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I hate to bring up this age old question but here it goes. I have been emotionally attached to buying a new Look 586. I am the first to admit that this is more bike that I need, but aren't they all. I am 5'8'', 180lbs and consider myself an enthusiast. I have no intention to race; I ride for fitness but occasionally get in on a competitive group ride with cat III racers. With that said, I am wanting to upgrade from my current Cannondale Caad8 to something I can ride more comfortably for a longer time. I was sold on the 586, but finally looked at the pricing and realized that this places me into the "custom" category. I have looked at steel and am attacted to the lugged stainless of Anderson. I have also been intrigued by custom carbon of Seven. The price difference is small, yet performance differences are significant. I just do not know the difference. Any opinions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.
 

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If you are going custom (steel or carbon), you're not just buying the frame. You're buying the whole customer-service process, so shop accordingly. If you like Anderson and Seven, start by calling them. They should respond to you with a series of questions to get a feel for how you ride, what you like about your current bike and what you want in your next bike.

The big difference between an Anderson and a Seven, I imagine, is the sales process. Dave Anderson probably speaks to each customer individually and uses a lot of qualitative feel in his process. Last I checked with Seven, they sell through dealers, so if you can work with a good dealer, that's great. But if the dealer's not top notch, you might miss out. Also, Seven asks customers to rank characteristics like "Vertical Compliance" on a scale of 1 to 10. I always found this weird. Really now, what's the difference between 7 and 8 for something like this?

Finally, I'm not sure where you get the idea of significant performance differences. If you go custom, you should be able to get the performance you desire from almost any frame. And, if you are lucky, you can find a bike fitter who really knows how physiology plays into bike fit. You can find someone who can put you into a position on your bike that will maximize power and comfort.

Of course, that means you might want to find a bike fitter who works with neither Anderson nor Seven. They can spec a frame for you, and then you can send those specs to the builder. Good luck with your journey.
 

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Consider this.

This bike you are contemplating may not be your final bike, the one you keep forever. New tech may come along that will make whatever you buy now 'not enough' for you, or you may just get sick of it, or simply want a change. If you go the custom route, you will have a much harder time finding a prospective buyer for it. I know, I have two really fine steel bikes right now, unused any longer. One, my custom race bike from the 80s, I probably will never be able to sell for anything and the other is a stock but highly respected Italian builder...that one, I get all kinds of interest, it will sell without much trouble to a "steel-head" Mondonico bike.. I had my Koehler bike built for me because I have a long torso and short legs and I couldn't get (or didn't know how to get) a 'perfect' fit on a standard bike. I still go back to that bike when I set up a modern bike...it fit me perfectly and I emulate the measurements of that one whenever I get another frame...Now I know enough of fitting that I can find a production frame to work with for my body..Back then, I let Jack, the custom guy, fit me and he got it just right...

Think about resale before you drop ~$4-5K on a frame you will have issues selling..

Don Hanson
 

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Gnarly 928 said:
Think about resale before you drop ~$4-5K on a frame you will have issues selling..
Do people really care about this? I mean it's not even on the table when I buy anything bicycle related. And it's a foregone conclusion that you're never going to get much more than pennies on the dollar, especially if you keep it until you're bored of it.

I buy bikes to ride, I just can't get my head around compromising on something I want because I will be unable to recoup my costs later. Life is too short to make those kinds of trade-offs.
 

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I have had about 5 frames including a Colnago C50. I am an "enthusiast" like yourself but pretty serious and dedicated. I just bought a custom lugged steel frame. my .02 - get the steel...it is easier to care for and repair and will last longer. The carbon rides nice also, but if you ever wreck, it will likely be toast. If you don't race, you don't need the weight advantage of carbon.

As far as getting custom versus off the rack, all I can say is Colnagos fit me like a glove, so the geometry difference between the 'nago and the custom was minimal, but the difference in feel and ride was significant. Go with custom and go with steel.

Finally, when most of us ask for custom we don't mean "made to order" but rather " made to fit" , ie. the builder fits you then builds the frame, rather than you providing all the specs like perhaps an experienced racer might. For that reason, I would recommend a local builder so he can measure you personally. my builder even road 50 miles with me to get an idea of my riding style. Good luck.
 

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terry b said:
Do people really care about this? I mean it's not even on the table when I buy anything bicycle related. And it's a foregone conclusion that you're never going to get much more than pennies on the dollar, especially if you keep it until you're bored of it.

I buy bikes to ride, I just can't get my head around compromising on something I want because I will be unable to recoup my costs later. Life is too short to make those kinds of trade-offs.
Well, it depends on many things. Like: Can you get a good fit with a production frame? How often do you switch bikes? How much disposable cash do you have? How much room do you have around the house for discarded bikes, or do you just toss those old Colnagos into the dumpster?

I typically keep a bike I like for 6months to a year, then another one strikes my fancy. I consider the resale because I sell the old one after I get the new one.. I always keep two road bikes to ride (I do about 7-8k miles per year) at one time and another "in transition"...building one up and re-selling the old one to partly pay for the next one. I think I've had about 25 very high end (Look, Time, Colnago, etc etc) over the past few years..some I kept a year, some I re-sold after a month..It's fun for me, trying different bikes, and, Yeah, I don't compromise on the cost of bikes or gear...but I certainly couldn't have bought (and kept my wife) 25 high end custom frames without regard for cost. I do take a $ beating on most bikes when I sell em, but if I at least consider resale when I do something...I can better afford my "habit"..

For instance, I won't repaint a bike or cut off the steerer tube really really short. I have a "seatmast" frame right now (a Ridley Noah) that I could have bought in either of two sizes to get the set-up I want...I fit into the Ridley geometry at the top of the Med. size or at the bottom of the Large size...So, taking resale into consideration, I chose the medium. With the smaller frame, I only had to cut the seattube about 1.5 centimeters. When I go to sell this Noah (a long time from now it is a very nice frame) I will have many more potential customers because the Medium frame with an almost uncut seatpost will fit more riders than the Large frame with most of the post cut down..Make sense? Not a compromise..more like an informed decision. Like...deciding between a custom or a production frame...all else being equal...because a true custom frame will fit only a few riders who're very like the guy it was built for...Whereas a production frame will have more potential second owners..Just giving the OP another factor to consider pertaining to his question.

Don Hanson
 

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I have 19 bikes, varying in age from 1 year to 10. Older than that - a couple of frames hanging from the rafters.

So, we're at the opposite ends of the big addiction spectrum. I buy precisely the bike I want, with no compromise and I keep it. I may ride it less but I still ride it. Someday I may decide to break some down and clean out the shop, but I will simply consider it a gift if I get any money in return. I have no expectations. It's all sunk cost, so it really doesn't matter to me. Instead, I've never had to buy up or down in a size, I've bought the bike I want.

Different strokes I reckon.
 

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terry b said:
I have 19 bikes, varying in age from 1 year to 10. Older than that - a couple of frames hanging from the rafters.

So, we're at the opposite ends of the big addiction spectrum. I buy precisely the bike I want, with no compromise and I keep it. I may ride it less but I still ride it. Someday I may decide to break some down and clean out the shop, but I will simply consider it a gift if I get any money in return. I have no expectations. It's all sunk cost, so it really doesn't matter to me. Instead, I've never had to buy up or down in a size, I've bought the bike I want.

Different strokes I reckon.
Doesn't sound like we're all that different in that we both appreciate fine bikes. My love of the bikes is for what I can do with them, though...not just as something to own..If I don't use it, it seems a waste to me.

The OP did mention value and price, so I was clueing him in that a custom frame has great value, yes, but only really to the one for whom it was originally built..Or perhaps a twin brother who rides just like the guy who commissioned the custom frame...

If he is just considering a custom frame because it is in the same price range as the Look he mentions, but not because he has a specific need for a custom frame...Well maybe a production frame is smarter...I know I'd more likely want a DeRosa King super light..(wait, I had one of those for a while) than a custom carbon frame that I would be stuck with...like it or not...But, as I said, if I had all the room in the world and it didn't bother me to toss out $5k and later have it hang unused in my rafters gathering dust, I'd get one of each and keep em all...It bothers me...

My take is I can only ride one bike at a time. I only need three specific types of bikes for the way I ride right now. In the past, I've had virtual duplicate bikes, very difficult to choose which to ride...I agonized long over which bike to ride in a hillclimb once...My Look 585 or my DeRosa Dual...I had to try to test them both to see which was better up hill. It was a wash (I rode the DeRosa in the HC)...So I kept one and moved on...

I can only travel with three bikes and that is all I race on..I have 5 road bikes now, counting my old steel custom and the Mondonico I mentioned, which both hang in the rafters of my shop gathering dust.

I have a Crit bike, a road race bike and a TT frame..I change em out often. Letting a fine ride sit there unused hurts me...but as you said..
Different strokes...Grin..

Don Hanson
 

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Hans Schneider in Huntsville

Dave Hickey said:
Hey T-Doc who built your new bike? A local Texas builder?
Real old school. Road pro in Belgium for a few years back in the day, now has his own shop...does a lot of warranty work for Colnago, and also builds frames...only steel and only lugged.

He really hates CF. He had one of the first carbon forks ever made and there is a famous photo of him flying over the handle bars coming down Memorial Drive in Houston during the Grand Crit in the 80's due to the fork breaking. He discourages CF bars and forks, and will refuse to build up your frame if you ask for a CF seatpost.
My bike is all steel, including the fork. The seatpost is a Salsa Shaft. I'll get a photo and post it soon.

The funniest comment I had was from one of my younger riding buddies, who asked, "hey when did you get the "vintage" frame...when I told him it was brand new he just shook his head.
 
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