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  1. #1
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    Do you really enjoy riding a high-end custom bike any more than an off-the-shelf one?

    There's a part of me that wants to go and order a custom-made Vanilla or Independent Fabrications bike, because they're sleek and sexy, and should last forever. But then, what would I actually get for my $5000 that I wouldn't get by just buying a bike off a rack for 1/4 the price?

    Things I get:
    I get a beautiful bike, probably better looking than anything on a rack in a bike shop.
    I get a bike that will last forever
    I get to save a couple pounds of weight.
    I get to feel like "Hey, my bike is awesome!"

    Concerns:
    Even though the bike will last forever, technology changes, and I'll want a new bike in a few years anyway, most likely.
    The weight issue doesn't really matter to me, I don't race.
    I ride the most average sized bike in the world (56cm) so it's not like I really need to worry about custom-fitting a bike.

    Do you really get your money's worth from a custom bike, if an off-the-shelf one will fit just fine, or is it all status and indulgence?

  2. #2
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Does an off-the-rack bike have all the bits and parts that you're interested in having? Think about cable guide placement (if that's important to you) and rack/fender eyelets, chain hanger, spoke holder, pump peg, and other doo-dads. Is the ST/TT ratio good for you on an o-t-r bike? Can you, with minor swapping of parts, get everything that you want? (or buy an o-t-r frame/fork and build it up.)

    If you can find what you want off-the-rack, then the difference comes in with the other customized features that framebuilders offer: Spiffy lugs, keen paintjobs, etc.
    I've ridden custom and I've ridden high-end off-the-rack, and I didn't see much difference in the feel of the two when they were totally dialed in on the fit.
    As for the enjoyment... If I had the coin to drop on one, I'd buy a really awesome lugged steel custom with a sweet colour scheme because I like really cool custom stuff. Yeah, I'd enjoy it a little bit more, knowing it was made special just for me.
    "I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
    - Mandi M.

  3. #3
    Senior Member d2create's Avatar
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    It's currently a 4 year wait for a Vanilla, fyi.
    I know you were probably just using that as an example (god i would love to have one just to hang on the wall) but in case you didn't realize that...

    And to answer your question, I don't regret my Riv purchase one bit. The bang for your buck ratio definitely goes down as you get into these customs when you look at the big picture, but all the little things add up. For instance, I have well over 2,000 miles now and the bike is as quiet and smooth riding as day one. Something I never had with my $1-2k road bikes let alone the cheaper ones. Long live the phil wood bb! Plus, looking down at that paint job and lug work while I'm riding is awesome. Oh, and mines not even fully "custom". I didn't get measured and fit specifically to a frame made just for me. I could have but the wait was toooo long. That is what REALLY makes a difference from what I hear.
    2008 Rivendell A. Homer Hilsen
    Pics and Specs Here!

    2010 Specialized Rockhopper 29er

  4. #4
    Senior Member acroy's Avatar
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    yes the hi-end bikes are awesome.

    IF you get a true custom, you can have the bike built to your size, proportions, flexibility, riding style... a good custom-built bike, from what i've read, is a true revelation on how fast & comfy a bike can be, particularly with a road bike, where you spend long hours in a fairly constant position in the saddle.

    That said, my "hi-end" bike is a tricked-out Titus mtb, but not custom-sized. since i ride it maybe 2hrs at a time max & move around alot i figured the custom fitting wasn't worth it... but it is one beautiful bike, the company is very responsive to communications, support is incredible, there is a strong owner's group, etc etc... best $5k in terms of grins-per-dollar I've ever spent
    beer-bottle target

  5. #5
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    My custom bike only cost $2000. You don't have to spend a lot, tho Vanillas are a work of art.

  6. #6
    Ex-Lion Tamer Bklyn's Avatar
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    Am I really the first to say T.T.I.M.W.P.*? Um...what's a Vanilla?













    *This thread is meaningless without pictures.
    Quote Originally Posted by unkchunk View Post
    Sure, that sort of behavior might be acceptable in California, where people are all concerned about color video and feelings.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bklyn
    Am I really the first to say T.T.I.M.W.P.*? Um...what's a Vanilla?
    *This thread is meaningless without pictures.
    Horse-free.

  8. #8
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    Nice cruiser!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bklyn
    Am I really the first to say T.T.I.M.W.P.*? Um...what's a Vanilla?
    *This thread is meaningless without pictures.




    More pictures and stuff.

  10. #10
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    Those are some nice looking frames, but like you said, times change, and in a few years you will probably want something different.

    Although, FWIW d2creates custom Rivendale was my computer background for a month or so until Courtney Cox took its place.
    Quote Originally Posted by M_S View Post
    ..... but at the end of the day we're all just dorks riding around on bicycles, right?

  11. #11
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    If you want a custom, but don't want to spend a lot, look at Bob Jackson. They start at $895. I've ordered one for my fiancee. It should be here shortly. We specified the dimensions we want, paint scheme, chroming (chain stays, forks, & derailleur hanger). Their frames that I've seen in the past have been beautiful.

  12. #12
    The Legitimiser Sammyboy's Avatar
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    The thing about fitting a bike is it's not all in the seat tube length. A custom builder can give you the tt length you want, a wierd angle for the tt as well, if you like, chrome lugs, if you prefer them, a higher BB than usual, unusual geometry - you name it. It's your bike, and you get what you want. Plus, of course, if you buy from the likes of Vanilla, it'll be a work of art. Sacha is not an engineer, he's an artist, as far as I'm concerned. As for wanting a new bike in a few years, I doubt it. Check out this thread in C&V, from a guy who's been riding his Alex Singer since 1970

    Alex Singer racer of 1970

  13. #13
    put our Heads Together cerewa's Avatar
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    Some of those custom bikes are so pretty.

    But my bike lives outside in theft-town so I'll stick with a used bike I could probably sell for all of $80
    Some awesome folks who are working to give Haitians the ability to manage their safety and their lives:
    Haiti Partners

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sammyboy
    The thing about fitting a bike is it's not all in the seat tube length. A custom builder can give you the tt length you want, a wierd angle for the tt as well, if you like, chrome lugs, if you prefer them, a higher BB than usual, unusual geometry - you name it. It's your bike, and you get what you want. Plus, of course, if you buy from the likes of Vanilla, it'll be a work of art. Sacha is not an engineer, he's an artist, as far as I'm concerned. As for wanting a new bike in a few years, I doubt it. Check out this thread in C&V, from a guy who's been riding his Alex Singer since 1970

    Alex Singer racer of 1970
    I don't care about how long any of the tubes are or what any of the angles are, I just want a bike that's comfortable and fun to ride. Someone who builds bikes should figure out how long the tubes should be so that I don't have to think about it.

  15. #15
    Erectible Member pedalMonger's Avatar
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    If I had the kind of disposable income that would allow for it, I might think about one of those multiple G bikes. There are worse things to spend money on. Still I can't help thinking of it as a waste on some level, since I am not a pro bike athlete/competitor.

    I am not dissing people who have a really expensive bike and don't compete - like I said, there are much worse things a person could spend their money on.

  16. #16
    Zinophile tibikefor2's Avatar
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    Not Fred:

    I need a custom bike as I have a short torso and most off the shelf bikes top tubes are 1.5cm too long and I only use a 9cm stem.

    The best part of a good custom bike builder is that they can custom tune the ride that you want. I have owned 5 custom bikes over the last 20 years and eachbike was designed for a specific type of ride. The ride tuning also depends upon the builder. For example, my Spectrum Ti is a fast handling, steady and comfortable bike designed for long rides.

    www.spectrum-cycles.com

    I will be getting a Vanilla in two weeks and can give you ride report once I ride it for a week.
    Tibikefor2

  17. #17
    Senior Member DukeArcher's Avatar
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    Just wow!


  18. #18
    Senior Member d2create's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by notfred
    I don't care about how long any of the tubes are or what any of the angles are, I just want a bike that's comfortable and fun to ride. Someone who builds bikes should figure out how long the tubes should be so that I don't have to think about it.
    Well that's what you'll get if you go and get measured for a Rivendell, Vanilla, or any of the other small frame builders. Add plane tickets to the cost unless you find someone in your neck of the woods.
    You'll end up with a bike you'll keep forever, regardless of how many others come and go.
    2008 Rivendell A. Homer Hilsen
    Pics and Specs Here!

    2010 Specialized Rockhopper 29er

  19. #19
    The Legitimiser Sammyboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by notfred
    I don't care about how long any of the tubes are or what any of the angles are, I just want a bike that's comfortable and fun to ride. Someone who builds bikes should figure out how long the tubes should be so that I don't have to think about it.
    Precisely, and that's what a custom builder does that an off-the-peg builder can't. I didn't mean to imply that you had to know precisely that you wanted those things, only that a custom builder has control over things the bike shop doesn't. Therefore, if you come in, and say "Hey, I rode a Le Mond the other day, and I loved it - felt really kinda stretched out. I think I want it to feel like this old track bike I've got though. It's not that comfortable, but it's SO responsive", then he can think "right, long top tube, tight geometry", measure you up, and you get what you want. Likewise, you ride a 56 - easy to get hold of. If, however, you ride a 56, but have trouble getting comfortable because you have a short body, so the bars always feel too far away, even with a short stem, a custom guy can build you a bike that fits perfectly.
    Last edited by Sammyboy; 06-28-07 at 10:38 PM.

  20. #20
    Blasted Weeds Tude's Avatar
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    All I can add is that if I was financially able ... I would.

    Signed.

    Bicycle junkie




    (as always - going into a LBS, whether it be home or in another area - or even meeting up with people who can enable that bicycle junkiedom and build one for you ... for some stupid reason there's always "grass/bicycles" greener on the other side of the fence ...

    My pitfalls - even of having a bike built - was to putting a STOP LIMIT on the cost of purchasing a new bike ... and then for WOW $200 more I can do this, $300 more - even better ...

    Such is a bicycle junkie thinking ....

  21. #21
    Senior Member ken cummings's Avatar
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    I'll get my moneys' worth (He had better - wife). I have broken frames on a Bianchi volpe and a Miyata 1000 which had lighter tubing then my current Uber tourer. I expect it to outlast me.
    This space open

  22. #22
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    I just want to say, I don't get it. Looking at the pics, they're all just pretty colored bikes. Two wheels, cranks, chain, handlebars, seat. I just don't understand the appeal of a multi $K bike. There's a point where all you're doing is just showing off, not that there's anything wrong with that. It's your money, do with it what you will, but I just don't get it at all.

  23. #23
    Senior Member gear's Avatar
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    I own a Seven with Campy record componants and I've removed or covered every lable but the head badge. I really couldn't care if anyone else but me knows what it is.

    This bike fits me like a glove, its' unbelievable comfortable and corners like its' on rails. Every bit of effort comes out the real wheel. I've owned quite a few road bikes since 1970 and tried out even more at bike shops. Absoutly nothing came close to this.

  24. #24
    AKA Nathan Dr_Robert's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DukeArcher
    Just wow!

    That's beautiful. If I had the cash, I'd order one right now.

    -DR
    '08 Bianchi San Jose
    '06 Giant OCR C3
    '04 Specialized Hardrock Comp

  25. #25
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    Aesthetics are not that important to me in a bicycle so I wouldn't spend the extra money to get a beautiful Vanilla or other high end custom. However fit, durability and functionality are all very important in my bicycle, so I may one day spend the money to work with a smaller less expensive builder. For now my custom speced Cross Check fits well, is very durable and is very functional. There are only a few minor things I might change with a custom. Perhaps in 10 years when I want a new bike I will make the change.
    Bike technology does change but for functional and durable components it changes much more slowly. I think all of the components from a late 80s touring bike will fit on a new Rivendell and vise versa. Until I had my Cross Check built up new most of my bikes have had a mix of 20+ year old parts and frames with newer modern components. The only real new technology that will not work in older frames is integrated headsets and those have questionable durability. The way I see it is I can upgrade the components to newer models if I desire and still use my custom frame.

    Craig

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