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I have just gotten really in to cycling, before it was always just a way to get outside and get some exercise and get my hubby off the couch but somewhere along the way I really fell in love with it. I've signed up for a century in the fall and some other random events along the way but I really just like riding alone (three kids under 4 at home, can you blame me!) So here is where my craziness has come in, I was all set to buy a Cannondale cyclocross because the frame is welded here in the US (we try to buy US and small business whenever possible) but then I found that I could build my own and source more components from here than if I went with a stock bike. And then I started looking for frame builders and found that I love the look of the lugged frames and really love the Kirk Frameworks, they are just beautiful bikes. Am I totally nuts though to have a custom bike built when I've probably ridden less than a thousand miles total in the last two years? It would mean that I would keep riding my hubby's bike that is to big for me or the cheapie schwinn for the rest of the summer at least but I honestly don't care. The thought of that bike is enough to make me ride the one I have for another two years if I had to so I could have it.

Is it crazy to have one built already? Should I just get a stock bike and ride it for a few years first to get a better idea of what would suit me or take the plunge now and get a dream bike?
 

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After riding for a few years, you would better knowledge what you want. But, it does sound like you have ridden enough to have a fair understanding of fit. And I'm sure you know you're not taking the cheap way out. After reading your post, I don't think you'll be happy until you have the Kirk. Go for it.:thumbsup:
 

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3 kids under 4 = you deserve anything you want.

OTOH

For the cost of a custom frame you could get one heck of an off the rack bike.
 

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duh...
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it is possible that your fit might change as you get more experience/fitness
 

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I'd echo previous comments. Make sure you take your time and do your homework especially regarding size. The framebuilder will help you with this somewhat, but they are going to expect you know what you need. You can have a professional fitting done locally and supply the numbers to Kirk.

It may cost you more upfront, but will probably save you money in the long run by avoiding multiple purchases trying to find the perfect setup. Also, being able to cherry pick your parts is the only way to go. Why take whatever the manufacturers specs on an off-the-rack bike?

The only craziness in all this would be if you get it and it sits in the garage unridden.

brewster
 

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eRacer
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Sounds like you've caught the fever.
Be happy and GO FOR IT!
Good Luck.
 

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Well you certainly found one of the best lugged framemakers in the world! Why don't you email him or call him and talk to him about it? He is accessible, and the skiing season should be over in a couple months in Bozeman. :D He may also be partial to the name Caren, if not the spelling........
Caren said:
I have just gotten really in to cycling, before it was always just a way to get outside and get some exercise and get my hubby off the couch but somewhere along the way I really fell in love with it. I've signed up for a century in the fall and some other random events along the way but I really just like riding alone (three kids under 4 at home, can you blame me!) So here is where my craziness has come in, I was all set to buy a Cannondale cyclocross because the frame is welded here in the US (we try to buy US and small business whenever possible) but then I found that I could build my own and source more components from here than if I went with a stock bike. And then I started looking for frame builders and found that I love the look of the lugged frames and really love the Kirk Frameworks, they are just beautiful bikes. Am I totally nuts though to have a custom bike built when I've probably ridden less than a thousand miles total in the last two years? It would mean that I would keep riding my hubby's bike that is to big for me or the cheapie schwinn for the rest of the summer at least but I honestly don't care. The thought of that bike is enough to make me ride the one I have for another two years if I had to so I could have it.

Is it crazy to have one built already? Should I just get a stock bike and ride it for a few years first to get a better idea of what would suit me or take the plunge now and get a dream bike?
 

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It's not easy being green
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Get what you want! Why "put up" with a bike to put miles on when you know what your "forever bike" is. Build that bad boy up. Just remember to post pictures!
 

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If you're really passionate about cycling, and you don't expect your bicycle needs to change that is; your interests don't change from recreational cycling to racing or something else, and you can get your hubby to measure you properly as Dave Kirk provides you with instructions, then no, I don't think you're crazy. Personally, I would wait a couple years until the dust settles and you gain more experience cycling, then you'll be better able to articulate your desires to Kirk and you'll get what you want. Otherwise, I'm dead nuts positive you'll be satisfied with the frame he builds for you.
 

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Descender
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Agree with the two posters who preach patience with this undertaking (Fat Tire Fred and Peter P.).

Your fit and fitness will probably change over the next year. Currently yoiu are riding a bike that is too big or another bike - you do not mention if these are even road bikes.

With this in mind you may be better off getting an affordable entry level road bike that fits and take some time out to define what you do and do not like aboout that bike - at the same time this would eb an upgrade from what you are currently riding. When it comes time to buy the dream bike you will have a greater understanding of your needs and wants - and therefore be that much more satisfied.

Good Luck!
 

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You have definitely got the bug and a century is certainly ambitious. If budget is a concern Carl Strong is in Bozeman also and is one of the best. He and Dave are good friends and have adjoining booths at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show(NAHBS). Carl won the best tig welded frame this year and has one awards in previous years. His frames are less expensive due to less labor involved in tig welding versus fillet brazing(kirk) and probably have a much shorter lead time. He will be honest with you regarding this. Call him and Dave and discuss it. Either one would be an excellent choice.

Another good, young builder you might want to consider is this guy. I had a good conversation with him at the show. He is very knowledgeable.
http://caletticycles.com/index.html

Gunnar is a very high quality retail bike that is made by the same artisans that build Waterford custom bicycles.

Good luck. You might want to wait awhile to you know for certain the type of riding you will be doing and the fit and riding position that works best for you. If you have the budget and think you know what you want then by all means go for it.
 

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Well, the one advantage, if you decide to get out of biking, any custom frame you get from the builders that have been mentioned in this thread, unless you're crazy weird sized or order some extreme geometry, should be easy to resell.

A Kirk is definitely at the pinnacle of builders still accepting orders. If you have the cash and the bug, and think you know what you want, I say call him and talk it through. If he feels you're not ready yet, he may talk you out of getting one at this junction.

I'll also give a huge +1 for Carl Strong as an alternative. i can't say enough about how awesome a customer service this guy gives. He's top notch and affordable, with a much shorter wait list as well.

Please let us know what your final decision is after you chew this over a while. :)
 

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I'll also say go for it. First, when people say your fit will change, they are mostly speaking of your handlebar drop and reach, not your seat/BB/pedal fit. That should be pretty constant, so don't let that bother you.

If you get a custom bike that allows some flexibility in the front end as well as intermediate handling and ride characteristics, you will end up with a frame that you can ride for many years to come.

You can tell the builder you want something that is comfortable for 100 miles, and he will know what you mean. On the other hand you could, for example, tell him you want something that handles well for crits and he could build that too and you would be beat to death trying to ride it 100 miles.

A good builder like Kirk will know exactly what to do even though you are not that experienced. You don't really need to know angles, frame material or tube lengths, you just need to be able to clearly articulate what you expect to do with the bike.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks for all of the advice, I did some thinking and talked with DH some and I think that I am going to get something that I can ride that fits me for now and then really research and look into things before I start the custom process. I know barring some freak accident I will probably ride until I die so it will be well worth the purchase if I can be patient and make sure I am getting what will suit me best. I was surprised that DH didn't freak out to much, but then again I was pretty vague on the cost (before you think me some horrible dishonest person I run my own business and work really freaking hard at it!).

I can't really count on resale value even if something did happen, I'm only 5'3 and since there are far less women riding than men and I'm shorter than average for a woman I'd be a little screwed there. Speaking of resale though, should I go into my "in the meantime" bike purchase figuring it's money down the drain or will I possibiliy be able to recoup any of it in a year or two (if it's an off the rack entry level model?)

I appreciate the help and comments, thank you!
 

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Skip the temp bike!

Caren said:
Thanks for all of the advice, I did some thinking and talked with DH some and I think that I am going to get something that I can ride that fits me for now and then really research and look into things before I start the custom process. I know barring some freak accident I will probably ride until I die so it will be well worth the purchase if I can be patient and make sure I am getting what will suit me best. I was surprised that DH didn't freak out to much, but then again I was pretty vague on the cost (before you think me some horrible dishonest person I run my own business and work really freaking hard at it!).

I can't really count on resale value even if something did happen, I'm only 5'3 and since there are far less women riding than men and I'm shorter than average for a woman I'd be a little screwed there. Speaking of resale though, should I go into my "in the meantime" bike purchase figuring it's money down the drain or will I possibiliy be able to recoup any of it in a year or two (if it's an off the rack entry level model?)

I appreciate the help and comments, thank you!
Wouldn't waste much money on an entry level bike, although you could sell in a couple of years for half of what you paid--maybe 200.

You'll ride the Kirk into the ground, though. It will take a lifetime. A great bike that fits becomes a friend. You ride it better and better each year. It, and the sport, grows on you, encouraging you to ride, like a nice musical instrument encourages you to play. Why buy a lesser "temporary" bike only to sell it two years from now at a considerable loss? The good stuff is really worth it, no matter how you look at it.

In the unlikely event you might want to sell it ten years from now, there are plenty of women 5' 3" who would just love to have a bike that actually fits! Its very difficult to find a reliable, top quality bike built for a woman in that size.

A testimonial: I bought a top of the line Italian bike in 1985 (I'd been riding 4 years), and still ride it all the time. It has at least 70,000 miles on it and looks and rides as good as it did in '85, 24 years ago. It does everything so well, I've never had any desire to "upgrade." A Kirk would do the same for you. He's been on this forum from time to time. He could fix you up with a "keeper" that would do everything you wanted. Deciding exactly what you wanted, while not eliminating qualities Kirk knows would enhance the pleasure of the ride, would not be that complicated. Kirk could help you with that. You won't know what a really good bike is like until you ride one! The more you ride it, the more you find out what a great bike is. An entry level bike will simply retard the process.
 
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I have to disagree with Frederico. You are new in the sport and very excited and passionate about learning and riding in the future. Unfortunately at this point you probably don't even know what you don't know ( called unconciously incompetent). For example, do you prefer, Sram, Campy, Shimano components, on a long ride will you have lower back problems, numb hands, or other discomforts that would require a slightly different fit than normal. These are fit issues that a good builder like Kirk, or Strong would deal with. Custom builders typically like to talk about your current bike and the things you like or dislike about it. The resell on custom bicycles is usually pretty dismal. Go to Serrota.com/forums and check out the classified adds. You will find many custom bikes only a few years old selling for 1/2 what they cost new. Stock bike resell value typically isn't all that great either. Go to a local shop and get fitted, and have them reccomend some stock sized bike they feel would work for you. Pick up a used bike on Ebay and ride it's wheels off. After a little more experience you will be able to better communicate your wants and needs to the custom builder of your choice and they can make you that lifetime bicycle you are already dreaming about.
 

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PaMTBRider said:
I have to disagree with Frederico. You are new in the sport and very excited and passionate about learning and riding in the future. Unfortunately at this point you probably don't even know what you don't know ( called unconciously incompetent). For example, do you prefer, Sram, Campy, Shimano components, on a long ride will you have lower back problems, numb hands, or other discomforts that would require a slightly different fit than normal. These are fit issues that a good builder like Kirk, or Strong would deal with. Custom builders typically like to talk about your current bike and the things you like or dislike about it.
I disagree. You're clouding the frame issue with components and they mostly don't matter at all.

I would insist on a 27.2 seatpost, an English BB and a 1-1/8" steering tube. And it's best to get a bike that will clear 700x25 tires.

Other than that, it doesn't matter a bit which component mfg or group level you prefer. And as I stated above, allowing some variation in the HB position can allow for changing drop and reach over time.

For example the builder can target a stem length range of 90-110 with 100 being ideal, but start you on a 90. This won't adversely affect the handling since it is in the design range.
 
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android said:
For example the builder can target a stem length range of 90-110 with 100 being ideal, but start you on a 90. This won't adversely affect the handling since it is in the design range.
So why are we talking about custom if you are going design a bike for a target range of positions. That sounds like stock geometry that fits the majority of riders that you would get with a non custom bike.
 

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PaMTBRider said:
So why are we talking about custom if you are going design a bike for a target range of positions. That sounds like stock geometry that fits the majority of riders that you would get with a non custom bike.
Not the same.

Stock bike = angles, axles, wheelbase, size, TT length are fixed. Rider is forced to fit bike by adjusting seat height, seat rail position, stem length and possibly crank arm length. There is nothing else you can do to the bike.

Custom bike: Position of rider's three contact points is calculated first The frame is then designed from those contact points outward. HB position can be flexible because we can start at a neutral point, not at a position that requires an extremely long or short stem to force a fit. Then, everything else is determined. It's a completely backwards methodology from a stock bike.
 
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