. It was an ugly process of invoking unpleasantly large and inconsistent forces on my frame that didn't necessarily do any good. I gave up and let the frame be what it was. I'd rather have the frame done right to begin with; I figure I'm paying for it, and I don't think mild abuse in shipment will change anything about frame alignment given the vulgar forces I could intentionally subject that blasted Trek frame to without a hint of deformation. About the only thing I can see getting bent is the derailleur hanger - that one thing I can deal with.

My feeling is, the less the shop has to worry about such things, the more they can focus on doing things better in other regards. It's not like shops are going to just up and be lazy because they have a few less things to worry about. More like shops in America cater to customers with different priorities, many of whom don't care about the details. But you can still find good shops - obviously I'm not the only one here that's confident about mine. I'm constantly surprised by how much some of the guys know at my LBS. For example, the manager inspects every Seven frame that comes in to make sure everything has been done right, and as he says, everything's always within a millimeter, and he should have stopped worrying about it a long time ago. It'll just leave me more confident that when I order my frame, I'll know that he won't have to do anything, but he'll be looking out for me anyway. Pretty cool.
I have four Ritchey framespeter in NVA
Sep 1, 2002 11:57 AM
1 road, 1 cross, 2 mountain and they all came perfectly aligned, faced and chased. All my builders over the past 12 years commented how everything, headset,bb, etc. just went in perfectly. I'm amazed from what I've been reading that other builders don't take pride in their workmanship.
I would have thought these features were integral to the build. I wouldn't trust an unknown at a bike shop to do these things.