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Gunnar vs. Curtlo: Advice needed(33 posts)

Gunnar vs. Curtlo: Advice neededSJT
Jan 21, 2003 1:13 PM
As I stated in my post below, I'm looking to build up my first CX bike. I would love to go all out custom on this build, but finances prohibit me from spending more than about $1500 for the complete bike. I want a decent steel frame, so I am willing to sacrifice a bit on the other components in order to get a good frame.

For about the same price ($800 or so) I can get a custom-built Curtlo or I have a Waterford/Gunnar in my neighborhood and could get a Gunnar Crosshairs. Both seem like super frames and the only negatives I've been able to find in the archives is that the Gunnar bikes have very thin paint that chips easily. I looked at a black Crosshair frame that was built up at the shop and the paint does seem fragile because it already had a chip on the seatstay. With either frame, I would have this shop build me up a complete bike because they are the best shop around for road/CX.

Any comments on these frames would be great. There isn't much in the archives about Curtlo's CX frame, and not much more about the Gunnar. I want a bike that is versatile so I can ride it on the road and on dirt trails as well. Like I said I want to stay under $1500 for the complete build so don't recommend any other frames unless they are $800 or less. I have looked at the Kelly CX frame, but I don't like that it comes without rack and water bottle mounts (might need them one day). Other frames that I've also looked at include True North (exchange rate makes it about $800) and Surly/Soma on the low end. Thanks in advance.
re: Gunnar vs. Curtlo: Advice neededatpjunkie
Jan 21, 2003 1:55 PM
what size are you looking for? there are some swank deals in the classifieds. There's a couple complete Ibis Hakkalugis for under 1500 with great builds. Seriously you can get a GREAT frame and build used for the price of a GOOD frame and so-so build.
Gunnars are nice but they are the lower end Waterfords. I think they use 525 tubing vs 853.
re: Gunnar vs. Curtlo: Advice neededcxrcr
Jan 21, 2003 2:08 PM
Although, I have never ridden the Gunnar's three people I know have them (two are way too big and the other way to small for me to even think about a test ride). They all love them. Can't remember any of them mentioning the paint being an issue.

As for Curtlo, I have a mountain bike frame from Doug and I am considering a cross frame for next season. The frame is simply awesome. The finish quality on everything is top notch. The best part is the price! Very hard to beat customized geometry for less than most stock frames. The one complaint you will hear from other Curtlo customers is that his wait times are long, however, I have not heard of anyone regretting it once their frames arrived.

Best of luck with your decision and please keep us up to date on what you decide on...
re: Gunnar vs. Curtlo: Advice neededkilimanjaro
Jan 21, 2003 3:49 PM
Plus you can get a Cutlo with banana seat stays at no extra cost. That should make your bike stand out from the crowd. I e-mailed him last year when I was thinking about a cross rig and he was willing to put on deraileur tab and rack/fender mounts at no extra cost.
Gunnar is 853flyweight
Jan 22, 2003 11:43 AM
Actually the Gunnar is made from 853 main tubing with OX Platinum stays. The difference between the Gunnar and the Waterford is the lugged construction. On the X-22 they use 853 main tubes and OX Platinum stays with silver brazed construction. Silver brazing uses far less heat than TIG welding which allows them to use a much lighter guage of 853 than on the TIG welded Gunnar frames making the lugged frames lighter (contrary to the popular misconception that lugs are heavier) Of course silver brazing is also one of the most time intensive and expensive ways to build a frame, hence the higher cost.
Gunnar is 853 oh yeah forgot the lugsatpjunkie
Jan 22, 2003 12:15 PM
makes sense, and lugs are so much swanker. Yes, I watched Tom Ritchey once doing silver brazing back in the early 80's. much lower heat and quite the art form. worth the $ if that's what yer after
Curlto is brazed as wellkilimanjaro
Jan 22, 2003 2:28 PM
I read some where on his web site that his frames are fillet brazed, though no lugged. I assume that this means brass brazing vs. silver brazing? Perhaps some one on the board with more knowledge could explain the difference
Curlto is brazed as wellflyweight
Jan 22, 2003 3:52 PM
Most fillet brazing is done with brass though some have done silver. Fillet brazing is also a very expensive way to go and like lugged construction has been dropped by most builders.
Curlto is brazed as wellkilimanjaro
Jan 23, 2003 9:27 AM
Is brass brazing any less desireable than silver brazing? I think I read somewhere that since silver is more expensive than brass silver brazing is a higher cost item for the builder, but what is the structural advantage if any over brass brazing?

Just curios
Brass brazingatpjunkie
Jan 23, 2003 5:40 PM
I think if memory serves me right brass brazing is a little higher temp than silver. It's the lower temp of Silver Brazing (and brazing in general) that doesn't cause any degradation to the tubes. TIG welding due to it's temp weakens the tubes, therefor requiring stronger (read heavier) tubing. It's why brazers can use lighter tubes in general.
re: Gunnar vs. Curtlo: Advice neededSJT
Jan 23, 2003 5:43 AM
Thanks, but I'm not looking for a used frame/bike for now. I've bought used in the past, but right now I want a new frame, hopefully custom.
Jan 23, 2003 5:35 PM
just thought I'd try to save ya some scratch. have fun building it up.
re: Gunnar vs. Curtlo: Advice neededAsh
Jan 21, 2003 5:07 PM
I just got a full custom WANTA frame from Alan Wanta at

Am waiting for some more saddle time to write a full review. But so far it rides awesome. His prices start at $495 for frame and fork for Zona and $595 for frame/fork out of Foco.

Also there is out of Canada who starts around $500/frame.

Also Marinoni out of Canada will do custom geometry and Tom Teesdale will do a custom Cross starting arounf $650 or so.

I looked all over for the best value (let's also be honest - cheapest) in custom and ended up going with Alan because he was a small US builder, and got a good feeling from talking with him. I will say that there were some things wrong with the frame, but no questions asked offered to do whatever it takes to fix it and make me happy.

email me at and I can send u a pic
re: Gunnar vs. Curtlo: Advice neededSJT
Jan 23, 2003 5:47 AM
Thanks for the heads up on those builders. I would like to see a pic of your Wanta frame. I'll email you today. Thanks again.
Give Tom Teesdale a look....unclefuzzy_ss
Jan 21, 2003 7:33 PM
He also does custom and production "custom" work for really good prices. Ask about him over on the SS board at MTBR and you'll get a few glowing responses. Of course, like any custom builder, he'll take a while to get you your frame, so if you're into the immediate gratification thing, go Gunnar. If not, I doubt you'll be dissapointed with any custom frame you get, weather it be T.E.T.<\a> or a Curtlo. I've been looking into TeT for a while, and he does appear to do nice work for a good price.

good work, yes. good paint, not quiteweiwentg
Jan 21, 2003 8:29 PM
mine chips a bit easily. ask for a powdercoat. otherwise, no complaints about the frame at all.
Thanks for the help everyone...I have more homework to do! nmSJT
Jan 22, 2003 7:51 AM
Jan 22, 2003 11:33 AM
Don't lump Surly and Soma into the same category because they're pretty different! For starters, the Soma is made from Reynolds 631 with butted stays. The Surly uses lower quality steel in the main triangle and straight guage stays. The Soma is closer to the Gunnar than it is to the Surly. I picked up a Soma and comparable sized Gunnar and the weight difference was a lot less than I had expected, maybe 1/4 pound or so. They're really nice frames and came out better than we had expected. I own two Gunnars and have thought about getting a Soma for commuting and touring (the Gunnar is a bit too light in the stays for touring and lacks from rack mounts)
Coming soon...titanium Somaflyweight
Jan 22, 2003 11:35 AM
One other thing, we recently received the prototypes for Soma titanium frames including a cross model. Pretty simple design. Mud clearance looks a bit tight. No idea when they'll go into production or what they're going to cost. We haven't even gotten around to building them up.
Gunnars come stock w/Rack Mounts, right?Jakob
Jan 22, 2003 11:48 AM
I just got a Gunnar frameset and it has rear rack mounts. Would you suggest against throwing a rack on there?

I am thinking that some time this year I might pick up a Soma hard tail. I saw a few last year and they are detailed really nicely. Do you know what colors the hardtail will be available in this year?
Gunnars come stock w/Rack Mounts, right?flyweight
Jan 22, 2003 3:54 PM
You can put a rear rack on a Gunnar. I've toured SF-LA a few times with an IRD stainless rack and Ortleib panniers. However, when loaded you do notice more fishtailing when climbing out of the saddle and you can feel the frame flex on fast downhill curves due to the lighter stays.
Soma colors unkown for next year at this time. (NM)flyweight
Jan 22, 2003 3:55 PM
Soma colors unkown for next year at this time. (NM)Poptart
Jan 23, 2003 6:38 AM
actually, they've recently updated their website for 2003. the new colors are listed and there are photographs of some of them. i talked to american cyclery in sf and they were supposed to receive the first 2003 double cross frames last weekend. last years subdued burnt orange and black are replaced by cobalt blue and british racing green :)
Soma colors unkown for next year at this time. (NM)flyweight
Jan 23, 2003 9:23 AM
I work P/T at American. I don't think they're in yet. Might have come in this week, will know when I go by the shop later today. Merry was talking about red and blue for 2003 but the green is nice.
Anyone know who builds Soma frames?Tony Montana
Jan 22, 2003 4:40 PM
Just curious. I heard that they were outsourced overseas, but don't know that for sure.

Anyone know who builds Soma frames?flyweight
Jan 23, 2003 9:25 AM
They're made in the same factory as Surly (Hodaka, if my memory is correct) Basically anything that's made in Taiwan comes out of one of 4-5 factories regardless of whose sticker is on the downtube.
Jan 23, 2003 5:42 AM
Thanks for the clarification. I've spoken with Todd at Webcyclery and he said they haven't gotten the 2003 Soma's in yet and he is all sold out of the 2002 models. I'm going to see if I can get a custom built frame for a reasonable price before the Soma route though. Thanks.
My vote for CurtloTony Montana
Jan 22, 2003 4:34 PM
Hello Steve. I do Curtlo's powdercoating so I've seen them very up close and personal. They are high quality, very well built, and Doug is a super nice guy as well. Waterford's custom frames are extremely nice, but I'm not all that impressed with the Gunnar frames (at least not when comparing a Gunnar to a Curtlo - it's not really a fair comparison).

Call Curtlo and talk with him directly, it's hard to beat one on one with the builder. Oh, and have a blast with your new cross bike!
My vote for CurtloSJT
Jan 23, 2003 5:39 AM
Thanks for the reply. I haven't spoken to Doug over the phone as of yet, but I have emailed him with a few questions. I'm still waiting for him to answer another email I sent him last week on Friday. I'm also talking via email with a company called True North in Ontario who custom builds cross bikes. With the exchange rate Curtlo and True North come out about the same in price. The plus for True North is they have been very responsive to my questions and if necessary, I could drive up to them (I live in Buffalo, NY) to get fitted/make sure the frame is to my liking before it gets painted. I understand Doug is a one man operation so I'm not knocking him, I just hope he answers me soon. I know talking over the phone is best, but that really won't work with my work hours. When I finally decide on a builder I'll speak with him directly so I can go over everything before the build. Thanks again for your input and I'll hold off on the Gunnar for now. I wasn't all that impressed with the paint job on the Gunnar, but my LBS is one of their dealers so that is why I considered them.
Hugh @ True North is a top-notch builder!SS_MB-7
Jan 23, 2003 6:27 AM
Hugh @ True North is a top-notch builder. I've seen several of his creations first-hand and they were gorgeous!

Tough call between True North and Curtlo. Each are beautifully hand-crafted frames with excellent attention to details. You really can't go wrong with either.

Ride Hard,
Mike B.
My vote for Curtlo - Mine Too!toomanybikes
Jan 23, 2003 6:28 PM

I have pretty much decided to get a Curtlo frame later this year and of the deciding factors is proximity.

I have discovered that although I live in BC and Curtlo is in Washington state, it's pretty much a straight three hour highway shot to his place and i go by there frequently. Also turns out he comes here quite a bit.

I know there are lots of choices but I hear and read good things about him and his bikes and I can actually get there and back in a day.
just get a Gunnaradventurefind
Jan 23, 2003 6:04 AM
Simply a great frame. No if's about it. A most versatile bike frame.
I got mine set up with mtn bike gearing, XT hubs, FSA headset, old school LX cranks, Shimano cantis, Salsa bell lap, Specialized stem (thanks Sean), Bar cons, Shimano pedals, and a different array of tires. Right now I am running Conti Goliaths (700 x 35) and fenders (it's been raining).
Another optionAllroads
Jan 23, 2003 7:00 AM
Bernie Mikkelsen in Alameda California.

He does good work and the pricing is reasonable for custom. I have one.