Anyroad up, never mind about the merch’ I guess we should get back to the bikes, eh?
Ari’s from Finland and wanted to share his custom cyclocross frame with us that he had made by Waltly. He was after a real dual purpose machine that he could use for commuting but also cyclocross racing if he wanted to later. For future proofing it had to be able to run both v-brakes and disks, as well a have mounts for mudguards and a rack. As he often carries a rucksack he was also looking for a more upright position that didn’t stretch him out too far to save his back:
Over to Ari to take up the story:
I picked a frame from their Alibaba site as the “backbone” of the bike and told them which modifications I wanted to make. I used my road bike to figure out the dimensions since their geometry charts didn’t have the shorter top tube I was looking for. I spent almost month sending e-mails back and forth to Waltly to get the drawing just right, but they were really patient and Jenny was a pleasure to deal with.
Sandblasting is their standard finish but I decided to go for the brush finish instead as it looks smarter and is easier to maintain with a little polishing.
Also I arranged the shipping a bit differently as I have a friend who visits China regularly, Jenny phoned the hotel where he was staying and arranged for my frame to be sent there directly. Everything went very smoothly, I didn’t have to pay any import tax and shipping was only $20.
I really recommend dealing with Jenny, she will get things done and is very polite compared to Porter. She even declined the tip I offered her for the extra work involved with my special delivery! I did initially approach XACD but communicating with Porter was a real pain in the ass and I’m sure the shipping wouldn’t have been taken care of as well as Jenny did it.
I did wonder if Ari had any concerns about the manufacturing of his frame as Waltly have had a few issues in the past?
I had Waltly post pictures of the BB-shell and headtube before final payment since I had heard that those can be easily ovalized if too much heat is put into the tubes during welding. When it came to putting the bike together though everything was fine, in terms of quality it’s like a boutique frame.
It was also a nice surprise to find that they’d sent me a TI seat tube clamp for free too!
The finished product was just as I planned, I’m very pleased with the frame and I wouldn’t do anything differently, it’s perfect!
Result all round there I say – it sounds like Ari was very pleased with the frame he received and with the excellent customer service from Jenny too. It’s always good to hear of positive experiences where companies are willing to be flexible.
As far as Ari’s frame goes I don’t think I can offer many pointers as it seems perfect for what he was looking for. While the current fashion is for disk brakes on everything it’s refreshing to see how clean and minimal lightweight v-brakes look, although Ari always has the option to add disks later. He’d just need to pop some adapters on the top tube cable guides to fix the hose to – or do something slightly more drastic like drill them out!
Given the height of the handle bars I might have suggested going with a slightly longer headtube and shorter seat tube with a more aggressively slopped top tube to match. Although that would have changed the ‘look’ of the frame quite a bit – and it’s mainly a personal aesthetic point rather than anything practical.
I was intrigued by some of the shaping that Waltly put into the tubing, especially on the down tube. Ari assures me that it was just standard on the frame he ordered, it might not add much structurally but it looks pretty funky and it’s interesting to see what they can do.
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.