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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I weighed them in a shop yesterday... same size frame... 18" Monkey, 18" Unit, virtually the same TT length and ST angle according to the spec's published for each. Shop scale was digital, but I am not sure of the actual accuracy... but for purposes of comparisons, it was good enough for me....

Monkey 5.51#
Unit 5.29#

OK that is 3.52 ounces difference... *but*, the Monkey weight included the two removable canti studs and the Kona weight did not..... What would you guess those weigh.... 1.5 oz? So, basically, in my mind the differences in frame weights are negligible if you are using disc brakes.

The welds on the Monkey were significantly better, aesthetically.

Also, while I did not put a wheel in either, the clearance on the sides looked greater on the Monkey.... this was an "eyeball assessment" though. Not sure about clearance on the top of the tire .....

I am pretty sure the Kona is painted... for me the powder coating of the Monkey is an advantage because it should be tougher and is supposedly more environmentally friendly.

I have less trust in the bolt on drop outs of the Kona than I do the Monkey's welded d.o.'s, though I guess they would offer the advantage of being replacable. And they looked kind of klunky (less clean) to me.... The Kona comes with the SS dropout and the additional derailleur version of the dropout was an extra 30 bucks.... not sure if you can order the frame with the derailleur one as stock....

The Kona's tubing was significantly shaped in cross section on the TT, DT and (I think) the ST. This would preclude the option of using S and S couplings and adding other stuff that could be clamped on a round tube, but perhaps not onto an oval one.... The sales guy was hyping this shaping as being superior, but I am not convinced really..... The Kona has a gusset on the DT..... The head tube on the Monkey looked thicker.... I would expect less chance of an ovalized head tube with it.

I gather the fork for the Kona is not yet available... and it may or may not be a reason to go with one or the other, weight wise and / or ride wise...... If the 29" version is reasonably priced and the geometry seemed right it might be something to think about slapping on the Monkey......

The Kona was more $ even without the fork which the Monkey included... but I can't remember the exact amount... maybe $100 more?

Man, I wish I could ride both of them side by side set up identically.... I am totally leaning towards the Monkey right now, but if the Kona rode significantly better I would go for it...
 

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Endoverend! said:
...I have less trust in the bolt on drop outs of the Kona than I do the Monkey's welded d.o.'s, though I guess they would offer the advantage of being replacable...
Just a thought on the Kona dropouts...
I think John Cowan proved the ultimate durability test on this design because it's the dropout as the Cowan DJ frame, which has remained unchanged for three model years now. I had a Cowan and never had any problems with it.
 

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Thanks for the write up. I'm also leaning the way of the KM....but with all the talk recently, am also considering the Inbred.

Must say, I've learned a ton about the two from this forum and my 29" die-hard cousin. I will continue to lurk and learn. Hopefully in the next couple months, I will make a decision and go for it.

But then you deal with sizing. Makes you want to bite the bullet and go for a Waltworks bcz you know it'll fit like a glove.
 

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will951 said:
...But then you deal with sizing. Makes you want to bite the bullet and go for a Waltworks bcz you know it'll fit like a glove.
At the risk of sounding like Tom Teesdale's marketing guy, I just wanted to mention that a custom frame is not as $$$ as some may think. Tom Teesdale (TET Cycles) can build up a custom 29er frame for $600. Nothing fany tubing wise, just Columbus Thron level tubing. BUT you get the geometry and fit made just for you.

In my recent search for a 29er frame I poundered the KM, Inbred, Unit 2-9. I was referred over to TET and was surprised how relatively affordable his custom frames were. In the end I went with the Inbred, but just wanted to let it be known that custom doesn't have to cost $1000 plus like Walt Works, Wiley or Retrotec etc...
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
frankenbike said:
At the risk of sounding like Tom Teesdale's marketing guy, I just wanted to mention that a custom frame is not as $$$ as some may think. Tom Teesdale (TET Cycles) can build up a custom 29er frame for $600. Nothing fany tubing wise, just Columbus Thron level tubing. BUT you get the geometry and fit made just for you.

In my recent search for a 29er frame I poundered the KM, Inbred, Unit 2-9. I was referred over to TET and was surprised how relatively affordable his custom frames were. In the end I went with the Inbred, but just wanted to let it be known that custom doesn't have to cost $1000 plus like Walt Works, Wiley or Retrotec etc...
I have looked at Tom Tesdale's web site and his "resume" looks good. The lowest price I see in his price list is 699 for the frame and 125 for the fork... plus probably another 50 to ship....Bottom line.... 875.... I can get a KM locally from my dealer for 400 which is less than 1/2 the price.

I like supporting small builders and "local" products of all kinds as much as I can, because they are often better and I like supporting artisans and people that are passionate about their work. Partly because I live like a pauper, I have money that I am willing to pay for custom bikes, if I feel like it. As an aside, I must say that I own an absurd number of bicycles...... (I'm not tellin' how many).

I have only had one custom bike made for me by a reputable builder who I will not name. It was a filet brazed frame, nice radii on the joints and a sweet killer paint job. It looked beautiful. When I built it up, I started to notice some "issues".... like my eye could see that the rear triangle was about 1/2" out of alignment! The rear canti bosses were not placed evenly and also they were not placed for optimum braking as I later found out from the Shimano spec sheet for my XTR canti's. The cable on the rear derailleur was rubbing on the rear tire because the housing stop on the chainstay was not located correctly.... I had to put it in goretex housing and zip tie it over. The seatpost (and I tried several) creaked like crazy because he did not ream the seat tube correctly...

The builder had left for a long trip and I wanted to get the bike on the road for the summer, so I took the frame to a guy who had a prototype $10,000 Henry James alignment table / machine ..... (He also had a frame built by the same builder and had experienced alignment issues too, by the way.) Man, it was insane how much he had to bend that thing over.... I thought it would break for sure.... It rode better, but had a lot of stresses built into it ..... that is another topic.....

So, we checked all of my many steel frames... just in the interest of "science"..... All 4 of my Bridgestones were right on, even after I had put a lot of miles on them...The guy kept careful records of all of the bikes he had checked and he said that all of the B-stones passed with flying colors.....and all 3 of my Specialized bikes were excellent too.

So, let me say this: I don't want to cast any aspursions or doubts about the abilities of Tom T., Walt, Soulcraft, Rock Lobster or any other custom builder. I admire many of them and their work immensely! But I just want to say that a custom frame is not a guarantee that the bike will be better than a production model. Production bikes have often had many of the bugs worked out in prototypes that may not get worked out or thought about by some custom builders..... This can be especially true of a new genre, like 29ers, where things like clearances can be tricky to get right..... Even production bikes can have bugs.... For example the KM has an issue with front derailleur to tire clearances in some cases. Surly has come up with a seemingly viable fix for that problem, much to their credit.

I once talked to Keith Bontrager about his pre-Trek (Santa Cruz) frames and his post-Trek frames. He said that he thought that his post Trek bikes (not the Privateer models) were actually better because they had the horsepower ($) to make the rear seatstays in a custom drawn configuration. He admitted that his old two piece stays that everyone thought were so clever were a "best solution" with the materials and methods he had at hand and that he had always wanted to do what the $ of Trek later allowed him to do. My point is that things like the bent tubes that Surly uses, for example, are possible for a large production builder and may not be possible for a small builder. (I am not sure if they are an advantage, by the way, but maybe they are).....

I may want to get a custom 29er built some day... right now I don't want to wait so long though and want to get on something now... There are 2 things I would look for in a builder though... 1. Plenty of demonstrated experience building and assembling 29ers specifically (Go Walt!) 2. An indication that alignment was very important to the builder during the building process and that some method was used to assure that. To me this is much more important than overly fancy paint jobs or pretty joints....

Another thing about some custom bikes to think about is that they often may not hold their value for resale nearly as well as a production bike.... Some do ... Eisentraut, Richard Sachs, Rivendell, etc. but some don't.....

So, my point is.... bottom line.... don't assume that custom steel is *always* better than production steel!
 

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Endoverend! said:
I have looked at Tom Tesdale's web site and his "resume" looks good. The lowest price I see in his price list is 699 for the frame and 125 for the fork... plus probably another 50 to ship....Bottom line.... 875.... I can get a KM locally from my dealer for 400 which is less than 1/2 the price...
He has lower prices now. If anyone emails him, he'll quote you a $575 price for build and an additional $25 for powder coating.

You point about custom not necessarily being better than production is well taken. Frame builders are human and prone to making errors. Shame it was shipped out to you as such, the builder should have inspected his/her work better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
frankenbike said:
He has lower prices now. If anyone emails him, he'll quote you a $575 price for build and an additional $25 for powder coating.

You point about custom not necessarily being better than production is well taken. Frame builders are human and prone to making errors. Shame it was shipped out to you as such, the builder should have inspected his/her work better.
or drank less on the job.............
 

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ditto...

Endoverend! said:
I have looked at Tom Tesdale's web site and his "resume" looks good. The lowest price I see in his price list is 699 for the frame and 125 for the fork... plus probably another 50 to ship....Bottom line.... 875.... I can get a KM locally from my dealer for 400 which is less than 1/2 the price.

I like supporting small builders and "local" products of all kinds as much as I can, because they are often better and I like supporting artisans and people that are passionate about their work. Partly because I live like a pauper, I have money that I am willing to pay for custom bikes, if I feel like it. As an aside, I must say that I own an absurd number of bicycles...... (I'm not tellin' how many).

I have only had one custom bike made for me by a reputable builder who I will not name. It was a filet brazed frame, nice radii on the joints and a sweet killer paint job. It looked beautiful. When I built it up, I started to notice some "issues".... like my eye could see that the rear triangle was about 1/2" out of alignment! The rear canti bosses were not placed evenly and also they were not placed for optimum braking as I later found out from the Shimano spec sheet for my XTR canti's. The cable on the rear derailleur was rubbing on the rear tire because the housing stop on the chainstay was not located correctly.... I had to put it in goretex housing and zip tie it over. The seatpost (and I tried several) creaked like crazy because he did not ream the seat tube correctly...

The builder had left for a long trip and I wanted to get the bike on the road for the summer, so I took the frame to a guy who had a prototype $10,000 Henry James alignment table / machine ..... (He also had a frame built by the same builder and had experienced alignment issues too, by the way.) Man, it was insane how much he had to bend that thing over.... I thought it would break for sure.... It rode better, but had a lot of stresses built into it ..... that is another topic.....

So, we checked all of my many steel frames... just in the interest of "science"..... All 4 of my Bridgestones were right on, even after I had put a lot of miles on them...The guy kept careful records of all of the bikes he had checked and he said that all of the B-stones passed with flying colors.....and all 3 of my Specialized bikes were excellent too.

So, let me say this: I don't want to cast any aspursions or doubts about the abilities of Tom T., Walt, Soulcraft, Rock Lobster or any other custom builder. I admire many of them and their work immensely! But I just want to say that a custom frame is not a guarantee that the bike will be better than a production model. Production bikes have often had many of the bugs worked out in prototypes that may not get worked out or thought about by some custom builders..... This can be especially true of a new genre, like 29ers, where things like clearances can be tricky to get right..... Even production bikes can have bugs.... For example the KM has an issue with front derailleur to tire clearances in some cases. Surly has come up with a seemingly viable fix for that problem, much to their credit.

I once talked to Keith Bontrager about his pre-Trek (Santa Cruz) frames and his post-Trek frames. He said that he thought that his post Trek bikes (not the Privateer models) were actually better because they had the horsepower ($) to make the rear seatstays in a custom drawn configuration. He admitted that his old two piece stays that everyone thought were so clever were a "best solution" with the materials and methods he had at hand and that he had always wanted to do what the $ of Trek later allowed him to do. My point is that things like the bent tubes that Surly uses, for example, are possible for a large production builder and may not be possible for a small builder. (I am not sure if they are an advantage, by the way, but maybe they are).....

I may want to get a custom 29er built some day... right now I don't want to wait so long though and want to get on something now... There are 2 things I would look for in a builder though... 1. Plenty of demonstrated experience building and assembling 29ers specifically (Go Walt!) 2. An indication that alignment was very important to the builder during the building process and that some method was used to assure that. To me this is much more important than overly fancy paint jobs or pretty joints....

Another thing about some custom bikes to think about is that they often may not hold their value for resale nearly as well as a production bike.... Some do ... Eisentraut, Richard Sachs, Rivendell, etc. but some don't.....

So, my point is.... bottom line.... don't assume that custom steel is *always* better than production steel!
i have 3 steel production hardtails that ride as good if not better than my 1 custom.
 

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dont forget...

the soma juice, very well made frame for a great price. just got one and am building it up.
 

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Endoverend! said:
...The Kona's tubing was significantly shaped in cross section on the TT, DT and (I think) the ST. This would preclude the option of using S and S couplings and adding other stuff that could be clamped on a round tube, but perhaps not onto an oval one...
A non-issue IMO. Any existing butted frame is not a good candidate for an SandS conversion. You end up with the connectors in the thinnest part of the tubes. Purpose-built SandS frames usually use tubes selected and cut to maximize strength.

The cost of retro-fitting can be more than the added cost to a custom or semi-custom frame and the risk of poor coupler alignment is much greater.
http://www.co-motion.com/S&Sretrofit.html
http://www.sandsmachine.com/index.html#retrofit
http://www.bilenky.com/retrpric.html
 

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Well...I don't think anybody buys a custom bike with the intentions of selling it again. So resale isn't much of a concern to most. In fact....I wouldn't even buy a used custom....bcz the chances of it fitting me are slim to none. High production bikes are much more 'generic' in their sizing.

Where can you get measured for thsi kind of stuff? I assume an LBS could help you out...do they typically charge? If I know my measurements, the choice between KM and Inbred will be very easy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
shiggy said:
A non-issue IMO. Any existing butted frame is not a good candidate for an SandS conversion. You end up with the connectors in the thinnest part of the tubes. Purpose-built SandS frames usually use tubes selected and cut to maximize strength.

The cost of retro-fitting can be more than the added cost to a custom or semi-custom frame and the risk of poor coupler alignment is much greater.
http://www.co-motion.com/S&Sretrofit.html
http://www.sandsmachine.com/index.html#retrofit
http://www.bilenky.com/retrpric.html
My experience does not bear that out. I have an S and S coupled bike. Never had a problem and it is on a lighter tubed frame than a KM. It cost 350 to have it done to the existing frame which is not that bad IMO.... It pays for itself if you fly with your bike much...... It is 100 bucks RT on some airlines.......And you get to your destination and you have *your* bike, not some funky ill-fitting / maintained demo..... that you pay 50 bucks a day for..... and you don't have to rush back to a shop before they close.......

I did a servicable, if not pretty, rattle can paint job on it so the cost was for the coupling and installation. One could spend a lot on paint, of course. I must admit, it was a bit harrowing to hand the frame over and say "go ahead and saw her in half".... just closed my eyes...... !

I have never heard of an S and S failure at either the coupling or at the frame near one, have any of you? Before the "operation", I checked into this, as visions of crashing while decending are something I *really* don't like to entertain..... Anyway, never heard of one failing...... I talked to S and S directly at the time ('97) and they said they had heard of no failures at that date in time..... That may have changed by now.....The destruction testing on the S and S web site http://www.sandsmachine.com/testdest.htm show failure at another part of the frame than the coupling..... Not sure if this test translates to the real world..... In any case, there are *lots* of reputable builders, as evidenced by the portfolios on S and S machine's site that are using them on frames significantly lighter than a KM, seemingly without issue.

When I had mine done, I had the alignment checked by the aforementioned friend before and after the installation and the alignment was dead on each time. The installer was Steve Rex in Sacramento ... he did a great job..... I have watched another builder install them..... he said they are easy to install and that the chance of misalignment is not possible because you braze them in place with the couplers screwed together. The two halves of the bike have to be held in alignment with each other, of course, but a framebuilding jig does that pretty easily. It is easier than aligning a rear triangle to a main triangle, or a tube replacement after a crash...... When assembling the bike, there is no funkiness or forcing in the entire system... it goes together like fine machinery...... I detect no discernable difference in the ride... it is a few ounces more, which I can't tell any more than I can a full vs. empty water bottle...

With the S and S system it is pretty certain that the bike will get scratched up to some degree even with the most careful packing job...... I think I feel better about doing that to an "everyman's working bike" like the KM than to say a "dream bike" like a Soulcraft.... maybe that's just me....... Anyway, for me, the tube shape enters into my decision..... as I might get it done and sell the other (26" wheel) one....

I also like that I can clamp a round tube (lightly) into a repair stand easier than an ovoid one.
 
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