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  1. #1
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    Titanium : Spectrum, Firefly or Steve Potts?

    This is my last query on the subject for now - I've narrowed my choices to those three. If you had to choose a Titanium frame builder from one of those three, which would you choose?

    - Tim

  2. #2
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    I would choose Firefly because I can walk there.
    I would choose Spectrum if I lived in PA.
    I would choose Steve Potts if he sold though a local bike shop that I really trust.

    Get my point? Any of the three can make a great bike so the only thing left is to remove the chance anything gets lost in translation. But if you intend to dictate the geometry I suppose that doesn't matter.

  3. #3
    pmf
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    Spectrum frames are really nice, but I would want a steel one. They farm the titanium out. Plus, I hear the wait (maybe this is just for steel) is several years. Potts looks interesting. Again, what is the wait time?

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    Quote Originally Posted by pmf View Post
    Spectrum frames are really nice, but I would want a steel one. They farm the titanium out.
    I don't think I'd put Seven doing the welding in the negative column though.

  5. #5
    pmf
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    I don't think I'd put Seven doing the welding in the negative column though.
    No, definitely not, but if I'm shelling out the money and wait time for a Spectrum, I want something built in Tom Kellogg's barn.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    I would choose Firefly because I can walk there.
    I would choose Spectrum if I lived in PA.
    I would choose Steve Potts if he sold though a local bike shop that I really trust.

    Get my point? Any of the three can make a great bike so the only thing left is to remove the chance anything gets lost in translation. But if you intend to dictate the geometry I suppose that doesn't matter.
    Yeah - Spectrum looked interesting because of the emphasis on every tiny thing being customizable/examined. Firefly looked interesting because lots of people have recommended them and their bikes look really spiffy. :-) Steve Potts looked good because he's been building bikes for so long and he's in California (though he's moved his factory so far away, I might as well fly to Boston now ;-) ).

    The folks at Firefly seem to be very on top of things as far as communication with customers, even if they're far away. Wait times on them all are similar, tho' Steve Potts seems to have more time available lately (probably due to him not being as big a shop or because of his recent move).

    A shame I can't afford to visit everyone who I'm interested in, talk to them, see their factory floor, etc.

    - Tim

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by tbessie View Post
    Yeah - Spectrum looked interesting because of the emphasis on every tiny thing being customizable/examined. Firefly looked interesting because lots of people have recommended them and their bikes look really spiffy. :-) Steve Potts looked good because he's been building bikes for so long and he's in California (though he's moved his factory so far away, I might as well fly to Boston now ;-) ).

    The folks at Firefly seem to be very on top of things as far as communication with customers, even if they're far away. Wait times on them all are similar, tho' Steve Potts seems to have more time available lately (probably due to him not being as big a shop or because of his recent move).

    A shame I can't afford to visit everyone who I'm interested in, talk to them, see their factory floor, etc.

    - Tim
    Having bought a Ti frame not to long ago I can relate. It's tough to decide.

    In the end I went with Seven due mostly to shorter wait times and not seeing where more money got me more frame from the others I considered.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by pmf View Post
    No, definitely not, but if I'm shelling out the money and wait time for a Spectrum, I want something built in Tom Kellogg's barn.
    Ha! Good point. :-)

    - Tim

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    Having bought a Ti frame not to long ago I can relate. It's tough to decide.

    In the end I went with Seven due mostly to shorter wait times and not seeing where more money got me more frame from the others I considered.
    Yeah, Seven seems to be the top for the bigger companies, given their shop technology and years of experience and volume.

    What other ones were you looking at?

    - Tim

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    Quote Originally Posted by tbessie View Post
    Yeah, Seven seems to be the top for the bigger companies, given their shop technology and years of experience and volume.

    What other ones were you looking at?

    - Tim
    I was kind of looking at everything I could look at but Spectrum and IF were the only others I got close to choosing over Seven. In the end price and wait ruled out Spectrum as compared to Seven and Seven has more expertise and experience than IF, I think.

    Really it was only myself I was worried about though. Knowing exactly what you want and being able to get that across is probably the most important thing and any reputable builder should be able to take care of it. I pretty much knew what I wanted but wasn't sure I'd communicate it well. How do you describe handling? What's neutral to me may not be to the builder...stuff like that kept me up at night.
    One thing that helped with Seven is I already owned a Honey (steel made by Seven) so we could use that as a standard of compare so I was able to gain some confidence I was getting my point across so it would be understood the way I intended.

  11. #11
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    I have a Firefly so I'm biased. I was impressed with the build. Since you can walk to Firefly I think that makes the decision a slam dunk since it discussions about fit and build will be so much easier. I'm not familiar with your other two choices, but since Seven came up that's someone I'd consider. It won't be as pretty as a Seven but the build will be of good quality and the delivery time will be short.

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    Firefly could teach a class on how to interact with customers. I ended up Kish just because we seemed to click in the right manner. Kish has an edge to him I liked.

    Both had amasing works of art to go off.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by biscut View Post
    Firefly could teach a class on how to interact with customers. I ended up Kish just because we seemed to click in the right manner. Kish has an edge to him I liked.

    Both had amasing works of art to go off.
    Yeah, Firefly seems to be right on top of things and very quick to reply to queries.

    What did you like about Kish, by the way? He was also someone I was considering.

    - Tim

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by tbessie View Post
    What did you like about Kish, by the way? He was also someone I was considering.
    After two years of searching & deliberation I chose Kish (I also have had a Seven mtb frame for a decade). Potts was a close runner-up. One of my main criteria was "one man shop". The crowning glory is the Kish finish - a very finely brushed (3M maroon Scotch-brite) finish - much finer than my Seven. It looks like a sand blasted finish until you inspect it really closely. But unlike a blasted finish, it can be re-touched at home. Kish also uses tapered chainstays which IMO are more elegant than parallel diameter ones.
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    Mike T's home wheelbuilding site - dedicated to providing Newby wheelbuilder's with motivation, information and resources.

    Everything above, up to that blue line, is IMO IMO.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by tbessie View Post
    Yeah, Firefly seems to be right on top of things and very quick to reply to queries.

    What did you like about Kish, by the way? He was also someone I was considering.

    - Tim
    I'm originally born in NE and gravitated to Firefly immediately. Great people and great product. In the end Kish was my choice. I also liked the romance of the 1 man shop. I also liked the answers to questions I posed about tubes and diameters. Just had a certain edge to him that drew me.

  16. #16
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    Listen folks, consider this:

    Any jerk with a titanium tubes and a torch can make a bike frame. What you want is a manufacturer with experience and resources. What kind of resources? Money for computers to aid with design, machinery to shape and weld tubes, etc etc. Machinery to test their designs, and so on. That means you want a company that's been making ti frames for a long time. That means Litespeed and Seven Cycles. These other 'boutique' manufacturers simply don't have the resources to make the kinds of products Litespeed can.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Waspinator View Post
    Listen folks, consider this:

    Any jerk with a titanium tubes and a torch can make a bike frame. What you want is a manufacturer with experience and resources. What kind of resources? Money for computers to aid with design, machinery to shape and weld tubes, etc etc. Machinery to test their designs, and so on. That means you want a company that's been making ti frames for a long time. That means Litespeed and Seven Cycles. These other 'boutique' manufacturers simply don't have the resources to make the kinds of products Litespeed can.
    See...the "Litespeed" you espouse was bought out by theAmerican Bicycle Groupseveral years back. IIRC, they offshored/outsourced their production in search of quick bux like everyone else. Hence why for a while all the bikes said "Made in China". These days they claim they're made in Chatanooga....but the only street address belonging to LIS is also ABG's, and looks like a warehouse and not a metal shop.

    I'd sooner bet on all that experience you reference being tyhe work of a subcontractor.


    I'd take a Firefly or a Potts or an Eriksen or an IndyFab or a post-buyout-Moots or Spectrum over LS any day, these days. ABG did their best to run LS's rep into the ground.
    "Refreshingly Unconcerned With The Vulgar Exigencies Of Veracity "

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Waspinator View Post
    Listen folks, consider this:

    Any jerk with a titanium tubes and a torch can make a bike frame. What you want is a manufacturer with experience and resources. What kind of resources? Money for computers to aid with design, machinery to shape and weld tubes, etc etc. Machinery to test their designs, and so on. That means you want a company that's been making ti frames for a long time. That means Litespeed and Seven Cycles. These other 'boutique' manufacturers simply don't have the resources to make the kinds of products Litespeed can.
    Note to self: cancel Jimmy Kish. He's just a dick with a torch. Maybe stick with that carbon frame from Trek the same kinda dude said would be toast under my Clyde ass. Shimano chain lasted 900 miles. TREK CARBON frame soon to follow.

    Anyone wanna but a softly used Domane?? Chain is new...

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by biscut View Post
    Note to self: cancel Jimmy Kish.
    Unless your tongue is planted firmly in cheek to Waspie's silly post, you're just making yourself look stoopid -

    Kish Fabrication | The Company

    20+ years making Ti frames?
    Ti welding instructor at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo’s Engineering department and at the United Bicycle Institute.
    .
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    Everything above, up to that blue line, is IMO IMO.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T. View Post
    Unless your tongue is planted firmly in cheek to Waspie's silly post, you're just making yourself look stoopid -

    Kish Fabrication | The Company

    20+ years making Ti frames?
    Ti welding instructor at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo’s Engineering department and at the United Bicycle Institute.
    Tongue remains in cheek. Kish is the builder for me. Already have $$$ down.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by biscut View Post
    Tongue remains in cheek. Kish is the builder for me. Already have $$$ down.
    I was on the fence whether your comment was tongue-in-cheek or not. I couldn't take the chance! Just wait until you see Jim's finish. After I received mine I mailed him and said I'd asked for a brushed finish, not the sandblasted one that my frame had. His terse reply was along the lines of "If I wanted to do sandblasted finishes I could save myself the hours I spend using Scotchbrite."

    With the grade of Scotchbrite he uses (maroon I think) I could be excused from thinking the finish was blasted. I only had my Seven as a comparison and while its finish is ok it can't be compared to Jim's.
    .
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    Everything above, up to that blue line, is IMO IMO.

  22. #22
    pmf
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    Listen folks, consider this:

    Any jerk with computer and a know it all attitude can make a clown comment. What you want is a real cyclist with experience who actually owns a titanium bike. What kind of bike? Having money for computers to aid with design, machinery to shape and weld tubes, etc etc. is not as important as having years of experience. Machinery to test their designs, and so on is secondary to fabrication experience. That means you want a company that's been making ti frames for a long time. Litespeed used to be one of those companies before they were sold to American Bicycle Group and went down the tubes. I don't even know if their bikes are made in the U.S. any more. Other 'boutique' manufacturers are worth considering simply because they have the resources and skill to make the kinds of products Litespeed doesn't bother with anymore.

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    Seems to be when dealing with carbon a lot is to said for a mass produced product and the R & D behind the molds and CAD engineering that a larger corporation can deliver.

    Ti sure seems to be the antithesis of carbon in that what really matters is the man with the torch and the quality of the tubes.

    But this is just my opinion gathered from research not thousands of miles on a Ti and sure not building a frame.

  24. #24
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    These small boutique frame builders may do their work meticulously, but you have to ask yourself: how can their product be any better than one built by a larger company with a longer history?

    Take Trek or Giant, for example. They have more money to plug into research and product testing and development than some small operation like Kish does. If they wanted to evaluate new titanium alloys, they could. Develop new welding techniques, they could do that too. And so on and so forth. The smaller the operation, the less money there is for product development. That's how it is in any industry.

    Don't assume that a smaller operation that makes fewer products makes a better product. Not even remotely. The only way this might be the case is larger manufacturers rely on automation and volume with little devoted to quality control. But for a product like a titanium frame that must be hand welded, a larger builder is likely going to make a better product.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Waspinator View Post
    These small boutique frame builders may do their work meticulously, but you have to ask yourself: how can their product be any better than one built by a larger company with a longer history?

    Take Trek or Giant, for example. They have more money to plug into research and product testing and development than some small operation like Kish does. If they wanted to evaluate new titanium alloys, they could. Develop new welding techniques, they could do that too. And so on and so forth. The smaller the operation, the less money there is for product development. That's how it is in any industry.

    Don't assume that a smaller operation that makes fewer products makes a better product. Not even remotely. The only way this might be the case is larger manufacturers rely on automation and volume with little devoted to quality control. But for a product like a titanium frame that must be hand welded, a larger builder is likely going to make a better product.
    Please stop. Honestly between this and your other posts you're starting to embarrass yourself.

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