Factory Direct - Oh Hai - CycleBlaze

Factory Direct

It's here!
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First I had to find the right person to contact. 

The contact information on their website was not the right person.

That person knew who the right person was but I had to be transferred through multiple iterations of the wrong person before I got there, periodically checking in to remind them that I really wanted to buy a bike from them.

Then we had to talk about the design.

Because this is China, I couldn't just say "I want a tour bike", I had to specifically say "I have a lot of experience touring and I want a tour bike." I had to explain that this bike was going to be used for tours of no less than 500km, that it was going to be ridden across continents, that the design had to take into account my currently wanting a planetary gear setup but also wanting the option to swap back to derailleurs if I don't like it.

Then I had to fight off the upselling and the sideselling for parts or features that I didn't want or which weren't practical for a tour bike. 

It was really great to know that they have Rohloff hubs in stock and are an authorized dealer but I literally just said "I'm not sure about a planetary gear setup" and the $1500 hub might maybe be a bit much for someone who has specifically asked for a bike that can still have a derailleur mounted. 

And for all I'm sure that they were absolutely correct about hydraulic disc brakes giving a much better performance than regular, the difference in weight and maintenance makes them a spectacularly bad idea.
Just like the last six times I said I didn't want them.

Finally, we agree on things and they send me a bill. Which I, of course, have to send back because a bunch of the items that I'd already said "no" to (like the saddle I already own or the handlebars I was sending them) had crept back on again. I pay a deposit, I order some parts from the US that maybe actually weren't available in China and maybe were just them telling me they had asked the supplier and not actually asking.

Things mostly seemed to be going well. Slower than I'd've liked but I was in the US over the summer so it didn't really matter that much. As long as I had the bike ready by the end of September, it'd all be good.

  • There was the argument over my handlebars where I had to find pictures of new uninstalled randonneur bars so as to convince them that I hadn't miraculously crashed them into that slightly upswept shape. 
  • There were the bits and bobs I'd sent along from the old bike that they swore they were going to install and then didn't because they knew better than me (some of which have since been installed, others of which I'll fuss with after this tour). 
  • There was the headache over getting the correct brifter installed because yeah, I get it, my specs were weird, but I told you back in April that this exact item was what I wanted to go with the parts I ordered from the US so why would you install anything else? (In the end, when they went looking for the exact item I wanted and spitefully installed it to prove to me that it wouldn't work, it worked perfectly.)

And then, finally, after waiting a month for them to turn the finished frame into a finished bike and waiting almost two weeks for that finished bike to be sent me, I had a new tour bike.

I borrowed my neighborhood bike repair place's tools to put the bike together.
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