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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 11-20-09, 09:29 PM   #1
Banzai
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Curtlo

Well, I'm starting to wonder.

In July I paid my deposit after working out most of the details; I asked him for a rough guess on a timeframe (I know that ordering a frame like this is NOT "instant gratification"...but I just wanted a ballpark) and his answer was "It's too hard to estimate right now. I've got to see how my build schedule plays out."

Fair enough. I left well enough alone.

In October I dropped him one brief message asking if he had an idea of a ballpark estimate. No reply.

Now November is wrapping up, so I sent an e-mail and left a phone message. No reply.

I did emphasize that I know he's busy, and I know he can't give me an exact ETIC...I'm not trying to pin him down to an exact date. But the fact that I can't even get a window of time, or even a reply, is worrisome.

Is this normal? Should I start attempting to recover my money now?

If I do, does anyone know anything about Ionic Bikes?
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Old 11-20-09, 09:39 PM   #2
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this is normal with Curlo. You are paying an outrageously low price for a frame. The guy builds good frames, he doesn't do communications until he needs to talk to you. He's always late. If you had done any research at all before you gave him a deposit you would have realized this. Your fault entirely.
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Old 11-20-09, 09:47 PM   #3
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Wow.

I did do research, and knew that this was somewhat what to expect.

In all of my research the communication, while spotty, was quite a bit more than what I've had. I'm not asking to have my hand held. I'm not asking for step by step pictures, or anything so ridiculous.

Just one line with a rough guess. After 5 months of just chilling...because of the research I'd done...I don't think I'm being terribly unreasonble.
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Old 11-21-09, 01:23 AM   #4
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Has Curtlo gone out of business?
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Old 11-21-09, 10:58 AM   #5
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Has Curtlo gone out of business?
That would suck. That would leave me out my $650 deposit.
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Old 11-21-09, 12:15 PM   #6
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there was a thread just like this on mtbr just recently. The person got his money back but a lot of people also showed their curlos and were very happy with them. Also saw a recent thread over there where someone crashed his frame and curlo fixed it for a very good price. I don't know why he underprices the market so much, he's bound to get a batch of customers that cause him more problems than he's charging for. He should charge 50% more and take a day off a week to answer email.
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Old 11-21-09, 12:36 PM   #7
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Probably should. I'd certainly pay more for the frame, provided he still gave a good deal on the S&S couplers.

I don't know enough about the framemaking business to know how much he's underpricing the market by. The reason I went with him was because his price for an S&S coupler mod was very good. Many builders seemed to be charging almost as much for the coupler mod as for the frame itself. Again, lack of knowledge, but if you don't have to re-paint the frame because they were part of the original build, it seems like Doug's price for the mod was about right.

The price of the frame itself? That was an added bonus in my book. It actually almost turned me away...I wondered how on earth he was charging so much less than everyone else.
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Old 11-21-09, 02:58 PM   #8
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there are guys on their third frame selling a bare minimum fillet brazed frame without fork for $1500. The top names might charge $4k for a lugged frame with fork. Seems to me that most people upcharge at least $500 for S&S. Considering how much the parts cost that's too cheap. Framebuilding is a subsistence occupation or part time for most pro builders. That's why they can get away with under-charging.
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Old 11-21-09, 06:59 PM   #9
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unterhausen,

I searched mtbr and found the thread that you referenced...and posted in, I believe.

At first I was encouraged that being near the 6month point my turn in the queue might be coming up. Then I read about the couple who had the 13 month incommunicado wait. Ouch!
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Old 11-21-09, 07:23 PM   #10
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there was a lot of speculation that having a pair of bikes built at the same time slows things down with him, which makes no sense to me. But it does appear to be true. I think most established builders have at least a years wait at this time. Too bad he didn't communicate this with you.
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Old 11-22-09, 03:46 PM   #11
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c'est la vie.

It's a good thing he has that picture gallery on his website. Whenever I think that maybe I should re-think, I just look at those, and settle down again. Those are darn beautiful frames, and I can't wait to have one...which is of course the whole problem. They're darn beautiful, and though looking makes me realize I just need to wait, looking also makes me want mine sooner.

Ah well. Patience, it is said, is a virtue that is generally rewarded.
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Old 11-23-09, 11:20 PM   #12
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I wonder if he charges so little just so he can avoid human communication.
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Old 11-23-09, 11:43 PM   #13
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there was a lot of speculation that having a pair of bikes built at the same time slows things down with him, which makes no sense to me. But it does appear to be true. I think most established builders have at least a years wait at this time.
I had a Davidson built in about 90 days (very established builder):

www.davidsonbicycles.com

I had a Boedie built in about 6 weeks (newer builder):

www.boediecycles.com
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Old 11-24-09, 04:15 AM   #14
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Curtlo's are 'utilitarian'. You haven't payed for Customer Service, so don't be too miffed when you don't get much.

Message to anyone considering buying a custom frame - If you want good Customer Service, pay for it. It's worth it. It means no anxiety, no forum posts like this, more sleep, you'll be better looking, people will like you more because you'll be in a better mood....heck, it might even help you get laid.

Is that worth a couple of hundred bucks?
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Old 11-24-09, 10:36 AM   #15
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I had a Davidson built in about 90 days (very established builder):

www.davidsonbicycles.com

I had a Boedie built in about 6 weeks (newer builder):

www.boediecycles.com
There are a lot of good builders that will start on your frame right away. You just have to find one.
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Old 11-24-09, 06:26 PM   #16
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I am sure he is a good frame builder but its not that hard to give an estimated finish date. A customer understands that there may be delays or setbacks but you gotta communicate with them. How hard is it to tell them how many frames you have on order, how long it normally takes, and if you get a little behind ( we all do at one time or another) give them a heads up, even Sachs and Vanilla know its gonna be roughly 5 years.
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Old 11-24-09, 07:50 PM   #17
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Right, you can make an estimate, then fail to hit it, then spend the rest of your life communicating with the customer all through the piece. Or you can just make the frames and spend the rest of your time as required. My only thing would be if you don't communicate, and you don't give a good estimate, maybe you should split your deposit into a non-refundable portion for sitting in the line, and then take the materials deposit when you are on the verge of building. 650 deposit without any time line is likely to raise eyebrows.
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Old 11-24-09, 08:55 PM   #18
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If he wanted to avoid any unnecessary communication from me, he should have told me "wait x months". I wouldn't have bugged him again, until that point. If he really wants thrilled customers, give an estimate that he KNOWS he can beat, and then beat it. Presto! Everyone raves about how early you are with all your projects.

That's not a bad idea, actually. If I ever have a business like this, I'm going to overestimate everytime, and then come out looking terrific in the end.
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Old 11-25-09, 04:26 PM   #19
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"That's not a bad idea, actually. If I ever have a business like this, I'm going to overestimate everytime, and then come out looking terrific in the end."

Still assumes you have some idea. His site is pretty nice, so he doesn't seem that random. But some people have minimal control over time, so better not to promise, or at least some people see it that way. What if there is a really good hatch at the river. You want to be in the shop?
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Old 11-25-09, 11:23 PM   #20
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He is not the easiest guy to deal with. I had a warranty issue with him and he was a complete ass and wouldn't take care of it. That was almost 20 years ago, but I haven't forgotten it.

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Old 11-26-09, 11:24 AM   #21
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He is not the easiest guy to deal with. I had a warranty issue with him and he was a complete ass and wouldn't take care of it. That was almost 20 years ago, but I'll haven't forgotten it.
Ouch. What kind of issue?
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Old 11-26-09, 01:42 PM   #22
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PM sent
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Old 11-29-09, 06:59 PM   #23
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All the Curtlos I've seen have been nice. I'd suggest Marinoni or Proleteriat as alternatives that are priced reasonably and have a lot of experience.
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Old 11-30-09, 04:01 AM   #24
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Right, you can make an estimate, then fail to hit it, then spend the rest of your life communicating with the customer all through the piece. Or you can just make the frames and spend the rest of your time as required.
How long do you think it takes to write and send a very small 'piece of mind' email? Say you have 20 builds on the go and you send one 60 second email to each customer.....a whole 20 minutes out of 5000-odd waking minutes a week.

Can't devote that to customer service?

Is common courtesy an upcharge these days?
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Old 11-30-09, 11:11 AM   #25
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How long has he been able to survive with these kinds of business practices?
Or is frame building his night job?
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