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Framebuilders Thinking about a custom frame? Lugged vs Fillet Brazed. Different Frame materials? Newvex or Pacenti Lugs? why get a custom Road, Mountain, or Track Frame? Got a question about framebuilding? Lets discuss framebuilding at it's finest.

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Old 12-18-08, 12:46 PM   #1
Guvna
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Bike Builder Bucks

I'm wondering how frame builders do financially? I just don't have much of a sense of how much one can make in this occupation. Obviously you don't go into it to strike it rich, and there must be a fairly large range of salaries, but if you could just give me a sense of the pay/experience ratio, that would be very interesting to me.

Thanks.
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Old 12-18-08, 06:40 PM   #2
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Consider this: Albert Eisentraut, one the most experienced framebuilders in the US, and IMO the best there is (with the multi-year wait list to prove it), can afford to build frames because his S.O. is an attorney.

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Old 12-19-08, 12:05 AM   #3
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Years ago I worked making pretty elaborate wiring harnesses. Completely different work, but similar in terms of the monetary view. I figured I made less than minimum wage on nearly every one I built.

Self employment is great because you only have to work 1/2 days.....you know, 12 hour shifts.
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Old 12-19-08, 01:01 AM   #4
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In the Doug Fattic course thread he mentions 5 bucks an hours. The terms salary and pay for experience don't seem to come into it. I think more experienced builders can find ways to make it pay: employing others to raise production, preferably as contractors; parts; bike shops; show promotion; teaching; and so forth. They are also faster; set-up, repeat business, therefore lower sales cost.

There is a lot of talk over on the 30 year+ board about how there are only a few in the know full time builders. That may be a contradiction, possibly the folks in the know aren't building full time. You make money when you sell something and you get paid. Making a frame is not required to do that. Bikes as a business is another thing.

It's simple enough to add features to a product people don't want to pay for, to the point where the product isn't commercial. That's the business most people in craft are in, and loving it.
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Old 12-19-08, 08:12 PM   #5
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I build frames as my full time job, and don't make squat. I work hard, and make enough to pay the bills, but thats it. I am not getting rich by any stretch of the imagination. The only decent money I make is selling forks and T shirts with my frames.

The margin and the $$ will not come from building and selling the frame. The custom frame will bring a customer in, but to make a living out of it is important to have other things the customer is interested in buying after bringing them in for a custom frame.

But I have only been doing this for half a year, so it is probably a different story for people who have been building for a while. They build faster, build better, and sell for more.
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Old 12-20-08, 01:58 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by calikid2006 View Post
I build frames as my full time job, and don't make squat. I work hard, and make enough to pay the bills, but thats it. I am not getting rich by any stretch of the imagination. The only decent money I make is selling forks and T shirts with my frames.

The margin and the $$ will not come from building and selling the frame. The custom frame will bring a customer in, but to make a living out of it is important to have other things the customer is interested in buying after bringing them in for a custom frame.

But I have only been doing this for half a year, so it is probably a different story for people who have been building for a while. They build faster, build better, and sell for more.

Calikid, What is the name of your bikes/company?

Regarding making a living building frames, good luck. Only the elite guys with lots of name recognition make a decent living...and even still, a half way experienced engineer will most likely make more. Kind of sad but just jump over to the Road forum on this site to get a dose of reality; there are threads hundreds of responses long expounding of the virtues of various name brand bikes built and assembled on contract by Asian factories. Most people are just not discriminating enough to pay a lot of money for a custom. That's why it's best to just build your own in my opinion. Cut out the middle man.
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