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  1. #1
    30mi/day commuter
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    Custom frames: worth it for everyday biking?

    I was wondering what people thought about custom frames.
    I have seen non-fancy custom frames go for around 1000$ which is quite a bit compared to a surley.
    I'm not a performance biker but im on my bike ~1hr/day. Does anyone have one, are they much more comfortable than stock frames? what do you use it for?

  2. #2
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    You've seen custom frames for $1000? That's a very low price for a custom frame! What brands were they?

    I had a custom frame, and would be tempted to get one again ... but I don't know of a company that sells them that inexpensively.

  3. #3
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    Personally, I think that OTS stock frames are perfectly fine for commuting. Now for recreation or sport, that's quite a bit different.

    A nice customized lugged steel touring frame from Waterford would be nice. Also, a beautiful titanium touring frame from MOOTS would be alright, too.


    - Slim

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    Senior Member clasher's Avatar
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    An hour a day adds up over time and if there's some feature/fitting you need in a bike that isn't available in a stock frame then I don't really think one needs any other reason to get one... and by my thinking if I'm spending 1-2000$ on a custom frame it would have to be something I'd use a lot, otherwise it'd be a really expensive sunday rider.

    That being said my preference is actually used bikes because I'm cheap.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    IMO, unless you're an outlier with respect to body proportions or weight, there is nothing to be gained with respect to comfort or performance by going custom. Virtually all pros ride stock frames.

  6. #6
    tsl
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    IMHO, my everyday bike should be my best bike, since i have to ride it every day. I couldn't think of a worse situation than having to ride something that wasn't right (for whatever reason) every day. Sometimes custom isn't abut fit, but rather, about features or how it looks.

    If custom does it for you, then you should get custom.

    I'm fine with my current daily ride, but the next one will be full custom in Ti.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

  7. #7
    tsl
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    You've seen custom frames for $1000? ... but I don't know of a company that sells them that inexpensively.
    At that price, you're not looking at companies, but individuals. Harder to find, but they're out there. There's a whole forum full of them (including a few Aussies) at Velocipede Salon.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

  8. #8
    Senior Member rebel1916's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Looigi View Post
    IMO, unless you're an outlier with respect to body proportions or weight, there is nothing to be gained with respect to comfort or performance by going custom. Virtually all pros ride stock frames.
    What he said. If you can easily fit into off the rack clothing, you probably don't need a custom bike. That said, if you want one and you have the money, go for it.

  9. #9
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    You can always take a mass produced frame, burn the paint,
    add braze-on fittings, Then get it repainted.

    I have 2, one I built up myself, from a bunch of lugs and a tube set,
    35 years ago..

    And my current Loaded touring bike's frame, because I got to be hands on
    and work alongside and use the builder's shop tools and materials ..

    It's very unique..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 10-13-11 at 10:53 AM.

  10. #10
    of Clan Nrubso ChrisO's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsl View Post
    IMHO, my everyday bike should be my best bike, since i have to ride it every day. I couldn't think of a worse situation than having to ride something that wasn't right (for whatever reason) every day. Sometimes custom isn't abut fit, but rather, about features or how it looks.

    If custom does it for you, then you should get custom.

    I'm fine with my current daily ride, but the next one will be full custom in Ti.
    I am inclined to agree with this reasoning. If there is some fit/comfort issue with your Surly that no amount of tweaking will overcome, then yes, a custom frame is well worth it (assuming it fixes the issues) since you're on it daily. So I guess the worth-it-ness is directly proportional to the time spent in saddle.
    A Sufficiently Motivated Fool


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  11. #11
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    Ask yourself what aspect of the bike you would expect to improve by going custom. The answer starts to determine if the custom frame is 'worth it,' but in the end it's totally your call.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Flying Merkel's Avatar
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    I see Maseratis, Ferraris, and Lamborghinis being used as daily drivers. Yesterday, I spotted a smokin' hot trophy wife pulling her kid out of a car seat that was installed in a showroom new Porsche. A minivan is a better daily driver than any of these cars, but there you go.

    If you can afford a custom frame, get it and ride it. Nobody's business where or how. More practical than an exotic car.

  13. #13
    30mi/day commuter
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    I would be doing this for fit not looks or features. I suppose I would have to figure out if a new stock frame would fit me properly.

    The 1000$ number came from some guy my LBS gets to do custom frames.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
    Ask yourself what aspect of the bike you would expect to improve by going custom. The answer starts to determine if the custom frame is 'worth it,' but in the end it's totally your call.
    I think there's three factors that might make a custom frame worthwhile (MHO):

    1. You don't fit a mass produced, off the shelf frame. Go custom for comfort.

    2. You want bling. If you've got the dough, go for the show.

    3. You want to travel with the bike. As this is your daily rider, I assume you don't fall into this category unless you're an airplane pilot or long-haul truck driver.

    For everything else, I say buy off the shelf and upgrade whatever tickles your fancy.

  15. #15
    7-speed doomsday prepper ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    Look at it from the other direction -- if I got a custom frame that fit me perfectly and was a pleasure to ride, I'd probably end up riding it everyday.

    - Scott
    Quote Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
    There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
    I think there's three factors that might make a custom frame worthwhile (MHO):
    etc etc etc
    There is another reason to go custom - most of today's frames are not designed for everyday riding and include stupid marketing BS like shaped / curved tubes.

    I wanted a bike with a top tube equal to the seat tube height, relaxed angles and longer chainstays whilst keeping the headtube short enough to allow a decent saddle to bar drop.

    Couldn't find anything I liked that fitted the bill so I went custom. I will never buy another off the shelf bike.

  17. #17
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    My body proportions are odd, had a custom lugged steel frame made about four years ago. It is set up as a 1x9 utility & commuting bike, used solid upper middle range components. Ride it the most - it is comfortable, has a great feel and carried my butt through all sorts of weather and road conditions. IMHO - a solid investment & would do it again.
    ride long & prosper

  18. #18
    30mi/day commuter
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    how would i determine if a custom frame would fit better without getting one made?

  19. #19
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    Do you have any real problems riding a stock frame?

  20. #20
    30mi/day commuter
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    I've never owned a new bike... my current bike doesnt fit perfectly.
    I've been told that older bikes 1980 or older had shorter top-tubes than new bikes, and i need more top tube length.

  21. #21
    Senior Member rebel1916's Avatar
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    Then just get a more modern bike off CL for a couple hundy and see how it feels. Then report back.

  22. #22
    your god hates me Bob Ross's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsl View Post
    At that price, you're not looking at companies, but individuals. Harder to find, but they're out there. There's a whole forum full of them (including a few Aussies) at Velocipede Salon.
    As a frequent enjoyer of the Velocipede Salon forum, I can assure you that none of the esteemed craftsmen who frequent that site are selling frames for $1000.

    ...or very few of them at least, which is rather different than "a whole forum full of them"


    That being said: My custom bike is my favorite bike, and I would ride it every day if I didn't occasionally have to worry about rain, snow, gravel, dirt, or other things that prompt me to take the POS backup bike out now & then.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by chico1st View Post
    how would i determine if a custom frame would fit better without getting one made?
    Try what's available, and see if a stock bike fits you. Or can be made to fit.* If not, you're going to fit a custom better, because it can be made to fit you.

    *One of my pet peeves is the lack of fitting going on when most bike shops sell most customers a new bike. Most manufacturers have reduced the number of frame sizes they are producing, based on the supposition that compact frames can fit more "sizes" with long seatpost extensions and stem changes, and with the change to threadless stems with removeable face plates. This would work great if every LBS-sold bicycle went through a 10-30 minute process of adjusting the seatpost and changing out stems to fit the buyer. But most LBSs I've seen don't have a wall of stems for fitting, they have six stems with garish colors, and charge high prices to fancy up an otherwise "dull" bike.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    You've seen custom frames for $1000? That's a very low price for a custom frame! What brands were they?

    I had a custom frame, and would be tempted to get one again ... but I don't know of a company that sells them that inexpensively.
    Tsunami aluminum frames start at $750

    XACD (china) will do custom titanium for about $900 shipped, but you need to know _exactly_ what you want and review the blueprints.

    Habanero will sell you a custom XACD frame with hand-holding, US preparation, and warranty service in Florida for $1300.

  25. #25
    tsl
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Ross View Post
    As a frequent enjoyer of the Velocipede Salon forum, I can assure you that none of the esteemed craftsmen who frequent that site are selling frames for $1000.

    ...or very few of them at least, which is rather different than "a whole forum full of them"
    Yeah, I could've phrased that better. There's a full forum of individual framebuilders, several of whom offer frames starting at a little more than a grand.

    Better?

    I really ought to remember: Coffee first, then post on forums.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

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