Like many growing up in the late 1970s, my introduction to serious philosophy was reading Robert Pirsig's bestseller, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. In it Pirsig explored the "metaphysics of Quality", though he says that Quality itself is indefinable. He also attempts to unite classical and romantic (Zen) perception. I admit that it was a struggle to understand. And to this day I struggle with many issues of Quality, though the current problems are not quite as deep.
A case in point is our chrome-plated fillet-brazed stem project. You may remember my mentioning them in early spring. We're finally considering placing an order after seeing some production samples. Custom made fillet brazed stems, or any fillet brazed stems, are incredibly expensive. Johnny Coast made them as an option for our semi-custom Rando frames. The photo below shows that they are very high quality indeed, as they should be given the $450-$500 price.
The stems below are made in Taiwan and at first glance they look similar. The polishing and chrome on the top are pretty good. Given the cost of somwhere between $60 and $80, it's darn nice.
But flip them over and you'll see that there is little finish work underneath. The area around the bolts, which must be finished by hand with a small file also looks rough.
So the question I face is whether we should we accept this level of finish and price? Or should we insist on the bottoms being filed and polished and, perhaps, doubling the cost? On one hand, I know they could be nicer. On the other, I want to make them accessible to everyone.
So long as I'm throwing out questions, should they be 6-degree angles or have a higher rise? And does anyone have further insights on the "metaphysics of Quality"?
04 August, 2009
Posted by Velo Orange at 10:04:00 AM