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PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2006 10:41 am 
Retro Guru
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Joined: Fri Feb 10, 2006 1:53 pm
Posts: 329
Location: Brightwell-cum-Sotwell
Hey all. I'm currently just beginning the process of buying a 'custom' frame, and reading round the forum - particularly the threads (with darn awesome pictures!) on frame quality in the retro chat section of the site - and seeing all the beautiful classic bikes spread through the site kinda got me thinking about why on earth I think it's a good idea! :?

I mean, what is the deal? For me, it's not physical need. I'm 5'9" (ish), reasonably in proportion, and fit stock bikes just fine, always have. My current bike is a '93 Kona Explosif that's been singlespeeded, and it's great... I mean, maybe sometimes I wish the bars were a bit further away (sounds like a stem issue to me!) and compared to my old Bobcat Trail (oh yes!) I find it harder to ride no-hands, but whatever. It just feels natural to ride - I figure maybe a custom bike could ride better, but not by all that much.

Certainly the Kona can handle all the riding (and then some!) that I can... I'm more one for steady cruising than race-pacing, for back-country trails and fire-type-roads than rock and drop strewn radness (which I couldn't cope with at all!). Yep, I got no problems riding anywhere I'd like to ride with the bike I've got - and I figure pretty much any retro bike could easily handle the same stuff too (though after riding 20 miles home on an Alpine Cro-mega I bought for a friend for £10 from a garage sale, I was pretty glad the Explosif was mine!) .

So is it a question of quality? Again, I'd say kinda no. The Kona is a pretty reasonable production line frame, I reckon - certainly it's safe, solid and nicely lined up! And look at some of the Ritcheys up on eBay - sweet fillet brazed goodness and a fraction of the price of a custom frame! Yeah, I could probably afford (if I was patient!) a couple darn nice full retro bikes for the price of a modern custom frame.

Showing-offedness? Um, I'll say no. While it could be a reason to go custom, I don't reckon it's one of mine. Checked with friends - they don't believe it is either (fwiw!).

So what then?

Well, I like bikes. Really, I do (bike bits as well!). And I like the idea of folk building stuff (maybe like the early days of mountain bikes, before there was off the shelf stuff). I like the idea of one bike having all the little touches I enjoy finding on other bikes (hopefully without looking like a dog's dinner). I guess the one thing this bike'll be missing, as far as I'm concerned, is the name of a classic American builder down the side! I know I do like the idea of builders putting their name to the things they've actually made... don't know if any of you row or scull, but if so you may know of Carl Douglas Racing Shells. My partner got him to make her a boat, and it's lovely!

At the end of it, I don't need it. But perhaps it's enough that I'd like it, and I can get it without causing myself any hardship, and that my getting it seems positive for everyone involved. Is that what it comes down to? I be keen to hear any other opinions on this (at least in part to reassure me that it's a reasonable thing to do!)

Cheers

Makrie (who's at least a little sorry he started thinking this much about why he wants a custom frame!)


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2006 1:05 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jul 07, 2005 7:16 pm
Posts: 1202
Location: U.K
buy both i had custom frame built


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2006 11:17 pm 
Old School Grand Master
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Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2005 11:02 am
Posts: 912
Location: Wookey Hole
I've never had a custom frame but have heard they can't be beat. I'd go for it :)

As sweet a ride as a retro frame might be you'd not be making the best of modern stuff like 100 mm forks. You could always think about something like an Indy Fab Deluxe. It'll have (some) of that Fat City heritage yet you'll be able to run disks etc.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 12:40 pm 
Old School Grand Master

Joined: Wed Jun 29, 2005 11:18 am
Posts: 15804
Location: near cwmcarn
I always wondered about custom builds. Surely 2 custom builders would produce 2 different bikes for your 1 specific body shape?. 1 bike you might love, 1 bike you might hate.
I know a bloke in germany who had not 1, but 2 seven titanium frames built & ended up selling both! I also know 2 seperate people who both promptly sold their serrotta ti hardtails due to weird dimensions & handling traits!
So heres my slant, if you find a bike you like the ride/ feel of. stick with it :D

If you're rody & can build frames until you find what works best for you, then thats cool too ;)


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 2:57 pm 
BoTM Winner
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Joined: Sun Oct 23, 2005 7:22 pm
Posts: 742
Location: Wooster, Ohio
Unfortunately, there is no magic wand to wave above you and come up with the perfect dimensions for a custom frame.

I often talk to the person and ask what they ride now, what do they like/not like about it, comfort on bike, ride characteristics they want to retain or achieve, etc...

I then move into designing the new frame based off of this information.

I've even had others bring me their old frame and say, "I want a frame built just like this, but with...", which makes it easy as you put the old frame in the fixture to set the dimensions and then run from there.

The appeal of a true custom frame is the personal involvement in the process. There is a valuable connection that is formed when you are able to create your frame in your mind and then see it manifested in a piece of ridable imagination. How cool.

rody


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 9:26 pm 
Old School Grand Master

Joined: Wed Jun 29, 2005 11:18 am
Posts: 15804
Location: near cwmcarn
my mate curly did that. have his yeti arc titanium copied into his curtlo winter bike ;)


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