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My frame is in pieces...

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My frame is in pieces...

Old 12-15-14, 09:25 AM
  #51  
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I've thought long and hard about getting involved in this, and finally decided to do the wrong thing. I like all you guys who are disputing this question, so I truly don't want to offend anyone. Let me just describe how I personally feel about it.

Back when building a fine bicycle frame meant plugging name-brand steel tubes into name-brand lugs, doing it for stock sizes in a factory or custom sizes by a custom builder was hardly any different. Yeah the guy would eyeball you up and down and say something like he would stiffen it up with an SP downtube, or lighten it up with a SL or some such, but aside from dimensions, that was about it for custom. Sure the builder had his favorite geometric idiosycncrasies, but those could likely also be found at any number of big factories too. The result was very likely to be "competent" by which I mean it worked, and it worked much like every other bike. Sure certain builders were accorded mystical status like Eisentraut and much later Waterford, etc. but everybody was pretty much riding the same thing, just nudged a little here or there. The range of performance characteristics was incredibly small, limited both by the characteristics of steel and the state of the art in design. And then there was the finish, the decoration, the look. That was as important as function in those days and was an area that custom builders staked out for themselves to increase their appeal. But, bottom line, buying custom whether you needed it or not was very unlikely to penalize you with regard to that concept of frame "competence". Maybe the custom was better. Lots of folks surely thought so. With rare exceptions they all just worked.

With the advent of CAD and a nearly infinitely variable material like carbon fiber that has all changed. What Campag4life says about the reiterative perfecting of the big name brand frames is absolutely true. They are using powerful computational, manufacturing, and testing tools as well as huge financial resources to squeeze out incredible advancements in the balance of frame properties. When you buy a custom built carbon fiber frame (or even get one for free), you are giving up all of those advantages and returning to yesteryear. The builder has an incredibly limited selection of materials to work with compared to the monocoque factory process and almost no ability, relatively speaking, to learn by trial and error and improve his product. It is foolhardy to assume that any carbon fiber custom builder could produce a product with such primitive materials and resources that could come anywhere close to the finely tuned balance of properties that is routine in the big brands, even at their lower and medium levels of cost.

If you absolutely, positively can't find a decently fitting stock frame, well then I guess custom is for you. And I have no doubt it will be (there is that word again) competent. It will work. But it will not work as well at the outermost reaches of performance demand as one of the big name bikes. At least not likely so. Yes, just by happenstance you could get the perfect custom carbon fiber bike. But that is like the old saying that winning the lottery is not a terribly good plan for retirement. It is just not likely to happen.

Now having said all that, what is the upside of the custom frame? It is all emotional. There is the feeling of being pampered, cared for by the builder. There is the visual appeal which you perhaps would have had a hand in creating. There is the uniqueness, rarity, and name recognition. There is the mystique. And I am sure a lot of other similar things.

This dispute is clearly a disconnect between left brain and right brain people. Campag4life and myself think we know the technical truth and are guided by that above all. BSY, Burnett, the Monkster, and likely many others are driven by the emotional attraction of the whole thing. The twain shall never meet. But we don't have to be ugly about it. Nobody is raining on any parades. No one is trolling. We are just saying what we think is the truth as honestly as we can. What is the point of a forum where everybody always just says, "You go, dude," and never offers constructive advice.

As an observer I too like reading about this process. It IS fun to watch the thing come together. And I have little doubt that BSY will love the product, as well he should. Just as I love my 1990 steel bike that was built for me by Ray (Romic) Gasiorowski with whom I had become quite friendly over the years that he built frames for me.

Now where are those pictures of the construction process? We are getting impatient.
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Old 12-15-14, 09:42 AM
  #52  
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Matte vs Gloss: I've got a black matte finish and it is a pain in the butt to clean relative to a gloss. Dirt comes off okay but if I get grease on it, it requires more effort to get it clean. On the up side, I like the way it looks when it is clean. Keep the updates and pictures coming.
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Old 12-15-14, 10:43 AM
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Now having said all that, what is the upside of the custom frame? It is all emotional. There is the feeling of being pampered, cared for by the builder. There is the visual appeal which you perhaps would have had a hand in creating. There is the uniqueness, rarity, and name recognition. There is the mystique. And I am sure a lot of other similar things.
This is mostly true, but lets also not pretend that all those things that make the super high tech frame "better" amount to much more than an emotional decision as well. They guy replacing his 2005 frame with the latest and greatest from 2014, while getting a technically "better" bike is making an emotional decision too. Will he climb faster or get to the coffee shop faster than his friends? I seriously doubt it. Even in the TT world where shaving seconds really counts the frame is secondary to helmet, wheels, position and other factors.

So let the guy enjoy his custom bike. It might be technically lacking by some computerized analysis in a lab, but if its built by someone who knows what they are doing it will ride just fine. He gets to pick exactly how his bike will look, choose his components, and watch his bike come together into a one of a kind machine, exactly how he wants it. I don't recall any claims of this being the "best" bike you can ride - not everyone needs or cares about buying what is considered technically "best".
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Old 12-15-14, 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by pallen View Post
This is mostly true, but lets also not pretend that all those things that make the super high tech frame "better" amount to much more than an emotional decision as well. They guy replacing his 2005 frame with the latest and greatest from 2014, while getting a technically "better" bike is making an emotional decision too. Will he climb faster or get to the coffee shop faster than his friends? I seriously doubt it. Even in the TT world where shaving seconds really counts the frame is secondary to helmet, wheels, position and other factors.

So let the guy enjoy his custom bike. It might be technically lacking by some computerized analysis in a lab, but if its built by someone who knows what they are doing it will ride just fine. He gets to pick exactly how his bike will look, choose his components, and watch his bike come together into a one of a kind machine, exactly how he wants it. I don't recall any claims of this being the "best" bike you can ride - not everyone needs or cares about buying what is considered technically "best".
What he said.
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Old 12-15-14, 12:38 PM
  #55  
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Originally Posted by rpenmanparker View Post

With the advent of CAD and a nearly infinitely variable material like carbon fiber that has all changed. What Campag4life says about the reiterative perfecting of the big name brand frames is absolutely true. They are using powerful computational, manufacturing, and testing tools as well as huge financial resources to squeeze out incredible advancements in the balance of frame properties. When you buy a custom built carbon fiber frame (or even get one for free), you are giving up all of those advantages and returning to yesteryear. The builder has an incredibly limited selection of materials to work with compared to the monocoque factory process and almost no ability, relatively speaking, to learn by trial and error and improve his product. It is foolhardy to assume that any carbon fiber custom builder could produce a product with such primitive materials and resources that could come anywhere close to the finely tuned balance of properties that is routine in the big brands, even at their lower and medium levels of cost.

If you absolutely, positively can't find a decently fitting stock frame, well then I guess custom is for you. And I have no doubt it will be (there is that word again) competent. It will work. But it will not work as well at the outermost reaches of performance demand as one of the big name bikes.

Now having said all that, what is the upside of the custom frame? It is all emotional. There is the feeling of being pampered, cared for by the builder. There is the visual appeal which you perhaps would have had a hand in creating. There is the uniqueness, rarity, and name recognition. There is the mystique. And I am sure a lot of other similar things.

As an observer I too like reading about this process. It IS fun to watch the thing come together. And I have little doubt that BSY will love the product, as well he should. Just as I love my 1990 steel bike that was built for me by Ray (Romic) Gasiorowski with whom I had become quite friendly over the years that he built frames for me.

Now where are those pictures of the construction process? We are getting impatient.
Fit is a huge issue for me. I have very long legs for a person that's just 6'2". My torso is not average for my height, but normal for 5'8" man. Modern bikes are designed for people of average proportions. If I get a bike that fits my legs, the TT is way too long. If the TT length is right I need to use a very long seatpost and huge stack of spacers, or the bars will be 6-8" lower than the saddle. Don't forget that 62-63cm frames are made for riders that weigh 50-75lbs more than me, so the ride is far stiffer than I need or want.

Photos will come when he starts the build. Right now he has almost a dozen repairs to do before he can get started on my build.

BTW, why do you assume that custom builders aren't using CAD when building custom CF frames?

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Old 12-15-14, 01:43 PM
  #56  
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Originally Posted by BoSoxYacht View Post
and I'm starting to get excited about it.

Next week the builder will start putting it together, and hopefully the headtube will arrive. I still can't decide if it will have a gloss or matte finish.
The agony of the wait.

On Wednesday I have my final fitting for an Engin Ti, but it won't be ready to ride until late March/early April. I will probably have a custom Cerakote color mixed. Likely a purple or green version of this:

Cerakote Coatings: Custom Mix of H-137 Gloss White and H-169 Sky Blue

The builder made that for himself. I saw it at the Philly Bike Expo. The photo does not do the color or the finish justice.

Good luck!
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Old 12-15-14, 02:14 PM
  #57  
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Originally Posted by Campag4life View Post
Let's clear the air a bit.

...

Good luck.
So let's be clear... What you are saying is that the big manufacturers are so good, do multiple prototypes, make sure everything is just right and good and well and perfect. And they get it wrong all the time, because it is impossible to make an off-the-shelf frame that will perform to everyone's liking. Am I reading this correctly?
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Old 12-15-14, 02:21 PM
  #58  
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Well, this is interesting and definitely news to me. I honestly didn't know you could get a truly custom carbon bike. I was under the (apparently false) impression that you could only make a carbon frame as a one piece mold.
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Old 12-15-14, 02:24 PM
  #59  
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Originally Posted by Fiery View Post
So let's be clear... What you are saying is that the big manufacturers are so good, do multiple prototypes, make sure everything is just right and good and well and perfect. And they get it wrong all the time, because it is impossible to make an off-the-shelf frame that will perform to everyone's liking. Am I reading this correctly?
I think that sounds about right, but I never read the whole post.
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Old 12-15-14, 02:29 PM
  #60  
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Originally Posted by BoSoxYacht View Post
Fit is a huge issue for me. I have very long legs for a person that's just 6'2". My torso is not average for my height, but normal for 5'8" man. Modern bikes are designed for people of average proportions. If I get a bike that fits my legs, the TT is way too long. If the TT length is right I need to use a very long seatpost and huge stack of spacers, or the bars will be 6-8" lower than the saddle. Don't forget that 62-63cm frames are made for riders that weigh 50-75lbs more than me, so the ride is far stiffer than I need or want.

Photos will come when he starts the build. Right now he has almost a dozen repairs to do before he can get started on my build.

BTW, why do you assume that custom builders aren't using CAD when building custom CF frames?
As I see it, acting on the recommendations of CAD would be just as impossible for a custom build as building a monocoque. The builder only has stock tubes to choose from, not the specific modifications recommended by CAD. And the wrapping requirement is not responsive to the CAD either. CAD could be invovled, but it would be at a very primitive and limited level.

I accept your need for custom or at least the value of it for you. It would be interesting to know, however, what the tallest head tubes are that can be had in a 54 or 56 cm stock frame. Just for grins.
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Old 12-15-14, 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by rpenmanparker View Post
As I see it, acting on the recommendations of CAD would be just as impossible for a custom build as building a monocoque. The builder only has stock tubes to choose from, not the specific modifications recommended by CAD. And the wrapping requirement is not responsive to the CAD either. CAD could be invovled, but it would be at a very primitive and limited level.

I accept your need for custom or at least the value of it for you. It would be interesting to know, however, what the tallest head tubes are that can be had in a 54 or 56 cm stock frame. Just for grins.
not all tubes are the the same, there are different diameters and wall thicknesses to choose from.
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Old 12-15-14, 03:36 PM
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Originally Posted by BoSoxYacht View Post
not all tubes are the the same, there are different diameters and wall thicknesses to choose from.
That is what I meant by primitive and limited, similar to the different grades of steel tubing.

Seriously, I think this a very exciting project you are involved in, one which is sure to provide you much joy. If someone were going to do a favor like this for me, I also would jump at the chance. I wouldn't have even gotten involved in the custom CF aspect of the discussion if I hadn't thought that Campag4life's motives were being misconstrued by some of the other folks.

Moving right along...
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Old 12-15-14, 05:47 PM
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Originally Posted by rpenmanparker View Post
The builder only has stock tubes to choose from, not the specific modifications recommended by CAD.
Except when the builder is making their own tubes.
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Old 12-15-14, 06:05 PM
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Making carbon fiber tubes isnt hard. All you need is a highly polished and waxed pole of the right size. Do your math for the correct number of layers. Wrap, vacume bag, and cook as usual. Pull out mandrel using a come along, enginuity, and patience. Simple. Lol.
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Old 12-15-14, 07:27 PM
  #65  
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Originally Posted by Fiery View Post
So let's be clear... What you are saying is that the big manufacturers are so good, do multiple prototypes, make sure everything is just right and good and well and perfect. And they get it wrong all the time, because it is impossible to make an off-the-shelf frame that will perform to everyone's liking. Am I reading this correctly?
No. A SL3 Tarmac or a SL4 Roubaix is better than anything custom on the road. Even when top manufacturers get it wrong, they get it more right than the lottery of what you end up with a custom bike. You think the builder with this 'bag of pedigreed tubes' and one off geometry will have a clue what the net result of the ride will be for this bike? No chance. The point that may have escaped you is the smartest bike guys on the planet who work for the top guys can even get it wrong. It is that difficult is the point.
And then there is the 'asplosion' lottery often debated and in part in jest. Its real. Recalls are expensive. Fork and frame failure hurt people. Generally the only time recalls occur in fact is if the head count of people getting hurt is increasing. So the top guys with much greater technical resources and much greater quality scrutiny...they even have failures. You think the structural integrity of this bike will be as good as a monocoque frameset with refined lay up that has been rigorously tested? Not a chance. In summary, its dam hard to make every bike resilient to failure.
I side with the guys like Cervelo who started in a garage and their talent created the big brand it is today...or any of the top brands that was started by the best and brightest.

Cool if you like custom, just presenting the counterpoint.
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Old 12-15-14, 07:30 PM
  #66  
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Originally Posted by EvilWeasel View Post
Making carbon fiber tubes isnt hard. All you need is a highly polished and waxed pole of the right size. Do your math for the correct number of layers. Wrap, vacume bag, and cook as usual. Pull out mandrel using a come along, enginuity, and patience. Simple. Lol.
And, not hard to glue together straight section carbon tubes with lugs to build a frameset. Joe six pack can assemble such a bike in their kitchen if they want.
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Old 12-15-14, 07:30 PM
  #67  
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Originally Posted by Fiery View Post
Except when the builder is making their own tubes.
Two questions: how often does that happen, and where did the builder learn this skill?
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Old 12-15-14, 07:37 PM
  #68  
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Originally Posted by Agent Cooper View Post
Well, this is interesting and definitely news to me. I honestly didn't know you could get a truly custom carbon bike. I was under the (apparently false) impression that you could only make a carbon frame as a one piece mold.
Are you not aware of the tube and lug frames that started the CF revolution in the 1990s? Aluminum lugs. Also the carbon tube and titanium lug bikes that are still being offered by Seven and others. Not custom, but also not monocoque.
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Old 12-15-14, 07:55 PM
  #69  
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Originally Posted by Campag4life View Post
And, not hard to glue together straight section carbon tubes with lugs to build a frameset. Joe six pack can assemble such a bike in their kitchen if they want.
The oven and vacuum bagging equipment is the tricky part. The rest is just like fiber glass.
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Old 12-15-14, 10:07 PM
  #70  
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Originally Posted by Campag4life View Post
The point that may have escaped you is the smartest bike guys on the planet who work for the top guys can even get it wrong.
No doubt that the big guys can put real resources towards engineering and testing. But they are often targeting the bleeding edge of bike design, which helps explains why they fail at times. Small-time builders are not working at that same edge, so their bikes will be heavier, but perhaps less likely to fail because of it. Are they optimal designs? No. But from an experienced builder, they are likely to be reliable.
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Old 12-15-14, 11:25 PM
  #71  
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I own a custom carbon tube/glue/wrapped Alchemy Xanthus. It was custom fitted and tuned to my riding style. You guys need to get out more often like to NABHS.
Alchemy Bicycle Co. - Home - Alchemy Bicycle Company
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Old 12-16-14, 12:20 AM
  #72  
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Originally Posted by Campag4life View Post
No. A SL3 Tarmac or a SL4 Roubaix is better than anything custom on the road. Even when top manufacturers get it wrong, they get it more right than the lottery of what you end up with a custom bike. You think the builder with this 'bag of pedigreed tubes' and one off geometry will have a clue what the net result of the ride will be for this bike? No chance. The point that may have escaped you is the smartest bike guys on the planet who work for the top guys can even get it wrong. It is that difficult is the point.
And then there is the 'asplosion' lottery often debated and in part in jest. Its real. Recalls are expensive. Fork and frame failure hurt people. Generally the only time recalls occur in fact is if the head count of people getting hurt is increasing. So the top guys with much greater technical resources and much greater quality scrutiny...they even have failures. You think the structural integrity of this bike will be as good as a monocoque frameset with refined lay up that has been rigorously tested? Not a chance. In summary, its dam hard to make every bike resilient to failure.
I side with the guys like Cervelo who started in a garage and their talent created the big brand it is today...or any of the top brands that was started by the best and brightest.

Cool if you like custom, just presenting the counterpoint.
a great frame, but a poor fit for my body measurements and weight, isn't a great frame. Large sized monocoque frames are built for much heavier riders.
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Old 12-16-14, 03:48 AM
  #73  
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Originally Posted by rpenmanparker View Post
Two questions: how often does that happen, and where did the builder learn this skill?
Two counter questions: how many of the big-brand monocoque manufacturers employ the absolute state of the art modelling, prototyping, minute performance analysis and testing, and how many of their models actually see all the results of this development process?

Let's compare apples to apples, unless you want to argue China direct open mould monocoque frames are the same as the much lauded Specialized ones.
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Old 12-16-14, 04:00 AM
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Originally Posted by BoSoxYacht View Post
a great frame, but a poor fit for my body measurements and weight, isn't a great frame. Large sized monocoque frames are built for much heavier riders.
A good point. How about this? How about you post what your stack and reach and sta, hta targets are for your new frame. And then post your body dimensions. A myth about short torso long legged guys is they believe they need a short top tube. Most don't. Simple reason is the vast majority with long legs have long arms. Long arm pretty much mandate a longer top tube and easily offset torso length. Basically the body on the bicycle is an inverted right triangle with torso and arms being the legs of that right angle triangle. They have close to equivalent weighting in terms of reach. I told you we are close to the same size. Long leg, short torso guys are tailor made for an endurance geometry with long head tube and shorter top tube relative a standard race bike. In fact, even with my body dimensions, I ride with a 130mm stem to create enough reach and I do not have more than a 45 deg torso angle on the hoods with bent elbows. I do not ride with a lot of drop...something you mentioned you want to avoid. So post your target for your build and body dimensions and I will pick you a bike 'off the rack'.

A last note is...and this is no indictment against you is....many believe they need a particular geometry bike...I see this with custom bikes all the time, and their position is bad on the bike. So they basically spend a lot of money...not you...building a bike they think they need to geometry target that really sets them up to ride poorly.

I hope you don't take any of this to heart. Its is only discussion on a bike forum and nothing more. If you were 6'9"...I have one such friend, then custom comes into play. I also have a diminutive girl friend who rides a tiny custom Seven and she also rides a sweet Orbea that is pretty much identical dimensionally. Height is a bigger discriminator than body proportions when it comes to going custom today because of the vast array of geometries now available that didn't exist 20 years ago.

PS: Honestly we don't agree about your weight target relative to frame stiffness. A stiff frame is a good thing and modern frames...especially endurance geometry what you need, have more vertical compliance as a rule. Even at 6'2" if you weigh 130#'s you will be fine. If a more compliant ride is a big deal to you...you need to go slightly wider on the rims and run a 25mm tire with 90 psi which you can easily sustain at your weight. Pro riders are tall and skinny as well. A stiff frame is a very good thing for a fast bike. Choose a production frame with a comfortable ride and choosing your wheels, tires and pressures appropriately and it will be the best off all worlds for comfort and speed.

Last edited by Campag4life; 12-16-14 at 04:30 AM.
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Old 12-16-14, 04:17 AM
  #75  
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Originally Posted by pallen View Post
This is mostly true, but lets also not pretend that all those things that make the super high tech frame "better" amount to much more than an emotional decision as well. They guy replacing his 2005 frame with the latest and greatest from 2014, while getting a technically "better" bike is making an emotional decision too. Will he climb faster or get to the coffee shop faster than his friends? I seriously doubt it. Even in the TT world where shaving seconds really counts the frame is secondary to helmet, wheels, position and other factors.

So let the guy enjoy his custom bike. It might be technically lacking by some computerized analysis in a lab, but if its built by someone who knows what they are doing it will ride just fine. He gets to pick exactly how his bike will look, choose his components, and watch his bike come together into a one of a kind machine, exactly how he wants it. I don't recall any claims of this being the "best" bike you can ride - not everyone needs or cares about buying what is considered technically "best".
A good post and counterpoint...but with one elephant in the room...in bold above. It may or may not ride exactly how you want for two principle reasons:
a. ride is subjective and specific to ride weight and perception. (no test rides or do overs)
b. based upon discussion with the builder, the bike is built to a 'qualitative' target in terms of ride quality. The builder may miss this qualitative and not quantitative target for two reason:
1. he and the buyer many not have the same target for medium versus stiff ride quality target. It is a perceived or virtual target and not a concrete or quantifiable one.
2. a custom builder can't predict how a one off custom geometry will ride because the relationship between geometry and tube selection is too complex to predict this without building prototypes of a given geometry. As discussed even the smartest guys...teams of engineers miss the mark with much greater technical resources.

So, there is a lot of room to get it wrong.
Custom stuff, is a nice pipe dream however. Btw, I am the ultimate custom guy. I do build my bikes frameset up..personalize gearing...every component picked for its design qualities, I build my own computers because store computers are crap, and have been building custom cars and motorcycles since I was small and my career has been centered in product development. I create products for a living. Custom is something the average guy has no clue about...what the level of due diligence is to create something better than a production item. Its much easier to get custom wrong than right.
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