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advice-custom job gone bad(27 posts)

advice-custom job gone badblm
Nov 22, 2001 1:29 PM
The story:

I'm a new roadie and after a summer of riding a beater i decided to get a custom bike(the price was good)

So i deal with this reputable builder(1000+/year) and get an appointment for a fitting session. Prior to this i got their catalog to figure out the geometry/size since i experimented with this old bike with an adjustable stem.

When i get there we go through the session and i tell the employee that too low isn't good for me, that i cant ride too long on this position and i dont race anyway. So he figures out (after checking his charts) that the HT ought to be 3 sizes above normal(16.5 instead of 13-13.5). I thought it was too much and we discussed it, coming back to this specific measurment several times over the session. He still insisted and being relatively new to road bike fitting i said ok.

I have to say that the machine they use for fitting has the most uncomfortable saddle and an ideal position was hard to find. It is a machine, you dont get to actually ride it . Plus they had just changed their geometries to sloping(not compact) so the numbers i had figured were not good anymore

I even called back the next day, again asking if he was really sure about headtube height. He then repeated that he would rather fit me high and drop spacers, flip the stem than to have to add spacers, put the stem upright. I said(coming from years of mtb) that i didnt mind the spacers, upright or even adjustable stem. He still kept his opinion and really insisted this time.

The numbers: i'm 5'8'', 80cm inseam
bike is: 52ct,49cc,54.5 eff tt, 16.5ht,42cm stays, 1'' threadless fork, 8cm slope

Let's just say that the chemestry between me and the employee was not the high point of this deal. I got the bike last week, rode it twice, played with the positions, spacers,stem etc. but i cant find my position, the front is too high(not to mention the added overall height of the bike). So here i am with the ideal bike that is not so ideal... the price doesnt sound good anymore. I'm not happy with this since it was supposed to be a perfect fitting bike, wich is the whole idea of paying a premium for a custom frame.

What would you do?
re: advice-custom job gone badBirddog
Nov 22, 2001 2:06 PM
Is this a Serotta and were you fitted on a Serotta Sizecycle? If so take it up with Serotta, they are very good about making the customer happy. Also, are you saying that you not only have a tall headtube, but that that also led to a higher standover? Or does your headtube just extend above your top tube an abnormal amount?
re: advice-custom job gone badblm
Nov 22, 2001 2:41 PM
Not Serotta so not one of their machines. I did think about cutting the HT above the top tube but it does not extend above it enough, if this is what you had in mind.

I now have a sloping bike with the standover of a regular frame.It is too high.

thanks for the reply
re: advice-custom job gone badBirddog
Nov 22, 2001 4:49 PM
I was just trying to picture what you ended up with. If I understand this correctly, then you have one weird frame as a result of this guys idea. I don't know what I would do in your position, but for starters, go back to the shop and start working through the problem. I think when you throw it back in their court with a line like "would you accept this if it was built for you" you usually start getting some satisfaction because it forces them to look at the problem from your perspective. On the other hand, they might just be dirtbags and leave you out to dry.
Good luck
re: I think....Rusty Coggs
Nov 22, 2001 5:20 PM
....that since you were not comfortable with the way this was playing out,I would have forgotten the good price and gone elsewhere.You had bad crama going with the 'employee'. The road runs both ways, and the consumer also has responsibilities.
who is the builder?diggler
Nov 22, 2001 5:34 PM
fess up
who is the builder?blm
Nov 22, 2001 6:51 PM
thanks to birdog and rusty,yes i do have a responsability
but a quality custom frame like this would force to me a few hours drive out of Montreal(quebec,canada) as the framebuilder is marinoni. i dont know of any other that offer such a good product( in my area.
I would have...MrCelloBoy
Nov 22, 2001 11:27 PM
looked for another builder when things started to feel funky.
I don't have any suggestions at this point other than to trust you "gut" more next time.
I would have...Bigcat
Nov 23, 2001 8:30 AM
I have a bike built by Marinoni and it is fantastic. I feel that you got hosed by the shop and I would take it up with the shop. I feel that the builder has done nothing wrong except build what they where told to. I really feel that the shop should compensate you in some way as you are not happy with the layout of the bike.

If the frame is made out of steel there may be a possiblity to have it fixed by marinoni. If you are only a few hours away if might be an interesting trip to see marinoni and to talk them about this little problem. I have dealt with them and even though they do take their time when they are busy they are very helpful and make very nice frames.

I must say though that shop employee really should have some answering to do and I would really go after them.
I would have...Bigcat
Nov 23, 2001 8:36 AM
Sorry, I thought you were dealing with a shop not with Marinoni directly. Then you should be up front and just tell them or try to get your money back if you paid with your credit card because services request were not received.
who is the builder?David Feldman
Nov 24, 2001 8:32 AM
In your area, look up Peter Ryffranck.
Does Marinoni give you any express warranty . . .DCW
Nov 23, 2001 8:26 AM
of satisfaction? If so, and you are not satisfied, you should get a refund or a rebuild.

Was the bike built to the specs you approved on the fit machine? If not, you should get a refund or a rebuild.

You might also ask a lawyer friend whether Quebec law gives you an "implied warranty of fitness for particular purpose" or equivalent. If you told the builder what you wanted the bike for and how you wanted it to fit and then reasonably relied on the builder's expertise to build the bike, the builder may have to honor an implied warranty.

In any case, I would approach them as if they are reasonable, honorable folks and describe your problem. If you can establish that your measurements and specs from your former bike were ignored, etc., all the better. In any event, avoid escalating the vitriol. Instead, if unsatisfied, keep asking to speak with the next higher person in the chain of command. Be firm, persisent and in control. They need to see that they have more to lose than you.
I don't understand...TJeanloz
Nov 23, 2001 9:00 AM
If the bike is so high that a negative rise (-17 degree) stem with no spacers puts you up too high, it could not possibly be a good fit. We ideally fit people with about 1 cm of spacer under the stem, to give a little bit of flexibility. But if it is truely that case, that no stem/spacer rise/length combination will put you in the right position, you have a legitimate beef.

If you dealt directly with Marinoni, demand that they build you a correct frame. However, if this new frame doesn't fit either, you're SOL. No bike builder (or retailer) wants to send a customer off on an ill-fitting bike, and most are embarrassed to do so. I would bring the issue up with the most important person you can talk to at Marinoni, and they should make it right. On the other hand, there are some customers who will never, ever be satisfied, and you could be one of these. If the bike is a good fit from Marinoni's perspective you don't have a lot of options.
Not entirely true...Kristin
Nov 23, 2001 9:27 AM
"No bike builder (or retailer) wants to send a customer off on an ill-fitting bike"

Okay, you've all heard my story before and you know the issues. I would hope that the above statement is true. But to the best of my calculations, the guy who sent me out the door on a 53cm Alle should have had enough knowledge to know this bike did not fit. I have had 2 other bike shops and a physical trainer tell me this bike doesn't fit. So, he either falls into the "moron" category or the "sleezy salesguy" category. I'd like to think that the above statement is true, but my experience tells me its probably not true in every case.
Not entirely true...Jon
Nov 23, 2001 9:47 AM
I think you're the victim of an unqualified shop employee's error. DCW's advice is probably the
most useful. Personally, I'd start with the shop owner then proceed from there. Unfortunately I
have no idea of how well Marinoni handles customer satisfaction issues like this. In Edmonton
we have a very large Marinoni shop and there are lots of satisfied customers around here. I've
never heard of a screw up like this.
"sleezy salesguy" does existkenyee
Nov 23, 2001 2:29 PM
According to the salesguy that fit me. He mentioned that one shop in my area is known for that, but wouldn't say which.

"moron" also exists (or "newbie salesguy"); I once took a look at a Trek and the teenager salesguy said it looked too small (lots of standover clearance) w/o checking my top tube fit (later research turned out that the geometry would work for me).

Unfortunately, as in most things, it's buyer beware and be shop enough to get a feel for what is "right"...
There's sleazy and there's ignorant...TJeanloz
Nov 24, 2001 9:07 AM
I will acknowledge that many people have purchased less than perfectly fitting bikes from bike shop sales people. Oftentimes, it's the result of a salesperson not being qualified to fit a person (especially if the person is not of average build). But I hope that nobody doing measurements for a custom bike is that unqualified.

That being said:

It is a bad business decision to sell a badly fitting bike. The ideal customer/shop relationship is one where the customer is VERY happy and comfortable with their bike, therefore rides it all the time, therefore returns to the shop for tires, tubes, clothing, tool kits- things where there's really a profit margin. If the person is unhappy with their fit, and uncomfortable, chances are too high that they will give up riding, or choose another shop to spend their 'quality' dollars at because of a percieved bad service by the fitting shop. It is in the shop's best interest to keep people comfortable on their bikes, and keep them riding their bikes.
Wringing my handsKristin
Nov 26, 2001 12:04 PM
Unfortunatly, for whatever reason, the shop I dealt with does not seem to want me as a customer on any level. I called the shop owner about my purchase and explained that I had trouble getting the sales guy (a team mechanic) to spend more than 10-15 minutes with me after I bought the bike. I have had a Physical Trainer (educated in bike fit) and two fit specialist in another shop tell me that this bike doesn't fit. The owner explained that I could go to ten different shops and be fit ten different ways and that he was sure they had fit me well.

I explained that I was sent out of his store with a 5.5" drop to the handle bar tops and I was told this was okay. I stated that this was obviously not okay, because I needed ane received over $800 in pysical therapy for neck pain. And in the end, purchased and installed a new stem myself (with a friends help). Then I explained that although I didn't want to think ill of them, I was beginning to feel that I was sold a pre-built bike off the shelf and that now I was feeling schloffed off. Well, the owner became very upset at that point and expressed that I had offended him deeply and that, "this was no way to solicate assistance from them..."

Well, that was the end of the conversation. Sleezy? I'm not sure. But in any regard, I wouldn't recommend the place to other new riders. Only those who are very sure of what they want and don't need assistance. Sorry for the rant, but I really needed to say this, its been eating at me for so long now. There is no recourse.
Can't find position????C-40
Nov 23, 2001 10:22 AM
Custom bikes are best for those with odd proportions or experienced riders who know exactly what they want from years of riding experience.

You didn't list the frame's seat tube angle, which is vital to analyzing the top tube length against stock frames.

From your description, you are long-torsoed. If your inseam was measured properly, (to hard contact, in bare feet) you've got 3cm less inseam and 3-4cm more height than me. I get a great fit on many 55cm stock frames.

A 52 or 53cm (c-t) frame would generally be recommended for your inseam. Most stock frames will have top tubes that are around 1cm shorter than the 54.5cm length on your frame. A 54-56cm TT length (depending on seat tube angle) would be common for someone with your torso length.

Whether the 16.5cm head tube length was justified, depends on what you wanted to achieve. You should be able to get a bar to saddle height difference of about 4cm (1-5/8"), with a standard 80 degree threadless stem and NO steering tube spacers. The bars could be lowered a little with a 73 degree stem. If this isn't low enough, you're out of luck. You should experiment with stem length also. A high bar position is often coupled with a stem that is at least one size longer than might be used with a lower bar position.

Bar height is highly subjective. A properly sized stock frame will produce a bar to saddle height difference of 8-12cm with an 80 degree stem and no head tube spacers. Many pro racers have their bars set even lower (by riding a smaller frame). I have no problems with mine set at 10cm below the saddle.
Nov 23, 2001 10:39 AM
How did you lower the position by fiddling around with spacers? Did you cut the steerer?

Seems like you're gonna have to tell them they blew it and see what they say.
Nov 23, 2001 11:24 AM
i just started with the stem upright and felt a bit short and high. so i flipped the stem and worked my way up with the spacers but couldn't find the ''sweet spot''. And it seems to me that going up to lower a position doesn't make much sense geometry and aestetically wise( did i mention logically?). of course finding the right position is what matters the most.

i did have the impression that it would end up on the high side for me before i even saw the bike.point is that i barely clear the toptube on the center of this sloping bike wich is odd enough to begin with.

please dont get me wrong: i'm still relatively new to roadriding(with a road bike) and i received good service
with these folks. my idea on this is that it was the first time i went trough a fitting session, the machine really had the crappiest seat and we just played with the positions until it felt relatively ok, wich happenned to quite upright since a lower and more streched out position was the crotch area.

so i had to start trusting(at some point) this guy who seemed to know was he was doing and let go of my impression that it was going to be too high. having no real point of reference other than their old catalog and some knowledge on bike proportions, it was trust them from there on.

thanks for all the replies
not sure I followET
Nov 23, 2001 11:41 AM
You can safely have up to 4 cms of spacers on a threadless stem. Not sure how you can remove spacers without cutting the steerer. You can remove one and put it on top temporarily.

What I really want to clear up is, is it possible that with a stem angled between the flips of the stem you tried, and removing a few spacers if necessary, it will be a perfect fit?
con't complain if you're using spacers....C-40
Nov 23, 2001 4:20 PM
If you're using any head tube spacers, you can't complain about the head tube length. Ideally you should be able to get the desired fit with 1cm or less. I prefer none, if possible.

There's no way to know if you've found the "sweet spot" unless you take a couple of rides of substantial length without changing the stem height. The lowest that you can get the bars with this head tube length will be higher than the norm. Give yourself time to adjust to a lower position. If you gradually remove spacers over the course of several hundred miles, you may find that the lowest bar position is perfectly comfortable.
con't complain if you're using spacers....blm
Nov 26, 2001 8:28 AM
You're right about one thing: with the stem upright and no spacers the bar is about 3cm ABOVE saddle height.
The ONLY way to acheive a more natural fit is to flip the stem and add about 2cm of spacers...wich happens to be the look and fitting i wanted to avoid in the beginning. It is not right to add height to acheive a lower position. That being said, i told this several times while fitting and ordering the bike, even called back to express my concern of a too high front end.

It seems that the fitting was played overly safe. Much so that the bike is not ideal. And i paid extra for a custom fit: the least i can expect is to get something better than that result.
re: advice-custom job gone badScott
Nov 23, 2001 1:17 PM
Ok so let me get this straight you where fitted and bought the bike at Marinoni's? Now the bike does not seem to fit you correctly. First I'm surprised they screwed up. They have experience fitting hundreds of people a year. I bought a Marinoni earlier this year and went up to visit them to look at the various paint options. Well there I watch them fiddle around for quit a while with a customer.

I bought a custom built Delta+ BTW. They did a great job on the bike. I just love it. Rides great and fits like a glove. A bike store in the West Island fitted me though.

Here's a pic

If you can't get a proper fit at Marinoni's try taking the bike to Cycle Performance. They are the best fitters in the Montreal area. Be warned though, the owner of Performance had a falling out with Marinoni may years ago. He hates Marinoni's but I'm sure he will still give you a hand.
nice looking bike!gtx
Nov 23, 2001 4:41 PM
I like the paint scheme and the slightly sloping top tube. Stylin! And yeah, looks like you got the right fit without resorting to a major head tube extension or lots of spacers (it's easier for those of us who like our bars relatively low).
Nov 26, 2001 1:15 PM
First, talk to the OWNER of the shop, not some flunkie. If it's the owner then call Ben - it's a Serotta correct? Ben *will* make things right and if one of his certified fit specialists is doing poor work *he* wants to know about it. Just try getting this level of commitment from any other operation in the bike biz.

If the guy was a certified by Serotta I'd be a bit surprised, but not too much. BTW - you should bring your own shoes, pedals and saddle to ride a size cycle. This is the gear that you have thousands of miles on correct?

Probably the biggest mistake is going custom right away before you've had some years of figuring out what works/doesn't work for you. It's really hard to fit someone who doesn't know what they like/want/need. You tend to defer to what they think is best.

Kinda surprised you went through with the deal and weren't too peachy-keen with the guy working with you. It's a lot of time and cake so why waste it with someone you don't mesh with? You can alwyas find someone to take your money, but the trick is finding someone you actually want to give it too.

Sorry to be a bit negative and rain on your parade, but you the customer have a fair amount of repsonsibility in this. Ever buy some shoes that didn't fit right? It's the same thing.