I am in the position where I can set aside a significant amount of money over the next three months of which I intend to use for a dream bike frame purchase. I need to do this right because I might not be in this position again.
I changed careers about three years ago and I now make a salary that is significantly less than what I used to. Therefore, I have to spend wisely. Please keep this in mind if offering advice.
Here is my dilemma: I can go for a frame from the likes of Firefly for about four grand or alternatively I can save a significant amount by purchasing a frame from, for instance, DeSalvo. I use those companies as examples of virtually the same product at a drastically different price point.
Now let's be honest here. Geometry being equal, how many of us would notice the difference between the two other than aesthetics? In fact, is there that much of a difference?
Titanium is what I want, as I have owned three in the past and enjoy the ride more than carbon.
I have looked at Moots, Indy Fab, Desalvo, Kish, Lynskey, Firefly...all the usuals. Other than marketing hype, what makes one upper end road frame better than the other so much so that there can be upwards of a $1,500 to $2,000 dollar difference per frame when considering they use the same frame material and procedures? In other words, why is Firefly a $4,000 frame and DeSalvo a $2,500 frame? They both use 3/2.5 tubing.
Please help steer me in the right direction. Thanks in advance.
I guess that workmanship and the ability to get the perfect geometry is what can make the $$$$ difference.
If this is a situation you may never be able to duplicate again why would you want price to be the sole deciding factor?
Hopefully you will work with an experienced bike fitter to ensure the frame is perfect for you.
Best of luck
I don't think anyone can come up with a truly great and rational justification for the incremental performance improvements found in moving from a DeSalvo to a Moots. However, this is a hobby, and you are allowed to be emotional about your hobby. If you enjoy the bike more because it is the bike that you want it is worth it.
That said, I don't see why DeSalvo (or any other reputable builder) couldn't build you exactly the bike you want. More money doesn't buy some sort of elusive frame building magic. Your goal should be to find a builder that you trust, and who is willing to listen to what you want. If DeSalvo can do that it will probably be a great investment. But if you are just looking for the most performance for your money, custom probably isn't the way to go at all.
In the end, each manufacturer charges what the market will bear, and the market is based on so much more than just quality.
As for the Lynskey, I really appreciate the added touches. The clover at the rear dropouts and the engraving (see their webpage and pics of the Helix) adds personality to the frame.
As for the Habanero: I'd like something handmade in the U.S. from one I can identify with. The Habs are made in China and although I have every confidence their degree of craftsmanship is on par with the best builders in the U.S., I still prefer the pride of ownership I know I will derive from purchasing "local."
The next step is to contact the candidates and of the final two, determine which one seems to have more concern for my overall satisfaction.
Incidentally, a number of years ago I spoke with Sacha from Vanilla. If I recall properly, his build list was enormous at the time. I think the wait time was two years. I see it's gone to five now. It reminds me of the astrophotography hobby. A company called Astro-physics has a wait time of something in the neighborhood of 10 years for their refractor telescopes. Imagine waiting five to ten years to receive something you've paid at least half for.
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