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Thread: Spectrum Cycles

  1. #81
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    Default Re: Spectrum Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by progetto View Post
    Hi Tom,
    You've been around in the industry for a long time now, not sure of your age but think you could probably retire if you choose to. What keeps you motivated to continue to produce world class products and do you find it harder to maintain skill levels with age or does experience compensate? I was surprised to read that you are only a two man business, what will happen to Spectrum Cycles when you decide to retire?
    Bill
    Hey Bill:

    Thanks for some fascinating questions, really. I am 57 but retirement is not in the cards for some time for me. There are two main reasons; 1) I love most of the work I do here and the parts I don't like, I have to do in order to keep doing the stuff I love. 2) Doing things and making things that make others happy is the core of my motivation. Very few folks make more than a decent living as a frame builders, so we need something else to prevent us from making the big bucks on Wall Street. For some, it boils down to the pride they feel in doing things the best way they can. For others, pride in seeing their bikes ridden well. For me, the biggest thing is customers who live better and with more enjoyment because of the work we do. Sounds corny, but I have always been motivated by what others get out of me.

    So far, the age thing has all been a plus except for one thing. My bifocals need ot get upgraded every few years. Very close and detailed work is more difficult now. I need to use those big magnifiers with built in lights for some of the finishing work I do. Thats about it so far.

    When I hang it up? I suspect that I will always do some bicycle work, but at a slower and slower pace and once I am done, Spectrum simply goes away. I can't sell the business because without me and Jeff, it does not exist. Simple and depressing, but true. Thanks for asking.
    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


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  2. #82
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    Default Re: Spectrum Cycles

    OK folks, June and I are off for our 25th anniversary for a couple of weeks. I will be following up on the unanswered posts when we get back. If anyone has immediate questions, they can call Jeff at the shop at: 610-398-1986

    See Y'all
    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

  3. #83
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    Hey Tom,
    Thanks, I actually thought you may have been a little older as I got a book from a guy about 30 years ago called " Bicycle Frames" and it had some of your work in it back then. It was the thing that got me wanting to build my own frameset. Building frames for job and personal satisfaction doesn't sound corny at all. I've been building part time for about 20 years and definately don't build for the money ( but certainly couldn't do it for nothing ), I enjoy the thrill of manufacturing something with my hands and having someone getting enjoyment out of using and abusing said product. I do it in my spare time and have always wondered how full timers deal with the pressures of having to make it pay when everything these days seems to be " how much does it cost. " To me, with the quality of work I see on these pages, looking at some of the selling prices, a lot of the builders must be way under payed with the heavy costs of modern business overheads and the time and skillset that goes into each frame. I'm sure it's a fine line between how much is" enough or too much. "
    Enjoy your vacation. Bill
     

  4. #84
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    Hi Tom,

    I have a question about the engineering design side of things. As you stated, you don't really have an engineering background. I have always wondered, when you design a frame, especially a very non-standard size one, how much do you actually work with numbers and how much do you just go by experience, feel, and judgment? The numbers part would involve both the geometry of the frame and the properties of the materials you are working with. I can imagine a completely engineering based approach where the material properties are all quantified and the frame geometry is modeled mechanically (I assume somewhere in the Trek R&D labs such a fully CAD supported design environment must exist). I can also imagine a more experienced based approach where everything is just relative (stiffer here, looser there, a little steeper, etc). I assume you lean more on the experience side of things, but I was wondering how much you actually take the more numbers based stuff into account when you design. I would think you have to work out all the frame geometry numbers just so things fit, especially the components, but do you really work through all the torsional stiffness and modulus-of-this-and-that properties of the materials you are working with, or do you just sort of know where to go with it all based on experience? Along the same lines, how often do you "miss"? I can see how your experience is such that you can fine tune around an average design to get the desired result, but did you ever build something and find out that you simply didn't achieve what you were trying for?

    One more comment I want to add. Reading through the earlier posts, I was interested in your response about who can benefit from a custom frame. I need to say that regardless of all the material choice and frame geometry issues, your ability to fit a frame to a rider is still one of the most valuable aspects of choosing to go with a Spectrum. I rode stock frames for 20 years and never thought I was missing anything. After being fit for my Spectrum, I could not believe the difference. I now have many bikes in the family and I hop around to different ones now and then. Nothing produces the same "ta da" moment as when I get back on the Spectrum. Everything just comes together in a way no other bike has ever achieved for me. That's worth more than any frame material property.

    - Paul
     

  5. #85
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    Default Re: Spectrum Cycles

    Hey Tom,
    I finally made my way to this forum, been checking out all the Spectrum bike pictures and maybe, if I feel confident enough with the camera, I'll
    include some pictures of mine. Hope all is well with you, Jeff, and Colby (manager). :)
     

  6. #86
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    Default Re: Spectrum Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by progetto View Post
    Hey Tom,
    ... clipped... and have always wondered how full timers deal with the pressures of having to make it pay when everything these days seems to be " how much does it cost. " To me, with the quality of work I see on these pages, looking at some of the selling prices, a lot of the builders must be way under payed with the heavy costs of modern business overheads and the time and skillset that goes into each frame. I'm sure it's a fine line between how much is" enough or too much. "
    Enjoy your vacation. Bill
    Bill:

    Thanks. June and I had an amazing time in Italy. Folks are wonderful over there. As long as you try to speak a few words in Italian, they will launch right into English for you. Really, the best aspect of the trip was the fact that we were completely away from our careers and we did everything together. No bikes, no nursing, just two Americans in Italy trying to find their way around. Great.

    Pressure to make it work day in and day out; It seems to me that builders in the US have taken different routes to solve that puzzle. In fact, many have chosen routes that clearly have not worked. Those folks are no longer in the business. I have eventually taken the general route that most of the successful small builders have. Between a combination of logical business practices, consistent hard work and experience, we make it work. As you have read in other builders' Smoked sections, having a business plan that you carry out on a very consistent basis is key. One way or the other, we need to keep frames and bikes rolling out of here without big gaps. We do have challenges in this area because our business is somewhat more varied than many builders' are. We don't build one type of frame and have another shop do our finishing work. We do build our steel frames and finish them here ... soup to nuts. But we also do steel repairs and refinishing.

    Our titanium business is logistically more complex since we only design and finish our titanium frames. This means that I am doing a lot of coordination work to get frames designed and the design information down to Merlin and up to Seven. Because multiple companies are involved, keeping cash flow going at an appropriate pace does take somewhat more of my time. I need to contact customers at various points along the line for the required payments to arrive by the time that parts of the process need to be paid for. It isn't technically difficult, but it does require that I keep on top of things. If (or when) I let things slide, cash flow goes out the window. It isn't a balance sheet issue, but it surely can be a cash flow issue.

    Pressure? Yeah, sometimes. What it usually means is that instead of paying bills before they are due, I will end up paying a bunch right when they are due for a month before the cash flow catches up. I should say at this point that although I might sound on top of things around here, it is really a struggle for me to keep things running smoothly. I don't think that the business is unusual in that respect, but that I am just not very good at it. I'm not much of a business person. I know a lot of people who are super organized and effective at running a business ... it seems to be in their blood. Design and building is in my blood. Organization is not. It is more like getting blood out of a stone. I do it, but it is not natural. Helps?
    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


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  7. #87
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    Default Re: Spectrum Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by spin55x11 View Post
    Hi Tom,

    I have a question about the engineering design side of things. As you stated, you don't really have an engineering background. I have always wondered, when you design a frame, especially a very non-standard size one, how much do you actually work with numbers and how much do you just go by experience, feel, and judgment? The numbers part would involve both the geometry of the frame and the properties of the materials you are working with. I can imagine a completely engineering based approach where the material properties are all quantified and the frame geometry is modeled mechanically (I assume somewhere in the Trek R&D labs such a fully CAD supported design environment must exist). I can also imagine a more experienced based approach where everything is just relative (stiffer here, looser there, a little steeper, etc). I assume you lean more on the experience side of things, but I was wondering how much you actually take the more numbers based stuff into account when you design. I would think you have to work out all the frame geometry numbers just so things fit, especially the components, but do you really work through all the torsional stiffness and modulus-of-this-and-that properties of the materials you are working with, or do you just sort of know where to go with it all based on experience? Along the same lines, how often do you "miss"? I can see how your experience is such that you can fine tune around an average design to get the desired result, but did you ever build something and find out that you simply didn't achieve what you were trying for?
    Paul:

    Thanks for your question(s). I think that it all boils down to the following answer: Yes. I know, I'm being cute, but it really does. Once I had about ten years in at designing, I had learned enough of the engineering side of things to be able to really integrate that knowledge into the feel side of design. I didn't have any formal engineering in school but I did learn what I have needed of geometry, trigonometry, algebra, etc. in middle school. All of the engineering knowledge came from experience and research over the years. So if I feel I need to increase the torsionally rigidity of the front end of a frame a certain amount over " stock," I now can simply run the numbers in order to figure out how much to increase wall thickness, increase diameter, change tube profiles, etc. to get where I need to go. So I am starting with a "feel" base point and I am using engineering to change from that known characteristic by a measurable amount.

    Taking a completely numbers based approach to design can't work. Without the experience of frame design developed over the past century and our own experience riding all sorts of bikes, we simply would not be in a position to use all the engineering power available to us. Asking an engineer to understand how a bike rides, feels and works under a range of circumstances without their actually having experienced it is asking the impossible.

    This explains why most of the bikes coming from the really big companies get better only when their engineers listen to their testers (pro teams). A number of years ago, Company "S" started sponsoring a Pro team with bikes we will call the "Asphalt." Many of us who had ridden an Asphalt before the sponsorship deal knew that it was pretty much impossible to get one of those bikes around a corner at anything close to serious race speeds. Within a few weeks of the pro team receiving their new bikes, they had new forks on them and Company "S" introduced "new and improved" geometry in the next model year. It takes an integrated approach. K?

    Quote Originally Posted by spin55x11 View Post
    One more comment I want to add. Reading through the earlier posts, I was interested in your response about who can benefit from a custom frame. I need to say that regardless of all the material choice and frame geometry issues, your ability to fit a frame to a rider is still one of the most valuable aspects of choosing to go with a Spectrum. I rode stock frames for 20 years and never thought I was missing anything. After being fit for my Spectrum, I could not believe the difference. I now have many bikes in the family and I hop around to different ones now and then. Nothing produces the same "ta da" moment as when I get back on the Spectrum. Everything just comes together in a way no other bike has ever achieved for me. That's worth more than any frame material property.

    - Paul
    Thanks. Your experience is pretty common. You had been riding a long time and in fact, you were a happy rider. You did just fine on stock bikes. But you could have been happier. You just didn't know it. I gotta' say though, it doesn't always work. Back in the late '70s, I built a very cool custom bike for a guy which I thought would be the bee's knees. That was one of those learning experiences. It has been a long time, years since I made a significant mistake in designing a frame. The last big one was when I made the mistake of believing that a bike shop had measured a customer's bike in the manner that they said they did. That cost us a frame. Take care.
    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

  8. #88
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    Default Re: Spectrum Cycles

    Found this on Bikyle:

    Note on Merlin supply: As you probably know, carbon fiber is the hot new material in cycling frames. And though there are many so-so carbon frames available there surely are some very fine ones. Titanium, however, still serves as the standard in dependable, durable, and comfortable frames for dedicated long term use. So, it's very unfortunate that Ti frames have dropped significantly in popularity. Nonetheless, American Bicycle, the parent company of both Merlin and Litespeed titanium frames is facing the current situation by suspending Merlin production while concentrating all of their Ti production on their Litespeed models. Therefore, the following frames constitute the complete list of our currently available Merlin titanium frames, the Ti frames we firmly believe are the finest made and best riding of all time. If you can't find a good fit with the available Merlin frames then please contact us for the latest information on Litespeed Titanium. Thankfully, much of Merlin's cutting edge innovation has been transferred to Litespeed.

    I've been wanting to get a spectrum for a while, so Tom if you could let me know how/if this affects you and future Spectrum Ti frames I'd appreciate it. Are the tubesets available to you going to change, different people doing the construction and welding, processes, Q/A, etc, or is this all transparent to customers and nothing changes? Also, you alluded to Seven's involvement above in your process for Ti frames, so could you expand on that? Thanks very much.
     

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    Quote Originally Posted by MadRocketSci View Post
    I've been wanting to get a spectrum for a while, so Tom if you could let me know how/if this affects you and future Spectrum Ti frames I'd appreciate it. Are the tubesets available to you going to change, different people doing the construction and welding, processes, Q/A, etc, or is this all transparent to customers and nothing changes? Also, you alluded to Seven's involvement above in your process for Ti frames, so could you expand on that? Thanks very much.
    Good catch. I was wondering how long it would take for someone to notice that. Actually the cat has been out of the bag for a while now. Here's the short form; We here at Spectrum design our titanium frame sets, send AutoCAD drawings and material order sheets to Merlin (ABG), they produce the materials "kit," and send that kit up to Seven. In the mean time, I send the same AutoCAD file up to Seven along with a copy of the materials list. All this E-mailing has a purpose; clarity. With both companies working from the same design files, we can easily confirm all of the materials and design aspects of each frame. Once everything is up at Seven, they fabricate the frames and send them down to us in a raw condition. We then do the finishing work here, just as before.

    Besides a bit more shipping, the only significant difference in the process from before is that I now do all the mechanical drawing. The guys in Engineering down at Merlin used to do my drawings for me. A typical drawing takes me about three hours. Since they are each full fabrication drawings, I can't do simple drawings like those generated by Bike CAD. Seven needs to know exactly what we want including locations of weld-ons, head tube extensions, riv-nut holes, etc. ABG needs to know tube gauges, butt lengths, taper angles and lengths, forming shapes, engraving locations, etc. There is a lot to it.

    The reasons that we are doing a somewhat convoluted process here for sourcing our Ti frames is are that ABG no longer wants to be in the custom frame business (but still is happy providing materials) and Seven is happily in their element building custom frames. I have known the folks at Seven from the earliest days at Merlin. As many know, they are an extraordinarily well run company with a huge amount of experience in just the things that we need them for. Seven surely does not need our business, they are doing just fine as it is. And we won't be having much of an effect on their volume since we are very small compared with them. In any case, I am very happy with the new arrangement. It appears that we will be turning around Ti frames a bit faster now mostly because Seven's shop was set up from the get-go as a custom shop. They have always done one piece batch building and have a very smooth operation.

    The final result isn't different from what we have been doing for many years now. Same materials, fabricated in a somewhat cooler climate now.
    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


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    Default Re: Spectrum Cycles

    Do you still keep in touch with Danny Clark ?
     

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scheisserad61 View Post
    Do you still keep in touch with Danny Clark ?
    Boy, I haven't talked to Danny in years. Last I heard, he was doing some Masters racing, making things hard for the older set.
    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

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    Hey Tom,
    I raced with Danny a couple of months ago in the Grafton to Inverell, Australias toughest one day classic. He wiped the floor with everyone in his grade, not just old folk but young bucks too, 228 km of tough terrain including the gibralter range,18 km @ 7%, not bad for a track rider. He's still kickin arse every weekend in crits on the Gold Coast as well, definately a legend.
    Bill
    Progetto Cycles
     

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    What a great response from Progetto - Thanks !

    Hey Tom - one last question : Why do Euro Six-Day bikes have such slack seat tube angles ? Is it just the length of the events or something to do with the G-Forces on short & steep tracks ?


    Thanks !
    Mike
     

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    Mike:

    Excellent question. I first encountered this odd thing (seemed odd at the time) when I was building the bikes for the Panasonic Shimano track team. The management brought Patrcik Sercu over for some event, as I recall at Northbrook. He sent his geometry numbers over about a month before the event and I built the frame. I had never heard of a 72 degree seat angle on a track bike. I never met Patrick, so I never got the chance to ask him what was up with his numbers. Then when the team's management hired Danny Clark to ride for the team during his summers off from riding the six-day circuit, I got a real education. Danny spent a few summers in a row here and he changed the way that a lot of us trained and thought about riding and racing.

    Near the end of the '80 season when he was planning to move back to Europe, he asked me if I would make him a real six-day frame. We talked a bit about what he needed on the European indoor circuit, what he liked and didn't like about his old bikes. His biggest concerns were bottom bracket alignment and toughness. He believed that poor BB alignment was the cause of some of his knee problems in seasons past and since he knew that he would crash hard a number of times each season, he wanted a frame that would hold up to the abuse. The geometry was easy since he knew the numbers that he needed. So I built the frame with a combination of Columbus PS and some heavy gauge 531 main tubes. The frame was NOT light, but it lasted him longer than any frame had ever lasted before or since. He got through the first season with a Pro Gold in the Keirin Worlds and six (I think) six-day wins. The next year, he won the worlds again on the same bike(after I repainted it) and some more six-day wins. Then Danny had his big crash. He broke his hip and his season was over. His recovery took a long time and the frame was finally toast. During the time he had that frame he told me htat he had six pretty bad crashes and the frame had to be realigned three times. He got his money's worth out of it. I figured that the frame cost him about 65 bucks per six-day win.

    Now to your question. I don't know if it is just the same now, but back when he was in his prime, most of the time he spent in those six-days was during the chases. These were the Madison races held during two sessions (usually) a day with two chases each and a few other events mixed in between the chases. One of the biggest problems that those riders had was simple fatigue. No surprise that, but the successful ones figured out that they could save energy for the later days and later chases if they could get some of the weight off of their arms. The more rear set position does put more pressure on the sits bones, but Danny and most of the other old timers found that it made a big difference when the hours of chases got really long late at night. He told me once that it took him a few years of six-day racing to get the position to be as fast as a more typical forward saddle position is for most track riders. Back when he was racing at T-town we loved watching him wind up the final sprint of the night. He seemed to never move his hips or upper body at all. Just power from the saddle. He didn't look like a sprinter, but the pure sprinters could never get around him. That's how he won his gold metals in the worlds. The best six-day riders aren't quite as fast as the best sprinters, but they have a lot of power. Once they train themselves to make power and speed from a rearward position, they become very efficient.
    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


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    Default Re: Spectrum Cycles

    ...and that's why he is Tom Kellogg.
    I love reading and learning from the master.

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    Thanks Josh. But it's just a result of age and being lucky to be in the right places at the right times.

    Just an additional tid-bit about Danny. He used to train in the summer with wool tights on. We thought he was nuts. (in fact we were on to something there ...) But anyway. The idea of wearing the tights was to increase superficial vascular flow. I don't know if it made him faster, but he had a set of superficial veins to beat all. His legs looked like crazy road maps, covered by veins. My guess is that he did have an advantage during races in hot weather. He could cool himself more efficiently. Of course the training technique could have just been one of those old wive's tales as well. The guy was fun and he made for lots of great stories. Christ, I'm getting old!
    Last edited by Tom Kellogg; 12-13-2010 at 09:40 AM. Reason: Typo
    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

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    Thanks again Tom for being open to sharing some of your hard-won knowledge !
     

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    this is good reading!
     

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    Thumbs up OK, now I'll make it official, everyone is back working together

    Both Merlin (now ABG) and Seven Cycles have their hands in producing our titanium frames.

    A few months ago, ABG decided to stop building custom frames altogether and concentrate their titanium efforts only on production Litespeed frames. The news put a big lump in my throat since there are things that ABG can do that are very difficult to find anywhere else. As it turned out, my fears were completely unfounded. ABG is happy to continue supplying us with all of the materials that we have always had access to.

    And this is where Seven Cycles comes in. I've known and worked with the founders of Seven since their days at Merlin. Going forward, Seven will fabricate our titanium frames with materials that ABG supplies. This sounds a bit convoluted, but it actually makes a lot sense. There is enough tooling and programming in place at ABG dedicated to our frames that it would be quite expensive for Seven to tool up to produce our frame materials themselves.

    I want to publicly thank the folks at ABG who have made this transition possible for us; Peter, Jeff, Brad and Tres.

    And working with my old friends at Seven again has been nothing less than wonderful. Rob, Jennifer, Matt and Skip have been very accommodating and professional. Always keeping me up to date with shop procedures and delivering what they promised.

    The hardest part of the transition for me is that I no longer have someone in the Engineering Department at ABG doing my AutoCAD drawings for me. I have to do them all myself now.

    So, the best of both worlds; materials that I am accustomed to produced to the exact specs that I want and frame builders who are as good as it gets. Boy, I feel right at home.

    So, Happy New Year and thanks for reading.
    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


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  20. #100
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    3,768
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    Default Re: OK, now I'll make it official, everyone is back working together

    I profess ignorance and thought you were all inclusive and made all your own steel & ti frames in that cool barn of yours?

    Where do those incredible paint jobs get done?

    Is your biz model more of a focus on design/fit, and the fab work & materials are outsourced? Or do you do some fab work yourself?
     

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