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Just a question, There is a lot of talk with regards to having "custom" frame built and sized just for you. I am slightly confused with this really.

How much difference in sizing is there really.. Do people have that much of a problem getting an out the box bike adjusted/setup to fit them right?? How much can you really change with a custom frame??? and what are you really getting for the $$?
 

· Decrepit Member
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Speaking for myself, my body proportions are right on the edge of getting a decent fit on a stock bike. I've got very long legs and a relatively short torso (6' 0" overall height with 35.5" leg length), so a stock bike with a long enough seat tube usually has a top tube that's too long, forcing me into compromising with a short stem so I don't feel too stretched out. I don't like the way bikes with 50mm stems handle.

The only answer for me to get a really good fit was to go with a custom frame.
 

· i like whiskey
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My optimal frame is a 64x60. On the very edge of a few stock bikes sizes. I can make smaller frames fit if I have to. So I prefer custom for the fit aspect alone.

But let's take a hypthetical situation where you have $2000+ to spend on a frameset. you could

a) get a custom frame that fits perfectly, built by a person you talked to, is the exact color scheme that you would want, and that is unique from every other frame on the road. Or

b) you could go get a Specialized Roubaix or Trek Madone in whatever color scheme that focus grouped the best the last design cycle and that there are 100's of identical one's on the road.
 

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alarum said:
Just a question, There is a lot of talk with regards to having "custom" frame built and sized just for you. I am slightly confused with this really.

How much difference in sizing is there really.. Do people have that much of a problem getting an out the box bike adjusted/setup to fit them right?? How much can you really change with a custom frame??? and what are you really getting for the $$?
My experience with custom is that it's best when you are going for something beyond just fit.

Most folks fit fine on any stock bike.

But, In my case, I wanted a bike that fit 32mm tires and fenders. I wanted neutral, non twitchy handling and I wanted the ability to carry a front bag. I wanted lightweight but I also wanted steel. I didn't want a touring bike, didn't want a CX bike. Also, I didn't want a bike that looked like a rolling billboard. I wanted subtle paint, no logos.

What I wanted, no one makes, exactly.

That's where custom comes in.

If you just want a stiff frame, buy off the rack. If you feel like off the rack stiff isn't working for you, like maybe you want to have the ride characteristics of your bike tuned to how you ride, go custom.
 

· Adorable Furry Hombre
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buck-50 said:
My experience with custom is that it's best when you are going for something beyond just fit.

Most folks fit fine on any stock bike.

But, In my case, I wanted a bike that fit 32mm tires and fenders. I wanted neutral, non twitchy handling and I wanted the ability to carry a front bag. I wanted lightweight but I also wanted steel. I didn't want a touring bike, didn't want a CX bike. Also, I didn't want a bike that looked like a rolling billboard. I wanted subtle paint, no logos.

What I wanted, no one makes, exactly.

That's where custom comes in.

If you just want a stiff frame, buy off the rack. If you feel like off the rack stiff isn't working for you, like maybe you want to have the ride characteristics of your bike tuned to how you ride, go custom.
Even getting a road bike that has fender mounts, basically reduces your off-the-rack options from lots to a tiny handful. Forget about much choice in tire sizes larger than 25 or 28C. The Big Bike Labels seem to think that everyone only rides in nice weather, in crits, on good roads, and who are fly-weight.

It is no wonder things like SKS fenders that attach by rubber-band have a market.
 

· classiquesklassieker
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alarum said:
Just a question, There is a lot of talk with regards to having "custom" frame built and sized just for you. I am slightly confused with this really.

How much difference in sizing is there really.. Do people have that much of a problem getting an out the box bike adjusted/setup to fit them right?? How much can you really change with a custom frame??? and what are you really getting for the $$?
You're probably already aware of this, but people have different definitions of what a "custom bike" is and what a "custom frame" is. When people say "custom" it typically means custom parts (stem, handlebar, seat, etc.).

Regardless, you are asking for statistical information on the occurrence of people who felt they need to go to a non-stock frame. It is far more likely for people who had done it to bother to post yes, than for people who didn't go the custom route to post no.

So if you are "just curious", realize that you need to unbias the information. But if you are asking because you have suspicion that you may get great benefit from ordering a custom frame, you'll get more useful answers if you post your measurements.
 

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alarum said:
Just a question, There is a lot of talk with regards to having "custom" frame built and sized just for you. I am slightly confused with this really.

How much difference in sizing is there really.. Do people have that much of a problem getting an out the box bike adjusted/setup to fit them right?? How much can you really change with a custom frame??? and what are you really getting for the $$?
I'm 5'. Yes, it's that much trouble to get ANY bike sized to fit me well and typically involves compromises somewhere.

My custom cyclocross bike is due to arrive soon. There is not a single, readily available, stock cyclocross frame that would even begin to fit me. They were all too long with too little standover.

But there are far more reasons than just perfect fit to go custom for many people. And why not consider it as an option even if you don't "need" it when the price is comparable to the average stock carbon frame?
 

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Marc said:
Even getting a road bike that has fender mounts, basically reduces your off-the-rack options from lots to a tiny handful. Forget about much choice in tire sizes larger than 25 or 28C. The Big Bike Labels seem to think that everyone only rides in nice weather, in crits, on good roads, and who are fly-weight.

It is no wonder things like SKS fenders that attach by rubber-band have a market.
It's funny- Trek world headquarters is only about 45 minutes from where I live. I know they have the exact same weather I do, and I know they've gotten 11 inches of rain this month, same as me. Yet, no fast bikes with fenders...
 

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CougarTrek said:
And why not consider it as an option even if you don't "need" it when the price is comparable to the average stock carbon frame?
Yup. My custom was about $1800 for frame and fork.

The closest production frame to what I had built was was $2200 and I was stuck with their rather limited color palate AND much heavier-weight tubing.
 

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Although I could make an off the shelf frame fit, it's far from perfect. The reasons I went custom was to have something that fit perfect and was different, I wanted steel and custom paint. No one else has my bike. Living in an area where you only see and can find in shops the big three (Cannondale, Specialized and Trek) mine stands out. In the end I also spent less than your normal run of the mill bike.

After adjusting to the new geometry of my frame I was able to ride longer and farther without the pains I had experienced in the past. And due to longer and farther rides I have become much stronger. Cycling wise going custom was the best decision I ever made.
 

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alarum said:
Just a question, There is a lot of talk with regards to having "custom" frame built and sized just for you. I am slightly confused with this really.

How much difference in sizing is there really.. Do people have that much of a problem getting an out the box bike adjusted/setup to fit them right?? How much can you really change with a custom frame??? and what are you really getting for the $$?
I fall way outside the line of normal body proportions and though I can make a few stock bikes work, they don't fit well enough for racing.

Myself...I have short legs, long torso, long arms, short femurs a 1.5cm or so leg length imbalance and a permenantly dislocated AC joint on my right shoulder that all lead to a need for odd geometry on a bike.

My current road frame has these basic dimensions and fits very, very well.

Top Tube: 57 cm
Head Tube: 11.2 cm (external headset with a total stack height of 14cm)
Seat Tube: 50 cm (center of BB to top of ST)
STA: 74 degrees
HTA: 73.5 degrees

I also use:

  • -10 degree 11cm stem
  • 0 degree seat post with the seat moved most of the way forward on the rails
  • 170mm cranks to get the fit right.

With the leg length imbalance I run my left cleat farther forward than my right cleat since most of the imbalance is in the femur, but also run a good 1cm of spacers under my cleat to help there.

My saddle to bar drop currently sits at 5 1/8" (a little over 13cm of drop) which is very comfortable for me and puts me in a similar position to other riders when it comes to hip/back angle on the bike. Compared to a lot of people I ride with my hoods are about the same level as their drops.

Basically my bike is a very low, very aggressive 58cm frame that has the height of a 50cm frame.
 

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alarum said:
Just a question, There is a lot of talk with regards to having "custom" frame built and sized just for you. I am slightly confused with this really.

How much difference in sizing is there really.. Do people have that much of a problem getting an out the box bike adjusted/setup to fit them right?? How much can you really change with a custom frame??? and what are you really getting for the $$?
Custom seems to be terminology. To me, it's a bike built to my geometry and equipped with my choice of components.

Geometry. Every stock frame I've looked at has, for me, too long a top tube and is usually short on head tube length too - old age is a female dog ;). The colour schemes leave me cold too.

Components. I know what saddle I'm comfortable on, what bars I am going to spend every ride holding, what gear ratios I want.

And a side issue - marketing. I am very hard to advertise to. We won't discuss my recent slip-up over thinking that a Trek Madone could be made to fit me. Though Trek's warranty replacement of the first frame when it cracked after 1000 miles, was very prompt. So was my getting rid of the Bontrager bars and saddle, and a few other parts too, like the second frame...

If you're happy with 'stock' geometry, are indifferent to colour schemes, don't really care about handlebar shape and can plonk your buns on any old saddle, go buy a 'bike in a box' from wherever takes your fancy or an advert tells you to. Riding is more important than buying, after all.

If odd body shape - or an odd ego - dominates your needs, custom is the only way to go ;) My ride is a lugged 853 Bob Jackson from England. The geometry is what I need to ride comfortably. The 'stuff' is pretty boring - Ultegra, because I like holding the brake levers and prefer the shifting action over the 'other two'. Okay, the Mavic K wheels with tenth anniversary spokes are pretty cool, not to mention great wheels.

The orange with black trim 1960's style paint job, with contrast outlined lugs and my name on the front of the top tube, tends to catch eyes too.

I pitched up for a ride last night, my first time with that group, and a guy on a full Campag Record rigged Colnago C50 looks at my BJ, says 'that's a good looking bike'. Reckon that says a lot.

Cost? Down to you. Four years ago, I paid $1700 for my BJ frame, headset and delivery to the US from England, though I suspect the world wide economy has jacked that up some. You can pay a lot for a custom frame, no denying that.

If you're thinking that way, you need to either find a really good fitting service to analyse whether your present ride meets your needs, or not, or have a very good sense of what you want from your bike and how your present frame doesn't match those needs. Serious research into what make of frame you want comes into it too.

A desire for instant gratification does not sit well with a custom frame and you'll probably talk more with the builder than with your wife/SO/mother (delete as applicable) for some time.

Good luck

Dereck
 

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Custom to me, is when you have the need for something beyond what the bike shop can provide you.

But don't get me wrong, I do love the bikes that are available, like Trek Madones, the Specialized carbon bikes, stock time trial bikes.

For me though, I have been riding single speed for so many years, and have loyalties to custom frame builders, that I am stuck like that.

My blue carbon Land Shark was made to fit exactly like my steel cyclocross Land Shark. I also own a Don Walker frame, which fits me like a glove. I don't have any pictures of it for this computer, but I could post some later.

All in all, my custom frames fit just right and work as they should. They are specifically single speed bikes, and I just like riding like that.

I did have a hiccup with a builder from Davis, California. When I lived out there, I was going to drop money on a Surly Cross Check. The bike shop owner insisted I get a custom frame (I think it was just to help his pal).

I could have gotten the Surly right away. The whole bike. For the same price, I got convinced that the custom frame was going to be unique... 6 months later and a lot of excuses, the frame was finished.

I had told the builder that I wanted a frame with similar clearance to a Cross Check. FAIL. When I put the 700x32 tire on the rear, I couldn't fit my finger between the tire and the seat tube. Also, I had a hard time fitting any stem on the steerer tube. Builder asked me if I was using the right stem - um, 1 1/8" has to fit on the same size steerer. So I had to pound the stem I finally chose with a rubber mallet.

Then here's another kicker that this time convinced me to sell the frame with a big disclaimer. After a couple of months with very disappointing rides on the road (it was a cross frame and I wanted it to handle big cross tires) and not ever shifting properly, I took it to a bike shop. The mechanic tried his best to fix the problem - turns out the drive side chain stay of the frame was about 6mm shorter than the other chain stay.

Frame was sold and looong forgotten.

Anyway, here's a picture of my custom rig.
 

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^ Yes, but sometimes that can be a problem. I'd really like to be able to buy a standard road frame, but there's no way I can get good fit due to (for me) too steep seat angles on just about everything, combined with too short top tubes.

Then there's the problem that I'm light for my height, so most frames are uncomfortably stiff, except maybe the "comfort" road frames like the Roubaix, etc, but these have steep seat angles, short top tubes and tall head tubes, all of which are bad news as far as I'm concerned. Ironically, the frames most likely to fit me off the peg are the BH and Giant high end carbon frames, but for that sort of price I may as well have a custom and be done with it.

As others have said, things like tyre and guard clearance can also be a PITA with most frames. If you care about those, have even vaguely non-standard dimensions and ride much then a custom isn't a stupid idea.

For me, the ideal road frame would have a 72 degree (maximum) seat angle, 75mm BB drop, 580mm effective top tube, 72.5 head angle plus 43mm fork offset, and ~160mm head tube and 500mm seat tube C-T, with a fairly drastically sloping top tube. There's not a lot out there like that...
 

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yep, getting a good fit can be difficult. most of my bikes have a short top tube, around 52cm but the typical bike store rig will have a 75*or steeper seat tube angle making the reach to the bars even further, so on goes a 9cm stem. i hate that. the custom rigs all have less than 74 STA and 52-53 top tubes, fit much better fit,10cm stems. if your short or tall then a custom my the best way to go for a better fit.
 

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off-the-shelf fitting is possible for most riders but with custom there were fewer compromises. For example, in my case, taller head tube means only 15mm of spacers. My off-the-shelf bike has 30mm. You could argue it's cosmetics. On custom I also have slacker HTA (72.0) meaning I have a less nervous handling compared to my off-the-shelf 73.0 HTA. But in general, yes, it's hard to justify custom for most people. What custom offers is also custom paint job and custom material - my custom is titanium and my off-the-shelf is disposable carbon. Basically, custom = discretionary spending. Do I have any regrets? No way! Custom = Individuality and if we are not individuals then we are nothing.
Enjoy the ride.
 
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