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Getting fit for a custom built frame

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Getting fit for a custom built frame

Old 10-27-14, 12:58 PM
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Getting fit for a custom built frame

Greetings everyone. After painfully searching for the right geometry I'm thinking I might have a custom frame built for my weird body. Lemonds fit me very well, not perfect, but well.

Obviously the fit process is pretty in depth. How should I start to get the most accurate measurements without having to go somewhere really out of my way (traveling to a different state, etc). Could my LBS fit me good enough?

What have you done? Thanks for your help and please pardon my ignorance.
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Old 10-27-14, 01:47 PM
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I have not done....but have looked around a bit dreaming and planning and it seems the best bet it to go to the builder's site and see what they are looking for for measurements.
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Old 10-27-14, 02:01 PM
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Originally Posted by squirtdad View Post
I have not done....but have looked around a bit dreaming and planning and it seems the best bet it to go to the builder's site and see what they are looking for for measurements.
Yup. It seems like they have all similar requirements.
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Old 10-27-14, 02:58 PM
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I think Ben Serrota and Bernie Mikkelsen make a 'size cycle' you can ride it as a stationary and adjust various parameters of the geometry and try them out 1st hand.

maybe there are others doing similar .. probably have to Go to where they are set up.
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Old 10-27-14, 03:07 PM
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I like the Competitive Cyclist Fit Calculator. You can take the measurements with the help of a friend as explained in the video.

Waterford dealers also have the Waterford Fitmaster.
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Old 10-27-14, 03:40 PM
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If you have your contact points worked out, you can give them to the builder and they can connect the dots with tubes. I can't really tell by your post if you have anything that can be forced to fit under you. Are you able to do that with any of your bikes?
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Old 10-27-14, 04:26 PM
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Originally Posted by busdriver1959 View Post
If you have your contact points worked out, you can give them to the builder and they can connect the dots with tubes. I can't really tell by your post if you have anything that can be forced to fit under you. Are you able to do that with any of your bikes?
Definitely. My Lemond fits me really well and so does my Ciocc. I'm just wanting to get a custom frame sometime in the future. The idea is really cool to me to get a frame with your specifications/colors etc. Unfortunately, I just do not like the super Ferrari looking bikes out in the stores these days. They seem to lack an inherent soul even though they may ride amazing.

Steel just does it for me. Always has.
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Old 10-27-14, 06:17 PM
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Probably the easiest way to transfer contact points from one bike to another (or from a size cycle like the Fitmaster to a bike) is to find a dealer who has a Serotta SICI X-Y Tool.
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Old 10-27-14, 07:01 PM
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Having a reference to work from is half the battle. If you like the contact points on your existing bikes and you aren't having any issues like knee pain or something else that would indicate a problem, you have the information you need to start talking to builders. How long have you been riding? If you have the experience to know that your fit is right for you, you don't need an outside opinion.
You'll be thrilled with a custom steel bike. Getting a bike fit for you versus picking a small, medium or large will be time and money well spent. Pick a good builder a throw some trust their way.
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Old 10-27-14, 07:36 PM
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Originally Posted by busdriver1959 View Post
Having a reference to work from is half the battle. If you like the contact points on your existing bikes and you aren't having any issues like knee pain or something else that would indicate a problem, you have the information you need to start talking to builders. How long have you been riding? If you have the experience to know that your fit is right for you, you don't need an outside opinion.
You'll be thrilled with a custom steel bike. Getting a bike fit for you versus picking a small, medium or large will be time and money well spent. Pick a good builder a throw some trust their way.
I've been riding since I was 13 years old. First bike was an entry level Centurion. Loved that bike. I currently have no major problems with my two bikes. I'm just at a point in my life where I want to give someone else the opportunity to create something they love to build. Since I do have a Ciocc, I been communicating with Pelizzoli about building a frame. This one in particular, the Corsa GP: Corsa GP | PELIZZOLI world. See how things go.
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Old 10-28-14, 04:56 AM
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I'll be honest, if you get a professional fit, they'll just try to shoehorn you into the latest fad, riser stem, big stack of spacers and brake levers set up like antlers. Stick with what you know and you'll be happiest.
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Old 10-28-14, 07:34 AM
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I would also follow the builder's preference for how to determine, state and communicate the fitting info. Some builders wish one manor of approach, others don't want certain "systems' used. This is, of course, made potentially more difficult with over seas distance and translations.

We deal with Seven as our custom line. I have to say that as a hobby builder for decades I am impressed with both Seven's resulting bikes (assembly, ride quality and rider's claims of great fit) as well as their process to get the right bike in the right design. But we have one of the more experienced fitters in the region and he's been working with Seven for many years. So they both know how the other works and wants things.

Perhaps this is the best take away. If you can't have the builder provide the fitting service then go to whoever they suggest. If this is not possible then perhaps that builder's bike isn't the best choice. Just because we want something does not make it the best choice. Andy.
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Old 10-28-14, 06:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Andrew R Stewart View Post
Perhaps this is the best take away. If you can't have the builder provide the fitting service then go to whoever they suggest. If this is not possible then perhaps that builder's bike isn't the best choice. Just because we want something does not make it the best choice. Andy.
FWIW

I think it is interesting that Kirk Frameworks has a very small percentage of people fitted in person.

They have a very specific (terms like acromion and clavic notch) instructions for measuring inseam, thigh, torso, height, foot, arm length and shoulder width. and a lot of measurements of your current bike and specific spreadsheets to record and

which comes back to ask your builder what he wants....
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Old 10-28-14, 07:29 PM
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I'm curious why you are considering a frame made in Italy when there are so many great builders in the US. If you have any issues with the frame after receiving it or owning it for awhile it seems like the logistics(shipping, etc.) of dealing with the builder would be a major hassle. I would leave the fitting to your builder of choice, or someone that is recommended by them for the process.

Brian
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Old 10-28-14, 07:47 PM
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Originally Posted by calstar View Post
I'm curious why you are considering a frame made in Italy when there are so many great builders in the US. If you have any issues with the frame after receiving it or owning it for awhile it seems like the logistics(shipping, etc.) of dealing with the builder would be a major hassle.

Brian
Four reasons:
1) The guy who is supervising/maybe even building the frames made the Ciocc and has been doing it longer than i've been alive.
2) They are semi-affordable. $1400 for custom everything
3) And the frames offered in the US seem to be overpriced. I may be wrong.
4) The frames are amazing looking
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Old 10-29-14, 08:03 AM
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Originally Posted by zeego View Post
Four reasons:
1) The guy who is supervising/maybe even building the frames made the Ciocc and has been doing it longer than i've been alive.
2) They are semi-affordable. $1400 for custom everything
3) And the frames offered in the US seem to be overpriced. I may be wrong.
4) The frames are amazing looking
1- Experience is good
2- Will there be any import costs? Shipping? The cost to communicate and get the design right might also be greater then dealing w/ a US builder. I heard of "unexpected costs making the end cost difference less then hoped for.
3- That there are many US builders doing well enough to keep it up says to me that our market bears their prices. That you feel otherwise suggests that you are under budgeted for a custom frame. But that's just my opinion. I have found that you pretty much get what you pay for. less cost usually has less value somehow, somewhere, Sometimes in places not noticed or where some would consider important.
4- This point has no argument. Andy.
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Old 10-29-14, 12:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Andrew R Stewart View Post
1- Experience is good
2- Will there be any import costs? Shipping? The cost to communicate and get the design right might also be greater then dealing w/ a US builder. I heard of "unexpected costs making the end cost difference less then hoped for.
3- That there are many US builders doing well enough to keep it up says to me that our market bears their prices. That you feel otherwise suggests that you are under budgeted for a custom frame. But that's just my opinion. I have found that you pretty much get what you pay for. less cost usually has less value somehow, somewhere, Sometimes in places not noticed or where some would consider important.
4- This point has no argument. Andy.
Thanks for the great points Andy. I appreciate it.
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Old 10-29-14, 01:52 PM
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You make an interesting remark about frames made in the USA being overpriced. I suppose 'overpriced' is in the eye of the beholder to mix my metaphors but I do think one might benefit from looking at how I, and some other US pro builders I know, set prices.

I can only speak for myself here - I don't want this to sound defensive as I don't feel that way but I charge more than many, and less than some, for my work and I don't apologize in any way for that. I feel that my time and experience is worth something. I've been building full time and professionally since 1989 and in that time have designed and built many thousands of bikes - customers range from average weekend warriors to guys that rode my work in the Tour de France. I feel my work is well proven and a very good investment.

When setting the prices for my work I don't really look at what others charge as there will always be someone willing to work for free.........instead I look at how much time I feel I need to build the best bike I can make, how many of those I can build in a year, and how much money I need to make in a month or year to have a simple middle class life. At that point its just a matter of doing the math to see how much a bike needs to sell for to have it all add up. If that number is too big for some I more than understand - there's a lot of stuff I'd like to buy but can't afford. At the same time I don't feel that someone with decades of time at the bench, thousands of bikes under riders and a very solid reputation should have to take a vow of poverty to do the work. If the market won't bear the price I need to charge to make a fair and simple living then I will close the doors and do something easier that pays more.

It's funny - we tend to talk out both sides of our mouths on stuff like this........myself included. I want the best stuff I can buy and I don't want to pay more than I have to. At the same time I don't want to contribute to the endless spiral of folks, in the USA or abroad, that work far too long and hard for too little. I remember years ago on a different cycling forum there was a poll asking how much money folks thought an experienced full time builder should make and it was a big number that I can only wish I made - while at the same time I was fielding calls from folks asking if I'd give them a deal. These things are fundamentally opposed. We want to respect craftsman and feel they deserve a solid income and then want nice handbuilt stuff for little money.

For the sake of illustration here's a down and dirty breakdown of the costs involved in that $1400 frameset -

Average steel stuff - tubes, lugs, small parts.......about $350
Paint - the cheapest is powder at say $250 - $300 while nice wet paint is closer to $500 - for sake of easy math lets call it $350
Expendables - brazing and welding supplies, emery cloth, flux...etc. - $50 per frame (this is low but an easy number to work with)

So in simple 'cost of goods sold' we have a very rough number of $750 which leaves, in your $1400 example, $650 to cover rent, power, insurance...etc. In other words the fixed and variable overhead costs. After those things are paid for the builder needs to pay himself for the labor to build the frame from the remainder. If it's tigged and the guy is well tooled and very fast and organized we are talking 6-7 hours......if it's lugged we are looking at 15 ish in most cases. So think about the hourly rate the builder will make with the money left over from his $650 that didn't go to overhead. Is he making $3/hr? If he's lucky.

I will end with this and you all can make of it what you will - support your builder or he will not be able to keep the lights on and be around long enough to teach the next round of builders that will take their place. It's as simple as that. I don't say all of the above to try to make you feel guilty about not doing business with someone in the USA but instead I'd hope that everyone would look at the business and industry they love and what role they themselves play in it.

The soapbox it free. Thanks for reading.

dave
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Old 10-29-14, 03:22 PM
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Thanks for that, Dave.

My only custom bike is a polished 953 Waterford I had built in 2007 as a retirement gift to myself. It was brazed by Dave Wages before he hung out his Ellis shingle, and the price of the frameset (953 frame and chrome plated 531 fork) was $3,500.

I went through essentially the same cost exercise you did in your post and came to the conclusion I was getting a bargain. It's been a wonderful bike that I've put thousands of miles on, and it still looks and rides like the day I got it.

You and other builders with similar experience and well deserved reputations create masterpieces that are worth every penny you charge.
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Old 10-29-14, 03:29 PM
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I always figured that most framebuilders are under-priced. The reason is simple. There is a business rule of thumb that says that a manufacturer should sell a good for 5 times the material cost or they are going to suffer insufficient margins and will be "lucky" to stay in business. I think Dave Kirk underestimates the materials costs, but using his numbers that means that custom frames should cost at least $3500. It would not be hard at all to spend over $1000 with a high-end wet paint job and that means the price should be $5k, which very few builders actually charge. What you find is that there are very few people actually working at it full time and that means their day job and their wife is subsidizing the business. But the guys that are charging significantly less than that are either really efficient or they are living on the edge. And there is a significant turnover in the business, which I believe reflects that.
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Old 10-29-14, 03:52 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
I always figured that most framebuilders are under-priced. The reason is simple. There is a business rule of thumb that says that a manufacturer should sell a good for 5 times the material cost or they are going to suffer insufficient margins and will be "lucky" to stay in business. I think Dave Kirk underestimates the materials costs, but using his numbers that means that custom frames should cost at least $3500. It would not be hard at all to spend over $1000 with a high-end wet paint job and that means the price should be $5k, which very few builders actually charge. What you find is that there are very few people actually working at it full time and that means their day job and their wife is subsidizing the business. But the guys that are charging significantly less than that are either really efficient or they are living on the edge. And there is a significant turnover in the business, which I believe reflects that.
You are of course correct - the numbers I threw out are low and would represent the lowest a builder might pay for the cheapest materials. I've done this exercise online in the past with more realistic (i.e. bigger) numbers and some get sidetracked and will say that you can get paint for $50 less than I quoted and metal stuff for $30 less as if that disproves my point. So I go low ball and the discussion stays simple and on track.

In the end any way you cut it there are very few builders making a solid living and no one is getting rich by any means. The problem with pricing low is that since these goods are handmade one can't just set the machine to crank out more widgets but instead the builder needs to work longer hours for less. This is something many builders never get. I have a good number of builders come to me for advice of all kinds and one of the first things I always ask is how long does it take to build a frameset and how much do they charge and very few know actually how long it takes. Instead they focus on how many bikes are sold and how long the queue is. The sad part of this is that if the builder has a long queue and doesn't make a profit that just means they get to work longer for nothing. As much of an issue as it is that the buying public doesn't value the work of fine craftsmen, it's just as big and issue that so many craftsman don't value their own work and charge appropriately for it. There are certainly two sides of this and both can contribute to cheap handmade goods and high turnover in the business.


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Old 10-29-14, 07:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Dave Kirk View Post
You make an interesting remark about frames made in the USA being overpriced. I suppose 'overpriced' is in the eye of the beholder to mix my metaphors but I do think one might benefit from looking at how I, and some other US pro builders I know, set prices.

I can only speak for myself here - I don't want this to sound defensive as I don't feel that way but I charge more than many, and less than some, for my work and I don't apologize in any way for that. I feel that my time and experience is worth something. I've been building full time and professionally since 1989 and in that time have designed and built many thousands of bikes - customers range from average weekend warriors to guys that rode my work in the Tour de France. I feel my work is well proven and a very good investment.

When setting the prices for my work I don't really look at what others charge as there will always be someone willing to work for free.........instead I look at how much time I feel I need to build the best bike I can make, how many of those I can build in a year, and how much money I need to make in a month or year to have a simple middle class life. At that point its just a matter of doing the math to see how much a bike needs to sell for to have it all add up. If that number is too big for some I more than understand - there's a lot of stuff I'd like to buy but can't afford. At the same time I don't feel that someone with decades of time at the bench, thousands of bikes under riders and a very solid reputation should have to take a vow of poverty to do the work. If the market won't bear the price I need to charge to make a fair and simple living then I will close the doors and do something easier that pays more.

It's funny - we tend to talk out both sides of our mouths on stuff like this........myself included. I want the best stuff I can buy and I don't want to pay more than I have to. At the same time I don't want to contribute to the endless spiral of folks, in the USA or abroad, that work far too long and hard for too little. I remember years ago on a different cycling forum there was a poll asking how much money folks thought an experienced full time builder should make and it was a big number that I can only wish I made - while at the same time I was fielding calls from folks asking if I'd give them a deal. These things are fundamentally opposed. We want to respect craftsman and feel they deserve a solid income and then want nice handbuilt stuff for little money.

For the sake of illustration here's a down and dirty breakdown of the costs involved in that $1400 frameset -

Average steel stuff - tubes, lugs, small parts.......about $350
Paint - the cheapest is powder at say $250 - $300 while nice wet paint is closer to $500 - for sake of easy math lets call it $350
Expendables - brazing and welding supplies, emery cloth, flux...etc. - $50 per frame (this is low but an easy number to work with)

So in simple 'cost of goods sold' we have a very rough number of $750 which leaves, in your $1400 example, $650 to cover rent, power, insurance...etc. In other words the fixed and variable overhead costs. After those things are paid for the builder needs to pay himself for the labor to build the frame from the remainder. If it's tigged and the guy is well tooled and very fast and organized we are talking 6-7 hours......if it's lugged we are looking at 15 ish in most cases. So think about the hourly rate the builder will make with the money left over from his $650 that didn't go to overhead. Is he making $3/hr? If he's lucky.

I will end with this and you all can make of it what you will - support your builder or he will not be able to keep the lights on and be around long enough to teach the next round of builders that will take their place. It's as simple as that. I don't say all of the above to try to make you feel guilty about not doing business with someone in the USA but instead I'd hope that everyone would look at the business and industry they love and what role they themselves play in it.

The soapbox it free. Thanks for reading.

dave
Great words Dave...and thank you. I also am an independent businessman who makes custom leather belts. I also, as any cost-analysis freak, breakdown the expenses all the way down to the rubber bands I use. 8-)

My comment on the cost of hand built frames was an immediate observation. Please pardon my ignorance. They are although, in essence, a very expensive creation. They take a lot of time, thought and innovation. A skill that is certainly under appreciated and universally recognized. I really wish in this economic climate that people could make more money doing what they truly love. The fact is, we won't....but we're okay with that. As long as we are able to financially support a lifestyle we're happy with and have enough time to do the things we want to do. That's what is important.

I will have to say, that after hearing your story and thoughts, I'm interested in talking to you about a frame.

And finally, in all my words of infinite wisdom (yeah right), I never apologize for what I charge for working either. Proof is in the pudding. People feel that and they're always loyal. There is nothing like a homegrown fan base. If you never sell out and never change your ways, you'll always be in business. The number one truism in business is to always stick to your mission statement and never ever sway from it. if you provide the best customer service, you'll never have to sell anything in your life.

Thanks again and cheers brother.
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Old 10-30-14, 09:27 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by zeego View Post
Great words Dave...and thank you. I also am an independent businessman who makes custom leather belts. I also, as any cost-analysis freak, breakdown the expenses all the way down to the rubber bands I use. 8-)

My comment on the cost of hand built frames was an immediate observation. Please pardon my ignorance. They are although, in essence, a very expensive creation. They take a lot of time, thought and innovation. A skill that is certainly under appreciated and universally recognized. I really wish in this economic climate that people could make more money doing what they truly love. The fact is, we won't....but we're okay with that. As long as we are able to financially support a lifestyle we're happy with and have enough time to do the things we want to do. That's what is important.

I will have to say, that after hearing your story and thoughts, I'm interested in talking to you about a frame.

And finally, in all my words of infinite wisdom (yeah right), I never apologize for what I charge for working either. Proof is in the pudding. People feel that and they're always loyal. There is nothing like a homegrown fan base. If you never sell out and never change your ways, you'll always be in business. The number one truism in business is to always stick to your mission statement and never ever sway from it. if you provide the best customer service, you'll never have to sell anything in your life.

Thanks again and cheers brother.


Thanks so much for the note and the understanding.

I would of course to be honored to work for a fellow craftsman so please get in touch with any questions you might have and I'll do my best to get you answers.

Thanks again,


dave
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Old 10-30-14, 10:28 AM
  #24  
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Dave Kirk, one of the truly greats of the hand made frame building. Big plus that he's a hell of a nice guy too.
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