UPDATE: ALL SOLD
It’s been a busy weekend so far. We have SEVEN unpoor philanthropic curious gamblers so far, and we’re stopping at nine. If “ten” were a single digit number —-or eleven or fourteen—- we’d stop there. But nine is tops among SDN, so we have TWO left.)
I have an old custom, but had it made before my fat tire epiphany, and I find myself on a Hilsen and Atlantis and now SimpleOne most of the time these years. I also have ready access to a Hunqapillar, Sam, and a Betty, and between them all, my bike needs and wants are well-covered, as will surprise nobody.
Even so, I’m getting a new custom this year because I got an idea for a bike, and I think it’s a great idea, and I trust my instincts on things like this, and the easiest way for me to test the concept is to get a custom.
But even at my boss’s price I can’t afford it, so I’m snaking around a little, looking for a way to help myself out. I’m charging myself less than usual,about $200 less, as part of our imaginary R & D fund.
Also part of the picture is that we haven’t pushed custom frames for several years now, and during that time the queue has shortened to the point where it’s only a few months off.
I know the bike will be good. It’s close enough in bike/framey ways to other bikes I know and designed, so I know what to expect. It’s not a wack-job bike, out of character with our others.
Anyway, it was Mark’s idea to have our custom builder, Mark Nobilette, make six of them. Don’t confuse the two Marks. Mark suggested that because he knew I thought my custom would be great to copy in a production model. He said, “first try it out as your custom, and have Nobilette make six of them so we can see if people will actually buy them.” He wasn’t doubting, just being prudent.
I don’t think selling nearly $4300 bikes is a good way to test the market for $2500 ones, but I still liked the idea of Nobi making a run of them, and that’s what this post is about.
The thing is, a true custom here costs $3,500 for the frame and fork. That is a great deal, a bargain. Look at what other customs cost. Look what weirdo carbons cost. Look what a carbon high-end derailer that doesn’t work any better than a $50 derailer costs.
Customs take a lot of time. Lots of correspondence, special set-up, mitering one tube at a time, then resetting the machine for another cut. The actual brazing time isn’t that different. You don’t want the fire on your frame joints for hours, in any case. In-and-out with thorough penetration is the idea…
But there is a lot more work to customs. We make less money on a custom than we do on a Hilsen, and we don’t make that much there —- because I want to get people on bikes they can buy without crying, not sit around with dusty boxes of bike frames, meeting with the troops to drum up a scheme to get rid of them. If we can keep cash flow slightly positive and get more people on these bikes, that’s they main thing.
Getting to the point: We’ll have nine non-custom copies of my bike made, in three sizes, and we’ll sell them cheaper than customs by far, with $500 of each sale going to one of our two main charities this year: The Fistula Foundation, and Whirlwind Wheelchairs.
The gigantic catch is, I don’t want to reveal much about them, because if we do make them in Taiwan later on (by the same guys who make the Sam), I want to make sure——well, I just don’t want to leak that stuff so early.
Only a bike nut, and a well-off, curious, and somewhat philanthropic gambling one at that, is likely to go for this, but there are tons of dumber ways to spend $4300 (estimated whole-bike price) than this.
Here’s all I’ll say about the bike. Keep in mind, though, that its origins are as my own custom bike, and a bike that somehow does something different, maybe even better in a way, than any of our other bikes. I’m not about to design myself a stupid bike.
The HS bike (for now we’ll call it that) will have the following features, or lack thereof:
- single chainring, no option for a front derailer.
- elegant to an extreme without being a sissy, foppish, nostalgic bike.
- not for extreme riding. Basically for everyday use. You could ride across the country on it, easily. You could (and I will) take it on trails. But neither is its forte.
- you’ll have your choice of two parts packages, with little to no flexibility beyond the obvious fit-related stuff (stem length, crank length, gearing). We pick the tires, handlebar, pedals, post, saddle, color (yes, you don’t even get to pick that. They may all be the same color, maybe not).
- Eliminating options saves time and money and insures a certain consistency we want to see when the bikes are out there on the road. Don’t worry about having a “me too” bike—-yours will be one of nine at most, and will be numbered so.
- all graphics calls are ours. ALL. It may be decaled Rivendell, maybe Protovelo, maybe even something else. “Rivendell” will be on it in at least a few places, though.
- the paint job will be low-key. It may disappoint you. Not in quality, but in fanciness. This bike will have “underpaint” fanciness.
- there is one major option you’ll have, to be named later.
- it is possible that even among the 9, we’ll have variants. All bikes will be smart, good, no problem, but if you form a special facebook support group and compare notes, you may find that the guy in Seattle has a detail on his that you wish you had, or vice-versa. But nobody gets a freaky lemon.
We’ll expect your feedback, too, and we’ll have a form with specific questions. You can run off at the mouth all you like, but there are some questions we want answered, and that is part of the deal, too.
It’s possible that we’ll have no takers, and somebody out there is bound to find some way to fault this whole idea. That’s OK! But this is what we’re going to do.
Be ready to pay $2500 around August 10, and the rest when the bike is complete, before we ship. Freight etc not included.
If you want one we’ll need to know some things. To pre-qualify you! Here’s a form. You’ll need excel. That’s a pre-qualifier, right there.
This will remain up for a week or less. Don’t rush in to anything. This is the bike that I’d have made as my custom in any case. It’s a bike I’ll ride a lot. Yes, it’ll overlap stuff with my other bikes, but it will also fill a nice gap, a nice daily, almost-anything gap.
There are no psych-mind games going on here … the bike will be great, but it will also be a surprise. A great bicycle surprise! For roughly $4300! Is it a $4300 risk? I’d say no. It’s not like, if you were disappointed and sold it, you’d get $0.00.
Click this Here’s a form link.