Requesting Advice on Custom Bike
I am de-lurking here to ask for advice. I will be in the happy position this year of buying a custom cyclocross bike. I discovered the bikes when I resumed recreational riding several years ago, after not riding a bike at all for decades, when I was a kid. To make a long story short, I just finished my third year of racing cyclocross, though I will likely always be a Cat 4 racer.
Since my skills are still developing, I have wondered if I should wait until I am more proficient or pursue the custom now. I have some mixed feelings about it. On one hand, I don’t know if I can answer what seem to be standard questions from custom builders. I tend to sit more when climbing, but have started to come off the saddle a bit. I can peddle through more turns than I used to, but still coast through some of the hairpins on a course. Should I wait until I know my “style?” On the other hand, I relate the cycling to the time when I did a lot of sea kayaking. The philosophy of boat fit is that you don’t sit in it, you wear it. When I finally found the right boat, I knew it instantly though I was a novice paddler. Others found the boat tippy, but it was always solid as a rock to me. I want the same feel for riding a bike-am I off base or on the right track about “wearing” a bike? I am also an older rider, so long-term fit capability is important given the cost of the bike.
I am lucky that the major builders have affiliated shops in my area (IF, Seven, Moots, Merlin, etc.). There are also some individual builders within driving distance (Spectrum, Engin, Vicious). For the affiliates, I would be relying on the skill of the fitter, who wouldn’t actually be building the bike. A local fitter though could actually watch me ride and consider direct observations. The other builders would actually make or more closely oversee production. I have wondered if I can properly articulate what I am looking for, and if the builder/fitter knows how to ask the extra questions and work with me as needed. Am I worrying too much about this, and that a bike from any of these builders will work out fine?
My current bike is steel, and is a bit too long in the top tube. It’s also a bit heavy and slow to accelerate. I love its durability, and don’t want to sacrifice much of it for weight savings. I would like a bike that is a little lighter and peppy. I’m also partial to steel forks. I’m leaning toward titanium for what I hear is comfort, springiness, and no worries about rust.
I also plan on attending NAHBS in Richmond, and meet some of the builders.
I am posting this on both the Cyclocross and Framebuilder’s forums.
Any advice or considerations would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
Since your skills are still developing, I'd go with a manufactured frame or a pre-built bike. Go to a professional bit fitter, and they'll give you all the dimensions that you need to find a bike. It may be a hassle to find the exact one, but it will be worth it.
On the other hand, I got the feeling that price isnt a problem for you, so if you want a totally effing sweet bike, go with custom... not that you can't have a sweet bike if you dont go custom
I'd second the above.
Plus read www.63xc.com/scotn/metal.htm - most of what people think they know about steel, titanium and alu is wrong,
Price is enough of an issue that this bike indeed has to be sweet, because it would need to be the last one, barring catastrophe or my very old age. I do think a neutral, good fitter is a good idea. I anticipate that some of the custom builders have year-plus waiting lists, so it still may be worthwhile to get on the queue while refining my skills. I certainly expect to have a better feel of my style after another racing season and offseason work. Thanks!
Originally Posted by Lycc825
An interesting read. Thanks for suggesting it. I didn't know that titanium welds took such care.
Originally Posted by meanwhile