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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
(please let me know if this is miscategorized, I figured you guys would know best)
question is- What are the main advantages of buying from a small independent fabricator over a larger company which is mass producing over-seas? I know the obvious points, like custom specifications, quality welds, attention to detail, supporting American builders and the unknown labor conditions overseas, but I see these high end bikes and I can't help but ask is this Santa Cruz Superlight any different from a Gary Fisher Sugar
(besides head tube angle and top tube length) or is the Titus Racer X any different from the Jamis Dakar?? The framing and suspension designs look identical.......

I own a Giant 2007 Trance 1 and a 2006 Cannondale Scalpel 900 and am looking at getting a bike from either Santa Cruz or titus. Any feedback will be very much appreciated.
BTW- Anyone want to trade a mint Scalpel (med w/ fatty) for a frame+ fork combo of a Santa Cruz or Titus?

Thanks!!
 

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presa said:
I know the obvious points, like custom specifications, quality welds, attention to detail, supporting American builders and the unknown labor conditions overseas
I think you answered your own question. :cool:

Other differences you mention; like top tube length, head tube angle, etc. are more than subtle. They are the foundation of a good fit and a good handling finished product. :thumbsup:

Incidentally, the Jamis Dakar is a faux bar, single pivot bike and the Titus Racer X is a four bar Horst link. The Sugar and SuperLight are both single pivot but their respective pivots are located in a different place, each with it's unique set of performance characteristics. Rear suspension design is only one piece of the handling puzzle when trying to assess a given bike.

Best of luck in your search.
 

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presa said:
(please let me know if this is miscategorized, I figured you guys would know best)
question is- What are the main advantages of buying from a small independent fabricator over a larger company which is mass producing over-seas? I know the obvious points, like custom specifications, quality welds, attention to detail, supporting American builders and the unknown labor conditions overseas, but I see these high end bikes and I can't help but ask is this Santa Cruz Superlight any different from a Gary Fisher Sugar
(besides head tube angle and top tube length) or is the Titus Racer X any different from the Jamis Dakar?? The framing and suspension designs look identical.......

I own a Giant 2007 Trance 1 and a 2006 Cannondale Scalpel 900 and am looking at getting a bike from either Santa Cruz or titus. Any feedback will be very much appreciated.
BTW- Anyone want to trade a mint Scalpel (med w/ fatty) for a frame+ fork combo of a Santa Cruz or Titus?

Thanks!!
In reality all the brands you mentioned are "factory made." Santa Cruz and Titus are just made in smaller batches.

Also only the Cannondale and maybe the (discontinued) Sugar are made in the USA. Only the Ti Titus frames are still made in Arizona.

Many "factory" frames are still "hand made." But they are not custom made for a specific person and/or by one builder, which is the main focus of this board.
 

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i call it a kaiser blade
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i have a cove handjob (not really a custom build, but a limited handmade run) and the quality of the welds is really nice as is the powdercoat--nicer than on any factory bike i've ever owned.
 

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Disclaimer- I am not a frame builder but have worked for one, and owned/ridden several custom steel frames that were designed & made for me.

Aside from the things you already pointed out ("quality" type things), the big difference I've seen is with Tubing selection.

Given the same frame size, a "production" frame (whether it's a run of 10 or 1000), will be designed to work equally well for a smooth 90-lb XC rider and 250lb rider who climbs out of the saddle, jumps & crashes frequently. The tubing selected has to be durable in the worst case scenario, but hopefully ride well too.

So I think with a true custom, the builder has a chance to shape the ride quality (and weight) through tubing selection, to make a frame thats complaint but not too flexy, durable yet not any heavier than it needs to be.

Same basic thing goes for geometry too.... beyond quality of fabrication, custom = designed for one rider, one owner.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hmmm, so I wonder...If the Dakar is made by the same people, is the cost of the Titus and Santa Cruz really justified? Is it just because of a different grade of aluminum?
What's the difference between 7005 aluminum and 6069 aluminum?
 

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presa said:
Hmmm, so I wonder...If the Dakar is made by the same people, is the cost of the Titus and Santa Cruz really justified? Is it just because of a different grade of aluminum?
What's the difference between 7005 aluminum and 6069 aluminum?
That's just one element of suspension frames, the guy holding the welding torch.

This reminds me when I was 15 years old and working for an Italian road shop. The older guy, who was 19, told me the difference between the frames were the welds. So I looked at several of the frames very closely, and I could not tell the difference.

20 years later, I could look at those same frames again, and I still couldn't tell the difference!

I wouldn't BS you about how to tell the difference between those 3 frames or any 3 frames. I believe all 3 are made in the same factory, but I would never buy a Jamis but I do own a SC.

A lot of the reasons are subjective, like I know the SC guys, or that my friends have ridden the next VPP design and insist it is the bomb. There are more objective reasons like the anodization or the customer service.

Some things I don't think matter, like the kind of aluminum. If 7000 series was the best alu quality, then the best frames would be made of 7000 alu. I trust that similar quality frames have similar quality strength and stiffness.

There is no easy answer for a beginner which bike to buy. Mostly I try to deal with the quality of company. Does the company put out good product? Does it back it up with warranties? Do they have sponsored riders in my area?

If those questions are answered yes, then it usually means a good bike. Cause if they put out bad frames, then you couldn't show your face.
 

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Ultimately, it doesn't matter at all where a bike is fabricated, as long as the fabricator does quality work and the design is sound.

The things that make a Superlight better than the other bikes you are looking at (in my opinion) are not exactly easily summarised.

Both Titus and Santacruz design all the little elements of their frames, down to minute changes in wall thickness, the shape of machine parts, bearing spec. They pay extra to have things held to certain tolerances... They spend many hours refining leverage ratios, pivot placements, etc...

This is the 21st century in America. Very few people actually construct their own products in factories that they own. They design them, and contract the design, finish and fabrication to an outside vendor. Almost any production mountainbike you buy from an estabished company will be very well fabricated. Good fabrication on the corporate scale is a commodity. It is all of the other elements, obviously and most importantly the time you take to setup and understand the bike, and the unique features of the bike design that the companies imbue them with that will differentiate them.

Production volume, design and administrative overhead and the level of "custom" tubing and machine parts (or forgings) used in a bike and the tolerances the frames are fabricated to are what make up the cost differentials.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I'm stuck trying to decide between the Yeti 575, both the Titus racer-x and motolite, and both the santa cruz superlite and blur. I live in S. Florida and don't do any big drops or anything like that, we just have a lot of big roots that can eat up some travel. I think that 4" is fine, but I wouldn't mind 5" if there wasn't much of a weight penalty. My 07' Trance 1 is a great bike for what I ride, but it is a pound heavier than the '08 model and I would like to be able to get the bike down to 25 lbs., which is hard to do with a 7 lb. frame.
Any feedback will be much appreciated as there are some items on Ebay which are going to be ending soon, so I have to hurry and make up my mind.
Thanks!
P.S. Will work out a trade for the 07'Trance(M) or 06'Scalpel(M) to anyone with one of these bikes...
 
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