Be your own brand.

Johnny’s custom Newsboy road frame by XACD (and how to work with Porter!)

Johnny contacted me back in April as he was looking for something a bit different and had approached XACD for a Newsboy style road frame. His order didn’t go quite as smoothly as some so I thought it would be a good one to share with the rest of you.

Looking for something a bit different? Try Johnny’s unique custom Newsboy road frame from XACD.

 

I’ll hand over to Johnny to take up the story:

Finally received my custom ti newsboy road frame from XACD after waiting 12 weeks. Aside from the rear brake bridge not welded in at the right angle the frame looks very good overall. XACD were willing to fix the problem but it will cost me more time & money to send it back.  I fixed the rear brake problem by installing an extra long rear brake caliper. Built it up with an old Campy Chorus 10sp carbon group and Nucleon wheelset. Weight came out to 18.98 lbs.

Johnny had been promised a 4 week delivery when he placed his order, but it took three times as long to arrive! Porter seems to have a stock answer of  ‘4 weeks’ whenever anyone asks, although both frames I had made took around two weeks. Checking some recent forum posts XACD seem to have been struggling with delivery lately, with various reasons being given ranging from a factory move to electricity rationing reducing their working hours!

Without being able to pop over and check I guess we’ll have to take their word for it, but it’s worth taking Porters delivery times with  a pinch of salt…

I can see how the problem with the rear brake mount arose, the issue there is the shallow curve of the stays in relation to the wheel. The drawing shows the brake mount being at 90 degrees in relation to the wheel, I think if it had been put in at this angle there could have been problems with the calliper fouling the frame. The guy welding it compromised by putting the brake mount hole on a tangent to the seat stay, which is how you’d normally do it. It’s lucky that Johnny found a long drop caliper that would fit but I can understand the frustration. On this type of frame it might even be worth looking at mounting the rear brake under the chainstays, by the bottom bracket, as some time trial bikes have.

 

Swoopy and curvy, check out the placement of the rear brake mount though – would it have fouled the frame at this angle?

 

XACD can be difficult to work with and I’m not very happy with their customer service skills. Originally I ordered a regular diamond style frame but saw that they make a cruiser/newsboy type frame, which I’ve always wanted, so I asked them to change it. They were not happy when I made the style switch and instead of being grateful that they get a new customer and receive an order they charged me $100 for switching. I originally ordered a ti seatpost too so I told them they can cancel the seatpost and subtract that amount from the total money I sent them.

I also can’t get a straight answer from them about the delivery delays after they told me it will be delivered in 4 weeks after they received payment. They started sending me spam emails (from four different email accounts) after not responding over one weekend when I was out of town.

They also would not admit that they made a mistake regarding the brake bridge. They are however are willing to fix it but for me it’s not worth the extra money to ship it back and the wait. I was just happy I received the frame.
I think Johnny raises some excellent points about working with XACD there. It might be a cultural thing, or it could just be that Porter’s a bit on the direct side, but XACD certainly have their own brand of Customer Service. It reminds me of when I used to live in London there was a Chinese restaurant known as ‘Wonkees’ which was famous for it’s rude waiters but was always packed as people were amused by the ‘alternative’ service!

During my dealings with Porter he’s been nothing but helpful and efficient, but from other people’s experiences it looks like there are two things in particular that seem to set him off:

  • Changing an order part way through, or going all the way through designing a frame without then placing an order. I can see why this might be a problem for Porter – CAD engineer time costs money and he won’t want to see too much work done without any payback. The best way around this is to make sure you’ve done your homework beforehand and have as fully formed an idea of what you’re looking for before you contact XACD. Even with my second frame I went through three drawing revisions to get exactly what I was looking for.
  • Saying something is wrong with your frame or that other people have had problems or found fault with XACD frames. This seems to put him on the defensive backfoot and he might get a bit annoyed – even if he’s in the wrong. The important thing to do here is to stay calm, give evidence and say what you would like to happen to fix things. In this case Johnny can show that the brake mount doesn’t match the drawing and at least he got Porter to agree on getting the angle fixed better if the frame was returned. As Johnny points out – whether it’s worth the postage to get that done is up to you.

Another point on the spam email from multiple accounts thing – he did the same to me. I think if he doesn’t hear from you for a little while he’s worried that the email hasn’t got through so he tries sending it again from other email addresses just to make sure!

Looking at the rear brake more closely you can see how tricky it’s going to be to get the angle right. Too far and the calliper’s going to hit the frame…

But let’s get back to the bike!

On the good side the frame rides nice and is definitely a looker. It’s not the lightest but it rides sweet. Not as snappy as my Cannondale Supersix but not a slug either. Stable descender and not twitchy in the front end. It’s hard to explain but titanium has that magical ride which enable it to soaks up road vibration differently than my Supersix, FM015 and Chinarello carbon bikes.

If I was going to do it again, I would go with an IS internal headset headtube, BB30 bb shell, and maybe eliminate the top tube and just run the two seatstays all the way to the head tube.

I think I’d agree with Johnny’s summary there, doing something to follow a ‘look’ is always going to risk it weighing more than a classic double diamond frame. But what you do end up with is something unique that you won’t find anywhere else – which is why people like us start talking to XACD in the first place.

The idea of taking the top tube out and running the stays to the head tube sounds like a good one. It would keep the overall lines of the frame very similar while taking out some useful weight and having a minimal effect on the strength. You could also then use the stays to run the cables through to the rear brake and derailleur.

Double butting the remaining downtube, seat tube and maybe head tube would also be worth doing to shave a little more weight off. I’m pleased that Johnny finally managed to get his design built and was happy with the way it rode. It sounds like ‘Mark II’ is already on the way so it’ll be interesting to see how that turns out…

Have you had a frame made by XACD? If so I’d love to hear about it and maybe feature it in the Gallery so drop me a line via the contacts page.