We've made no secret of where our bikes come from. In fact, we've gone out of our way to be very clear that we're sourcing from open molds out of a catalog, from Taiwan. So are a lot of other brands - the difference is that many of them are blowing smoke about the engineering decisions "they" made or how the geometry was tweaked from the input of "their" elite racers.
Where we add value is knowing which catalogs to shop from, and being able to order the quantities the suppliers require in order to do business in the first place. (You can't just order a single naked frame from Merida or TopKey. Nor can you order a dozen to be used expressly for your team. You have to go bigger, which is a barrier to entry in this business.) Starting by choosing a supplier was important to us. The most awesome bike ever doesn't do racers much good if it's held up in production for 2 months longer than expected. We started with the business needs around the supplier relationship, making sure our bikes were coming from someone reputable and reliable.
The other place we add value is in selecting which bike to buy, once we have a supplier partner. We had a list of features we wanted the bike to include, including a tapered head tube, frame weight around 1100g, a price point. The geometry was also critically important. We wanted something squarely in the "Perfectly Acceptable" range. We're not engineers, and it seemed disingenuous for us to have to explain a steeper than usual seat tube angle, or a head tube cropped aggressively short. We wanted something almost any racer could look at and say, "I can make that work, no problem."
But bikes that share all those criteria can still look pretty different. Dave uses the phrase "bike-flavored bikes." It means bikes that have an unencumbered, utilitarian design. They're contemporary in their construction and tube shapes, but classic in their lines. They look like they're made to let you go fast on them, and not to sell you on the suspect advantage of a swooping curve, skinny little tube or unconventional profile.
After all that, and looking at literally hundreds of bikes, here's the one we chose - the November Wheelhouse:
We're all in for minimalist paint and decal schemes, though the finished frames will go a little further than this one. We'll have decal mock-ups within a few days, which of course I'll post here as well so you can see decisions being made in real-time.