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custom steel bike...how much?

Old 06-25-04, 11:11 AM
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custom steel bike...how much?

I'm thinking of getting a custom made bike (steel). Any ideas how much or anyone here who has one? How much did you pay for yours? Thanks
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Old 06-25-04, 11:27 AM
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They can vary greatly by company. Figure no less than than a grand to as much as three for a top notch custom.

This company makes amazing steel bikes - it'll take a year to get it but it's worth the wait. www.vanillabicycles.com

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Old 06-25-04, 11:44 AM
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I have ordered one, and should get it in a couple of weeks..
the price for frame only ranges between $900 and $3000...
depends on: tube material, type of construction, fork, options, paint scheme, and name of builder..
I chose a steel bike, lugged construction, custom steel fork, simple solid paint, my initials in brazes Sterling silver on the top tube, and made by Albert Eisentraut. His list price for such a frame is $2400
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Old 06-25-04, 05:26 PM
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I second 55/Rad. Vanilla Bikes have a very good reputation here in Portland, a city that is pretty savvy about good bicycles.

Other options are Rivendell, HH Cycles, Sachs. As stated, prices for a lugged steel top out around $3000.

One other option to consider is finding one of the remaining Eddy Merckx MX Leader frames. After riding a friend's MX, I HAD to have one of these and scooped one up. It's built from Columbus MXL tubing, which is MAX tubing redrawn to Eddy's personal specifications. It's ovalized at the tube ends for torsional strength and is the stiffest bike I've ever ridden...the first frame I've owned that I haven't experienced chain rub on the front derailleur when pedaling out of the saddle. The geometry is so confidence inspiring. I've decended at 60 mph off Mt. Hood with no drama whatsoever. And yet it's comfortable for 120 miles at a shot. Merckx was legendary for his fanaticism about frame fit and geometry. This bike reflects that. The downside is that it's not the lightest frame in the world, which basically meant it's demise in the pro peleton - about 6.5 lbs for frame and fork. Motorola and Telekom used to ride these back in the early 90s. But my bike weighs 20.5 lbs with a Campy Record group, so it's not THAT heavy. I believe you can still get one through Wrench Science. www.wrenchscience.com

OK...commercial over. Good luck with whatever you wind up with!
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Old 06-26-04, 12:18 AM
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Most folks don't require a "custom" frame. Do yourself a favor and check out the excellent lugged steel frames imported by Torelli. The workmanship, paint jobs, price, and service are second to none, and the ride will put a smile on your face! Plus you'll save enough over a boutique frame to upgrade the build kit and wheelset and end up with a bike that'll turn as many heads as any on the road. Good luck!
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Old 06-26-04, 01:00 AM
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Generally I think you get what you pay for, and it's upto each individual to decide what their or their companies work is worth. However, I don't think selling custom bikes under about US$1000 is a sustainable practice, if the builder/company has any aspirations at all. To improve quality and exposure, you need to pump a lot of cash back into what you do to move forward, and you can't do that if you don't factor that into your pricing structure.
Also, doing work with a good custom builder is like designing your dream bike with a friend. This takes a lot of time, patience and discussion, and a lot of custom companies ( myself included ) enjoy the process almost as much as the outcome with little regard for how long this process takes. If I charged an hourly rate for what we did, especially the correspondance side of things, I'd probably have to seriously look for another job. The bike business is not a high margin/high turnover biz.

As for whether you 'need' a custom bike, well, the answer is probably 'no' unless you have some weird physiological condition. However, our 'needs' are pretty basic. It's not a 'need' or 'requirement' issue, it's a 'want' issue. If you want a custom bike and have the cash to splash, then why the heck not?

There's something nice and dare I say it, 'human' about helping to design and create something just for yourself, with someone who shares the same passion as you do. It transcends the whole corporate branding/false image deal that you get with a manufactured product. It connects you to the process in a real corporeal way, and in the end of the day you have an individual bike for an individual. You.

Sure, I'm biased, but in my book that's a cool thing.

How's that for a sales pitch?
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Old 06-26-04, 04:13 AM
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Thylacine has an excellent point. If you are a very sophisticated cyclist and know exactly what you need and the exact dimensions you want, you can get a great deal on a custom bike from one of those high volume custom bike outfits.

But most cyclists really are not experts on bicycle geometry, handling and what not and they really do not know what is most suitable for their purposes.

When I was riding in Michigan, years ago, there was a local custom builder, Matt Ashenmacher. He had a very good reputation. I knew some people who got custom bikes from him. He talked to his customers at length about their current bikes, the way the rode, what they liked and what they didn't like and he then made a bike that he felt would best fit their cycling needs and desires. Now he charged a fair bit for them and it took 6 months (backlog I think) but everyone I knew thought they had gotten a great deal. You see a large part of what Ashenmacher was doing was service & consulting and you pay more for that (or you should). Sure the bikes were extremely well crafted and had nifty paint jobs but I think a large part of the value was in the service and of it. I did meet Ashenmacher a couple of times and we chatted and he told me not to bother with a custom frame because I did perfectly fine on a production bike.
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Old 06-26-04, 05:09 AM
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What are you looking for, custom geometry/fit, special features (such as extra braze-ons), fancy paint-job or extra-special level of craftsmanship.
There are famous name builders who charge high prices, and jobbing bike frame builders who turn out excellent rideable machines that are more affordable .
Some small workshops produce stock geometry frames in limited colours, but to a high standard, which can be built up with any components. This is a good value way to go.
Henryjames.com has a good directory with many small US frame-builders.
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Old 06-26-04, 06:07 AM
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Waterford makes great bicycles, and they are custom.
I like the way they handle things. I like the extended head tube option, the full Imron color catalog, and just the overall sensible approach they use to make a bike.
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Old 06-26-04, 07:24 AM
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Here is a list of builders that utilize True-Temper tubing.
https://www.henryjames.com/blocator.html
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Old 06-26-04, 09:21 AM
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Gunnar(which comes from waterford) also has some nice bikes and does customfor a little ove $1000
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Old 06-26-04, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Thylacine

----<snip>-----

How's that for a sales pitch?

Very well said. Im sold! (for my next bike )...
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