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  1. #1
    just tryin' to keep up drdhsimon's Avatar
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    Comments on Desalvo bikes?

    I'm ready to buy a custom steel frame. My 20 year old Trek 560 (Reynolds 531) is smooth but heavy and has gears not suited well to climbing (43 small crank). I met Mike Desalvo at a show and liked his stuff....reasonable prices too. Any thoughts on his stuff vs. other small custom builders?

  2. #2
    Industry Maven Thylacine's Avatar
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    Mikes' a nice guy and his frames are pretty good. You could do a lot worse.
    Last edited by Thylacine; 03-18-06 at 09:37 PM.
    Have you earned your stripes? <<click here / Questions about custom frames? Chat me! - warwickg71 (AIM/iChat) ThylacineCycles (Skype)

  3. #3
    just tryin' to keep up drdhsimon's Avatar
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    Nice to hear someone else say he builds a good frame. I was also interested to know if anyone has ridden frames by Jim Kish and Carl Strong. I'm considering them as well. Thanks!!!

  4. #4
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    Hi, I've been riding one of his road frames for about 2 years and like it very much. I use it for commuting and recreational rides, and I've ridden it on three 400 mile supported tours. I met him while attending a class at UBI in Ashland. I've not delt with other custom builders, but I know folks that really like their road frames built by Carl Strong. My other two bicycles are a Holdsworth Record and Bianchii San Remo.

  5. #5
    ot.net slave
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    he also builds nice trials frames! He built a sub 3 lb steel trials frame for Jeremy Vanschoonhoven back in the day...that lasted about a season I think (way too light). Looked incredible though. So basically he's a very versatile framebuilder who's happy to work with you on little bits and bobs other builders might grumble over.

    - Joel

  6. #6
    Senior Member bellweatherman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walkercycles
    Mike is one helluva framebuilder. To confirm whats said above, he is a super nice guy as well. He builds some great bikes, you have my endorsement on chosing him...

    DW


    Jesus H man! Do you have to plug your bike show customer's prod every time someone asks something. It's really annoying. I could care less about your "endorsement".

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    Quote Originally Posted by bellweatherman
    Jesus H man! Do you have to plug your bike show customer's prod every time someone asks something. It's really annoying. I could care less about your "endorsement".


    here's my endorsement:
    http://richardsachs.com/nextwave.html
    familiar names abound.
    e-RICHIE©™®

  8. #8
    Industry Maven Thylacine's Avatar
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    Some obvious choices there, but I don't see any Jeff Jones, Craig Calfee, Steve Stickel, Brian Caulfield, Chris Cocalis, Chris Herting....
    Have you earned your stripes? <<click here / Questions about custom frames? Chat me! - warwickg71 (AIM/iChat) ThylacineCycles (Skype)

  9. #9
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    While I don't have a DeSalvo, Mike lives just up the street from me, and his bikes are ridden by many people around here, including several friends and riding partners, so I feel obliged to respond.

    Last year when I had some money and thought I wanted a custom touring frame with S+S couplers, I stopped by Mike's shop (which is in his backyard), and he took me in his shop to show me some of the bikes he was building with the couplers, and spent about 20 minutes just talking about design and options for bikes and stuff. I was impressed by the level of knowledge he had and the breadth and depth of skill he had; looking around his shop made it obvious that he's a real craftsman who both knows what he's doing and cares enough to do it perfectly. It's worth mentioning that he's the kind of guy who will take the time to understand you and your riding style to be sure he builds you the perfect bike.

    Many people consider one framebuilder way "better" than another in some objective sense, implying that one (or many) framebuilder(s) are much "worse" and build "bad" bikes or something. I think if that were true, the "bad" framebuilders would find themselves out of work pretty soon. The famous framebuilders got that way more because of their artistry than because of their skill or craftsmanship. Building a frame isn't rocket science and there are a lot of people (including a few framebuilders) who will effectively try to distract you with the myriad arcana of details that make perhaps 1% difference. Given the long refinement of the bicycle, there's really no new ground to be broken, and a good frame is one that's built by someone who knows and cares. Artistry and refinement are important, but they don't make a bike; experience and skill are what makes the bike, and the artistry is what makes a good bike beautiful (and its builder famous).

    That said, choose a framebuilder based on what's important to you, not based on some notion that one will build a "good" bike and the other a "bad" bike. How many people have you heard of who are unsatisfied with their full custom frame? Getting a full custom frame from a skilled and experienced small framebuilder is certain to be something you'll be very satisfied with; all the little details matter only in so far as you want to find someone whose values and approach to bikes is similar to yours. A local builder is important because they can meet with you and take the time to get to know you well before they build a bike to suit you. So, if you live nearby, I heartily recommend DeSalvo bikes. If not, you're probably better off finding a skilled, experienced local builder whose values are similar to yours.

    Alex

  10. #10
    Industry Maven Thylacine's Avatar
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    I disagree with two of your points, Alex.

    Firstly, there ARE some shockingly crap builder out there. Call me weird, but I'm not a believer in the all pervasive nature of market forces. I lament privately with a couple of compatriates that are on my wavelength how these builders can not only still exist but thrive. And people jump online and say what amazing bikes they are, when it's obvious to anyone that knows anything that you'd be better off on a Surly. There's a big part of the custom market that just wants someone to lavish attention on them and are extra overjoyed that the privalige only costs about 600 bucks. Market forces do not equal quality. Not even close.

    Secondly, although I think if you can buy local you should, why limit youself to a handful of framebuilders? You're probably lucky being in Oregon as there are a lot of guys to choose from, but in these days of the phone and internet and airfreight, there should be nothing holding a customer back buying what they want, no matter where they are. I sell most Thylacines to US customers, and I over-service the hell out of them to make sure they not only communicate their wants and needs effectively, but also so I get a feel for who they are, where and how they ride, and where they want to go with their cycling. I don't think good communication skills are geographically specific - the framebuilder next door could quite easily not bother listening to you and build the wrong bike.
    Have you earned your stripes? <<click here / Questions about custom frames? Chat me! - warwickg71 (AIM/iChat) ThylacineCycles (Skype)

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thylacine
    Some obvious choices there, but I don't see any Jeff Jones, Craig Calfee, Steve Stickel, Brian Caulfield, Chris Cocalis, Chris Herting....

    read this mined text:
    "Those listed are representative of a cross-section of people who respect the history of the craft and are taking it to new levels."


    you want me to list everybody?
    first of all, i am concentrating on road bicycles
    because that's a prime reason folks would visit
    the rs site to begin with. now - help me. are
    all the names you list road, or mtb, or part/full
    time. give me some ingredients and i'll make
    bake a cake.

  12. #12
    Industry Maven Thylacine's Avatar
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    Unless you live in NYC or somewhere like that, there isn't the potential customer base to support your concept of 'local only' purchasing, and only chainstores can afford this 'try before you buy' idea you're espousing, so what you're saying is not only economically unviable, but also essentially anti-custom.

    As I say on my site, part of what I'm selling is the journey of creating something unique with a fellow knowlegeable bike nut, so I actually pride myself on and base my business on what you are essentially saying is a negative. The people saying it's a positive however are my customers....and I think you'll find that's the same with other custom bike companies - regardless of where they are - if they have a strong commitment to listening to their customers, good communication channels, and letting the ideas flow.

    Anyway, we're getting waaaay OT. Maybe we need a 'Why custom?' sticky?
    Have you earned your stripes? <<click here / Questions about custom frames? Chat me! - warwickg71 (AIM/iChat) ThylacineCycles (Skype)

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by e-RICHIE
    read this mined text:
    "Those listed are representative of a cross-section of people who respect the history of the craft and are taking it to new levels."


    you want me to list everybody?
    first of all, i am concentrating on road bicycles
    because that's a prime reason folks would visit
    the rs site to begin with. now - help me. are
    all the names you list road, or mtb, or part/full
    time. give me some ingredients and i'll make
    bake a cake.
    Thanks for making this list. If you consider these builders the next wave, who do you consider to be in the current wave?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by shifter
    Thanks for making this list. If you consider these builders the next wave, who do you consider to be in the current wave?


    these guys are also the current wave.
    don't fixate on the "next" word!

  15. #15
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    My apologies to all for hijacking this thread. Not my most sincere apologies, though, as I'll continue the OT discussion I started.

    Thylacine,
    On the first point, I'm talking about the quality of framebuilders as I've seen and experienced them, and that is that they are all above-average as craftsmen, and the noticeable variations are primarily in their approach and level of artistry. Your perspective as a framebuilder, and knowing many more framebuilders than I do, gives you the eye to see the crap that I don't notice, and the experience with the not-so-good framebuilders that I probably haven't even heard of. So yours is a much more knowledgeable position, and I defer to you on that. I was basically saying that I've never personally seen or known of a really bad framebuilder.

    On the second point, especially given the discussion it's generated, I'll refine my original position to say that I think you should first look at your local builders (and I consider Portland and San Francisco "local" to me for this purpose since they are 5 or 6 hour's drive away and I would go visit the framebuilder there if I were going to buy a frame from them) and see if you find someone of exceptional skill who has an approach and values that you want. If you can find one, then they should top your list of who's going to build your next frame. If not, you should widen your scope to the world, and see if you can find a good framebuilder who has good experience working long-distance. I don't think that you should purchase "local only" or that a local framebuilder can necessarily listen and communicate better and build a more suitable bike, but I do think that working with someone you can visit makes it more likely that both customer and framebuilder will get a good sense of who they're working with and you'll have the necessary communication to produce something perfectly suited for you.

    So again, you should look local first and worldwide second, and wherever they are, the important qualities are the framebuilder's quality of workmanship and communication skills. Given that communication is easier for both parties when you can make a visit, the communication bar is effectively raised for non-local builders, but depending on where you live, it may still be likely that you can find a better builder and communicator on the other side of the world than in your neighborhood.

    Alex

  16. #16
    WTF?
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    i really think delsalvo is a great value as far as framebuilders go. i don't think he's charging as much as he could for the work he's doing.

    i haven't gotten a frame from him, but i visited his shop while in ashland for a UBI framebuilding class. he's a really nice guy who's pretty open to what the customer wants...steel/titanium, tig/lugs though he does mostly tig because people who buy his frames tend to want the really light frames.

    he's putting S&S couplers on the frame i built at UBI. his NABHS show bike (Ti track frame w/ couplers) is now being ridden by one of the UBI employees.

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