Timeline of my BTR Bantam polo frame, their first custom order:
19/7/2012: First proper contact, Thursday PM
20/7/2012: I sent a link to my idea in BikeCAD, listed sizing and clearance constraints.
23/7/2012: Received first version of geometry, I replied confirming the fork I'd purchased for it.
24/7/2012: They raise topic of headsets (integrated vs zerostack vs EC), ask for chainline, chainring size, crank model and tyre dimensions for clearances.
25/7/2012: They explain challenges in BB/CS area, ask about preferences around toptube and seatstays. They attached renders from Solidworks which they use for design.
27/7/2012: (Friday)I confirm 73mm BSA shell, tyre clearances. Discuss tubing choices.
31/7/2012: More renders, details of laser-cut gussets and IS caliper mount. Tubing spec confirmed. Weight of tubing specified at 1835g plus welding rod and paint, total est 2kg. I mention aspiring to use my new bike at London Open 2012, Aug 25-26th. Discuss paint, plan handover and assembly at their workshop. Agree deposit amount, about 35%.
1/8/2012: Deposit request received via Paypal and paid AM. Tubing, dropouts etc ordered from Reynolds and Ceeway. More paint chat.
2/8/2012: Update that Reynolds order has dispatched.
8/8/2012: I inform them that I've bought XT M770 cranks, confirm 23rd for handover, request metallic medium-dark grey finish.
13/8/2012: They give up on emailing Argos, use phone instead, get turnaround time down from 4 weeks to 1 week but we agree it's a bit risky and go for their local finishers who can turnaround in a few days. Agree collar rather than integrated binder for seattube.
14/8/2012: They've been in touch with the finishers and asked for a photo of their stock metallic grey. Receive first photos of the steel, except toptube and seatstays, mitred and jigged up.
16/8/2012: No photo of colour, but agree anyway.
19/8/2012: They ask what I'd like on the serial plate. (Instead of a traditional emblem on the headtube, BTRs have a plate with stamped details like an industrial machine)
20/8/2012: TIG weld porn https://www.facebook.com/BTR.Fabrications/photos/a.475495202469659/475495475802965/?type=3&theater
22/8/2012: Frame received from finishers last night (21st), confirm no change to total price.
23/8/2012: Arrive at their workshop with holdall full of parts and balance of payment, assemble bike, take photos, finally agree on name, take test ride, discuss nuances of polo bike handling.
tldr: CAD design done and tubing ordered in about 2 weeks. Frame build and sent for powercoating in another two weeks. Frame collected about 5 weeks after first contact. This was their 7th frame sold and the workshop was in one of their parents' back garden.
BTR's Burf and Tam are both engineers, met while studying Motorsport Engineering, Burf became a full time welder, Tam worked at K900 doing suspension telemetry before it was cool, then they started BTR. They were clear and open about progress, queries and decisions.
They came top in MBUK's Summer 2019 Hardcore Hardtail group test. They showed off pics of frame #221 this May, so they've averaged about 30 frames a year for the last 7 years which isn't bad considering Burf also teaches TIG at The Bicycle Academy.