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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My wife was shopping in a neighboring town and told me that she saw a bike shop that had some nice looking bikes in the window. I went in over the weekend, and all I can say is that my knows her stuff.

The store specializes in custom bikes and carries Serotta, Seven, Parlee, Independent Fabrication, and Guru. I was drooling. Assuming I had the budget available for one of these I don't even know how I would go about deciding on one.

Given that these are all custom manufacturers and could build a bike to any specification required, what criteria would you use?
 

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waterproof*
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It's all "emotional logic" in that price range. Read, research, find out which one(s) float your boat for whatever reason.

I chose my framebuilder b/c he's a Texas boy and I've known him since the 80's. Is his steel any faster or slower than Sachs or Vanilla? You know the answer to that.
 

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Uprwstsdr said:
The store specializes in custom bikes and carries Serotta, Seven, Parlee, Independent Fabrication, and Guru. I was drooling. Assuming I had the budget available for one of these I don't even know how I would go about deciding on one.
Given that these are all custom manufacturers and could build a bike to any specification required, what criteria would you use?
I would look at as many of them as I could and hopefully one of them would speak to me. Those makers span the materials from steel, through Ti to custom carbon and hopefully you would have a leaning to one of those materials. They're all great and the major difference between them is hype.

Would you rather have the tradition of steel, the maintenance of Ti or the hi-tech of carbon? I've got bikes made of each material and while all the bikes are different, I can't pick which one I like the best. The best one is usually the one I'm riding.

Of my last six bikes I went with steel, steel, carbon, Ti, carbon, steel in that order. My latest one arrived just last week.

I wish you the best. The biggest excitement is in the planning, choosing and the first ride. Have fun.
 

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i like whiskey
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Creakyknees said:
It's all "emotional logic" in that price range. Read, research, find out which one(s) float your boat for whatever reason.

I chose my framebuilder b/c he's a Texas boy and I've known him since the 80's. Is his steel any faster or slower than Sachs or Vanilla? You know the answer to that.
Boyd Atherton?
Don Walker?
Dave Cheakas?

I agree with creaky. If you are ordering custom it's all about whatever flips your switch the most. You'll likely get an excellent bike whoever you select. After I decided on material (steel) and budget, it would quickly devolve into petty items like "who's logo would I want to look at on my downtube for the next x years" and "are they sufficiently rare." Having the builder in close proximity so he could do the measurements and you could talk face-to-face would be nice but not mandatory.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
A purchase isn't happening in the immediate future.

I currently ride a Moser, hand-made Italian steel, not custom, but very sweet. I fully appreciate the merits of steel but, when I to do this I will probably go with carbon or possibly a carbon/Ti mix. That begins to narrow my focus. Perhaps there is a Z1 or an Odonata in my future. I guess that really wasn't so hard.
 

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Uprwstsdr said:
A purchase isn't happening in the immediate future.

I currently ride a Moser, hand-made Italian steel, not custom, but very sweet. I fully appreciate the merits of steel but, when I to do this I will probably go with carbon or possibly a carbon/Ti mix. That begins to narrow my focus. Perhaps there is a Z1 or an Odonata in my future. I guess that really wasn't so hard.
If you are going custom, why would you limit your choices to only what your LBS deals in? There are many other ti and carbon custom builders out there that you didn't mention.

And please stay away from the mixed materials frames :bleh:
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
innergel said:
If you are going custom, why would you limit your choices to only what your LBS deals in? There are many other ti and carbon custom builders out there that you didn't mention.

And please stay away from the mixed materials frames :bleh:
I wouldn't exactly call that selection limiting. Sure there are many other options out there that are well worthy of consideration but, I think are missing the point here. How often have you walked into a store and been surrounded by some of the most lust worthy bikes available. I was in cyclists heaven (as far as shops go).

Why do you say that about mixed material frames? Do you ahve any direct experience? Many people consider them excellent bikes.
 

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Uprwstsdr said:
I wouldn't exactly call that selection limiting. Sure there are many other options out there that are well worthy of consideration but, I think are missing the point here. How often have you walked into a store and been surrounded by some of the most lust worthy bikes available. I was in cyclists heaven (as far as shops go).

Why do you say that about mixed material frames? Do you ahve any direct experience? Many people consider them excellent bikes.
I know any of those companies will build you a fine bicycle. But that's only 5 builders and they are mostly larger custom builders, so the frames are not that rare. I could easily name at least 10 ti builders, a couple of carbon, and countless steel builders that could do just as good. Why wouldn't you start out with 30 or 50 choices and narrow it down from there, instead of just 5? That's my point. It wasn't a knock on any of those particular brands. I'm sure it was very cool to see a bunch of high-end custom frames in one spot.

I don't have any direct experience with mixed material frames. My comment was mostly from an aesthetic perspective. IMO, I think they look kind of frankenbike. But I'm also pretty dubious of any performance improvement claims for mixed materials frames, esp. a high end custom frame. Mixed materials frames smack of marketing BS to me. But that's just me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Because 30 or 50 is choices is more than my feeble mind can handle.

There is certainly a lot to be said about working with a small builder that you can develop a relationship with and feel that you are an integral part of the process.

From hanging out here I have been exposed to some incredibly beautiful works of art. Looking at images from the NAHBS the artistry of many of these builders is absolutely stunning. I would consider getting a Columbine just to hang on my wall.
 

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Uprwstsdr said:
Why do you say that about mixed material frames? Do you ahve any direct experience? Many people consider them excellent bikes.
I do have experience with mixed material frames, a lot of it. I own 4 bikes in aluminum and steel with various combinations of carbon in the backend. I even have the unique situation of owning two bikes built with the same tubeset, one with CF stays, one without.

And my answer is - it looks really cool and does nothing for the ride or the performance with the outside exception of making the steel bikes a bit stiffer than a comparable steel bike.

Of course they are excellent bikes, but they're not more excellenter than a straight material bike. They just cost more.

And who, after dropping a load of cash on one isn't going to say it's the best choice they ever made? I thought that way until I got 5000+ miles on all of them and thought about them in comparison to the other things I own and the answer to me was simple - looks cool, costs more, does nothing.

On the other topic, I'm with innergel - there is a giant banquet of opportunties out there with builders. I'd start with the smaller guys and work my way down to the LBS supported custom builders. I think the former offers many more interesting options that are not bound by corporate "philosophy" not to mention more personal service and lower prices. If your purchase is not in the near term, you have plenty of time to spend on the phone getting to know some of the other guys. Honestly, what could be better than talking to the guy that is going to weld your bike?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
terry b said:
,
And who, after dropping a load of cash on one isn't going to say it's the best choice they ever made? I

Honestly, what could be better than talking to the guy that is going to weld your bike?

Good point. I have seen a couple of examples of people in the industry who could really have any bike they wanted and were very familiar with all the options choose Carbon/Ti.

What could be better? Perhaps only watching him weld it.
 

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Uprwstsdr said:
Good point. I have seen a couple of examples of people in the industry who could really have any bike they wanted and were very familiar with all the options choose Carbon/Ti.

What could be better? Perhaps only watching him weld it.
Nuttin' wrong with CF/Ti, but knowing what I know from what I ride, anyone would have a hard time convincing me that they could tell the difference between two bikes, painted white, one with and one without.

You will hear tons of people say that their mixed bike is the best thing they've ever ridden, and it may well be, but not because it has CF in the backend. Any expensive, well-designed bike is going to ride like a dream if it's done well. Even aluminum.

I think many people come off of a bike that was not well executed onto one that is and they think the reason for their sudden epiphany is the CF stays. In reality, it's only because they are now on a good bike that is suited to their needs.
 

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I went from CF, to aluminum to steel with CF seatstays. The fit on all of them was very dialed in, and I am very tuned into slight differences.
The geometry of my current rig, includes CF to the frame which i think stiffens it up just right. But I'm sure a custom all ti frame would be a dream. Steel the same, a smidge heavier.
I've been "considering" and reading many frames over the past years, and two standard frames that repeatedly get rave reviews, are Look 585's, and Moots.
I'd be thrilled to own either, and may pull trigger soon.
that said, I've thought about Felt, Giant, Trek, Scott. But Look and Moots just seem to be in my head all the time.
it can be a rather enjoyable process. Good luck and be sure to post images of the purchase and a thorough ride review!
 
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