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  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    Wanting a custom frame

    By way of short introduction: I am somewhere between a strong casual rider and a non-competitive avid rider. I have owned drop bar and flat bar bikes and flop back and forth, currently I am searching for a flat bar bike that I can ride on 1 hour 'fitness rides' and on lots of errands as I intend not to use my car except when really necessary (I even just bought a dog trailer for trips to the dog park). Eventually, I would like to take longer rides but time is more of a constraint right now. I love bikes as the transportation devices they are (bikes are going to be the golden story of the coming depression) and the sexy technology that so many exhibit. I love how someone can start with a frame and put together a machine that is uniquely theirs. I test ride and pour over geometry charts like a woman possessed. But truthfully, there is no off the rack bike that is going to fit me and I am tired of playing stump the LBS because I need to make a purchase having sold my last bike a tad prematurely and being relegated to a comfort hybrid belonging to one of my boys.

    The issue is my geometry. I am 5'10" with a 35" inseam and a 32" sleeve (I am not completely sure how to measure sleeve. That is from a man's shirt that fit; from pit to wrist break is 23"). What would be perfect would be something like a 59cm bike standover and a 56cm bike top tube. One bike fitter observed since my leg length is more in the femur, while an even shorter top tube might work for my arms, it never would for my knees, and the seat could not be moved forward. In this latest round of bike searching, I discovered steel bikes and am now hankering for one of those. Noodling around on the internet I discovered that custom frame building is not as uncommon as I thought and thus this inquiry was borne. Once I had the frame, I would dress it in mid-level components.

    So, approximately how much and how long for such a frame? Any recommendations for builders? I live on the peninsula of the SF Bay area but I am open to other areas. Right now, my plan is to buy one of the off the rack bikes with a too long top tube, play some stem games, and then in a year pass it down to one of my kids.

    Thanks for your wisdom.

    FP

  2. #2
    Senior Member swc7916's Avatar
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    Sep 2007
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    Rodriguez Toucan tandem, Rodriguez Rainer Lite sport/touring
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    Try R+E Cycles (www.rodcycle.com) in Seattle. They specialize in fitting and are very good for the hard-to-fit.

  3. #3
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    Waterford has a 'budget' brand called Gunnar. Like Waterford, they are some of the
    berst bikes money can buy. Give 'em a call. There should be a dealer somewhere, for either Waterford or Gunnar. Both can be custom. Try a test ride.

    http://www.gunnarbikes.com/
    We are as gods, we might as well get good at it.
    Stewart Brand

  4. #4
    Worker Ant maddog17's Avatar
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    Oct 2007
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    is there a price limit were dealing with? and if you have to go custom, we're only looking for a frame, correct? off the top of my head, Colnago and Gios both offer 58 or 59 with 56 and change top tubes amd both offer steel frames. Gios is the cheaper choice, Excel sports in colorado is the only dealer i know of in the US. last i checked the frames were about $800 and that would leave you to choose a fork. the Colnago Master X Light goes for over $2000 for frame/fork. you got IF, Seven, Serotta all have fit systems and do custom builds as well as a bunch of small builders who will work with you to get your size correct. Steelman, Wojcik, Strong, are a few of the small builders that will work with you on the build. if the sizing is important to you, and it sounds like it is, then i would find a LBS that can do a proper fit for you, you'll probably end up paying for it, but you may be able to spin that into a discount on the build if you get the bike thru them. going thru a builder you can at least talk to them and tell them what you want, what your gonna do, how your gonna use the bike etc.. might as well get what you pay for.
    1998 Ted Wojcik road

  5. #5
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Co-Motion in Eugene, OR

  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by swc7916 View Post
    Try R+E Cycles (www.rodcycle.com) in Seattle. They specialize in fitting and are very good for the hard-to-fit.
    +1

    Reasonable price. Reasonable lead times. Nice people.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
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    Thank you all for your suggestions! I am going to look into this for my next bike, maybe get it started in fall/winter when I suspect things are a little slower. I just bought a Jamis Coda Elite and will look into the custom process after the summer of riding on steel. I love that there are domestic frame fabricators and I predict they will be very busy in the years ahead!

  8. #8
    Decrepit Member Scooper's Avatar
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    Closer to home, there's Steelman in Redwood City, Ahrens in San Jose, Bruce Gordon in Petaluma, John Caletti in Santa Cruz, Kish in San Luis Obispo, Steve Rex in Sacramento, Rock Lobster in Santa Cruz, Steve Potts in Point Reyes, and SyCip in Santa Rosa.

    You don't have to look very far to find top drawer framebuilders.
    Last edited by Scooper; 05-02-08 at 06:35 PM.
    - Stan

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