Wotcher – if you’re hiding indoors to get away from the scorching sun (or the thundery downpours!) then you’ll be pleased to know you’re in the in the best place to read about Pete’s experiences with XACD. Of all the people that have been in touch I think he’s had the most frames made by XACD, which means he should have some prime tips to pass on…
But really Pete – how many frames (and do your friends call you ‘Titanium Pete’)?
I have a long relationship with XACD, and have bought eight or nine frames from them over the years.
Having decided to treat myself to a titanium frame for a special birthday, I purchased an off-the-peg road frame. I think it cost around £250 delivered thanks to the favourable exchange rate at the time. Delivery was very prompt and Porter was courteous throughout.
The first frame was quite race orientated and not really suited to my riding style so I decided to go “custom”. With long legs and short torso, most frames are either too low at the front or too long in the top tube (or both). I looked at various manufacturers sites and settled on cloning a Van Nicholas Amazon with a few changes. Within 48 hours of sending a few measurements and angles to Porter a CAD drawing appeared – very impressive.
A few minor tweaks later the design was ready. It took about four weeks from payment to delivery, and soon I was riding a totally unique titanium bike and I was hooked!
Once you’ve popped you can’t stop that’s for sure and three (frames) really is the magic number! Tell us a bit more about your last frame, what were you looking for?
Of course, 100% satisfaction is very difficult to achieve, and over the years frames were changed as my ideas developed, and of the four current titanium bikes three of them are in their second or third incarnation. There are a number of very happy people who now ride titanium frames designed by me (and for me of course!).
The last frame I bought was in January 2012. The idea was to create a bombproof road bike to withstand everything that a British winter could throw at it. I already had a similar frame, albeit with long drop calipers, but wanted to go down the disc brake route. The frame was made to match the Kinesis disc fork and the rear axle was made to accommodate 29er wheels (Mavic 317 on XT). Note the down tube shape which improves stiffness over earlier frames. The build isn’t lightweight though as it features Avid mechanical discs and a Sora groupset (thumb shifters are ideal when wearing thick gloves).
The bike comes into its own on cold, wet days riding on broken up country lanes. It is such a comfortable bike. It gets serviced in the spring and stays unused all summer.
How do you find dealing with Porter’s (in)famous Customer Service skills?
I am not sure if “Porter” is the name of an individual, or a generic name for the sales team, but over the years I have built up a relationship with him/them. He can be abrupt at times, but I put this down to cultural differences and don’t worry about it. I have found that you have to be very precise and firm with him “Can you move the lower brake cable guide on the down tube 20 mm nearer the bottom bracket”, “Can you increase the seat stay brake bridge from 575 mm to 580 mm, please” etc.
They will simply follow your instructions to the letter, whether it works or not – you have to remember that it is ultimately your responsibility! If you haven’t responded within a couple of days you will get a “what’s going on?” email for sure – they are in the sales business after all.
Any problems at all with the frames that you had made – did you need to make use of any ‘warranty’?
There was an issue with a tight bottom bracket thread with a couple of frames but the local bike shop managed to fit the bottom bracket OK. They just mentioned it in passing when I collected the bikes.
I had an issue once with a frame damaged in transit, and although they tried to deny responsibility for a couple of days, they did collect, repair, and redeliver the frame for free.
You have to do a risk assessment of the possible things that might go wrong and decide how to deal with them. For example, if the frame cracks, how are you going to get it repaired? There are a couple of titanium frame repairers in the UK who should be able to sort it out for you.
Sounds like a happy customer there for sure, there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing a bike progress from idea to drawing board and finally become a physical object you can get on and ride. Pete certainly knows that feeling more than most! His choices have always been pretty sound and going custom makes great sense for someone who can’t get a good fit ‘off the peg’.
His latest frame seems full of good design choices including the shaped down tube, for extra rigidity, and practical rack mounts. The left hand seatstay/chainstay bridge isn’t 100% necessary, but equally it isn’t exactly doing any harm.
I’d also make sure that any heavy loads are carried on a proper rack rather than overfill a large saddle bag. There are cases of frames cracking around the seat tube/top tube junction where large seatpost loads have accelerated fatigue.
Have you had a frame custom made in the Far East that you’d like to share with others? Do drop me a line via the contacts page and maybe you’ll see it featured here too. You’ll be pleased to know that the bug is still with Pete and as you read this he should have taken delivery of a freshly tweaked model! I’ll leave the last word up to him:
I have four very comfortable bikes each based around a custom sized titanium frame. For the same money, I could have two “named brand” bikes that were not quite the geometry I wanted. I am very pleased with the choice I made.