18 September 2007

Bye Bye Black Sheep

Black Sheep - In The Rear

I've listed the Black Sheep for Sale in various places today.

As I know many people are going to want to know why after so much waiting, money and lost sleep, I'm selling it after only 4 months of using it. By the way, I purposely say using it, not riding it.

Well, as many of you may remember (I say that knowing that only about a handful of people actually read my blog) I put a lot of time and thought in to ordering a Black Sheep bike. In the back of my mind I've wanted a McLung since the first time that I laid eyes on one. In retrospect, maybe I should have just made the effort and gone that route or bought a Badger like I should have.

I guess, that's what hindsight gives you. A way to realize errors that you've made.

First, going way back to the very first 'real' marathon that I did in Europe; the Garda marathon. I rode it with a rigid fork on my singlespeed Curtlo. Never in my life have I spent 3+ hours climbing one mountain. What should have been a good 4 or so hour race turned in to a 6+ hour grind... provided my memory is correct. In any case at the end of the race Kera told me that I needed to get a bike with gears.

Not only that, I'd also broken my cranks and unknowingly led myself to being addicted to riding the mountains.

So, I put a lot of thought in to what I wanted and decided Ti was IT! So, after attempting to contact a couple of builders with no success. So, given that I know his employee Ryan from Kansas City and that he's got a great web reputation, I headed down the road to James a Black Sheep.

After a few back and forth emails and me sending my measurements and some money to him. I got a couple of emails in regards to expected build time (6 weeks) and this and that. Not long after that, I couldn't get a hold of anyone via email or phone. I waited for months, I sent more emails and waited some more. To make a long story a bit shorter; when I did hear something I was told it was in the mail.

When it hadn't arrived in another month I used a friend as intermediary and he was also told that it was on the way. Well, it wasn't. So, I called a couple of more times. It, finally, arrived in Germany almost 4 months after the first time it was "on the way".

The minute I pulled it out of the box I knew it was bad. I pulled out a different model frame than I'd ordered. So, I called only to be told that I was "upgraded" for various reasons (granted, it was being nice). However, had any communication taken place I'd have opted for the frame I'd ordered.

Now, to be clear and fair. James did offer to let me return the frame if I wanted to wait for him to build another. After having waited for 9 months, how many people would have returned it? Not many, I think. Especially given the track record that I was dealing with.

O.K., there's the dirt. Now, why am I selling it? See below.

In the end it comes down to the following things.

First I wish James hadn't lied to me 4-5 times telling me that the frame was shipped, then not telling me that he was "upgrading" me to a different frame that I didn't want (for a reason), also telling me 6 weeks for build time when in fact it was closer to 9 months, and then never sending me the other small parts that he'd forgotten to put in the box and then promised to send me at least twice and lastly, the fact that I can't get the bike dialed in properly.

I suppose that you could also add that the handlebar looks like it was bent with a block of wood instead of the nice smooth curves of the Seven bar that Kera bought me for my birthday last year.

For any or all of those reasons, I find that I'm aggravated every single time that I'm on this bike. For someone, it will be the best bike that they ever lay eyes on. For me, it was the "dream bike" that turned out to be far closer to a nightmare. My riding and my attitude has sucked ever since I got this bike. Not to mention that basically everything having to do with build has been jinxed (i.e. the problems that a friend had trying to order parts for me and that I'm still waiting for the rims I ordered from a shop in England back in March). So, it was time I raised my arms, Called A) Bullshit B) I give! and let her go.

I still hold out on a dream of owning a McLung. Which is my ideal of the most beautiful bike ever made. However, I know that Rob (Badger Bicycles) won't screw me and I'll love the bike that he builds for me. So, when this sells and maybe before, I'm ordering a bike from Rob.

My, now broken, Curlo 29'er

One more comment. I have a Curtlo 29"er custom frame. From the first moment that I sat on this bike, it fit like a glove. That's never changed. So, that's what I expect in a custom bike. No matter the cost, I believe that's the point of a custom bike. No? That's exactly what I will get from Rob. I have no doubt.

Oh lastly.. Doug from Curtlo has been fantastic to deal with. I've broken the frame twice. Once soon after getting it and again last summer after many years of quality use. He's never balked at fixing it or speaking with me via email or on the phone. I suppose I owe him thanks for that. Thanks Doug!

Hope that helps clear up some things for those that want to know. I also hope it gets it off my chest.


Scott said...

Sad day, but I saw it coming... seems like that thing has been cursed from the first excuse you were given about it... Throw some holy water on it get back to lovin' to ride!

Anonymous said...

I would advise caution with Rob. He seems to have dropped out of sight. I've had no word no for some months on anything. If you really want a Mclung, save the change and get it built. Trust me, I and many others are going through the same thing you're bitching about right now with Rob.

Anonymous said...

I hope you have not given any money to Rob. I gave him a deposit in sept of 2006 and still have no bike. He hasen't returned my phone calls or emails since June! If I ever get the bike I feel it will be bittersweet much like you with your Blacksheep.

Anonymous said...

LOL! You would rather deal with Rob "M.I.A." Pennell? Talk about bittersweet! I could put you in touch with lots of people that WISH they got a wrong frame from him...at least then they would have something to show for their money.

Sorry to hear your story. I understand your feelings.

Anonymous said...

You really do not want a mclung, too much rearward bias ontop of wicked short chainstays, stupid short top tube and a silly tiny head tube.
That guy smokes way too much dope.

Dave said...

How about a Strong? Carl is a true business professional and one of the best framebuilders I've ever seen. He knows 29er geometry well and lays down some of the nicest weld beads. (Think Moots, only better)

Oh, and Rob (Badger) promised me a stem over a year ago. I have asked both on the phone and over email and gotten no response.

Napfgeist said...

In some way that story reminds me when I think back about the experiences with DEAN from Colorado. I ordered the Duke directly, then wait, wait...

gwadzilla said...

guess my problems are my own
as I tend to buy a bicycle out of a box

but similarly
I am thinking of rotating my newest bike out of the quiver

but first I need a proper fit kit
then I will shop by top tube

till then
I think I need to dig through my parts draw or even pull out a catalog for a different stem

(lightbulb over my head)

I think I have a long stem left over from the re-build of the cross bike from a frame warranty from Jamis
the stem is long
but will it have the rise I am looking for

sad story
sad comments

bummer that small business is like that
not all people mean to screw people over
it is just a fact of small business

it sucks
it does not make it right
but it is the reality of small business
not just bikes

but wanting to smoke dope or ride a bike can distract someone from the initial business plan