I just read where another framebuilder has stopped taking orders. David at Southwest Frameworks in Texas posted this on his webpage recently:
Effective November 30, 2008, Southwest Frameworks will temporarily suspend taking orders for custom road frames. As the current wait time for a custom frame is over a year, this decision was made to facilitate the completion of orders currently on the books. To "clear out the order book" as it were. We expect the suspension to last for between four and six months. After that time, we will reevaluate completion times on custom road frames and decide when we will begin taking orders again.
We will, however, still produce stock steel MTB's and 29r's under the "Philo Beddo" and “YBS” labels, and keep the paint operation at full force.
I've talked to him several times about a frame. I was going to finally put some money down after the first of the year, but now I guess I have to starve for a while, or wait even longer. Do these builders really have this much work or is this some kind of marketing ploy? The last time I talked to David he said the wait was about a year but gave no indication of planning on stopping taking orders. Is retirement looming for a lot of these guys?
No idea. Wonder how much longer your wait will actually be if he clears out his back orders in a half year. Hard to predict since there isn't any way to get on the list. You mention putting money down. That's one of the problems with deposits since if they get backed up enough it's a pain just talking to the people who think they ought to be hearing something.
I agree with Peterpan. If I sent a framebuilder a sizeable deposit, I would almost feel some sort of vested interest in what is going on. Can you imagine someone like me waiting for a Richard Sachs or a Vanilla? These guys would get fed up with my constant emails and take a "soup nazi" attitude: "No bike for you! Don't come back for five year!"
Steel frames have seen a resurgence of sorts lately. Not sure what is driving this but the clear delineation between the current carbon trend and classic steel comes to mind.
I agree with those that think the long wait for a frame from certain builders with name recognition is crazy. No diss against the builders though; they have earned this situation by producing frames people want.
Becareful buying/selling bike parts on-line. I learned the hard way. :(
I know some craftsmen who have like 10-15 year waiting lists. I thought of putting myself on one of these lists, but the guy was so old, I figured it was pointless. That was like 20 or more years ago, and he is still going strong. He may yet outlive me.
A long wait is ok sorta like a lottery ticket, it isn't so much the winning, which is a miniscule probability, it's that one has the chance. A life with that possibility. I haven't ever bought a lottery ticket, though.
For these smaller guys, I think it's a very real nuts and bolts buisiness decision. It's difficult to bill accordingly knowing your costs, much less trying to take a stab at what they might be a year, two, or three down the road. The world is a crazy uncertain place... a bit more so now it seems.
Also, a guy like Sachs... his bikes will be the exact same forever,period. A less rigid builder might actually choose to 'update' his frames periodically. So again, who knows what is coming down the pipe, that might change the cost of a frame two, three four years out. Whatever it may be, be assured it won't make it cheaper. I'm thinking bb30 ,1.5" lower headtube diameters, new tubesets, etc.
I put down deposit money for a frame from a builder last September. Since then we've nailed down the parts group and I've paid in full for the parts. At that time his waiting list was about 8 months. I thought I'd have a bike some time this summer. However, since then he's been swamped with orders and my bike still isn't here. Fortunately, I have a decent bike now and am in no hurry, so I'm not pestering him. The last thing he or other builders need is another client calling or emailing to inquire about the progress of the work or wait list. I know that he's very busy with orders and is doing his best to keep up. His waiting list is now (according to his website) 3.5 years! These framebuilders run their businesses on very fine margins and take home surprisingly little for the huge creative and physical investment they make in every bike they produce. I appreciate the fine work they do and am willing to wait.