Be your own brand.

How much did your bike cost then, Mister?

Someone pinged me recently with a question about costs – which made me realised that I’ve not updated the FAQ’s for years! Handily, another reader was happy to share his recent round of quotes after he approached Titan, Waltly and XACD with details of his latest project. I have to say the results were surprising…

‘Mr X’ (let’s call him) actually got a bit distracted while browsing the price lists and ended up ordering something very special indeed, hopefully more about that at a later date! But in the meantime let’s take a look at what he asked them to quote for.

X lives in a big city and seems to be rather unlucky about getting his bikes stolen! Which means that he’s tried quite a variety of machines over the last few years. His current mission is to build the ultimate urban commuter. Something that could be run as a single speed or with a belt drive. With modern bolt through dropouts and a tapered headtube. He even added an integrated seat mast (so the saddle mounts directly on top of an extended seat tube) and double butted tubing to save a little weight.

I am not made of money you know…

He’s already spent quite a bit of time (and coin) putting the parts together for his new project. This has influenced the way the frame was designed, which is a very sensible way of doing things. But on the subject of that frame, how much was it going to cost him? Time to email a few suppliers and find out.

They all got the same list of requirements, here are the costs they quoted: (inc delivery and payment charges)

Titan Product $750

Waltly $810

XACD $1,555

Whoa, that’s err, a bit of a difference!

Yup, XACD added nearly $1,000 for the extras! Here’s the breakdown of charges starting with a $555 frame….

FOB XI’AN USD555.00/set   1set  USD555.00

Extra costs of taper head tube:USD185.00

Extra costs of 142×12 dropout:USD95.00

Extra costs of integrated seat post:USD85.00

Extra costs of double butted tubes:USD100.00

Extra costs of opening system for the belt drive:USD85.00

Extra costs of ECC BB shell:USD95.00

Extra costs of internal cables routing for brake and gear:USD100.00

Extra costs of brush finish:USD50.00

Shipping costs(EMS express):USD165.00

Bank fee:USD40.00

Total:USD1,555.00

Plenty to digest there! I knew XACD charged extra for additional features but I didn’t know their initial pricing was so low. if you’re thinking about a standard design you could pick up a bargain!

XACD are also able to offer things that the others can’t do, double butted tubing for one. Although the actual weight saved with double butting is pretty minimal.

Their additional charges do look a bit arbitrary though and not really related to the cost of the additional work. Ripe for a bit of haggling perhaps?

I haggled with XACD as you suggested, via Alisa who is the ‘Sales Manager’ apparently, very nice and easy to deal with! She came down to $1350 from $1550.

Now that is interesting – even though the price didn’t come down much it’s the first I’ve heard of anyone other than Porter in the XACD sales department. If you find Porter too interesting to work with it might be worth asking for Alisa instead…

I asked how easy were the companies to deal with during the quoting process?

For friendliness and responsiveness, Amy at Waltly is superb, and their quote is competitive.

Naturally, like everyone else, I’ve found Porter a little challenging to deal with. If you take more than a day or two to respond to emails, you get another one saying he hopes you are not a time waster or someone ‘joking’ them…

People often ask me who they should chose to work with. I don’t really like recommending one company over another as I think it’s a very personal choice depending on what you’re looking for and who you get on best with. Mr X probably had the right idea in approaching all three to help him with his decision making. Who did he go with in the end? Well that’s a story for another day.

The next question, of course, is ‘what’s the safest way of sending payment to a supplier’? Someone else pointed out recently that PayPal’s buyer protection doesn’t extend to custom made items, so what should you do? Back in the day the only option I had was popping into my bank and paying £30 to arrange an International Money Transfer, compared to that PayPal looks a breeze!

I’m not aware of any current payment method that would give you cover in the event of something going wrong. You might just have to trust them!

Thanks to the power of the Internet these days any issues quickly become public so manufacturers tend to be helpful in trying to sort things out. No-one’s contacted me regarding a dispute with any of the main three suppliers, although I did get a preemptive email from one of them after a customer threatened to get in contact with me. In that case the customer had signed off on an ‘impossible’ bottom bracket; he didn’t know what he was asking for. The manufacturer offered him a half price replacement which I thought was fair.

Sooo… Paypal seems as good as way as any, mainly as it shouldn’t raise too many additional charges. Maybe if you used a credit card through Paypal? Hmm.

Enough for now, I’m off to work on the details of my latest project, which is exactly what you should be doing too!