Making the Right Decision: Frame Purchase

Discuss light weight issues concerning road bikes & parts.
Post Reply
Posts: 18
Joined: Wed Apr 13, 2011 11:52 pm

by simone

I have searched for and read a number of topics pertaining to titanium frames. I certrainly don't want to dredge up another "which ti frame is best" thread, but I would welcome any advice given.

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.

Posts: 7
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 5:43 am

by trojancyclist

We are getting a Guru Praemio for my wife. She had an Everti Falcon. We are going with custom geometry. (Taller head tube, slacker seat tube angle)
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

by Weenie

Posts: 158
Joined: Mon Jul 18, 2011 4:37 pm

by xjbaylor

Without being disparaging, part of buying a Firefly, Richard Sachs, Vanilla, etc. is buying the name, and access to the small club that is owners of that brand. You don't buy a boutique custom bike because you expect to get something with an intrinsic value that much greater than an off-the-rack Gunnar. You buy it because it exactly what you want.

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.

Posts: 459
Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2012 3:31 pm

by ticou

I'm thinking of doing the same in the future. I got a jig fitting, not m-m for my steel bike, and it fit's me fine. This to me is the essential pre requisite. Otherwise some manu's do stronger than base level ti, i.e the Lynskey 440, which uses 6.4 ti, and there are diff's in the quality and intended use, i.e plain guage and triple butted. Research well, i'm happy with steel for the time being.

Posts: 1472
Joined: Sun Oct 05, 2008 8:09 pm
Location: Aix en Provence

by LionelB

Talk to a few builders on your short list, find the one you prefer and trust him.

If you are just looking at welding 8 Ti tubes together that can be done pretty cheaply but the end result may not be what you want.

Posts: 201
Joined: Fri Jun 06, 2008 11:41 am
Location: Bucks County PA USA

by ldamelio

Not much to add to xjbaylor's excellent post. You could take your choices "down" one level (notice the quote marks) and look at some stock frames. Habanero sells a very nice ti frames for half the DeSalvo and does custom geometry for a relatively modest upcharge. No functional difference (and minimal, if any aesthetic) from anything else you're considering.I'm from the other end of the spectrum with 2 Lynskeys and 1 Sachs in my garage. Love them, but I have no illusions that they're functionally better than my friend's Habanero.

Posts: 18
Joined: Wed Apr 13, 2011 11:52 pm

by simone

Thank you for your replies. After spending the last couple of months contemplating the issue, and considering what I've read here, I'll likely go with DeSalvo. Honestly, I have swayed back and forth between DeSalvo and the Lynskey Helix. The Moots is tempting, but the miser in me is having difficulty logically justifying the price for their Vamoots RSL.

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.

Posts: 23
Joined: Sat Feb 26, 2011 10:07 pm

by CTracer

I just did my first rides on my new Moots RSL. To keep it short it's the best frame I have ridden so far. My 3 previous frames were a Moots Vamoots, a Parlee Z3 and a Parlee Z5. Not lightest frame I have ridden but the best all-around based on about 10 hours of riding. I don't think you would regret getting one but there are some other nice frames/builders out here to consider. Baum's are gorgeous but a little too pricey for me. Seven and IF do a nice job but not any cheaper than Moots and you surely would be happy with a DeSalvo. Good luck with whatever you get but I just wanted to give a thumbs up to the RSL.


User avatar
Posts: 549
Joined: Thu Feb 02, 2006 10:26 pm
Location: US of A

by Ramjm_2000

It seems like you're comparing apples to oranges in some respects. When I've been in the market for ti I tend to lump offerings into 4 basic categories: standard straight gauge, butted, butted and manipulated, and 6/4 frames. When trying to compare value, quality, and design I find this technique works pretty well. IMO comparing a DeSalvo to a Firefly is probably not fair. Based on what I've seen on the interwebs, Firefly uses some pretty nice shaped and butted tubes vice a more standard round straight gauge tube set. IMO the Desalvo shares more in common to a standard Kent Erikesen, Seven Axiom and on the stock sized spectrum a Lynksey Cooper or the standard VaMoots. I'd start by deciding whch "type" of ti you want and go with what moves you and what fits the budget (you'll find a pretty large price span even in the straight gauge arena). Just my 2 cents...

Posts: 459
Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2012 3:31 pm

by ticou

I always try and go with triple butted when it comes to hand built frames. Just a thought.

by Weenie

Post Reply
  • Similar Topics
    Last post