This is where I tell you how I do things and why. Some of this is going to sound grumpy and curmudgeonly, but I promise, I’m a cheerful guy and almost as excited as you are to build your bike:)
I build durable bikes. I don’t chase weight for the sake of weight. I don’t jump on the newest bottom bracket bandwagon for the sake of being current. I build bikes to ride they way you want them to, not to match some trend that everyone’s doing this year. No matter what all the cool kids are doing, if I build you a great riding bike today, it’ll always ride like that. No matter what anyone else does. I don’t do model years, and I don’t want to sell you a new bike every 3 years. I want to sell you one bike, and hear about how much fun you’re having on it for the next 10.
I grew up riding bikes. I started with BMX, and that quickly turned into mountain bikes when the phenomenon finally reached the small town Missouri of my teens. I cut my teeth on bikes of the mid to late ’80s, and I tend to build them that way now, too. Sure, everyone loves super short chainstays and long top tubes with shorty stems. That’s what you get now, because that’s what you’ve been programmed to like for the last several years. Truth is, if you go back any length of time in mountain biking, you’ll remember an old Fat Chance or Bontrager that rode beautifully. It handled so intuitively that you swore it read your mind. Hey guess what, those things had 17″ chainstays with a 26″ wheel. 22 inch top tubes and 135mm stems.
One of the big reasons for the push to shorter rear ends is that it makes it easier to lift your back wheel up over stuff. That’s become more important because most modern mountain bikers are further or completely removed from BMX and flat pedals. Bunny hopping is now a function of pulling your feet up and the bike follows because you’re clipped in. The body English required for a textbook bunnyhop is an art that’s on the endangered list.
The downside is, as rear ends get shorter, you lose the compliance and the feel that a steel frame is known for. Simply put, steel frames are like springs, and you’re making the spring shorter and stiffer.
I can build either way, but I prefer to build for someone who either can or is willing to learn to bunnyhop correctly. It’s a valuable skill, and it will greatly improve your trail handling ability and riding experience.
This brings me to another sticking point in my way of thinking/building. Yes, this is a bike built especially for you. What it is not, however, is a bike designed to smooth over any shortcomings or bad habits you may have as a rider. You may very well need to do some adapting to get the most out of your custom bike. This is very much a personal matter, and we’ll discuss this on a case by case basis.
I build exclusively with English threaded bottom bracket shells. The interface is going to be with us for a long time, and I’m not going to commit your frame to a so called standard that may be gone in 5 years.
There is also no benefit in going to another interface just because it’s ‘lighter/stiffer/whatever’ You’re buying a durable steel frame. It’s not going to be super light weight, and the extra 100 grams isn’t going to matter in the grand scheme of things.
Stiffer is irrelevant, too. One of the reasons you’ve chosen a steel frame is for the ride quality. They aren’t supposed to be super stiff, and installing a stiffer crank/bottom bracket system in a frame that is designed to have some flex is pointless. Sure, the BB is stiffer, but unless everything it’s attached to is stiffer also, you’re wasting your time.
Rear axle/dropout interfaces
As of now, I also build exclusively for 10mm qr axles. I am watching the new through axle offerings and may offer one or more of them eventually, but I don’t see a huge advantage to them. (See steel frame and stiffness, above)
All tubing choices are mine. I will pick the appropriate tubing for your frame, that’s my end of the bargain. Yours is to trust me.
No, I don’t do integrated bottle openers. I think they’re tacky, and they offend my artistic sense. If you can carry beer, you can carry an opener. If you can’t, well, then you deserve to curl up in a fetal position at the trail head and sob, while your still sealed beer bottle mocks your unpreparedness:)
There’s more, but I’ll have to add it later. I want to go ride.