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Boutique frame vs mass produced

rbx

Monkey
Is the price difference worth it?
Having never had a very high end frame ie foes,turner etc i dont know if im missing something!

Do they last longer?
Do they ride that much better then Norcos,giant etc?
 

buildyourown

Turbo Monkey
Feb 9, 2004
4,837
0
South Seattle
I think there is a bit higher level of workmanship that comes out of small, US builders. It's not that the bikes are that much better, it's that the companies tend to pay more attention to the smaller things. (like shipping the frame with the headtube faced/chased)
If you have a problem with your Turner, you can call up Dave Turner himself and talk to him. Same with Brent Foes or Jeff Steber. Instead of having to go through a dealer who may or may not be on your side, you get a little more personal attention. It's the little things that your paying for.
And yes, my DHR rides better than any other bike I've ever ridden.
 

Zark

Hey little girl, do you want some candy?
Oct 18, 2001
6,257
7
Reno 911
I've had better quality, better customer service and fewer warranties with mass produced bikes. But, hey thats Intense for ya :dead:
 

gonzostrike

Monkey
May 21, 2002
118
0
Montana
I think it depends on which "mass produced" and which "boutique" bikes you're talking about.

I'd take a Giant (biggest producer) DH frame over an Ellsworth (the original yuppie boutique brand) Dare any day.

come to think of it, I'd take almost any frame over an Ellsworth Dare.

I have been very impressed with the quality of the bikes I've owned with the following mfrs' frames:

Santa Cruz Bullit
Banshee Scream
Ventana X-5
Turner Six Pack
Knolly V-Tach

I have been unimpressed with the quality of the following:

Ellsworth/Aeon Isis
 

syadasti

i heart mac
Apr 15, 2002
12,701
290
VT
I've seen various high-end labels with alignment issues, not reamed properly, finish issues, and the like. You do often get snooty attitude and massive case of cognitive dissonance with a pricey frame.

I've personally owned 26 different mtb frames from 16 different companies over the years. The price you pay or the number of frames made doesn't mean much. Some companies definately do a better job than others - both in the high-end and mass produced labels. Its best to find model specific feedback from the owners - both good and bad to get a good idea on the bike you want.
 

OGRipper

back alley ripper
Feb 3, 2004
9,905
328
NORCAL is the hizzle
rbx said:
High end companies usualy have better CS?
Not sure if by high-end you mean the larger or smaller companies, but regardless, my experience has been all over the map. Bigger companies have more resources to devote to CS, but they also have more to deal with so they can be more "hard line" and less flexible.

As for your main question, again I think it's all over the map. It really depends on the company and what you look for in a bike and CS. For example, the quality of workmanship coming from upper-end specialized and some other big guys is pretty hard to beat, but only you can say if they are better bikes for what you want. Plus bigger companies can often afford more expensive production techniques, quality control, etc., so it's not always the case that smaller is better.
 

rbx

Monkey
gonzostrike said:
I think it depends on which "mass produced" and which "boutique" bikes you're talking about.

I'd take a Giant (biggest producer) DH frame over an Ellsworth (the original yuppie boutique brand) Dare any day.

come to think of it, I'd take almost any frame over an Ellsworth Dare.

I have been very impressed with the quality of the bikes I've owned with the following mfrs' frames:

Santa Cruz Bullit
Banshee Scream
Ventana X-5
Turner Six Pack
Knolly V-Tach

I have been unimpressed with the quality of the following:

Ellsworth/Aeon Isis

The high end frame that i have my eyes on is an Ellsworth Dare :D
 

ohio

The Fresno Kid
Nov 26, 2001
6,638
4
SF, CA
rbx said:
The high end frame that i have my eyes on is an Ellsworth Dare :D
Stay away. Stay far away. Bike quality, bike performance, and customer service have no relationship to company size at all, and only SOME relationship to bike price.

There are big companies that do all three very well at a reasonable price (Santa cruz comes to mind), and there are small companies that also do all three great (like turner and ventana).
 

dw

Wiffle Ball ninja
Sep 10, 2001
2,944
0
MV
Price isn't what makes one frame "high end" versus another, neither do numbers (or lack thereof) produced. For me its about product and people. Mix the two in the right way and its almost always a winning combination. Don't think for a second that race or geographical location has anything to do with how good of a welder or fabricator someone is. There are great fabricators all over the world who take a lot of pride in what they do.

Dave
 

atrokz

Turbo Monkey
Mar 14, 2002
1,556
79
teedotohdot
Put it this way (and I've seen both):

I took apart one of the mass produced frames (won't name which one for certain reasons but they are popular and expensive) and what I found was shocking and lame: The bearings were pressed in without removing the paint from the holes. This is a joke. Then, the HT was not properly reamed to suit a 1 inch steelset which it came with (complete bike). By not properly reamed I mean it was reamed exactly one inch, which means removal of the HS was nearly impossible as the end of the HS met the end of the ream. This is just assembly but it says allot! However, this is not to say that there are not some realy nice, well made 'mass produced' frames out there. I've been very impressed with the quality on some, and less than impressed with the quality on some 'boutique' frames. I think it all comes down to who and what.

I'm a firm believer though, that in general smaller frame companys produce better products, and as someone which actual machining experience (tool and die apprentice, general machinist) I can spot and relate the deal first hand. Realy now though, it's apples to oranges and you do pay a premium for something made by craftsmen vs robots and underpaid professionals.
 

dcamp29

Monkey
Feb 14, 2004
589
61
Colorado
zedro said:
Now dont be dissing the robots, with their perfect line and bead spacing and 4 decimal tolerances.....

yeah who drills a better hole? me with a drill in my hand(handcrafted) or a CNC machine with a drill for an arm(robot). same for welding-i'd much rather have a robot do it.

also will the bike ride better if the headtube has been hand reamed/chased whatever? seriously, i could care less, even though i work in a bike shop and have all those tools available for free, i never use them on my own bikes, and have never had problems with the headsets being crooked or falling out.

and i ride giants because they are really cheap, and are decent quality.
 

AlberTop

Monkey
Nov 30, 2004
218
0
South
Mass produced DH frame?

What is mass produced? 1000? 5000? 10000?

How many DH frames Intense, Turner or Foes sells per year?

Do IH or Giant sell that much more?
 

CreeP

Monkey
Mar 8, 2002
695
0
montreal bitch
if it came down to a one liner piece of advice it would be this:

Find the bike that's right for you, regardless of trends, opinions, or even customer service.
 

SXtrailrider

Turbo Monkey
Aug 27, 2005
1,189
0
i would tell you to get sinister bikes they are made very well in the us actually calfornia and i meat the guys that make them they seam to know exactly what they are doing and thier products are built were a lot of the downhill biking happens AKA sirra mountains
 

Sir_Crackien

Turbo Monkey
Feb 7, 2004
2,052
0
alex. va. usa.
just to give and example of a companie that is not high end but make a vary high quality bike is soul cycles. their customer service is increadable, really, you e-mail them and you get an answer in less than a day even on the weekends. also it you call them they are always there during the said hours. as for their frames they make their CS for quality. all the welds look good (not increditable, but you diffnitally not worried about them). they face the headtube and bb shell perfectly. also the finish is very good. they powder everthing and the finish is tough as nails (way better and the powder in most santacruz bikes). then when you look at the pice of the product you realize way this company has so many followers even if they don't own a frame of theirs. i'm myself first though that they were kinda a joke then i saw and rode a could of thier bikes. now i onw their trials frame and im in the process of ordering their fr hardtail frame!

basically don't over look the small guys. even if they are inexpencive they can still make a great product. also i think that these other expencive boutique compaies are cool and all but i just will not dish out that kinda money on the frame.
 

dexter

Turbo Monkey
Sep 23, 2001
2,998
70
Boise, Idaho
i agree with adam above with the whole sinister deal but i have no idea what you are talking about after the very well. it totally depends. the past 12 bikes i have had all came from yeti, sinister, or specialized and all have been great. but the customer services (granteed all 3 were sponsorships but still) were awesome. i still cant get over sinisters cs. i switched forks mid race weekend due to some tolerances being out of whack. anyways my old backup fork went on and the lower crown was hitting the downtube. i talked directly with frank the welder for over an hour trying to figure out why this was happening and how to fix it.
 

rbx

Monkey
dw said:
Price isn't what makes one frame "high end" versus another, neither do numbers (or lack thereof) produced. For me its about product and people. Mix the two in the right way and its almost always a winning combination. Don't think for a second that race or geographical location has anything to do with how good of a welder or fabricator someone is. There are great fabricators all over the world who take a lot of pride in what they do.

Dave
I really like what you said there, all you guys make very valid points.

I guess one must keep an open mind and ask himself "what am i really paying for?"
 

atrokz

Turbo Monkey
Mar 14, 2002
1,556
79
teedotohdot
dcamp29 said:
yeah who drills a better hole? me with a drill in my hand(handcrafted) or a CNC machine with a drill for an arm(robot). same for welding-i'd much rather have a robot do it.

also will the bike ride better if the headtube has been hand reamed/chased whatever? seriously, i could care less, even though i work in a bike shop and have all those tools available for free, i never use them on my own bikes, and have never had problems with the headsets being crooked or falling out.

and i ride giants because they are really cheap, and are decent quality.

The biggest myth about CNC is that people think it's the most accurate and quickest way to do something. I can drill, ream, and tap somthing quicker than the process involved with CNC. And, I can do it with the same accuracy. Sme goes for most lathe and mill operations. The only benefit to CNC'd items is the ability to produce parts with 3d shaping, and multiple parts. Remember too, that a CNC'd part is only as good as it's program. That program was produced by a person.......


Lastly, you'll never need to remove a headset or bearing? :rolleyes:
 

COmtbiker12

Turbo Monkey
Dec 17, 2003
2,577
0
Colorado Springs
This robot makes whiskey and all sorts of things if you want.

(from Forbidden Planet)

And yes that's all I have to add to this thread, besides the fact that I think my M3 is the absolute greatest bike I've ever ridden.
 

dw

Wiffle Ball ninja
Sep 10, 2001
2,944
0
MV
rbx said:
I really like what you said there, all you guys make very valid points.

I guess one must keep an open mind and ask himself "what am i really paying for?"

You got it man, thats a really good way to put it.

Dave
 

dw

Wiffle Ball ninja
Sep 10, 2001
2,944
0
MV
AlberTop said:
Mass produced DH frame?

What is mass produced? 1000? 5000? 10000?

How many DH frames Intense, Turner or Foes sells per year?

Do IH or Giant sell that much more?
What makes you think that Iron Horse or Giant sell more DH frames than Turner or Intense? Good to ponder over AM coffee.
 

AlberTop

Monkey
Nov 30, 2004
218
0
South
dw said:
What makes you think that Iron Horse or Giant sell more DH frames than Turner or Intense? Good to ponder over AM coffee.
That's what I mean. There is no "mass production" DH frame. They are made in such a small qt that all manufacters act like boutiques.
 

Mumbles

Monkey
Jul 17, 2002
236
0
Minneapolis, MN
dexter said:
i agree with adam above with the whole sinister deal but i have no idea what you are talking about after the very well. it totally depends. the past 12 bikes i have had all came from yeti, sinister, or specialized and all have been great. but the customer services (granteed all 3 were sponsorships but still) were awesome. i still cant get over sinisters cs. i switched forks mid race weekend due to some tolerances being out of whack. anyways my old backup fork went on and the lower crown was hitting the downtube. i talked directly with frank the welder for over an hour trying to figure out why this was happening and how to fix it.
FTW and his crew from sinister and DT and his crew from turner have by far the best customer service i've seen, possibly in any industry. their attention to details, and their willingness to help solve the problem is awesome! the build quality of both is also awesome.
i think it definitely depends on more specifics than "mass produced" vs. "boutique"
 

ChrisRobin

Turbo Monkey
Jan 30, 2002
3,104
83
Vancouver
rbx,
If I use Trek as an example: Their warranty was great...plus I was working at a shop that was a good Trek dealer and we had people working that wanted customers to be happy so we NEVER had trouble warrantying frames (not that it happened often). Our rep was nice and kept his promises which gave Trek a good image to us. One day I'll have to get a Trek DH frame because despite being a huge company, they can make excellent bikes and have good service and support. Recently I spoke to the guys that work at my old shop and they've become a Norco dealer as well and they're saying Norco is great to deal with too. Take Balfa now, in 2003 they were making misaligned frames and telling us (as in shop employees) to just shove 1mm spacers in the shock mount to keep the frame from eating itself. That was unacceptable. Balfa was/is a small company and maybe they were having a bad year. Although that was the year they shut down. Maybe it's not fair to use them as an example of a 'boutique' frame builder making a bad product.

I think with small companies all you can do is get the feedback of people here on Ridemonkey. For a small company, I can tell you Nicolai frames are built in a much more complicated way, compared to BB7s for example, and they're 99% perfect. I've never had to deal with them yet for parts or warranty but the quality is awesome. There are a lot of small companies like that...and then you have big guys like Trek and Norco that make nice DH frames too.

What about that Appalache Real frame?? Install an E13 guide, get Avalanche front and rear suspension and voila, t'es eastcoast au boute tabarnak!
 

rbx

Monkey
ChrisRobin said:
rbx,
If I use Trek as an example: Their warranty was great...plus I was working at a shop that was a good Trek dealer and we had people working that wanted customers to be happy so we NEVER had trouble warrantying frames (not that it happened often). Our rep was nice and kept his promises which gave Trek a good image to us. One day I'll have to get a Trek DH frame because despite being a huge company, they can make excellent bikes and have good service and support. Recently I spoke to the guys that work at my old shop and they've become a Norco dealer as well and they're saying Norco is great to deal with too. Take Balfa now, in 2003 they were making misaligned frames and telling us (as in shop employees) to just shove 1mm spacers in the shock mount to keep the frame from eating itself. That was unacceptable. Balfa was/is a small company and maybe they were having a bad year. Although that was the year they shut down. Maybe it's not fair to use them as an example of a 'boutique' frame builder making a bad product.

I think with small companies all you can do is get the feedback of people here on Ridemonkey. For a small company, I can tell you Nicolai frames are built in a much more complicated way, compared to BB7s for example, and they're 99% perfect. I've never had to deal with them yet for parts or warranty but the quality is awesome. There are a lot of small companies like that...and then you have big guys like Trek and Norco that make nice DH frames too.

What about that Appalache Real frame?? Install an E13 guide, get Avalanche front and rear suspension and voila, t'es eastcoast au boute tabarnak!
Thats a really good example of how much this subject can change from builder to builder.
I was interseted in a DARE and althrought the bike posses many suspension attributes that i like(being a technician mech engineer) i like to analyse every aspect of a frame/suspension before i buy.
But some points kept bugging me about the comapny.

1-keep hearing to many CS problems, you can ignore them but if you go on mtbr in the Ellsworth forum it seems that when a person breaks a frame they become VERY nervous as to how ellswoth will treat them .
Frame abuse aside, i should NOT be that nervous about returning a frame due manufacturing defects.

2-Althrough this kinda of topic but TONY is completly in the dark concerning suspension theory how he got such a good design is beyond me

The appalache seems to be a real hot frame, mais ils faudrait quil rajoute un floating brake pour quil m'intersse vraiment :heart:
 

ChrisRobin

Turbo Monkey
Jan 30, 2002
3,104
83
Vancouver
rbx said:
The appalache seems to be a real hot frame, mais ils faudrait quil rajoute un floating brake pour quil m'intersse vraiment :heart:
Don't worry...they'll be adding one on. I just hope the floating arm is a little more solid compared to the BB7 one.
 

rigidhack

Turbo Monkey
Aug 16, 2004
1,210
1
In a Van(couver) down by the river
The two bikes I am looking at right now are an example of this debate in practice:
option 1: Specialized Enduro - big, BIG company. Great warranty, solid product.
option 2: Sinister Splinter - not so big company. Shorter warranty, solid product.
I have mentioned this before on RM, but my decision is now based on the customer service issue. (Both bikes feel "right" when I ride them.) My call is the Sinister because when I went to the local shops that sell the bikes (both options), neither had one in stock. Shop A (Specialzed dealer) said "no idea where you'd find one of those, unless you put a deposit on one and we can order it." Shop B (Sinister dealer) "I spoke with Frank, give him a call." Long story short, I called, spoke with him and FTW loaded a bike into his van and drove it to me for a test ride.

I'm just some joe off the street. Not a sponsored rider or anything. Still the owner of the company drove a bike to me to try out. I have all kinds of confidence in buying ANY of Sinister's products with CS like that.
 

rbx

Monkey
ChrisRobin said:
Don't worry...they'll be adding one on. I just hope the floating arm is a little more solid compared to the BB7 one.
If you have more specs about the frame could you please PM me as i have been trying to get every bit of info on that frame(availability,floating brake etc)

Did the appalche guys confirm the floater setup?

Thanks in advance :thumb:

Ok now back on topic :D
 

manhattanprjkt83

Rusty Trombone
Jul 10, 2003
9,166
595
Nilbog
rbx said:
The high end frame that i have my eyes on is an Ellsworth Dare :D

hey man a real good friend of mine has a brand new one just sitting around, im sure he will make you a killer deal on it...It has never been built...PM me.
 

mobius

Turbo Monkey
Jan 25, 2003
2,160
0
Around DC
You can't say the main thing about a high end manufacturer is the warranty. I have a giant DH team and i stripped out the top shock bolt out of my stupidity. I wasnt the original owner and giant sent me an 05 team front end with all new linkage, and bearings. I have a friend who broke his orange and it took him 2 months of haggling to get a frame.
 

leprechaun

Turbo Monkey
Apr 17, 2004
1,009
0
SLC,Ut
Funny i hear about Sinister here,i e mailed and called them 2 weeks ago and haven't heard from them.I want(ed) a Splinter but i allready found a different bike in the mean time.Any lurkers out there???

Oh and the Yetis i have are the 1st Taiwanese bikes i've owned and they have been good.Not Ventana/Foes/Yeti USA good but well worth the much lower cost of the bikes.I got the 2 yetis because they were both the exact bikes i was looking for,and happened to be Taiwanese and that made them affordable.They're not perfect and paint is just OK. My Foes bikes were the finest built bikes i have owned though.Not quite the finest i have ridden.Which is'worth' more? The one i 'like' the most (Yeti)