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Merlin/Seven/IF and Tom Kellogg(10 posts)

Merlin/Seven/IF and Tom KelloggMikeC
Apr 2, 2002 2:05 PM
I have a lot of respect for Tom Kellogg and his Spectrum operation. While I've never owned one of his frames, I lived near his shop for years, and a good friend of mine bought three frames from him.
I recently asked Tom about his decision to use Merlin to weld his ti frames, and here's his response:

"We really did spend quite a bit of time and effort deciding whether to stay with Merlin or not in the summer of '00. I visited all three facilities and spent a great deal of time talking with the principals and evaluating the companies' work and potential for future development. Welding really wasn't an issue as all three companies had the potential to do the welding work required."

"It was clear though that Merlin had the capability to do a much wider variety of work in house, could develop new products faster and less expensively and had a stronger financial base than the other companies. By staying with Merlin, I was able to continue to develop both the Merlin and Spectrum lines with virtually no constraints. The other companies would have limited what I could do with Spectrums a great deal. For example, when I want to make a change to a frame component, say a dropout, Merlin simply makes the changes in the CAD programming and begins making the new dropouts the next day. Seven's and IF's drops are made by outside sources, so changes take much longer and cost much more."

"Please keep in mind that Seven and IF make great bikes. For us though, Merlin is a better fit mostly because of the freedom they give me to make frames just the way I believe they should be made without any compromises."

Tom's not known as a politician, but as a darned fine designer and craftsman, so I take him at his word. That simply says to me that welding alone isn't a reason to choose or avoid any of the above companies, based upon the work they do today. That may seem obvious, but others have held different opinions. It's also a pretty good endorsement of the post-Litespeed Merlin. (No, I don't own one. I have a Seven).
re: Merlin/Seven/IF and Tom Kelloggpa rider
Apr 3, 2002 3:12 AM
Hi Mike,

I'm looking at ti bike this year. My LBS sells merlin and I asked about the seven's. The only thing he said was the welds. Allentown is 1.5 hours from me to checkout the spectrums.

My question would be that since Tom designed merlin and spectrum would the bikes ride the same? I need to get a fit kit to judge my size and angles (I have long legs, but short torsal).

I could see if the only difference between the three bikes would be price and how they were made. I figure I may stick to the merlin, because the welder lives in Tennesee, who use to do all their custom jobs.

This purchase is my summer hobby, because I don't expect to place my order until August. I have to drive to Downingtown (West chester) to see the sevens. The problem I'm having is the dealers don't stock my size. I asked my LBS to get a demo bike from merlin. I expect that the spectrum should ride the same. Leave me know if you think that's a good speculation.


re: Merlin/Seven/IF and Tom KelloggBikewithadam
Apr 3, 2002 3:48 AM
I would strongly recommend that you go talk with Tom at Spectrum. You won't find a more knowlegable and friendly person in the business. Even if you don't get a bike from him, you'll learn alot just by going and having a fit session. Of coure, once you see those bikes up close you'll probably want to get one for yourself!
re: Merlin/Seven/IF and Tom KelloggMikeC
Apr 3, 2002 6:09 AM
I agree with BikewithAdam. Tom is known to be a great guy, and he won't pressure you. Investing in a drive to the Lehigh Valley will answer a whole bunch of questions for you.
My over-simplified assessment of Merlin vs Seven vs Spectrum is that Merlin can give you a custom fit on a fine bike with a great craftsmanship; Seven will give you a custom fit and also customize your ride characteristics to a somewhat greater degree...and has great craftsmanship; Tom Kellogg and Spectrum will give you an extremely personal design and purchase experience (though probably with less funky butting and tube-selection options than Seven), and you'll have a "boutique" frame that you won't see on every street corner...and you'll get great craftsmanship.
Have fun!
re: Merlin/Seven/IF and Tom Kelloggpa rider
Apr 3, 2002 9:23 AM
Thanks Bikewithadam and MikeC. I'll e-mail spectrum to see if I can arrange a demo up the lehigh valley. I may still use my LBS for the fit kit. It's only $50, but worth the money spent.
Not sure,djg
Apr 3, 2002 10:57 AM
but I believe that Tom Kellog will personally do a fitting if you visit his shop--I've seen pictures of customers up on a trainer at least. If you're shopping around, the fit kit is probably worth it, but if you're going to visit Spectrum anyway...
re: Merlin/Seven/IF and Tom KelloggBikewithadam
Apr 3, 2002 4:37 PM
Well, here's the thing--if you're seriously considering getting a bike from Tom than you should have him fit it if at all possible. He's extremely knowlegable and there's no substitute for having your builder be the one who fits you. I'm having him build me a bike now and having Tom do the fit was --indispensible--.

Good luck.
You actually see quite a few around hereRay Sachs
Apr 3, 2002 10:42 AM
Not quite on every street corner, but I see lots of Spectrums at every century and other organized ride I do in the Southeast PA area. Not that this should influence your decision one way or the other.

re: Merlin/Seven/IF and Tom KelloggRay Sachs
Apr 3, 2002 10:39 AM
Who sells Sevens in Downingtown? I know Beans in Paoli sells them, but never saw them at Downingtown Bike Shop or either of the two shops in the Exton area.

re: Merlin/Seven/IF and Tom Kelloggpa rider
Apr 4, 2002 3:32 AM
I e-mailed Seven and they told me contact Bean. I e-mail them yesterday to see what sizes they have in stock. The price will probably be about the same as spectrum. The Custom Spectrum ti bike goes $2700 frame and fork built costing about $5000.

I figure the Axion will cost about that much depending on what groupo you go with.