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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Custom Studio Build #1

This year I decided to try something new with my "demo" bike fleet.

Generally, manufacturers work with their retailers in the late summer and fall to plan what bikes and how many the retailer wants to have on the floor that year.  Most manufacturers (especially the big guys) require very large orders, and offer terms or a grace period before full payment of the inventory is due.  I am extremely fortunate to work with custom builders who understand intimately the needs of a Studio my size.  

My studio works on a different business plan then most (larger) shops.  I am not about selling a whole bunch of stock bikes -- in fact I don't really sell but a couple the entire year.  Almost all of the work I do is full custom, and as such, it doesn't pay to have 20 stock bikes laying around as inventory or demos.  

In past years, I have picked a couple of common sized bikes of varying "bling" between the builders i use and placed an order with a good parts build and one of the basic paint schemes.  This has served me well.  The bikes I order, represent the builders well (which is the point after all) they look great, and I can sell them pretty readily throughout the year.

This year I thought of really making each of my floor bikes unique.  Custom paint.  Better kit.  Better grouppo.  Better wheels.  I even steered away from the "stock" size that these builders provide for floor model bikes and customized the geometry in a way that I have found fits a wider range of individuals better -- especially in my market.

So with that in mind, here is what my first "Custom Studio Build" looks like:

Here is a breakdown:

  • Custom sized Seven VII in "Cue Ball White" paint, bare carbon decals, and raspberry hibiscus accents.  Custom Seven 5E fork (rake matched for geometry, of course).

  • SRAM Red group, except for Force substitutes in the brakes and the front derailleur.  Compact crank with an 11-26 Red cassette.
  • Oval Concepts R910 Aergo road bar, matching Oval Concepts stem, and r900 carbon seat post
  • DT Swiss Mon Chasseral 1450 wheels
  • Alpha Q carbon water bottle cages
I can't say enough about the frame.  It is clean and precise.  Every bike I have ever gotten from the good folks at Seven has been flawless.  The paint is exacting, and it is 100% ready to build right out of the box -- I like that.

I am a big fan of the SRAM Red, but I have started doing the Force substitution  on the brakes, for a modest cost improvement, and no compromise on function, and the front derailleur --again for a modest cost reduction, and the fact that I think the Force front derailleur is a little snappier in it's shifting.  Possibly due to it's aluminum and steel rather than aluminum and titanium construction.  

Weight penalty for the derailleur?  1 oz.

The DT Swiss Mon Chasserals may be one of the best deals out there.  The wheels are light (1450g), strong, and have the most bomb-proof hubs in the world.  Included in the cost are padded wheel bags and DT Swiss' RWS skewers.  Best of all, they're assembled right here in Grand Junction, Colorado.

The Oval Concepts kit is a relatively new addition here at the Studio.  I like the ergonomics of the Aergo handlebar, and the strong feel of the stem.  The reverse bolts are a mild pain in the butt to get some wrenches on, so on-the-ride adjustments could be tedious.  Really the only thing I took issue with is the complete lack of instructions or torque settings.  I don't appear to be the only person to belly-ache about this, as I found a few fellow sufferers during a quick Google search.  If a bar manufacturer  REQUIRES the use of their stem to maintain the warranty on the ($365) bar (which Oval Concepts does) then torque settings (at least!) should be supplied.

The bike turned out great -- I couldn't be happier.  At a recent Open House, this bike garnered much "oohing" and "aahhing" in the gallery.  I don't think it is long for the sales floor.

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