Thanks for sharing your experience with the demo bike. I have followed November's growth with interest and I like where they are headed.
Now that you have asserted it's good, it's good enough to criticize. What didn't you like about the frame? Any fork/headset concerns? Do you foresee tire clearance problems? What is the frame's finish quality like (junctions, clear coat, etc)? Is the seat post clamp rubbish? Did/would you take this off-road (cross, gravel) and did/could it take the abuse? Did you ride it in foul weather? How's the drainage?
Maybe shame on me for not anticipating better that I'd review it, otherwise I'd have taken more pictures and had a more methodological approach. I mostly just enjoyed riding it. If I can say anything bad about it, I had some trouble riding "no hands" with it. It wasn't that I couldn't do it, it was just a bit less responsive than what I'm used to. That would indicate a tight headset but I checked, it seemed okay. I actually asked Mike about that, he (nor anyone else) had the same issue so I strike it up as something individual to me. Other negatives, if you can call it that, in comparing it to an R5 (2013), not quite as snappy as an R5. The R5 is quicker handling. It's a different feel. (Yes, I know this is reaching high - but I went out and specifically test rode an R5 for that very reason). Last year I rode a 2012 Cannondale Synapse - I'd say the dojo is closer to the Synapse handling wise. It's more like a gran fondo bike you can race whereas an R5 is a race bike you can do a gran fondo on. If you got that kind of coin.
I rode it on any road going route and on gravel, unpaved road. It took it all very well. No, not a cross bike! Different geometry and no canti brakes. I think you can run 28s on it with regular rims. But tire clearance, you should ask November directly about that because I can't say for sure. I had a set of 25s in the back at one time, they fit easy, and with A23 rims (thus, what makes me think 28s will fit with a standard rim). I didn't do much bad weather riding, had I commuted on it, I would have. The frame is very solid. It's well built. I asked if they could expect the same quality in a production run and a quick "yes" was the answer. With a rather long answer which I won't attempt to recount (and I hope they'll say more about personally). Like I might have mentioned before, they have experience dealing in the industry in China (Taiwan?). They learned some valuable things from their prior builds. and they have established relationships there - someone that works directly for them. It's not just "nancy" on a clicker with broken english on the other end of the sale.
Another negative maybe - nobody knows what you're riding. Well, of course, what I rode was black and non identifiable, but I'm not talking about that. Even after you paint it and put the November stickers on it, people still won't know. They don't advertise (so far) but I hope they do someday. When it comes to the bigger publications, I'd like to see a more representative sample in the review sections (and I'm not just talking about November). Competition is good for the customer and there's a lot more bikes that should be reviewed than the ones paying for advertising (IMO).
I get that the owners are your friends, but if a month isn't long enough to find at least one thing annoying about any cycling product, you aren't trying hard enough. Seriously, we're roadies; whining is our birthright.
Also, over 1K posts on a forum called Weight Weenies and you don't even toss the thing on a scale once!? C'mon man!
Yes, well most of my posts were in my first 5 yrs here, I must admit. Weight is important but just one factor in a bike, maybe I'm a bit less of a WW than I used to be. I know Mike weighed it and it came in at 850 g, I have no doubt that's what it is.
I anticipate they're going to do a thorough writeup about the new frame. I have no inside info on that. Maybe they will get the frame independently tested for stiffness, weight, etc. That will be interesting. I'm not the only one that's ridden it, it will be good to hear others take on it. Also, that's maybe the danger in talking about this frame, they're not going to be ridden by the general public for another 4-6 months. But as mentioned, you can find a lot of November fans around for a reason. That will eventually come out. I think I won't be the only one gushing on it.
And more on the gushing, yes I can understand a little where some will see this as a advertisement because it's so damn positive. Yes, I seem like a homer here. The reality is that how good the bike is will definitely play out over time - don't just take my word for it obviously. Nevertheless they're worth paying attention to like I said before, even if you have no interest in their products - they have a lot of interest in the things I see in weight weenies. In fact, I even told Mike they should go on WW and talk about stuff - but that's not their bag. They have a blog which is pretty good, and you can respond to it, ask questions. They'll answer. You won't really get that from any of the big companies.
That's the question I have in my mind. Can a very small bike company compete with the big ones in quality, performance, customer service, warranty? Can they compete with some of the discount sellers on ebay, etc? I think it's easy to say yes to that … BUT - can they produce a bike that will compete with the BEST bikes that industry can put out? And using an open mold? The dojo seems to be just that to me.
edited to add this: November is having a "kickstarter" type of presale for the dojo. If they can't get a presale of 100 then it might not happen. Although I admire their desire to stay small and stay in business (read their blog about that if you want their take on it) - as a buyer, I feel a bit like my kid waiting for the Xbox One to come out! Maybe that's partly why I'm a November fan - you get what you pay for, for sure, and then some. But, the downside is the wait. It's winter now so I'm basically trying not to get too fat, but in a few months that will matter more to me.