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Why go custom?(17 posts)

Why go custom?Len J
Sep 25, 2001 4:07 AM
Read a post on cyclingforum that got me thinking. In the back of my mind I've always thought that someday, I would get a custom made bike. If I'm honest, part of it was to get the perfect fit and part of it was a feeling that this would be "the ultimate". But as I thought about it, there is an argument that for most people, you can fine tune a bike fit (assuming that the original frame was close) with a stem or seatpost swap and get a great fit. So here's my question:

If You don't have unusual body measurements, Is there any other reasons to buy custom other than aestetics, snoot factor or the need for custom brazings for touring?

re: Why go custom?dzrider
Sep 25, 2001 4:28 AM
I recently bought a used frame that had been custom made for somebody else which speaks to my agreement with your conclusions about fit. It is also feels perfect for the long hilly rides I most enjoy. I don't think it's coincidence that it was built to be a sport/touring bike and does that better for me than ti bikes and exotic Italians that I've tried.

IMHO much of the value you get in custom bikes is found in the workmanship and details. Frame builders are able to design and create a bike to fit the kind of riding you do without setting up a production line to produce hundreds of them. This gets you things like lower or higher bottom bracket, fender clearance, long or short wheel base, all on a bike that's built with a commitment to quality.
re: Why go custom?MikeC
Sep 25, 2001 5:13 AM
Len, I'll admit that I shared the same thoughts as you before I bought my Seven. But as I get older, it seems to me that fit becomes increasingly important. My body, even with years of cycling, doesn't seem to adapt as well to stress as it used to, and "stress" includes stretching my torso out over a drop bar, and muscling up the occasional mountain.
Even with only a couple of days and a little more than a hundred miles on my Seven, I'm amazed at the difference that "perfect" fit makes. In clothing, I'm a perfect medium. I wear a 40 regular jacket. Off-the-rack stuff fits me. But I have never felt so "unstressed" physically after a ride as I have with my Seven.
Here's what I think is the bottom line: you can get a bike that's a hard-core performance machine, and your body will often pay the price for that performance (although we can get away with it when we're in our teens and 20's); but with a great custom, you can get a performance machine that also treats your body nicely. My last frame was as comfortable as my Seven in the rear triangle, but it did it through sacrificing some performance edge. The custom gave me a much more comfortable front end, a comfy rear, and outstanding stiffness and performance at the same time.
And yeah, that "ultimate" feeling is nice, too!
re: Why go custom?AD14
Sep 25, 2001 5:51 AM
I think MIKE has hit it on the head. As I get older I care more about the fit and ride. I got my custom foco this summer and I can ride farther with less stress even thougmy I was fitted on my colnago. One added benefit is that with stem length optimized the handling is improved over the old bike.
question for MikeCterry_b
Sep 25, 2001 6:21 AM
Did you go with the Seven recommended build geometries or a hybrid of what you were used to and what they derived from their measurement system?

Reason I'm asking - all of my bikes "seem" to fit me just fine. That of course does not mean the fit is "correct", rather those geometries are what I am used to. Since they don't cause me any discomfort, I assume they fit fine. Also, while I've never been fit by a fitter, I have played around a lot with the online systems all of which confirmed the geometries I have purchased.

However, as I am considering going with a custom bike myself, I have been pondering whether I would say, "build it like this bike" or use their fit system and build a to their recommended geometry. I suppose I could end up with something that feels weird to me but is built properly to some accepted set of formulas.
question for MikeCPsyDoc
Sep 25, 2001 7:03 AM
I just ordered a Seven Axiom Ti and was going to spec the bike myself, but the Seven employee suggested that a work-up just to see. The specs that came back were nothing out of the ordinary: 73.5 head tube, 73.5 seat tube, 55.5 seat tube (c-c). But, they had the bike spec'd with a 57.5cm top tube with a 100 degree stem. So, I cut the top tube length back to 56.5cm and kept everything else. If you know exactly what you want, then tell Seven and they will build it for you rather quickly.
question for PsyDocajn
Sep 25, 2001 12:31 PM
My frame (an Ibis Spanky) has exactly the same specs as what you ended up with, so I'm curious about "your" specs -- ie, how tall you are, your inseam and weight. I never had a professional workup, so I'm curious what they consider the correct size of the person who would ride a bike with these specs. Thanks.
Here you go...PsyDoc
Sep 26, 2001 3:10 AM
...but keep in mind that my flexibility is probably above average.

Height: 175cm (5'-9")
Body Height (ground to sternal notch): 144.15cm
Torso (Crotch-to-Sternal Notch): 59.70cm
Inseam: 84.46
Shoulder Width (bony protrusions at the top of the shoulder): 40cm
Forearm (elbow to middle of fist): 35.80cm
Extended Arm (shoulder joint to middle of fist): 65.25cm
question for MikeCMikeC
Sep 25, 2001 7:35 AM
My design came from a mix of three elements. First my LBS took all the measurements Seven wanted, and I answered all the preference, performance, and riding style questions in their Custom Kit. Then my LBS put me on a size cycle, set it up how they thought I should be fit, and recorded the measurements. Finally, someone from Seven called my LBS, and the two of them developed the final geometry from a combination of their computer output and the LBS' in-person knowledge of me.
I ended up with a reasonably quick front end paired with a more relaxed rear: 55cm top tube sloped 4 degrees; 52cm seat tube; 16.2cm head tube; 73.5 degree head tube angle; 72 degree seat tube angle. I'm 5'10" with long femurs, FWIW.
Where else can you get something so nice so cheap?MB1
Sep 25, 2001 5:33 AM
The prices frame builders charge for customs are so low as to be a joke. These guys have to be doing it because they love to-not for any hope of long term gain.

Think of the things that you can have made to order (other than a sandwich) and how much they cost. Furniture, stereo systems, a saddle for your horse etc. They all cost a lot more than a custom bicycle complete. Even a custom tandem is a bargan compared to most custom made products.

Indulge yourself and support a dying craft-get a custom bicycle with a custom frame.
re: Why go custom?mickey-mac
Sep 25, 2001 5:39 AM
I bought my first custom this year. Apart from fit and aesthetics, the whole process of getting a custom frame is unique. How many products do you buy these days where the manufacturer allows you to be involved every step of the way? Will Toyota or Volvo let you call up and make changes to your wheelbase? If I had really tried, I probably could have found an off the shelf frame that fit as well as my Strong. But why should I deprive myself of the opportunity to be sure that I get everything exactly as I want it, especially when custom won't cost me any more? I paid less in '01 for a custom Foco frame and Ouzo Pro fork than I did in '96 for a Torelli EL-OS frame and fork. Some other customs cost even less; I believe Anvil sells Foco frames for $800. Finally, there is the satisfaction of sending your money to a builder you can identify by face and voice. Carl Strong is a nice guy, and I was happy to do business with him. I suspect the same would hold true for most small custom builders.
re: Why go custom?badabill
Sep 25, 2001 7:22 AM
With the cost of custom frames at about the same as a off the rack, I cant see why more people dont ride custom. After cutting my list down to just a few builders I decided on John Slawta. His landsharks are a work of art. Its deda zero uno with Brazing so smooth most people think its carbon fiber. I wanted a bike that was built for me by someone who takes pride in what they do, and I could not be happier.
re: Why not?Jay
Sep 25, 2001 6:30 AM
Hey Len, first of all, how's the Lemond doing after your accident? Are you looking into custom frames? I just picked up a custom Seven Axiom Ti, the thing is a sweet ride so far that I can tell, I haven't had a chance to go out on a long ride yet but I've got a hilly century coming up this sunday.

Anyway, I went custom because I'm a fairly short rider who likes a longer top tube than most bikes offered in standard geometries. I didn't want to simply add a longer stem/shorter stem cause that will affect the steering quickness and handling. With small frames, the seat angles are limited too due to wheel clearence unless I went with 650c wheels which I didn't want to do due to tire availability and just it's easier to find 700c tires and tubes in bike shops. Even my Lemond has a little shorter TT than what I like but not by much. So, I was trying to compare between Serotta and Seven and it kind of came down to a local LBS who I trust is a Seven dealer but honestly, I wouldn't hesitate to go with a Serotta or a Seven. Seven has a real nice custom kit too. I ordered it in early August (before the Alaska AIDS ride) and just picked it up this weekend,
I had family obligations so I didn;t get a chance to do any extended riding.

OT: Hey Len..Jay
Sep 25, 2001 6:32 AM
Forgot to add, you're down in Maryland, right? Have you ever done that huge tour they do, the one that bikes across the Chesapeake Bay bridge and across Maryland? I'm looking at various tours next year and they advertise alot up here and it just looks sort of fun... I forget what it's called but it's real popular...

Jay H
No, I haven't done the ride your talking about.........Len J
Sep 25, 2001 7:07 AM
I think it's the ride across Maryland.

My accident wasn't on my Lemond, It was on my Trek Carbon. Bike is fine, and other than the ticket, I'm fine too. Thanks for asking. But, I think I'm going to beat the ticket.

re: Why go custom? What about USPS's OCLV's?Tig
Sep 25, 2001 9:06 AM
IF you are luck enough to have body proportions that would put you on various stock frames, even after being measured and fitted by an expert, you will be in choice heaven (or is it hell?!). To be able to choose several stock frames that would all fit perfectly is great, so you wouldn't have to go custom unless you wanted to. Chances are that most of us that ride stock frames could be better off with a frame that was a little different in a few areas. I'd love one, but can't aford the extra cost. Yes, it does cost extra!

This brings up one question: Are the USPS's OCLV's really stock sizes? I'm fairly sure that the molds each cost a fortune and don't alow any changes in geometry. Maybe the factory tech's could play around with fabric orientation and layups to suit different racer's needs. So, if it's good enough for USPS riders, is it good enough for us mortals? LOL
Sep 25, 2001 1:20 PM
Hey if your body and riding style is the perfect model for an off the rack bike then that's great. However, it's like buying a suit off the rack and requiring zero modifications - it can happen, but it's not likely. Sometimes hem on the pants leg is all that is required (i.e. a stem) and some times you need a lot of work. Ultimately no one is going to know if your bike is actually custom geometry unless you tell them - so the "snoot factor" is totally optional. If you want a perfect fit get your suit custom made - just like your bike frame. Come to think of it bike frames can be a better deal than some pretty boy/gucci suit.