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Custom frame questions?(12 posts)

Custom frame questions?Sean OConnor
Feb 5, 2003 6:20 AM
Help! I've deciced that I probably need a custom frame. I've got short legs and a long torso, so I need a sloping top tube, which is relatively long, and a long headtube. The three builders I have in mind are Seven, IF, and Anvil. Also, I need to decide between steel and titanium. Any thoughts or comments would be appreciated!
re: Custom frame questions?Tarball
Feb 5, 2003 7:59 AM
You're going to get tons of opinions regarding what the best frame material is & they're all right. With the high quality of frame materials available today, you really can't go wrong with whatever you choose. The key to getting the right bike for you is in the builder you choose and how well they work with you to meet your individual needs and desires.
I've had contact with many folks whom have had fantastic experiences with Carl Strong as a builder. You may want to add him to your list of considerations.
I recently had a frame built by Rich Murphy, co-founder of 'Columbine Cycles'. He is currently building frames under the 'Solace' label. Rich works exclusively with steel & makes what I would consider the finest steel frames in the world. His attention to detail & rider fit/application is meticulous.
Builder, communications and fitboneman
Feb 5, 2003 3:12 PM
I agree with much of what Tarball says regarding communication with the builder. You need to clearly articulate what you are looking for in a frame including intended use, riding style, current ride likes and dislikes, etc. If they don't take this on with constructive feedback and suggestions, move on.

Further, you're going custom for a reason, fit and possibly specific riding characteristics within that fit.

I'm not a great fan of fitting by "give me your measurements." Unless you've ridden for a long time on different bikes in different situations and/or have great communications with the builder, it may go wrong. Not always but there's that possibility and life's too short.

I've had three customs made. One by measurement, one by jig fitting and the last by in house measurement using their techniques. At the end of the day, they all arrived at the same effective setback position which determines your pedaling position and relationship, fore and aft, to the crank. Differences came in the effective top tube, trail, etc. Nothing massively large but in the end, the jig fitting was the best and in terms of balance which for me determines if the custom build is right, providing the pedaling cockpit is sorted out, and handling.

My advice is go local or call in advance and go on a road trip. FWIW the builders in order were Marinoni(CA), Corrado (UK) and Chas Roberts (UK). Other off the peg rides include Gio Torino, Davidson (Seattle and also does custom), Pinarello Gavia (custom done but mainly if you visit Trevisio), 3Rensho (Japan), Merckx Ti and a Vortex. BTW, Colnago doesn't do custom for the guy off the street although Pinarello will.

Materials, again it depends on your weight and intended use but if you don't want Ti (I happen to like the material), I'd look at Columbus Foco and Deda SAT 14.5. If you're light and/or careful, Ultrafoco or EOM 16.5. Clydesdale like, then 853.

Enjoy and find the right builder who will fit you properly to your riding style.
So easy to spend BIG $$KeeponTrekkin
Feb 5, 2003 8:53 AM
I happened to read a review of a Serotta Ottrott. I don't need this but the reviewer sure liked it.

Need or want ?MR_GRUMPY
Feb 5, 2003 9:09 AM
The big question is if you really need a custom, or just want one. There are so many different frames out there that you could probably find one that would fit you just fine. Some have long top tubes, some have short top tubes. Some are compact, some aren't.
A good example would be, if I just HAD to have a Colnago. I could either be mis-fit or I would have to try to have them make a "special" for me. They might make a special Master Light for me for an extra $1000 .
I'm sure that there is a frame out there that will fit you perfectly.
On the other hand, if you WANT a custom, go for it.
What is intended use?........Len J
Feb 5, 2003 9:23 AM
How much do you want to spend?
What kind of ride do you want/Like?

Once you honestly answer these three questions, you will have a better idea of the properties you want in a frame. When you know these, then begin test riding different cutom frame builders bikes/Materials. Then make your own decision.

How about answering the man's question?bsdc
Feb 5, 2003 10:56 AM
Any of the builders you mentioned could likely build you a dream bike. There are dozens more that could do the same. It seem like your real question is "steel vs. titanium?" A very sensitive issue on this forum. I think the general consensus is either material can be made into a great bike. You have to ask yourself if you want a classic, beautifully painted steel bike at a good price or do you want to pay a little more for the slightly lighter, corrosion resistant, low maintenance titanium frame.
re: Custom frame questions?gtx
Feb 5, 2003 2:06 PM
well, it's not the material, it's what the builder does with it. And you won't go wrong with any of those builders. It's mostly a question of what you want to spend. I'd also look at Serotta and Steelman. With a good paint job and a little maintenance, it's hard to beat steel for the money.
A couple of recommendationscrosscut
Feb 5, 2003 6:15 PM
I have had three custom bikes built for me. Two by Don Ferris at Anvil, and one by Ves Mandaric. My kid has the Mandaric (I stupidly "loaned" him the bike and now I can't get it back!), while I kept the road bike and the cross bike by Ferris. These guys are good! Have patience with Don, though his delay is mostly with Spectrum who paints his frames. They are beautiful powder coat frames. Ves delivers faster. He likes Scandium, but he can build steel bikes also. Both are incredible craftsmen.
re: Custom frame questions?PaulMC
Feb 6, 2003 6:12 AM
Seven and IF make very nice frames so you if you choose either of them you will have a very nice bike. Last fall I was in the same predicament and ended up ordering my first custom frame, a fixed gear from Anvil after seeing another in the RBR gallery. It was hard to wait but when I picked the bike up about a month ago I thought it was incredible. Now that I have been able to ride it more than a few times it is even more wonderful. The best thing I can say about the bike is that after spending many thousands of dollars on bike stuff, my Anvil was the first time I felt like I received more than I paid for and it was the first time I ever tipped on a bike purchase.
You could go cheaper.StewartK
Feb 6, 2003 8:30 AM
Those builders all have good reputations, but you could get a nice, and less expensive steel bike from Tet Cycles (I have two). There are other more reasonable builders as well
re: Custom frame questions?Carrera Pete
Feb 21, 2003 6:53 PM
Go custom, once you have a bike built specifically for you, you will never ride production again. I have had three custom frames, an Ian Laing road race frame in SLX, built in '89. A Colian tandem in Reynolds steel, built in '90, and I just took delivery of my new Davidson Ti in January of this year. When I had the Laing built I was working as bike shop manager and I rode everything OEM out there, Bianchi, Cannondale, GT, Specialized, Schwinn, Pinarello (which I really liked), 'Nags, etc, etc. Once I got the Laing, settled on crankarms, stem, and saddle, I was happy for 30,000 miles. Like you I have shorter legs and a long upper body so the Laing had a 58.5 c2c top tube on a 59 c2t seat tube at 74 degrees. Sounds crazy but my femar is short, and the steep angle puts me over the bb better. With that set up it fit great and took me from a Cat 4 to a Cat 2.

Fast forward 12 years and I'm back into roadracing again, time for a new bike. I decided to go Ti this time, I did the measurement thing with Bob Freeman at Davidson, swapped horror stories of being "fitted" by the local shop (that is a story in and of itself), and finally I flew up to Seattle for a fitting. We ended up with what the measurements suggested but in a compact design, and I'm totally happy as a clam. The new bike is great and I love the Ti frame with a carbon fork, Caddy smooth and Porsche quick. As far as cost I think the Davidson was a bargain, $4500 with full Record for fully custom frame. Lemond what about $5900 for roughly the samething with no choice of angles and lengths, only cheesey paint, nothing custom at all.

I would suggest finding a builder who has built many frames and go with what they suggest. Laing has done 9000 frames, Davidson is in his 30th year building. I'd also say go fo the Ti, you'll love it, trust me.

Most of all have fun.