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Custom Frame advice

Old 01-24-15, 06:34 PM
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Mithrandir
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Custom Frame advice

Hi there, I'm not sure this is entirely the right place to post this, but here goes. I'm looking to get a custom road bike frame for the 2015 season. I'm a very overweight but active rider with back issues, who I feel has a very awkward body shape, because I've never been truly comfortable on any bike I've ridden (I feel like my legs are too short, because the standover height limits my bike choices, but then the bikes still feel too small). So I'm really interested in having a bike dialed into my body shape.

My bike shop can get me a custom frame but I'm not really sure what to ask for. Are there any resources out there that explain exactly what each measure on a bike does to its performance/handling characteristics so I have a better idea of how to explain what I want, and an understanding of what compromises I'll have to make?

And lastly... the thing that worries me is that custom frames are expensive. I would really hate to get one, and realise later that it won't work well. Does anyone have any advice as to how to avoid or minimize a situation like that?

Thanks!
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Old 01-24-15, 06:38 PM
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hueyhoolihan
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there's plenty of info on the web (maybe too much) on frame fitting. but as to standover height. most road bikes have slanted top tubes and some are very slanted indeed. i'd look into one of those. the right one should pretty much eliminate standover issules, maybe a cyclocross frame. you might want to post in the clydes and clydesses forum. good luck
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Old 01-25-15, 01:28 PM
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I would search out a local builder, if there is one. Problems such as you mention are common. There are a certain percentage of people who fit well off the rack, and others who don't, just as with suits. As with suits a further number can be fit through alterations (stem changes). But then there are some who require a custom frame, and of course many who would be better off with one.

Depending on how far out you are on the various fitting issues you describe, you may have to make some serious adjustments. Since many of us do not use custom bikes, one can end up on entirely inappropriate bikes, since those are all that are available. Adjusting for proportionally short legs is not a problem, particularly if you are of average height. At the very small end of the spectrum, one can end up running into constraints relative to the size of wheels. Dealing with excess weight particularly if it is pronounced, is going to rule out the lightest frame, and perhaps then some. It can also make it difficult to get a comfortable aero position without compressing lung volume. The success of a fitting endeavour will depend to some extent on the reasonableness of the client. Custom isn't miracle work. It should help you reach your potential on a bike, it doesn't un-write the rules. A large number of people do not want to ride what they need, but what they want, and that can be a problem.

Relative to a cross frame, that works as far as a lower bar height near the seat tube, but if you go custom you will not need to get a bike designed for the off road, in order to ride the road.
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Old 01-25-15, 07:27 PM
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I think the first step is to establish the fit that works for you best. Of course this means either a lot of trial and find out or a good fitter (one who isn't racing oriented) and hopefully less trial and find out. There are issues with weight that have little to do with body dimensions. Weight placement, muscle capacity, joint flexibility the amount of tissue hindering such are the first few aspects I think of. When one is on the fringes of the bell curve it's much more challenging to get this right.

So the fitter's ability to first work with you and get your contact points placed where you can handle them (and this means after you've gotten tired/gone some miles and rides) then next translate them to the builder are very important. The three of you need to be able to propose, try out possible solutions and evaluate the results before any tubes are cut. Some builders and fitters are better/more patient at this then others.

(I'll plug my boss, Scott Page at Full Moon Vista in Rochester, NY, and Seven Cycles here. In the almost five years I've worked there I've seen the efforts to get the bike/rider right. There are others out there but I don't have the experience with them...)

But also know that your body will change over time. Whether it's getting stronger, leaner and more able to handle stress or the opposite it will change. So a custom (or well fitted stock) bike might not be the best fit after a time. Know this going into the decision process. If possible allow for some shift in the fit in the direction you think you'll evolve towards. Consider staying away from the trendy current component packages. They're designed for fit and middle of the bell curve riders. So too with the frame's tight clearances/short stays. Consider more braze ons and accessory capacity then you think is currently needed. If you want the frame to last with you it needs to be able to grow with your changing needs.

Good luck in your quest and riding. Andy.
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Old 01-27-15, 07:08 PM
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you note stand over height as an issue. Can you explain a bit more on your problem?

Many people get frames too small because they think they should be able to touch the ground while in the saddle. Most proper fitting frames with the seat at a the proper height will require the rider to slip off the seat to put a foot down.

As noted a frame with with sloping top tube will help.

Andy's guy sounds worth talking to.

Another thought is to look at something like the soma san marcos frame and build it out Rivendell style with (more upright stem) SOMA San Marcos

(I may get beaten for this idea)
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