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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Just received the Seraph frame that I’m starting as a project build for my wife. She’s currently riding a Yeti AS-R from 2008 (I think) and I finally convinced her she will do better/more confident with modern geometry & 29” wheels. The riding around here is tight singletrack with lots of sand and roots—this bike will be used in wheels-on-the-ground mode:), so the goals were something light as the budget would allow, and didn’t want excessively slack geo.

I bought it on eBay and it took 7 weeks or so to arrive. Packaging was rudimentary, but worked just fine. It’s a size small (she’s 5’-4”).

Im usually a made in ‘merica kind of guy, but there really just isn’t anything available that met the specification so I decided to try this direct ship option. I’m assuaging my guilt for buying the Chinese frame by using as many US (or friendly economy) parts as possible.

The build is roughly:
1) rebuilt fox 34 step cast that came off my Top Fuel
2) wheels are I9 1:1 hubs and DT Swiss XM421 28hole rims—built by Wheelbuilder.com
3) full GX transmission
4) Shimano SLX brakes, 180mm centerlock rotors
5) Conti CrossKing 2.3 Black Chili with Tubolito TPU tubes (first time trying these)
6) various WolfTooth bits- rear axle, seatpost collar, headset, dropper lever
7) Trans-x skyline dropper post
8) RockShox Monarch R shock (7.5x2.0)
9) CF bars (31.8) and Thomson stem
10) Race Face Aeffect 165mm forged aluminum crank (steel 24mm spindle)
11) Wheels Manufacturing PF92 thread-together bottom bracket

One thing about this frame is there was ZERO info on what size shock hardware and thru axle are required (neither were included)—actually there was some info, but it was wrong. The shock hardware is M8x44.5 (lower) and M8x22 (upper). The thru axle it needs is 1.5mm thread pitch x 172mm length.

I was pleasantly surprised by the frame cosmetics—it’s just matte black with no graphics whatsoever. The frame feels very “sturdy”—I didn’t weigh it, but the tap-test says it’s thick everywhere. The suspension without a shock installed moves smoothly with no binding. The cable routing is internal, but is exposed UNDERNEATH the bottom bracket, which seems unusual, but I kind of like it.

The only quality items I noted are that the BB and headset bores are kind of rough—didn’t seem like a great finish for a press fit so I smoothed them out with a bit of scotch brite. There’s no frame protection of any kind, so I’ll be adding 3m tape at least to the down tube and chainstay.

I’ll post up more pics as the build progresses.
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
One thing I changed immediately was the shock mounting bolts. The ones that come with the frame are Cr-plated steel and quite sloppy dimensions. I bought 8mm diameter stainless steel shoulder bolts on Mcmaster Carr and they fit the holes in the frame and the through hole in the shock hardware much better, and they shouldn’t rust.
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Good call. Chromed fasteners in critical locations are a failure waiting to happen.

I have a Seraph/TanTan FM10 in transit. I plan to go over it with a fine tooth comb before I put it together for real. Even the happy customers have stories about quality issues.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
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Finally got it together, last thing I waited for was an XX1 b-bolt kit to improve the NX derailleur I had on hand since basically zero new derailleurs can be bought now. (The NX had been on another bike but took off because so much play—the B bolt repair kit fixed it right up.)

Im pretty happy overall with the frame. The bottom bracket shell was properly dimensioned and round—the BB pressed in perfectly and the crank spins better than most.

Im not sure the cable routing under the BB is the best, but it seems to work ok. There’s no frame protection at all, so I’ll add some tape to critical areas. Ended up needing the shortest possible seatpos—PNW Loam seems to be the shortest thing on the market (both in the frame and out).

I don’t have a scale to weigh it, but I’d guess 27ish.

It was a fun project, I doubt an money was saved in the long run, but I had a few parts that could be repurposed here so that helped it make sense (fork, bars, & stem).
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
It’s just a completely standard IS52 lower bearing and IS41 upper bearing.


 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
I'd be curious what your thoughts are on this frame, a year after the build was finished.
Sorry for the delayed response.

It’s my wife’s bike, so I can’t comment on ride quality, but the frame has held up just fine over a summer of riding & bearings all seem fine still. Probably the biggest negative you could say about it is there really is no room for a water bottle in a size S. The frame paint is fine, but hardware finishes are not up to the standards of a name-brand—this is fine given the price point. There’s no rock guards on the downtube or chain silencers on the chainstays, so it’s up to you to apply film, or something else—I used one of those dyedbros kits to give the bike some style (pretty boring black). The frame seemed to me quite stout—they clearly weren’t going for “lightest frame in the category“, so I really doubt to see any failures of the carbon fiber--I think more likely long-term problem might be with some hardware, or connection point. I should have ordered an xtra derailleur hangar—no idea what I’ll do if we ever need a replacement.

Pros: 1) cheap, 2) seems sturdy, 3) everything works fine

Cons: 1) potential spare parts have to be ordered from China, 2) heavier than typical CF frame, 3) so-so hardware finishes and no frame protection, 4) older-style geometry, 5) untidy cable routing under BB

It was fun as a Covid project, but I might go more upscale next time. This is a good choice on a strict budget, or for a tinkerer.
 
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