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Old 08-31-06, 08:45 PM   #1
hoss10
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Custom Touring Bike

I'm seriously thinking about getting a custom steel touring bike built for me. I'm a really big guy and I ride a fair bit 4-5000 kms a year. Is this good idea, and is it worth the extra money?
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Old 08-31-06, 08:49 PM   #2
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I would say that a pretty personal question. If you're big enough that you can't find a frame that fits you, then, by all means, get a custom. I would love to have a custom just for the idea that it was built specifically for me. I have a custom trumpet that will always seem like it plays better than anything else I have just because it was made just for me.
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Old 08-31-06, 09:09 PM   #3
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Saying you're a big guy doesn't mean a whole lot. I'm 6'4" and weigh about 200 lbs much of the time. I ride a smaller than biggest production size bike.

I've ridden with a couple of guys who are 6'6" and closer to 250 who also ride stock frames.

But none of that means much.

You could probably get a frame to fit you without resorting to a custom frame but if you've ridden much and know what you're looking for then by all means consider a custom frame.

Waterford - the best.
Rivendell - almost the best.
Bruce Gordon - VERY good touring bikes but he is opinionated as hell and if you don't agree with him he's very difficult to deal with.
Ed Litton - A very good frame builder with tons of experience but he only makes a limited number of frames each year and you have to hit him at just the right time.
Bob Jackson or Mercian are wonderful touring bike makers but if you are really big you probably don't want a standard size tubing bike which I believe is all they presently make.

There are others of course - Leonard Zinn is an expert large frame builder since he's REALLY TALL himself. Jobst Brandt has toured extensively on a bike with standard tubing and he's something like 6'7" or so tall though he's pretty thin. Still, he climbs like a bandit and decends like a skydiver with a failed chute without problems.
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Old 08-31-06, 09:20 PM   #4
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Thanks for the information. I'm not only large 6'5" and 300 pounds but I have very short legs and a long upper body (think Gorrilla). The problem I seem to have is that I can't buy a stock steel bike as they flex like noodles.
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Old 08-31-06, 09:36 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hoss10
Thanks for the information. I'm not only large 6'5" and 300 pounds but I have very short legs and a long upper body (think Gorrilla). The problem I seem to have is that I can't buy a stock steel bike as they flex like noodles.
I'm really happy with my Riv, even though I could just as easily ride a lot of stock frames. There's something really nice about knowing that the bike was built for what you want to do and for your tastes and needs. If you ride a lot and have trouble getting a bike to fit, then a custom frame with tubing and geometry to suit your needs could be an excellent investment.
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Old 08-31-06, 09:47 PM   #6
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ChecK out Co-Motion as they have designed a frame for heavy dudes.
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Old 08-31-06, 10:59 PM   #7
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check out the Rivendell sight about some of the top-tube/middle tube bikes they have built you guys like you
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Old 08-31-06, 10:59 PM   #8
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Hoss10: With your body, I'd say go for the custom-built if you can afford it.
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Old 08-31-06, 11:50 PM   #9
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There are many custom frame builders and most have some experience building touring bikes. You might want to check to see if you've got a good builder in your area.

Bob Brown is another good name who does a lot of touring builds. And if you want a Rivendell without the middle man, you can always go directly to Curt Goodrich who also builds under his own name now.
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Old 09-01-06, 12:55 AM   #10
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You might also check with don walker. He's a frequent poster over in the fixed gear forum. He specializes in track bikes but is knowledgable about all types of bikes. He's not a lightweight himself, so he knows how to build a strong frame.
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Old 09-01-06, 03:36 AM   #11
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The ultimate custom touring bike is probably Sakkit, they are useful for inspiration if you cant handle the waiting list or cost.
Henry James have a list of custom builders.

Zinn is definately worth checking out for big bikes. He factors in large crank length if you want, something many large-frame designers omit.
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Old 09-01-06, 08:04 AM   #12
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Check out Co-Motion, they're now making a frame especially for big guys like you. I got a custom Co-Motion this spring, and after almost 5K miles, I can tell you it's worth every penny of the extra cost to have a bike that actually fits.
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Old 09-01-06, 02:57 PM   #13
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Hi,
my 2 cents is to get a Waterford. It won't be bothered by your weight.
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Old 09-01-06, 03:12 PM   #14
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Great information guys. I'm up in the Great White North and there a few custom builders up here. Hugh Black at True North does really nice work and has built for people bigger then me. www.truenorthcycles.com I guess I'll bite the bullet and order one. Of course now I will have many more questions: such as 700 vs. 26 inch wheels, drops or flat bars etc.
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Old 09-01-06, 05:26 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hoss10
Of course now I will have many more questions: such as 700 vs. 26 inch wheels, drops or flat bars etc.
Answers: 26 inch wheels (or maybe not since you're tall) & drop bars (for sure).
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Old 09-01-06, 06:53 PM   #16
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I find it amusing that so many tourers are looking to go to 26" wheels while so many MTB riders are looking to go to 700C wheels.
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Old 09-01-06, 09:03 PM   #17
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There really is no questions at all about wheel sizes. For a big guy you REALLY have only 700c. With 26" wheels you have a very poor choice of tire sizes and types unless you're riding knobbies. With 700c you can get tires anywhere and in just about any configuration though I can say that you'd want to start out with Avocet Duro Plus which are 32 mm wide and can still be inflated to 90 psi.
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Old 09-02-06, 04:32 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by cyclintom
There really is no questions at all about wheel sizes. For a big guy you REALLY have only 700c. With 26" wheels you have a very poor choice of tire sizes and types unless you're riding knobbies. With 700c you can get tires anywhere and in just about any configuration though I can say that you'd want to start out with Avocet Duro Plus which are 32 mm wide and can still be inflated to 90 psi.
26 vs 700c is still a moot point. In touring sizes, the difference in efficiency is hardly measurable.
26" is the modern choice for expedition tourists. You get more air for comfort, closer spokes for strength and worldwide availability of tyres (even if they are knobbly). Modern expedition tyres such as Schwalbe Marathon XR come in both sizes.
700c touring size tyres are only available in "bike country" where hybrid style bikes are ridden.

If fast touring is your thing, then 700c is probably more suitable.
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Old 09-02-06, 07:59 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hoss10
I'm up in the Great White North and there a few custom builders up here. Hugh Black at True North does really nice work and has built for people bigger then me. www.truenorthcycles.com I guess I'll bite the bullet and order one.
I have a True North touring bike, and it's great. Hugh does excellent work, and he provides excellent follow-up service.
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Old 09-02-06, 09:46 PM   #20
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I am 200 lb and the wife is 250 lb. Our tandem was almost custom built as we were car-free back then and needed a machine we could use for shopping and hauling loaded trailers. Counterpoint made our semi-recumbent tandem with slightly larger diameter steel tubing and thicker welds then usual. We still use it 20 years later and riders at our annual club picnic were admiring how solidly it was built. The single 20"x2" front wheel takes all of my wifes' weight but gets a little squirmy. I run the pressure for that tire 10-20 PSI over the design pressure. Bilenky is known for custom bikes. Bruce Gordon does custom work and I know from personal experience he is not as curmudgeonly as others make him out to be. Be prepared to pay in the loose ball park of 3000 - 5000 for a great custom bike. A top flight pro fitting like the one from Dr. Andy Pruitt in Colorado includes measurements for bike fitting. Many top bike shops have special fitting frames that can be adjusted for some extreme body shapes.
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Old 09-02-06, 09:47 PM   #21
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I am 200 lb and the wife is 250 lb. Our tandem was almost custom built as we were car-free back then and needed a machine we could use for shopping and hauling loaded trailers. Counterpoint made our semi-recumbent tandem with slightly larger diameter steel tubing and thicker welds then usual.
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Old 09-03-06, 12:01 AM   #22
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Hey Hoss, I'm a fellow hoss. I'm 6'2" ~280. I've also got disproportionally short legs (30" inseam). When I first started biking, I got a trek 520 in the closest thing to my size. I found it worked for me test riding and while I was building up my conditioning, but after an hour I found myself continually fidgetting trying to get it correctly (a lot of moving my big butt back and forth on the seat.)

I had IF build me a Club Racer with thicker wall steel tubing. All I can say is, WORLD OF DIFFERENCE. The fit allows me to ride for hours in (relative) comfort. I took it on an 800 mile tour through England with me + 40 extra pounds in baggage. It's a a rock solid bike which serves for touring, commuting, and you can strip off the touring gear to make it surprisingly light considering the thicker tubing. I'm sold on custom built bikes. Mine cost 3x more, but as I find myself riding it 5x more often, it's payed for itself.
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Old 09-03-06, 11:05 PM   #23
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I'm a hoss at 230 and about 6'1" and I have slightly short legs I could ride about 54-6 legs and 58 torso. I can get by off the rack but I am going custom to deal with that issue and all the special features I want. I'm doing the frame myself, so I have had to school on what is involved in the beefier frames and the changes aren't all that extreme sorta MTB main triangle and light tandem rear triangle. Not a bad project actually for a cheap Sakkit. At the moment I am building 2 frames one will be tandem weight and the other closer to an LHT, then I will see how they work.

I don't know about getting a Sakkit frame, but the literature is superb for identifying all the strength issues, and component issues. Beyond that Sakkits are integrated as to frame rack and paniers, which is nice but the racks are about what a good custom frame costs, justifiably, so i don't see many people with that stuff.

I'm going with the 26" wheels. I don't get the 29" fad yet, but for the time being it seems irrelevant to tourists until the supply gets out there.
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Old 09-04-06, 10:25 AM   #24
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+1 on the Co-Motion, they will set you up with a great touring machine. http://www.co-motion.com/
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Old 09-04-06, 11:39 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyclintom
There really is no questions at all about wheel sizes. For a big guy you REALLY have only 700c. With 26" wheels you have a very poor choice of tire sizes and types unless you're riding knobbies. With 700c you can get tires anywhere and in just about any configuration though I can say that you'd want to start out with Avocet Duro Plus which are 32 mm wide and can still be inflated to 90 psi.
I don't want to hijack this thread into yet another wheel size debate, but the choice of road tires for 26" could hardly be described as "poor." It is in fact quite large and diverse. For someone as large as the OP, 700C wheels make geometric sense, and enough heavy-duty rims are made in 700C these days that better strength in the smaller wheels isn't really an issue, but tire choice and availability is the last reason to stay away from 26 inch wheels for touring.
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