Why a custom frame?
Everyone passionate about cycling should own a custom frame at some stage in their life. This might seem like a strange statement given that only a small percentage of people need a custom frame. The mass production bike industry caters fairly well to the needs of most riders, but there are compromises involved in modern mass production that reduce unit cost…………….and rider enjoyment. Most are unaware of this because changing from one mass brand to another making the same or similar compromises is unlikely to result in a riding experience that differs much.
A few simple examples below:
- Bottom bracket drops tend to be the same for a particular model across a manufacturer’s size range. This is a compromise. Smaller frames should have lower bottom bracket drops because they have shorter cranks and larger frames should have higher bottom bracket drops because they have longer cranks.
- Chain stay lengths are also the same across a size range, and many are too short for ideal cornering stability. Particularly on descents. Larger frames should have longer chain stays so the really tall rider doesn’t have his seat jacked out over or behind the rear axle.
- Low unit cost is the major “push” factor in modern mass production bike design. In the early 90’s aluminium was the mass production frame material of choice because it allowed a bike to be built at the lowest unit cost. Carbon is now the mass production frame material of choice for the same reason; it can be cheaply produced in low labour cost locations. Even high retail cost mass production frames are low cost ex factory. (See more on frame materials in the sidebar on the right.)
- Very few bike brand names manufacturer their range in house. Many are design and marketing businesses that contract out the majority of the frame manufacturing task to low labour cost locations. A giveaway of this type is when a frame carries a decal with words to the effect of “Designed in Country X” or “Engineered in Country X”. Read what the decal doesn’t say. In the two examples above you can take it as a given that the frame building was contracted out to somewhere and someone other than the name on the frame.
- There is such a thing as “too light.” Our workshop sees a lot of cracked carbon frames where the damage has resulted from normal use or innocuous falls. One could be forgiven for thinking there is a marketing driven “arms race” among manufacturers to build the lightest carbon frame. Far too high a percentage break for one reason or another with the major reasons being poor quality control and not enough material being used. It is no accident that the high end carbon brands that have few breakages weigh 200 – 300 grams more than most mass production carbon frames and never speak about weight in their advertising. Many riders of carbon frames would enjoy their bikes more, perform better and have a longer lasting bike if the bike frame was 200 – 300 grams heavier and the rider was 200 – 300 grams (or more) lighter. Light weight is good. Sensibly, durably, lightweight is better.
For those that want to read about frame design, click on this link.
A custom frame is one of the few bespoke items within reach of a person of “normal” income. The advantages are:
- Built by the name on the frame.
- None of the mass production style compromises in steering, handling and durability are necessary.
- Available in an infinite range of individual sizing and usage profiles.
- Doesn’t out date.
- Built with no one else in mind other than YOU and the type of riding that you do.
Acquiring a custom frame
Start a dialogue via info AT stevehoggbikefitting DOT com:
- Tell us about what you want from a custom bike, what you plan to do with it and any other thoughts you may have concerning your cycling needs.
- Ask us for costing and lead times on the option(s) of your choice.
There are three options to determine a custom frame design:
- If you are unsure about the effectiveness of your current bike position, book a Frame Fit. From this you will learn a lot about how you function on and off a bike and a position will be arrived at from which custom frame dimensions can be derived.
- If you are completely happy with the way you relate to your existing bike, we will send you a detailed position measuring method. From that an initial drawing will be produced for your approval. Any aesthetic changes you wish to make that don’t alter the position you hold can be accommodated, or the implications explained.
- If you are not happy with your current position but distance precludes a visit to us in Sydney, contact us for details of how we can improve your position via video footage. We then proceed to frame design after you have satisfied yourself that you are happy with the changes suggested post video.
Steve only rides custom frames and has owned a number over several decades. Nothing gives him more pleasure than the “I’ve owned a number of bikes but now I know what a bike should feel like” reports from smiling, enthusiastic custom frame owners.
Custom builders we represent
We respect and admire many custom builders and choose to represent two… Alphabetically they are: