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Thread: Firefly Bicycles

  1. #21
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    Default Re: Firefly Bicycles

    Brother I have read many questions on forums regarding your cost for bikes for a brand new company. Do you think you are taking a risk with pricing your frames at a level that might scare folks off when they compare it to other companies that have been established?

    I guess to boil it down, what makes a FF special for the price compared to say a Moots, Zank, Shamrock, etc.

    You guys have a great history at IF and I have always been excited about that, but how do you reach a customer without knowledge of all of the history you, Jamie, and Kevin share?

    Also why limit yourselves to stainless, when the cost (yours) and of the customer would be less for non-stainless. Giving a new, to your work, customer the option of riding a firefly at a lower cost.

    I think the folks who know you would pay what you want for your work, but what about those who do not?
    Dave Bradley...not the grumpy old Hogwarts caretaker "Mr. Filch" or the star of American Ninja 3 and 4.

    formerly "Mr.President"

  2. #22
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    Default Re: Firefly Bicycles

    We have run the numbers and have done the research and believe our pricing is reasonable given the experience we have, the quality of our work and the costs associated with producing our frames.

    What we need to do is to educate the customer about our history, give them confidence in our knowledge base and experience and we feel we are doing a good job at it so far. If they do their homework, as they should when buying a custom bike, they will be more than confident in our abilities and realize that our pricing is not out of line. Companies can be well established, as can individuals. A company's delivered product is a direct reflection of the individual makers that work there and the experience they have making what they make. Take the company (or brand for that matter) out of the equation and what you are left with is people.

    A less expensive steel option may be on the horizon, but not at the moment. When we feel that we can make them profitably, we will, and it will rule.

    Thank for the questions.

  3. #23
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    Default Re: Firefly Bicycles

    Hey Tyler:

    Way cool to see you getting up and running. And thanks for the shout out. I didn't realize that more than a few folks knew that along with the design work I did for Merlin back in the day, I kind of acted as an unofficial canary in the coal mine. Since I usually got frames from the downstream end of Merlin a few days before most of the dealers did, I was able to catch the issues that some of the systems were causing. Honestly, it frustrated us that we were even needed to make those calls back then. It was very rare that a problem caused any more than an annoyance, but it was still annoying. It seemed to me at the time that the folks doing the work were busting their tails in Cambridge at the time, but that they were not getting the support from the owners that they needed to properly set up QA systems or given the time to do proper QC. OK, OK, I'm getting to something here ...

    So, you've worked a huge amount of time in the highest end of high end bicycles. Really much of your life now. What systems, tooling, procedures, etc. do you feel are necessary to keep things coming out properly? Since it is very easy to not realize that a tool has worn beyond tolerance limits without either every piece measurement or some sort of tooling life tracking system, how do you plan on balancing full QC and a QA approach?

    As you know, this is a question that Merlin Cambridge never had the chance to fully answer. It's a shame since they had so much going for them. Again, congratulations to you guys. Your business plans sound really quite well thought out to me. Do what you do best in a manner that can actually work. And you don't seem to be biting off more than you can chew. Cool. Good luck!
    Tom Kellogg
    Rides bikes, makes 'em too.
    Spectrum-Cycles.com
    Butted Ti Road, Reynolds UL, Di2, QuarQ, Conour lite, SP Zero
    Steel Cross, X-7, Crank Bros, Concour Lite, Nemesis, Grifo
    Steel Piste, D-A Piste, PD-7400, Concour lite, Zipp 404
    http://kapelmuurindependent.be


    Shortest TFC Member (5'6 3/4") & shrinking

  4. #24
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    Default Re: Firefly Bicycles

    I don't know you guys, but I've been waiting for this Smoked Out since much speculation and commentary has been thrown around on the forums. Good luck, and from my perspective, your pricing is fine. If a frame coming from the same hands at one place was worthy of the price, then a similar frame from the same hands out of a different shop ought to be worth that same price.
     

  5. #25
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    Default Re: Firefly Bicycles

    Tyler, hope it didn't come off that I was questioning you about having a young gun on board.
    Kevin designed a friends IF right before He left IF and the bike suits the kid perfect.
    My lens is that I am 21 and trying to get my foot into a career in the bicycle industry.
    I appreciate the insight!

    David

  6. #26
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    Default Re: Firefly Bicycles

    Hey Tom,

    Quality control and quality assurance are important topics. If I have learned anything working at the high end in this industry, it is that mistakes don't cut it, and neither do sloppy tolerances and finish details.

    For tooling we set up a schedule to check tooling for accuracy, like a maintenance schedule. Frequency depends on many factors like delicacy of tooling, amount of adjustable parts on the tooling, whether or not the tool holds an edge (such as cutters and reamers), has the tool been dropped, etc.... For some tools we have redundant checkers that check the frame at different points during the process so if there is an issue and numbers don't match up you know one or the other tool is off, then we investigate.

    Measure it twice, and then have someone else measure it is also a good policy. Having someone else check your work is a really good and simple way to catch things before they get out into the world. If it is just a one person operation, then they should check things even more.

    Just before the bike ships out to a customer it needs one final inspection, the big one. Are the cable stops facing the right way, are the bridges at the right distances from the dropouts, are there any surface imperfections, are all of the threaded holes chased, do all of the options the customer requested on the original order match up to what you see in front of you.... The list goes on and on and varies from one bike to another depending on the individual details. But every detail is important as we (and you @ spectrum and a bunch of others here) are offering premium products that demand an honest attempt at perfection (or at least as close as we can get being humans and all...).
    Last edited by Tyler Evans; 03-07-2011 at 06:06 PM.

  7. #27
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    Default Re: Firefly Bicycles

    Tyler,

    Hi, we recently saw Kevin on his way through Hartford with Tim Johnson and my buddy locked in a Firefly Cross bike that night. Two questions: (1) what is the meaning of your avatar? (2) how would you distinguish a sale between your stainless and ti bikes since the prices points are almost the same? Thanks!
     

  8. #28
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    Default Re: Firefly Bicycles

    Riceburner,

    My avatar basically comes from my fascination with the signature (chop) used by Chinese calligraphers and artists to sign their work. I abstracted the letters that spell Tyler creating my own chop.

    As far as distinguishing the differences between titanium and stainless steel, that is tough, as the differences are subtle. They both have very similar material characteristics in terms of corrosion resistance, longevity and strength. The main differences would be in the ride quality. Being someone who has ridden both materials quite extensively I would say that although the differences are subtle, the stainless has a ride quality on par with a steel frame in terms of responsiveness and road feel where titanium has that snappy lively feeling that only titanium has. It really comes down to rider preference. We can also build a slightly lighter frame out of titanium.

    Right now we can build titanium frames that can accept the 44mm inset headset, whereas the tube to do that in XCr doesn't exist yet. We are working on that though.

    Thanks for the questions.

  9. #29
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    Default Re: Firefly Bicycles

    was staying in Boston a necessity for this project or more of a common factor in the ingredients? Does your collective choice in location have any other backstory other than what I imagine would be the obvious factors ?

    Thanks,

    -Erik
     

  10. #30
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    Default Re: Firefly Bicycles

    Erik, Staying in Boston was both a necessity for this project to get going as well as a common factor in the ingredients. Seeing as 2 out of the 3 of us own homes in Boston, that was a major factor in starting Firefly in the area. We also got really lucky with our location, surrounded by beautiful roads and one of the most extensive singletrack trail networks in the greater Boston area, literally right outside of our front door. Also, it rules here.

  11. #31
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    Default Re: Firefly Bicycles

    Quote Originally Posted by Tyler Evans View Post
    Erik, Staying in Boston was both a necessity for this project to get going as well as a common factor in the ingredients. Seeing as 2 out of the 3 of us own homes in Boston, that was a major factor in starting Firefly in the area. We also got really lucky with our location, surrounded by beautiful roads and one of the most extensive singletrack trail networks in the greater Boston area, literally right outside of our front door. Also, it rules here.
    Tyler I just found out I was a half mile from your shop on Saturday night; over at the SkyZone indoor trampoline park (91 Sprague) for my wife's 30th birthday. If you ever need to blow off some steam and unwind I highly recommend it. I haven't had that much fun in a LONG time.
    Anthony Maietta
    Web Site | Blog | Flickr
    "The person who says it can not be done, should not interrupt the person doing it."

  12. #32
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    Default Re: Firefly Bicycles

    As somebody previously mentioned IF profitability, how closely do you plan to track yours? Do you use Industrial Engineering and Accounting principles to define cost centers,standard routes,with identified fixed and variable costs? Do you track each built to order item against standard cost to identify variances in actual cost? Or do you just close the books on a quarterly basis and hope for the black? Your operation is very similar to textiles in many respects. A few raw materials which can be transformed into thousands of different end products. But at the end there's a unique twist with additional final assembly of components.

    Also what do you anticipate you warranty policy to be? Maybe stated on your site.

    This may be out in left field,but have you considered a holistic fitting where not only is the frame designed, but the customer cleats are check/adjusted, proper bars/stem selected, seat height and setback tuned. A "turnkey" ride. Maybe that's been done.

    Finally I like the name as I have a soft spot for the children's book "Gus and The Firefly".
     

  13. #33
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    Default Re: Firefly Bicycles

    Quote Originally Posted by anthonymaietta View Post
    Tyler I just found out I was a half mile from your shop on Saturday night; over at the SkyZone indoor trampoline park (91 Sprague) for my wife's 30th birthday. If you ever need to blow off some steam and unwind I highly recommend it. I haven't had that much fun in a LONG time.
    There's a nice fast left-hand downhill dogleg on Sprague St a few hundred feet south of there. More fun than a trampoline, even!
    GO!

  14. #34
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    Default Re: Firefly Bicycles

    Tyler,
    Just wanted to say congrats! It was great reading the bio, I've known you worked at these companies for 15 years or so, but it's really nice to read about your time and progression there. I wish you guys the best of luck, and I can't wait to come over and check out the shop!

    -Marty

  15. #35
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    Default Re: Firefly Bicycles

    Great story Tyler. I remember you from Mass Art (there weren't many of us who had real bikes). I had a purple Paramount bike. It's great to see an alumn making something so purposeful which embodies such a high level of craft and skill. I wish you the best of luck and much success with your lovely and elegant bikes.
     

  16. #36
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    Default Re: Firefly Bicycles

    Hello, I am Jamie Medeiros, the other co-founder of Firefly Bicycles, and a long time lurker in this fine forum. I would like to answer Rico's questions on finances. I am learning QuickBooks and studying books on small business accounting. We are tracking every transaction with QuickBooks and we are using the information to make decisions. Perhaps it will not be as rigid as using "Industrial Engineering and Accounting principles" to determine pricing but we will have all the data we can gather at our disposal.

    We are still ironing out our warranty policy.

    Our fitting is holistic, the numbers from our fit form are just a starting point in the fitting process. The bicycles we send out complete will be set up to the needs and tastes of the rider.

  17. #37
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    Default Re: Firefly Bicycles

    Quote Originally Posted by Brownbird View Post
    Hello, I am Jamie
    hey jamie - nice to see you here atmo.

  18. #38
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    Default Re: Firefly Bicycles

    Quote Originally Posted by Brownbird View Post
    Hello, I am Jamie Medeiros, the other co-founder of Firefly Bicycles, and a long time lurker in this fine forum. I would like to answer Rico's questions on finances. I am learning QuickBooks and studying books on small business accounting. We are tracking every transaction with QuickBooks and we are using the information to make decisions. Perhaps it will not be as rigid as using "Industrial Engineering and Accounting principles" to determine pricing but we will have all the data we can gather at our disposal.

    We are still ironing out our warranty policy.

    Our fitting is holistic, the numbers from our fit form are just a starting point in the fitting process. The bicycles we send out complete will be set up to the needs and tastes of the rider.
    Thank you for answering. It need not be as rigid or precise as large scale industrial applicaiitons but I think you're very smart collecting the data points. You don't need to make it overly complicated on a small scale. But you do need to know where the time/money is being spent. The reason I asked to begin with was the smart approach you are using to bundling tube sets from the suppliers. It impressed. As did eRichie when he stressed in earlier times a complete builder/business had to be responsible and carry liability insurance. And all that overhead needed to be taken into account when a price is being set.
    I also like your approach of limitting materials to stainless and Ti during inital operations. In software we often say you can't tune a system that doesn't run. Get it up and running and then tune and expand. You can waste a lot of time designing for imaginary scenarios that are ever going to happen in a real produciton environment. Again very smart to limit the product line and get the process and operations running smoothly.

    Thanks again for letting me watch and hope you are succesful.
     

  19. #39
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    Default Re: Firefly Bicycles

    Thanks Rico!

    Having been in the industry for quite a while, you can imagine the scenarios that have run through my head while welding or machining all day, for years on end (i.e. this jig could be better, I wish we did it this way instead, if only we had the time to....). Starting from scratch makes it almost easier to manage things in a way. Narrow everything down to the essence. Make inventory low and manageable. Buy everything with cash (actually money you have in the bank). Don't get into debt. Think ahead. Stay positive. Be confident. Have a plan. Be safe. Take educated risks. Talk to and encourage your friends. Strive for impossible perfection and the highest quality. Do what you can now and plan for the future. Make it worth your while. And above all: live within your means.

  20. #40
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    Default Re: Firefly Bicycles

    Congratulations on the new company. I've admired your welding and artistic vision and creativity through IF, and I know you guys will add something special to the custom bike world through Firefly.
    Best,

    John Caletti
    Caletti Cycles - www.caletticycles.com

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