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  1. #1
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    Custom Frame Cosmetic Flaw - Live With It or Replace

    I had a custom frame built from a builder who shall remain nameless. There is a slight cosmetic flaw in that he forgot to square off the top headtube lug before adding the headtube extension. I can notice it when I look at the frame head-on and am looking for it - it's off by just under 1mm. The builder mentioned it to me in passing, but by that time it was already too late. Obviously since he told me that was the first thing I looked at. I doubt I would have noticed had he not told me. Moreover, it's even less noticeable with all the cabling. I've showed it to a few other people and nobody picks it up. He's offered to build me a new one, but it seems like such a waste. Plus I've waited so long for it. I've gone from wanting to send it back to liking it in the sense of having a mis-stamped penny. I can definitely be a little OCD sometimes and hate myself for it. Opinions? Should I just get back on my meds and live with it? Send it back?

  2. #2
    Senior Member bellweatherman's Avatar
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    It sucks when you go the custom route and your bike doesn't turn out the way you want it. Makes a buyer reconsider ever doing custom. What can you do? You got screwed. Yeah, it's just cosmetic, but the point is that builders who bodge up something as easy as "not squaring off the top headlug" are doing other builders a disservice. It takes customers out of the custom market.
    Livestrong. The personal fundmaker of Lance Armstrong. The company who are in business to not donate to cancer research, but only to inform people that cancer is bad.

    Armstrong. The man without integrity, no care for the sport, and no problem with testing positive for EPO and making donations to cover it up.

    01101010101010001010

  3. #3
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    I would just deal with it. You've already waited a long time to get your bike, and like you said, its barely noticeable. If he/she got major things wrong like wrong lengths, angles, questionable welds or brazing, then I would probably get a replacement frame.

    I was told that custom frame builders strive for a 1-3mm tolerance and most major manufacturers have a 5-10mm tolerance. My framebuilder also said he's seen a Colnago that was off by 15mm.

  4. #4
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    Since he offered a replacement, why don't you agree he'll provide your next frame at a 50% discount off regular price? You get to keep the bike, he doesn't need to rebuild, plus he knows you'll return to him for a future frameset.

  5. #5
    Senior Member bellweatherman's Avatar
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    Alright. Spill the beans. Who is the builder?
    Livestrong. The personal fundmaker of Lance Armstrong. The company who are in business to not donate to cancer research, but only to inform people that cancer is bad.

    Armstrong. The man without integrity, no care for the sport, and no problem with testing positive for EPO and making donations to cover it up.

    01101010101010001010

  6. #6
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    Without a picture, I don't see how we can make a judgment. It could be so minor that you'd be a total jerk making a big deal out of it or it could be major enough that most would agree that it is unacceptable.

    Having said this, if you really want a bike that is build EXACTLY like every other one, then robots and factories are much better at this than one person in a custom shop. When you get something built as a one-off, I think you should accept some degree of variability in each example. It makes it more "custom".

    Whatever you do, don't nickle/dime the builder. If you want it fixed, have him do another, but don't fish around looking for money - this is low-brow approach to the problem.

    - Mark

  7. #7
    Senior Member jacobs's Avatar
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    As a custom builder, it sounds to me like the builder in question is already doing the right thing, and has done everything you could hope for. He offered to build you a new bike. He told you about the flaw. If it matters that much to you, then have him build the new bike. I can only assume you'd get to keep riding the one you have now until the new one arrives.

  8. #8
    barnfullagts
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    Quote Originally Posted by smittyben
    is getting a bit of money back possible, not a lot but enough?
    +1 They call it appearance allowance.
    GT's in the barn: 67 and counting.

  9. #9
    delicious 40x14's Avatar
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    Sounds look a cool thing to have. Tell the framebuilder that you want to make sure your next frame from him also has this same non-squared-off toptube lug, and that any other frame he builds with this "defect" should be called a pigiron from here on forward.

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    I've decided that it's bugging me too much. It is difficult to notice unless I tell you to look at it head on, but even so I know it's there.

  11. #11
    Senior Member bellweatherman's Avatar
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    Let this be a lesson to all those custom buyers out there. If you want perfection, you need to buy production. At least, you know what you are buying before you buy.
    Livestrong. The personal fundmaker of Lance Armstrong. The company who are in business to not donate to cancer research, but only to inform people that cancer is bad.

    Armstrong. The man without integrity, no care for the sport, and no problem with testing positive for EPO and making donations to cover it up.

    01101010101010001010

  12. #12
    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pigiron
    I've decided that it's bugging me too much. It is difficult to notice unless I tell you to look at it head on, but even so I know it's there.
    When you buy something hand made it's rarely without a slight flaw.

    Does it affect the ride?

    Would you have noticed had the builder not said anything?

    What will you do when the paint gets scratched? Will you repaint the frame?

    If I were you I'd just ride the frame and be happy that I have I nice, new, custom bike. As you said before, others can't notice it unless you point it out; the flaw must be tiny.

    There are much bigger problems in the world to worry about. After a few hundred miles in the saddle you'll forget all about it anyway.

  13. #13
    delicious 40x14's Avatar
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    It's cosmetic, and it's a trait unique to your own handmade frame. Since only god is capable of perfection, I would be happy to have this as proof that the frame was made by a person, not god.

  14. #14
    Senior Member bellweatherman's Avatar
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    If you aren't going to name the builder, then at least post a picture of the error. Seems like it might not be a big deal, OR it could really be hideous. We can only guess if you don't show us the faulty work. I would, for one, like to know who the builder is, so as to avoid him and tell all my friends to avoid him.
    Livestrong. The personal fundmaker of Lance Armstrong. The company who are in business to not donate to cancer research, but only to inform people that cancer is bad.

    Armstrong. The man without integrity, no care for the sport, and no problem with testing positive for EPO and making donations to cover it up.

    01101010101010001010

  15. #15
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    bellweatherman, just send a PM to pigiron and treat the information as confidential...

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by bellweatherman
    If you aren't going to name the builder, then at least post a picture of the error. Seems like it might not be a big deal, OR it could really be hideous. We can only guess if you don't show us the faulty work. I would, for one, like to know who the builder is, so as to avoid him and tell all my friends to avoid him.
    If I felt that the builder was someone to be avoided I'd name, but I don't. Everybody makes mistakes and I think the builder's going to do the right thing. The purpose of my post was to get some opinions on how others would handle the situation. That is, if you paid in the low four figures for a frameset, what would you expect? I'd expect that when looking at the frame with the naked eye that the lug lines are even. It's not hideous and it's only cosmetic. It's only noticeable if you're looking head-on at the frame and even more difficult once cabled up. I wanted some idea if my expectations were reasonable or unreasonable. I know everybody here is dealing with imperfect information as I haven't provided a picture and I've taken that into account. But I hope the description I've given is enough for people to at least form some type of opinion.

  17. #17
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    I'll say it again - without a picture, none of us can give you good guidance.

    - Mark

  18. #18
    Dr.Deltron
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    Quote Originally Posted by markjenn
    I'll say it again - without a picture, none of us can give you good guidance.

    - Mark
    +1!
    I'm just wondering (without benefit of pictures) if the headtube can be faced down to eliminate the flaw?

    And as a frame painter, you be amused to see some of the flaws the builder will leave for the paint guy to fix!

  19. #19
    eternalvoyage
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    Quote Originally Posted by pigiron
    I had a custom frame built from a builder who shall remain nameless. There is a slight cosmetic flaw in that he forgot to square off the top headtube lug before adding the headtube extension. I can notice it when I look at the frame head-on and am looking for it - it's off by just under 1mm. The builder mentioned it to me in passing, but by that time it was already too late. Obviously since he told me that was the first thing I looked at. I doubt I would have noticed had he not told me. Moreover, it's even less noticeable with all the cabling. I've showed it to a few other people and nobody picks it up. He's offered to build me a new one, but it seems like such a waste. Plus I've waited so long for it. I've gone from wanting to send it back to liking it in the sense of having a mis-stamped penny. I can definitely be a little OCD sometimes and hate myself for it. Opinions? Should I just get back on my meds and live with it? Send it back?
    This is a tough one. I can see how it would be clear, if the flaw were major enough. And I can see how it would be clear if it were something really, really minor.

    There are so many factors at play here, including one's own mind and what it might do with it (either way). If one tries to live with it, and never really feels right about it, or feels unhappy with the bike, then that's not really fair to oneself -- especially after paying that much money, and hoping for a certain level of perfectionism in a beautiful custom bike. I do not think it is unreasonable, especially if this is something you do only rarely (buy a custom bike), and your central goal is to have something beautiful and perfect (or nearly perfect).... it isn't unreasonable to get what you set out for. Why blow the whole project and expense, if it is important to you in this way? If it is important to you, and if you can't really feel that you've gotten what you set out for to begin with, I think the framebuilder would understand. You could even explain it and apologize. I do not think it is unreasonable.

    On the other side, some people could probably be perfectly happy -- the 'liking it in the sense of having a mis-stamped penny' side of it.

    I don't think anyone can answer this for you -- you know your mind better than we do.

    I think you've paid enough to be justified in taking a stand on being happy with it, and I think the builder would understand that.

    Some people might feel guilty not accepting the bike as it is. Others wouldn't.

    There are other factors, too, here -- it's a complex situation. Good luck with it.

    (Unless you are filthy rich, and can just take another shot at it.... Or feel fine about the bike as it is....

    Be honest with yourself, and do what feels right all around -- not just for yourself, but not excluding yourself either....)

    Can he sell that bike as a second?

    Some people don't mind that sort of bike; others don't really want them....

  20. #20
    Industry Maven Thylacine's Avatar
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    So hang on. When you braze the headtube in, it extends above the top of the top head tube lug. So, for there to be a '1mm out of square' with the top of the head tube lug, there must be a gap between the top head tube lug and the extension?

    Isn't the head tube extension supposed to be a seamless transition up from the lug, or is this a separate 'ring' or something?

    Yeah, pix might be a good idea *laugh*
    Have you earned your stripes? <<click here / Questions about custom frames? Chat me! - warwickg71 (AIM/iChat) ThylacineCycles (Skype)

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by pigiron
    <snip>There is a slight cosmetic flaw in that he forgot to square off the top headtube lug before adding the headtube extension. I can notice it when I look at the frame head-on and am looking for it - it's off by just under 1mm.<cut>
    the only cat i know that does this detail is roland della santa and if i were a
    consumer, i'd want any bicycle from him with a small cosmetic, er, flaw, than
    98% of the so-called and so-thought-of perfect bicycles out there. i'm familiar
    with his methods and i would not think twice about this visual deviation atmo.
    i'd keep the frame as-is.
    e-RICHIE©™®

  22. #22
    Senior Member jeremyb_nz's Avatar
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    Sounds like the builder handled it really well, if you feel that its always going to niggle at you then you should ask for a replacement, otherwise live with it

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