@kiwisimon yeah exactly. I think you are understanding what I am seeking.
So paying for an expert builder, whether or not its custom geometry is what I am after. The last thing you want is a beautiful new bike that rides like a pig because the builder doesn't really know what he is doing.
Or more likely some thing was lost in communication. If you're paying for a build you might as well get one that fits. I see two trips in your future, One to get on the same page as the builder and get fitted, Two, to pick up your bike and get fitted. Do you race in China?
yeah I race although the racing scene is small and disorganised where i live. Around Shanghai there is better organisation but only flat parcours. where I am its mostly its hill climb events, which are pretty fun and there are plenty of mountains around. The culture shock for me is nothing is announced until a couple of weeks before the event, so its difficult to plan....
nah I understand the local situation quite well. There are plenty of factories that can produce decent quality items, for example effective welding but the builder would only do welding, no designing or anything else. he would be a professional welder and probably never rides bikes. The factory owner/manager also wouldn't be interested cycling, he would only be a manufacturer ie takes plans for what needs to be built, hires a welder and painter and makes a bike. In this way they don't have to understand it to build it. They will be given QA specs by the buyer (the bike brand) and they will work to that. by and large people here are still very pragmatic and only interested in making money with the least effort possible. They are only interested in doing the bare amount necessary in terms of quality, otherwise they will lose money (they have a very short term view). If you contrast that to Japan for example, there is a real history and culture or craftsmanship, continuous improvement and striving for perfection that is totally absent here.
That doesn't sound like the type of shop where I'd want to buy a frame from if I were in the market. I'm confused how they think they can build a steel frame without having an interest in cycling. But I second kiwisimon's suggestion here, if you are getting a Gucci steel frame, you should get a custom one that is tailored to your body and riding preferences. (Do you want a sportier bike or a more comfortable one? Should it be nimble or stable? Do you want disc brakes or rim brakes? What about other optional features such as the number of bottle cages, mud guards and the like?)
Vlad is an amazing craftsman and a super-nice dude. I’ve had more fun on the off-road/CX machine he built for me than any other bike I’ve ridden. I’ve also ridden one of his road bikes, and it was fantastic.
You should drop him a line, maybe visit his workshop in Ota-ku to talk bikes.
Just to add something about Vlad (not sure it’s in this thread already).
If the Japanese craftsmanship element is important to you, he was trained by a former-NJS framebuilder (these framebuilders who make steel frames to exacting standards for Keirin racers here). Also, Vlad’s work is outstanding and he’s a solid guy.
Other options for Japanese steel include Level and Kalavinka (Kalavinka’s road frames are beautiful and, surprisingly, not crazy expensive).