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bike guru's(6 posts)

bike guru'sslowinthesaddle
Oct 3, 2001 3:13 AM
Can someone explain this to me? If Ti bike are made of the same Ti and cold welded or whatever the term is...then why such a price difference from a Seven,LS,Merlin,Dean,..... then the next level of pricing Airborn, get the picture. I understand the seven frame is fully custom but why such a discrepency in prices. I am knocking none of the frame builders as they are all masters of their crafts. I just do not understand the price differences?
re: becauseAkirasho
Oct 3, 2001 3:43 AM
... there are several grades of Ti alloys all of which can be used either exclusively or in conjunction with other materials... which are all relatively labor intensive to fabricate (titanium must be welded by experienced torchers in the abscense of contamination (generally oxygen... the weld area is bathed in an inert gas) and market... and because we live in a free market economy which is dictated by a relatively simple rule... charge what the market will bear.

Each of the abovementioned makers vie these factors to their own marketshare advantage... some by using overseas manufacturers (Airborne and Sampson), some by touting the extra features of their frames (Seven and Litespeed), some by tradition (Seven and Litespeed), some by mixing and matching alloys and/or other materials and manipulation techniques (cold working for example... even commercially pure Ti (the "weakest" grade of Ti currently used in bike manufacturing) is hard on tooling and machinery used in the manufacturing process), etc. This is not exclusive to Ti builders but as stated above is a general theme of our economy.

The good thing is, that there appears to be enough competition for these market shares to validate Ti as a frame choice for virtually every price point (good for the consumer).

So, you're generally faced with swinging a leg over a few models and getting a feel for the material yourself... along with your aesthetic appeals... all part of the package... Some will opt for a bargain... some for the panache... some for an artistic rendition...

Also and lastly, remember that money has no intrinsic value unless agreed upon by at least two people... and even then... it's an illusion. Tell me, just what is a dollar worth???

We abide.

Remain In Light.
Say the same thing about steel.....Len J
Oct 3, 2001 4:06 AM
as you are claiming for TI. Why is a custom Serrotta or strong steel frame so much more expensive than a lemond?

What are you willing to pay for custom?
What are you willing to pay for an artisan's work versus an assembly line bike?
What are you willing to pay for a name?
What are you willing to pay for quality differences (perceived or real)?
What are you willing to pay for a bike that few other people have?

Typical market forces.

re: bike guru'sMikeC
Oct 3, 2001 5:11 AM
It takes about four days to make a Seven frame, plus the time it takes to design and prepare the individual blueprint each bike gets. If you go to their Web site, you can follow the process.
You can certainly build a bike frame in less than four days. But just as you can get a meal in one minute for $4 at McDonalds, but have to wait an hour and pay $40 at a fine restaurant, you make your choice, and you pay the price.
The people who I've spoken with that own fine custom bikes seem to have moved off that I-need-a-new-bike-every-two-years mentality. I certainly expect to be riding mine ten years from now, and that means my bike's an investment, not just a purchase.
Since you asked. Process and manufacturing method. (long)MB1
Oct 3, 2001 5:52 AM
In an efficient bicycle factory (mostly in Asia but found elsewhere) as many as 100 people will touch some part of the frame as it is being built. Frames are built in large batches with no custom options at all. Often one welder will only weld half of a single join or attach a single fitting. Quality steps are built into the process. Usually few if any of the workers ride a bicycle and they never use the products they build. Other non-bicycle products may be in process at the same time. Most of the finish work is done by machine. Perhaps 3 man-hours total per frame.

The more hands on approach (often found in the US and Europe) is to have only a few workers do all the processes to small size batches of frames. A production run can be as small as a single frame. Only 1 or 2 welders will assemble an entire frame. These workers are not necessarily paid more then a factory worker but usually ride bicycles-often the products they make. The skill and knowledge of the workers is the main quality check. There is usually a final quality check when the frame is completed. For most of the process the frame is recognizable as a frame. Most of the frame finish work is done by hand. 20-40 man hours per frame.

Both manufacturing methods yield a functionally satisfactory product. The first example results in a low per unit cost with a high factory & tooling cost (aluminum frames of some quality can be had in Asia for about $8.00 unfinished). The second example offers a high per unit cost with a low tooling and shop cost with more model/customization flexibility.

I mostly ride small batch bikes but would not hesitate to ride or recommend factory built bicycles.
It's in the tubesgrzy
Oct 3, 2001 8:19 AM
It's fairly straight forward - there is considerable difference in the tube sets. You can get totally straight non-butted low grade ti tubes for a lot less than tapered butted high grade tubes. For a while there was even "hot" (i.e. radioactive) ti tubing from Russia. You can then either ship said tubes to the far east where they're cranked out in a large factory at slave wages to cookie cutter patterns or they can end up in a small shop in the USA (or somewhere else) where there is meticulous attention to detail and real craftsmanship. Not that you can't have either situation in either type of plant and mistakes do get made. Sort of like buying a Mercedes vs. Huyndai - they're both cars, but one costs more. In reality as expensive as some of the bike frames are there aren't too many people getting rich. Question is do you want a Benz or are you OK with something more utilitarian?