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Framebuilders Thinking about a custom frame? Lugged vs Fillet Brazed. Different Frame materials? Newvex or Pacenti Lugs? why get a custom Road, Mountain, or Track Frame? Got a question about framebuilding? Lets discuss framebuilding at it's finest.

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Old 01-31-07, 09:36 AM   #1
giantcfr1
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I still can't understand the advantage of a made-to-measure frame.

I am very confused with the concept of purchasing a hand built, made-to-measure frame when components like cranks, stems, seatpost, handlebar etc would come into play. When one purchases one of these frames, does the builder suggest component lenght, height etc, the same as the LBS would?

Basically, what's the advantage of an off-the-shelf steel, aluminium, carbon or ti frame vs a made-to-measure one of the same material, other than perhaps the finish?

Steve.
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Old 01-31-07, 12:17 PM   #2
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There is a lot more to a custom frame than the dimensions. For example: type of braze-ons, stiffness, durability, weight, style (level top tube, sloping), handling characteristics (fast/slow steering, low/high cornering clearance), ect.

For more info check the following link.

http://www.anvilbikes.com/?news_ID=8&catID=3



Bike Fit: Custom vs. Production

A frank discussion on custom vs. production bike fit.

I don't want to beat anybody over the head with my ideas of how a bike should or shouldn't fit or ride but the statement is often made that most people can be fitted on a production bike and don’t need a custom to achieve good fit. The basic premise being that correct dimensional fit can be achieved for an individual on a variety of bikes.

I have no problem with that statement as long as its meaning is understood: it means you can achieve a certain optimal distance for the rider to span on most any bicycle, but that is not "proper" fit on a bicycle. In the one of the QBP catalogs, there is a picture of one of the crew at about 9 or 10 years old straddling an old balloon tired mixte bike. The stem is reversed (pointing towards the saddle) and the saddle is down to the rails on the seat tube and extended forward. He looks pretty proud of his ride even though it’s so big he can barely straddle the step-through top tube. There you have it, proof of the concept that one can fit most any bike.

My problem is that I think the comment, "you can dimensionally fit on most any bike" is misleading if you don't think it through. The first rule of bike fit is to "do no harm." To achieve proper fit and maintain good handling you have to adjust for fit with an eye towards balance over the bike. To be confident on a bike in all types of conditions, you need to be balance fore and aft. It's that simple. The best of all worlds is that you can achieve proper fit while maintaining proper balance on the bike. Have I said that enough times yet? You can probably tell I’m moving into rant mode...

Here's the deal, I can't count the times I've seen people post about buying some bike based on how it “looks.” They give no real thought to seat tube angle, chainstay length, balance, cockpit combinations, or any number of other IMPORTANT issues regarding the purchase of a bike that meets your requirements regardless of what your desires for paint schemes or weld appearance or name brand cachet may be. If they're offering custom fit for free, get it! How can anyone who can afford to drop the kind of coin high performance bicycles demand need the bike so fast that they'll accept whatever is on the floor and still not know for sure it's what they need or even that it will fit?

I'm constantly amazed how someone will spend several thousand dollars on a bike and never give fit a second thought. Why are people who wouldn’t bat an eye at spending a $100 on a pair of tires, or spend hundreds on different stems or saddles or bars, or thousands on bikes so terribly reluctant to spend that same $100 to get fitted by a professional? It's not like you're going to a dentist to your wisdom teeth yanked or that long overdue physical, the guy who fits you is not going to drill your teeth or pull the glove over fingers the size of sequoias and ask you to lean over the table. He's going to help make you more comfortable and save you money. If I could give only one piece of advice to any cyclist it would be to get fitted professionally and have that fit session not be associated with a bike purchase.

One person told me that they could “fit anybody to any bike within a 1/10 of a millimeter” and “I can match fit to the degree that if you were blindfolded on a trainer with a stock bike and a custom - I could make the dimensional difference indiscernible.”

Whuuuuh?!

So what’s the point of that? I certainly agree it can be done, but I don't see how that is relevant to how a rider drapes himself over a bike. I can easily claim that I could fit a 5'4" person on a 60cm TT frame but that doesn't mean it will be right or even relevant to performance cycling. A big part of being properly fitted includes balance over the bike and handling. While I probably couldn't tell the difference between dimensionally identical bikes that arrived at those dimensions by different methods while riding them blindfolded on a trainer, I can also state I have no idea how riding any bike while blindfolded on a trainer feels. I've simply never had a cycling experience that required me to do so. We ride our bikes in a dynamic environment; our bikes are the interface between our bodies and the ground we travel over. Our bikes are not LifeCycles.

I guess my problem is that I can't see a way to separate proper "fit" from "ride" or "handling." A bike that "fits" well, yet handles like hell because of fit compromises is no better than a bike that doesn't “fit” at all. Obviously I'm biased, but I have a hard time understanding why anyone would compromise fit and handling when they can get a better product and better value by going custom than they could by buying a rack bike. A lot of folks spend 3K on a production frames alone. For that amount of money quite a number of custom builders can sell you full custom, full Record 10, Ouzo Pro fork and other quality parts for a bike ready to ride.

We all buy bikes because they have certain qualities we desire/need/prefer. It is not self indulgent to want both proper fit and ride anymore than it is to own multiple bikes or to spend a couple grand on a frame alone. If you can have both for equal or less money than a rack bike that may force you to compromise, what's your common sense tell you to do?

I'm not trying to harsh your mellow, I just want you to understand where I’m coming from.

Proper bike fit is more than just a top tube or a seat tube being long enough. It is also about balance and while you can adjust stem length, seatpost setback, and bar reach to fit most any frame, you need to do so with an eye to balance, the balance of your weight over the bike to achieve a certain center of gravity. You change one thing like setback to stretch or shorten your reach to the bars, you also affect your knee/pedal spindle relationship. Raise or lower your saddle, same thing. Raise your stem, shorten your reach, lower your stem, lengthen your reach. Can you do all these things and still fit on a production bike that is close to your size? In most cases, sure you can, as long as you approach it with an understanding of what you're doing. Adjust for fit, then achieve that fit balanced on the bike.

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Last edited by Nessism; 01-31-07 at 08:03 PM.
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Old 01-31-07, 01:15 PM   #3
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What's the difference between a JC Penny suit and a tailored one?
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Old 01-31-07, 01:24 PM   #4
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Most average sized people have no problem getting a production bike to fit using the variety of crank length, seatpost laybacks and stem lengths. Custom geometry is needed for people with more extreme body proportions (upper/lower leg or leg/torso) where they need frames that are very long or short for the standover.
Tall and short riders are poorly served by the std production bikes. You can get them but the small details are missing, eg the BB height tends to be pretty fixed across the whole size range. See Zinn for why this matters.
The geometry of these production bikes is usually bodged to account for M size cranks and "normal" eg 700c wheels. The situation is getting better for small riders but its not there yet.

The size of crank is one of the starting points for frame design and seatpost/stem should be taken into account to avoid the need for extremes.

Production frames are lawyer proofed; a custom builder can go much lighter for a lightweight rider with an easy riding style. Heavier riders may need much beefier tubesets.

Custom builders can add all manner of brazeons for eg luggage, transmission(singlespeed, hub gears) , lighting. See ANTbikes, Beckman, for some fine examples.
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Old 01-31-07, 02:02 PM   #5
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A good frame builder will be able to tune the ride based on your input. I have had long distance bikes made with a slighly longer wheel base for comfort with a lower bottom bracket for better climbing. Also my top tube is traditionally 1.5cm shorter than most stock frames. Tom has also built me crit bikes.

Tom Kellog of Spectrum-Cycles has built most of my frames. He actually designed my frames around the length of the stem. Also the interview process with Tom lasts about 2 hours, even before he thinks about having you get on your bike. Tom has built me steel and Ti bikes. Tom will also modify the bike if you have want to use a specific component, say 650b wheels versus 700c wheels etc.

There is so much that goes into the design of a custom bike that your simplification does not do it justice.
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Old 01-31-07, 03:35 PM   #6
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yep, some of us are just very oddly proportioned. given my short torso i can run a short stem but that affects handling, i can push my seat all the way forward but that affects my spin.

as soon as i can afford and justify it, i'll be getting a frame made for my body.
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Old 01-31-07, 04:22 PM   #7
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It's called more precise fit for the individual. I have perchased 6 road bikes so far and have never felt comfortable with the various frames sizes that are off the shelf, and in relationship to the stem length that I wanted to use and the handlebar too. With a custom built frame I got exactly what I was looking for. Which would be the last road bike I would ever buy period.
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Old 01-31-07, 06:34 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SamHall
What's the difference between a JC Penny suit and a tailored one?
I don't know. What's a JC Penny suit?

Thankyou to all the other posters, you were very informitive and it is much appreciated. I have never had the opportunity to purchase a custom frame and simply couldn't understand the structure behind the fit.
Steve.
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Old 02-01-07, 08:47 PM   #9
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Another way of looking at it is that the fit systems are so all over the map that one needs an infinite range of potential sizes just to deal with the different results that will come from various practitioners. Just kidding.

It's really easy to figure out why people at extreme ends of the fititng spectrum need a custom frame. Actually the people well serve by standard frames are maybe only in a sweet spot of 3 or so bike sizes. Contrary to what many believe, the standard sizes are not all that well excecuted, they are not proportional and the components are not proportional.

When weight is overlayed on top of the sizing requirements even more frame sizes are required just to deal with weight alone. People tend to get heavier as they age, and then it drops off again, for a while. So just dealing with the weight vs. size issues would leave a good percentage of the population needing custom sizes.
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Old 02-01-07, 10:27 PM   #10
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I could not find the length of top tube that I wanted in a stock frame. I have shorter and longer torso than most riders of my height. I'd have to put a 14cm stem on a correctly sized stock frame.

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Old 02-05-07, 02:55 AM   #11
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OK so....

I get asked this question all the time...most riders become clients of mine after many years in the saddle, and about 7-10 serious frames. A custom frame is great because it can be tuned to your needs and style. For example.....you may ride a 55 cm frame...and let’s just say you weigh 150 lbs......now suppose a 250 lb person also rides a 55 cm frame....not unrealistic. So do they have the same needs for that 55cm frame? ANSWER....NO! Person who weighs 250lbs, will need thicker/stiffer tubing, and chilled out steering; longer wheelbase to keep that weight managed at high speeds, and relaxed angles to boot...in general. So while 95% of the riding public finds a production frame adequate....the other 5% shop for a frame that me and a few other wonderful builders can custom tune for them. It will cost more, but in most cases, you get what you pay for.

Mojito

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Quote:
Originally Posted by giantcfr1
I am very confused with the concept of purchasing a hand built, made-to-measure frame when components like cranks, stems, seatpost, handlebar etc would come into play. When one purchases one of these frames, does the builder suggest component lenght, height etc, the same as the LBS would?

Basically, what's the advantage of an off-the-shelf steel, aluminium, carbon or ti frame vs a made-to-measure one of the same material, other than perhaps the finish?

Steve.
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Old 02-05-07, 12:23 PM   #12
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Perfect fit and selection of proper tubing and components.
A sample: Our custom carbon fiber tandem. Pilot (person up front) is 5'7"; stoker (person in rear) is 4' 10 3/4" tall. Asides from proper fit, we had several other requirements that were not available on production tandems.
Would you want shoes that are too big, too smalll, too narrow, too wide? You get the idea?
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Old 02-06-07, 02:08 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mint Cycles
I get asked this question all the time...blah blah blah
Don't listen to that "Mojito" guy, he doesn't know what the hell he's talking about.











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Old 02-06-07, 04:07 AM   #14
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I have a plasma cutter.....

And I am not afraid to use it on these S3 mountain frames!!!!

Be patient my down under friend...I am teaching two students the finer points of how to be frame builders. Your pictures are coming as soon as I get their green sheets dialed.

MOJITO in the house!!!



Quote:
Originally Posted by Thylacine
Don't listen to that "Mojito" guy, he doesn't know what the hell he's talking about.







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Old 02-06-07, 05:19 AM   #15
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Custom bikes are like The Matrix. Once you reach a certain level of awareness....once you wake the hell up and realise that you love bikes and that you want to connect with your bike and THE RIDE.....you want to love it as much as you love cycling....you realise off-the-shelf bikes are consumer hell Tupperware where the buzz wears off long before you've paid off your VISA and leaves you a hollowed out empty shell of your your former self.

In this world where your connection with how and where something is designed and made begins and ends with the 'Made in China' sticker, if you want something MORE, then CUSTOM is the next logical progression in your quest for dodging bullet....in slow motion.....wearing a black leather trenchcoat.

BELIEVE IT.
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