June 20, 2012 § 5 Comments
When it comes to bikes, my philosophy has always been to cheap out when it comes to the frame. Well, more like my reality.
In the day, I just couldn’t afford the top line stuff from the serious makers. Not the established Euro brands and for damn sure not the boutique builders.
Heck, I couldn’t even afford the best the mainline brands (Trek, Cannonwhale, Specialized) had to offer.
So I’d go looking for deals. The less popular brands which had to try harder and couldn’t upgrade the sticker price based solely on the name plate. Ones that had to figure out how to compete within a component-spec level of the market.
This is the way I ended up with a Schwinn road bike in the late 80s. It wasn’t awesome but the components were Sante, priced above Ultegra and under Dura Ace. With a very….unusual finish. Still, I got the whole thing for under what most mainline Ultegra level bikes were going for at the time.
This cheapout plan is also the way I ended up on a series of Mongoose MTB frames in the early 90s. In this case I bought into some racer contingency program…they sent you the frame for something like $225. This was when the burgeoning small-manufacturer offerings were running at least $500 for the frame, and likely much more. For welded Al frames that hadn’t been optimized for durability….I remember a ton of cracked frames leading to arguments over replacement from the builders.
So I scored a decently light Al frame with the weird Toblerone top tube…slightly long in the reach but a pretty decent ride. Eventually it cracked and I got the company to replace it for free. This was at least a year later and Mongoose’s top offering was then a carbon job. AWESOME.
This was early in the mass-production carbon frame days and quality was not assured. Clearly this one was being produced on a factory line…on the cheap. No big-name designer was identified so who knew how the geometry would work out.
It worked out great. The frame was a fantastic ride, super light and durable. The first one had the bottle bosses come unstuck after maybe a year and I fought them into giving me another one for free.
The replacement lasted 18 years. Or thereabouts.
Finally, the seat tube cracked off the BB shell.
So I went looking for another MTB.
Simple hard tail XC race design, front suspension only…nothing fancy. XT componentry level…maybe STX if necessary.
Yeah, I STILL can’t afford the bikes I want to ride.