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Thread: Vertigo Cycles

  1. #21
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    Default Re: Vertigo Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by VertigoCycles View Post
    I used all the same cleaning techniques that were working for me on ti and I kept getting flash rust while I was welding it out. I had no idea why at the time but switching from a stainless filler rod to ER70 fixed the problem.
    ER70 fillers have other alloying elements, such as manganese and silicon. The manganese (I think) acts as a de-oxidant, allowing for better weldability over dirty or rusty base metal.
    Eric Doswell, aka Edoz
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  2. #22
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    Default Re: Vertigo Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by edoz View Post
    Sean, I love seeing your work as well. Everything is always so neat and clean, and you have some good ideas. Speaking of your possible move, how rooted in your locality are you, and do you think moving back east would change anything as far as clientèle or the flavor of your brand? Or, do you think Vertigo is Vertigo no matter where the shop is?
    Thanks so much Eric. I do like things neat and clean...design by subtraction.

    First, "brand" is weird word for me. I see and understand the value of branding and I'm impressed by folks who do it well but I've kept it at arms length and put off any attempt at branding whenever I have the opportunity. One of these days I'll cave and will follow through with friends who have offered to help out in that area but for now, I'm totally satisfied with keeping it loose and goofing with my customers with the odd pop-culture character on the head tube.

    I don't think Vertigo is tied to any specific location. I could do this anywhere as long as my wife and daughter are satisfied with where we live. Other than flailing at the cross races around here from time to time I don't have ties to the local race scene and on the odd occasion when I have time to get out for a mountain bike ride, I don't see to many people to chat up. I have a feeling that moving back to the DC area could be a short term boon to my business just because of the frequency of riding opportunities there and the exposure potential of being out there three or four times a week. I rode almost every day I was out there last month and met new people on every ride (met a guy wearing one of your jerseys at the Watershed). As far as my clientèle goes, they're pretty spread out. This is the biggest year for me for local orders but it still only makes up less than 20% of what I'll build.
    Sean Chaney
    www.vertigocycles.com
    a peek behind the curtain

  3. #23
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    Default Re: Vertigo Cycles

    Sean,
    Is your pricing structure based on how much you feel your product is worth, how much you need to make to pay yourself to be a framebuilder or is it a formula? From the looks of your website (which might need updating) you are not charging enough for your bikes. The stuff you are doing is done by few and that means you should charge accordingly. Do you put the stuff you chuck in the trash into a price IF it is while doing something they requested and you said "only if I can do it and feel good about it".

    2nd question. Here in Philadelphia we have a small community but some of us make a huge effort to be very close friends. For example we have a monthly meeting that is actually a get together revolving around food and loved ones. It is less of a framebuilders thing and more of a social thing. Who do you if anyone spend time with? Matt at Signal seems to be one of your buddies?

    Missed meeting you in person at Richmond.

    Cheers,
    Drew
    Drew Guldalian
    Engin Cycles
    www.engincycles.com

  4. #24
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    Default Re: Vertigo Cycles

    My site definitely needs an update but before that can happen, I truly need to take the time to take shots of finished builds. Frames usually go from getting the finishing touches to getting wrapped for boxing while it's still in the stand...ties in with the branding & marketing thing.

    I haven't considered my pricing for quite a while but I think it's fair for the market. The base frame starting at $2800 with straight gauge and then there are a la carte options from there. I feel that all of the options are priced fairly based on setup time and risk. Practically nothing ends up in the bin anymore save for the odd piece of 6/4 that wants to eat a tap. It's also rare that I have a first time fabrication project on a customer bike with one notable exception for a repeat customer. I'm of the opinion that experimentation is best done on "in the family" bikes so I can work out the process, learn what the potential pitfalls might be (time sinks and tolerance issues) and then come up with a price based on the time/materials/risk involved. I realize that I can also say, "no" and I'll usually recommend another builder if I think the request is in line with what the customer wants. All that said, my pricing is also reflective of supply and demand. This is the first year that I'm truly working at the limits of my capacity to build. If I get enough orders that I'm planning a year out, it's time to raise prices to control the demand. What I really want to do, is to try to sell more complete bikes and I'm not entirely sure about how to go about that without putting a lot of pressure on my customers. There's an involved side discussion in this, about what Litespeed did to the ti frame market by introducing budget ti 15 years ago. Then the budget price point competition that cropped up with Performance, Habanero, Motobecane etc...how that interrelates to grey market mail order component suppliers.

    I do consider Matt to be a good buddy, as are most local builders of the same "coming out" era. A couple of years ago we were all getting together with some regularity but not so much since some of our families grew. I'm sure we'll all get back into a social groove sooner or later.

    I missed meeting you too. I can't tell you how much I was looking forward to that trip without the pressures of exhibiting. Weather got the best of me then but I'll see you in Austin next year.
    Sean Chaney
    www.vertigocycles.com
    a peek behind the curtain

  5. #25
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    Default Re: Vertigo Cycles

    Sean,

    I feel your concerns over the pricing and I think it is something many of the builders in our "generation" will be facing over the next few years. This topic has come up in a few previous threads where the new builders who come onto the scene low ball pricing to get orders; which undermines the builders who have been constructing for years and years. I feel like raising prices is really a chicken/egg conversation, but it requires a blind faith jump at some point. Do you raise prices when you have a lot of orders, or do you receive a lot of orders when you raise your prices. There is no doubt market perceptionin relation to price is invloved with some of our customers. While Richard's frames are truly expceptional, I imagine there are people out there who think they are even more exceptional because they are $4000 (right now). The fear for example, I would imagine on your end, would be that if you rasied you price from $2800 to $3200 you would lose customers. When in fact, you may get a few more because of a perception that your frame is better because it costs more. The foundation of this reply is that the quality of work, amongst the people I cite in my generation of builders, is progressing to the point where price increases are logical. I reckon that a customer purchasing a frame from a builder with 4-5 years of experience is a pretty good value; like a pro sports team with a rookie who has matured and on the last year of their first contract. I don't mean to insult the discerning eye of many well-informed customers (i.e. a lot of people here), but I feel there is a large chunk of the customer base that this reply touches.

    Tony
    Anthony Maietta
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    "The person who says it can not be done, should not interrupt the person doing it."

  6. #26
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    Default Re: Vertigo Cycles

    Hey Sean,

    From conversations we've had as well as some of the above comments, I get they idea that you'd prefer to put your effort and $'s into frames as apposed to website/advertising. Is that true?

    It sounds like you're plenty busy, and that the tactic of "make cool shit and people will find you" is working out. What's your most effective way of gaining visibility, and is there anything you feel like you're missing the boat on?

    - Ben
     

  7. #27
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    Default Re: Vertigo Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by VertigoCycles View Post
    M
    I haven't considered my pricing for quite a while but I think it's fair for the market. The base frame starting at $2800 with straight gauge and then there are a la carte options from there. I feel that all of the options are priced fairly based on setup time and risk.
    $2800 for the base level Ti frame is very fairly priced; at least based on my knowledge of the current market. Should be good for your customers and offer a sustainable margin for your business.
    "It's better to not know so much than to know so many things that ain't so." -- Josh Billings, 1885

    A man with any character at all must have enemies and places he is not welcome—in the end we are not only defined by our friends, but also those aligned against us.


  8. #28
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    Default Re: Vertigo Cycles

    My comment seemed to get mis-understood (imagine that). Sean seems to offer lots of things that others don't do, that IMO should get him SOME more money. I have no idea how to explain my point on the interweb. I just felt Sean could charge a few more $'s for his unique products but I also am not seeing his end price after all the ala carte stuff so who knows.
    Drew Guldalian
    Engin Cycles
    www.engincycles.com

  9. #29
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    Default Re: Vertigo Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by EnginCycles View Post
    My comment seemed to get mis-understood (imagine that). Sean seems to offer lots of things that others don't do, that IMO should get him SOME more money. I have no idea how to explain my point on the interweb. I just felt Sean could charge a few more $'s for his unique products but I also am not seeing his end price after all the ala carte stuff so who knows.
    I think I understood your comment hence the reply with the a la carte menu. FWIW, I've taken some serious crap from potential customers about what I charge for any of the press in bearing BB shells ($500). From where I sit, $500 is a flippin bargain for the time and risk involved in boring out a BB shell to 0.001" AFTER a frame is built. I'm not a highly sought after builder and who knows if I'll ever be one but if my wait time goes past one year, prices are going up, it's that simple. I don't see the point in carrying the liability involved in having a multi-year wait list (not that I have anything against the folks that do). It's rare that I have a customer who doesn't want at least one option, some want the works and the average frame price is around $3300.
    Sean Chaney
    www.vertigocycles.com
    a peek behind the curtain

  10. #30
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    Default Re: Vertigo Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by VertigoCycles View Post
    I think I understood your comment hence the reply with the a la carte menu. FWIW, I've taken some serious crap from potential customers about what I charge for any of the press in bearing BB shells ($500). From where I sit, $500 is a flippin bargain for the time and risk involved in boring out a BB shell to 0.001" AFTER a frame is built. I'm not a highly sought after builder and who knows if I'll ever be one but if my wait time goes past one year, prices are going up, it's that simple. I don't see the point in carrying the liability involved in having a multi-year wait list (not that I have anything against the folks that do). It's rare that I have a customer who doesn't want at least one option, some want the works and the average frame price is around $3300.
    Shell reamer, baby! Boring is for something you'll do one time or have a set up and do it many times in a row. Walking into a single bore is time consuming and as you note, inherently risky especially if you find yourself .001" undersize and you decide to open it up..and you're still .001" under, so you crank a little more offset..and you're still .001" under, so you crank a little more...and this time the cutter engages and you're .005" over & screwed. :)
    "It's better to not know so much than to know so many things that ain't so." -- Josh Billings, 1885

    A man with any character at all must have enemies and places he is not welcome—in the end we are not only defined by our friends, but also those aligned against us.


  11. #31
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    Default Re: Vertigo Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by bfarver View Post
    Hey Sean,

    From conversations we've had as well as some of the above comments, I get they idea that you'd prefer to put your effort and $'s into frames as apposed to website/advertising. Is that true?

    It sounds like you're plenty busy, and that the tactic of "make cool shit and people will find you" is working out. What's your most effective way of gaining visibility, and is there anything you feel like you're missing the boat on?

    - Ben
    That's pretty much right on. I just want to make stuff. My hope all along has been that if I do what I want to do eventually someone somewhere is going to like what I'm doing enough to pick up the phone. I'm still crazy about bikes, about the process of building bikes and I love talking with people who are genuinely interested. For that reason, shows appeal to me. I like sitting back in a comfy chair while letting fellow bike nerds mill about and check out my understated bikes. Some people don't notice any of the subtle goofiness and walk away but some do and it sparks a conversation and allows me to explain a little bit about what was in my head at the time. It's low key and I like it that way. Conversely, I really like showing off my work to other builders. There most be something about peer recognition that appeals to my ego. Conventional advertising seems like a waste of effort to me even if the demographic is on target. Even team sponsorship, which you and I have discussed from time to time, doesn't seem like a good fit for Vertigo. I honestly think team sponsorship is less about advertising and more about giving back, ESPECIALLY in our over-saturated local market.

    As far as how I gain visibility goes, Flickr, bike shows and word of mouth. A lot of my customers contact me through Flickr. I have a hypothesis that there's a very specific type of person who finds process photos extremely appealing. A handful met me at the various shows I've attended and the rest have been because they met someone on the trail who was riding a Vertigo.

    Of and on over the past few years I've felt like I missed the branding bus. I'm aware of what a lot of my peers are doing with logo, type, color schemes, custom frame bits and site design and I'm really impressed most of the time. I look at that stuff and I think that I should do it too because it's smart and it's a way to appeal to potential customers on an emotional level and at the very least make the business look busy and pro. I know I'm not really missing the bus, I can get on whenever I want and I will when it's important to me.
    Sean Chaney
    www.vertigocycles.com
    a peek behind the curtain

  12. #32
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    Default Re: Vertigo Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by Archibald View Post
    Shell reamer, baby! Boring is for something you'll do one time or have a set up and do it many times in a row. Walking into a single bore is time consuming and as you note, inherently risky especially if you find yourself .001" undersize and you decide to open it up..and you're still .001" under, so you crank a little more offset..and you're still .001" under, so you crank a little more...and this time the cutter engages and you're .005" over & screwed. :)
    That might warrant a phone call. I dislike reaming to the point that I even bore seat tubes now, but that's a much easier setup than using a coaxial indicator for the BB bore.
    Sean Chaney
    www.vertigocycles.com
    a peek behind the curtain

  13. #33
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    Default Re: Vertigo Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by VertigoCycles View Post
    That might warrant a phone call. I dislike reaming to the point that I even bore seat tubes now, but that's a much easier setup than using a coaxial indicator for the BB bore.
    yeah, call that guy, smoke him out...

    hey sean, i can't be sure that we haven't met, but i appreciate what you do and how you doos it.

    thanks for playing.






  14. #34
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    Default Re: Vertigo Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by WadePatton View Post
    yeah, call that guy, smoke him out...

    hey sean, i can't be sure that we haven't met, but i appreciate what you do and how you doos it.

    thanks for playing.
    Thanks Wade. Don is good people fo sho. Without him doing what he does (and doing it so damn well) I think the small builder landscape would be much different right now. He's been a huge help over the years when I can keep up with what he's described over the phone. Big brain on that guy.
    Sean Chaney
    www.vertigocycles.com
    a peek behind the curtain

  15. #35
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    Default Re: Vertigo Cycles

    Hey Sean,

    I'm hoping to jump in here. There have been several similar descriptions of your 'look' or approach. Clean, refined, detail orientated, and neat are all terms that come to mind. I remember when Tina did her documentary photography project and she was telling me about your shop. Similar words were used.

    I think above you said "design by subtraction."

    I'm very intrigued by your overall approach and philosophy regarding bike design in general and if there's anything specific that do to achieve that Sean/Vertigo gestalt that obviously drives you. What about that approach or ideas manifest itself in the design and how do you see your 'stuff' realize that aesthetic?

    Additionally what outside influences (people, places, things) do you consider or draw from when working? On bikes and on the more detailed niggly bits?

    One more thing - as a guy who's working predominately with 29er's - where do you see that going over the next 5/10 years? Here to stay? An answer to a question no body asked? Replaced by 650b? Something even more new or more different?

    Okay, okay, one more, one more thing - is there a bike out there that you really want to build and if so what is it?

    Thanks,

    Conor

  16. #36
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    Default Re: Vertigo Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by VertigoCycles View Post
    That's pretty much right on. I just want to make stuff. My hope all along has been that if I do what I want to do eventually someone somewhere is going to like what I'm doing enough to pick up the phone. Conventional advertising seems like a waste of effort to me even if the demographic is on target. Even team sponsorship, which you and I have discussed from time to time, doesn't seem like a good fit for Vertigo. I honestly think team sponsorship is less about advertising and more about giving back, ESPECIALLY in our over-saturated local market.



    Of and on over the past few years I've felt like I missed the branding bus. I'm aware of what a lot of my peers are doing with logo, type, color schemes, custom frame bits and site design and I'm really impressed most of the time. I look at that stuff and I think that I should do it too because it's smart and it's a way to appeal to potential customers on an emotional level and at the very least make the business look busy and pro. I know I'm not really missing the bus, I can get on whenever I want and I will when it's important to me.
    I totally agree with all your statements you wrote here, and I must say, echos my feelings exactly. if you have time to watch your kiddo & make your awesome bikes without putting it on life support {I tell Denise that the 1st day I have to put $$$ into Coconino to support it i'm selling it all down to the last allen key, but so far it has kept itself very viable & profitable but, I think you get my drift} your kiddo {daughter, right?} is only gonna be this age once. framebuilding will be there for you, as will demand. if anything you have the luxury of refining your chops & your add-ons so when you are ready it will be set to take it to any level you wish. I wish Coconino had started a little more gradually. My first few years were a blur of stress & overworking. Keep it up, I say. C'mon down to the Fat 55 in OR-OR Sept 18th. Vulture & I will be there. I wanna get Justin, too. we'll set up a booth & fix bikes & sell bikes & drink beer - Garro.
    Steve Garro, Coconino Cycles.
    Frames & Bicycles built to measure and Custom wheels
    Hecho en Flagstaff, Arizona desde 2003
    www.coconinocycles.com
    www.coconinocycles.blogspot.com

  17. #37
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    Default Re: Vertigo Cycles

    OK some comments and a REAL question this time:
    1. Your bikes are sweet. I want to steal the road bike you made for yourself about 3 or 4 years ago.
    2. It is clear to me that your work is top notch and I really think Drew's point about your quality and uniqueness is well stated.
    3. Titanium tubing is crazy expensive.

    I have a huge quantity of respect for the bikes you make and I know you put a lot of time and energy into the process as well as the final product. If you were given $5,000 to spend on Vertigo, what would you buy and why?

  18. #38
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    Default Re: Vertigo Cycles

    Steve, I'm going to try to make it down for the race. It would be a blast to hang out with you and Wade.

    Matt,
    1. Thank you. It's no secret that I'm crazy about Signal too. Do you ride a 57?
    2. Thank you.
    3. Don't I know it. Paint is also crazy expensive.

    With $5K, I'd fill a flatbed with horizontal mills from the east coast (they grow on trees there right?) pick the best two and sell the rest locally. I'd also sell my banged up Index and get something not quite so rickety that has a DRO as I think it would be handy for when I'm making tools. Then I'd get two more dummy axles in every size I use. With whatever was left, I'd hire a graphics person to sort me out. I feel a little sheepish about sending a frame to Interbike with a naked HT.

    Conor, I'm still working up a answer for you. Back soon.
    Sean Chaney
    www.vertigocycles.com
    a peek behind the curtain

  19. #39
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    Default Re: Vertigo Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by VertigoCycles View Post
    Steve, I'm going to try to make it down for the race. It would be a blast to hang out with you and Wade.




    awesome! gotta get ahold of Fred @ Wolfhound & get him to drop his file & come down, too. - Garro.
    Steve Garro, Coconino Cycles.
    Frames & Bicycles built to measure and Custom wheels
    Hecho en Flagstaff, Arizona desde 2003
    www.coconinocycles.com
    www.coconinocycles.blogspot.com

  20. #40
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    Default Re: Vertigo Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by conorb View Post
    I'm very intrigued by your overall approach and philosophy regarding bike design in general and if there's anything specific that do to achieve that Sean/Vertigo gestalt that obviously drives you. What about that approach or ideas manifest itself in the design and how do you see your 'stuff' realize that aesthetic?Conor
    Aesthetically I like simplicity, neatness, space and contrast. The expanding seat mast insert was born from that. I preferred the ISO disc caliper mounting style (which is fairly easy to tuck between seat and chain stays) but when my favorite disc brake company, Hope, switched to all post mount calipers, I started putting posts on MTBs to eliminate the adapter whenever it was practical to do so. My obsession with hidden cables is born from that aesthetic as well. I take it as far as I can on my personal bikes but the cost at the customer level for a full works frame is something most don't go for so I usually work with them to trim it down to something more practical.

    Quote Originally Posted by conorb View Post
    Additionally what outside influences (people, places, things) do you consider or draw from when working? On bikes and on the more detailed niggly bits?Conor
    When I was a kid I lusted for cars that I would likely never see on the road in my lifetime. Lamborghini hit me especially hard. The graceful curves of the Miura always stuck with me as did the Ferrari Testarossa from the late 50's. I carved a pine box derby car to look like the Testarossa when I was in cub scouts (that was a lesson in what could be accomplished with a pocket knife and I have a scar to show for it). The shape of the seat and chain stays on my road and cross bikes are an attempt to emulate those curves.

    I was also a huge fan of the Countach and LM002 though I think any styling cues that could come of those two would look hideous on a bike.

    Quote Originally Posted by conorb View Post
    One more thing - as a guy who's working predominately with 29er's - where do you see that going over the next 5/10 years? Here to stay? An answer to a question no body asked? Replaced by 650b? Something even more new or more different?Conor
    I'm a fan of 29ers and might not be the right person to ask, but I think they're here to stay. Tire and fork manufacturers are on board, rims have always been easy but more and more companies are offering beefy rims and there are a handful of DH guys who have been dabbling in bigger wheels for a handful of years. They do have drawbacks, though I think they're insignificant, and they're not for everyone. I definitely poo poo'd 29ers when I first became aware of them but I'm obviously a convert, expecially now that I have one with a chainstay length I like AND a front derailleur. 650B...what's that? You never know. I don't think they'll replace 29ers but if tire makers think they can make money with them I'm sure we'll see more of them. They're only marketing $$ away from taking over the world ;)

    Quote Originally Posted by conorb View Post
    Okay, okay, one more, one more thing - is there a bike out there that you really want to build and if so what is it?

    Thanks,

    Conor
    I finished it last month. It was the 29er with the swoopy seat stays, PF30 and internal everything routing. It sounds cheesy when I hear the words in my head but that bike is my dream bike. I executed everything that I wanted to accomplish which presented me with a bunch of "problems" to solve and setups to consider. The blueprint for this bike was conceived in my head years before I learned to cut and weld metal and for me, this is "IT".
    Sean Chaney
    www.vertigocycles.com
    a peek behind the curtain

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