CHUMBA Newsletter, January 15, 2010



What Makes a High-end Frame, High-end? Part 1

This is part 1 of a 3 part series.

There are so many frames on the market today, whether they be multi link, single pivot, or 4-bar from myriads of different manufacturers and a full-range of prices that it’s hard to identify what differentiates frames without a thorough analysis. So, we’ve complied a list of commonly asked questions and explanations that can help you evaluate the heritage and quality of a particular bicycle frame. Here goes:

(1). Can this bicycle company produce a frame in-house without using a subcontractor?

A bicycle company that is able to fabricate bikes has more control over their prototyping process and product development. Rather than outsourcing these functions, an in-house fabrication ability allows designers, machinists, and riders to communicate and develop product with immediate feedback.


This process is valuable for multiple reasons. First, designers receive first-hand experience and information with respect to fabrication issues with improved communication and control during the prototype manufacturing process. Second, designers can implement revisions much quicker and with more flexibility than working with a subcontractor. Last, subcontracting fees can really add up, creating an economic disincentive to try as many different possibilities for prototypes as possible. It’s not uncommon to try 3 or 4 different versions of a prototyped frame before a satisfactory bike is produced – the costs can be extremely high for a subcontractor to go through this revision process, and this cost is ultimately passed on to the consumer.


So what’s the moral of the story? If your riding a high performance boutique bike from a company that needed to outsource all of its product development and prototyping fabrication, chances are that the bike will carry a steep price tag, not necessarily because it is any better.

Stay Tuned for Part 2.

source: Alan Kang

About the author: Gregg Kato

Gregg Kato studied journalism and broadcasting in college while working many different jobs including deejaying, driving a forklift and building web sites (not all at the same time). Kato enjoys riding local Santa Cruz trails. Besides being an avid mountain biker, he is also a motorcycle fanatic. Two wheels, one Passion.

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Wordpress Comments:

  • Allen says:

    Have you all read the additional parts. What a bunch of bunk. Niner is made by Pacific Cycles yes … but they are not the large brand american company. And comparing the AWESOME new Banshee Legend that I just have to have. And good implication of Intense.

    Good idea lame way to treat your former equals.

    Does Chumba really try this hard to entertain or do they pay goats to egg on the forums and write this stuff?

  • Buzz says:

    Good lord! Who wrote this piece of crap. Has all that in-house R&D fixed to swing arms that snap? Please remove this article.

  • Mark says:

    I own successful engineering firm and we prototype extensively house for exactly the above reasons so I don’t see anything wrong with the above example. If you don’t know what your talking about and that sounds about right in this case, I suggest you keep your comments to your self

  • Tom says:

    Buzz, you must be one large, large man. I weigh 200 lbs and raced the F5 all last season, 12 races, 5 wins, 10 podiums, no broken swing arms. Cat 1, 30-39. Best bike I’ve ever ridden, snapped a Jamis, cracked a Session 88, Kona’s are just indestructible tanks, good for freeriding, not for racing.

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