Going custom any regrets…

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  • Going custom any regrets…
  • In between what a 16" and 18", it hardly warrants custom build unless you have a huge ape index or some other weird body shape ?


    'huge ape index or some other weird body shape'

    That's a bit personal sir 😉

    Well you never know do you !!

    Serioulsy though i think there has to be a very good reason to go custom other than in between sizes, if the price is good then thats OK but i suspect its not going to be a cheap process as you are paying for someones time as well as the end product

    i looked at gatting a cutom road frame built years back and came to the conclusion that a lot (not all admittedly) of custom builders will try and baffle you with the ins and out of this and that but thats just them trying to justifying their prices over a stock frame.

    Roter Stern

    I decided to go custom when I invested in a Seven Sola ti frame. My best advice would be to know exactly what you want and have a good idea what the different tube lengths and geometry changes really mean in terms of ride characteristics. After being interviewed by the fit technician in the States a design was sent which I duly signed. When the frame eventually arrived a month or two later it looked absolutely huge and once built up it was like a gate on me. It took a good 6 months of wrangling until Seven agreed to build me another frame. This time it was perfect and it rides like a dream.

    Premier Icon njee20

    All the custom bikes I've seen, particularly road, seem to look very odd, often having incredibly long head tubes and things. Maybe this is because people go custom because they need an incredibly long head tube, but they do look odd!

    I don't see the point unless you have a very specific requirement, you must be a very odd shape if you're always in between sizes, in which case yep, do it!

    Roger Stern: When the frame eventually arrived a month or two later it looked absolutely huge and once built up it was like a gate on me. It took a good 6 months of wrangling until Seven agreed to build me another frame.

    😯 Thats a good enough story to warn anybody off !!

    njee20: All the custom bikes I've seen, particularly road, seem to look very odd, often having incredibly long head tubes and things

    Like is said, baffled with frame building and geometry bull, its like those custom Serotta things from a few years back, the most ugly road bikes every made.


    I certainly wouldnt go to the cost and trouble of a custom frame for an experiment, if you hate SS thats a lot of money down the pan.


    I always seem to be in the middle of frame sizes. I've coped so far, but with middle age etc, I'm thinking of going custom for my foray into a singlespeed bike – hence my recent other SS questions on here.

    I have a frame builder in mind, there is a bit of a waiting list, so I've bags of time to get the spec right.

    What's your experience, positive, and is it still your favourite bike?

    Photo's would be nice if you can 🙂


    I had a Roberts frame made back in 1988 when there wasn't anywhere near the range of frames and sizes that are available now. I wouldn't feel the need to have one made now but it would still be a very nice thing to have. Nothing hand made and unique is usually the rational choice but that doesn't matter. If your buying it to solve a perceived problem then I think your buying it for the wrong reason. If you want it just because then that's more than a good enough reason.

    Premier Icon scaredypants

    I've never had one, but

    * you get what you want
    * can accommodate odd body-shape / preference

    * no, you get what you ask for (see roter stern)
    * might be harder to sell on without letting people demo extensively (unless it's, say an 853 or Ti copy of some established design)

    I don't SS either but don't you spend lots of time standing up on ss bikes? – requirements might be different to your expectations if you've never done it


    As a first foray into Singlespeed may I suggest you get it built for the person you will inevitably sell it onto…

    Even if you know what works for you on a normal bike there is a fair old chance that with a SS you will discover that spending more time spinning or climbing out of the saddle will require something different.

    Start cheap and work your way up – or buy something to suit me and sell it to me cheap when you discover it's not correct for you.

    Or buy what you feel like buying and stop asking daft questions on forums frequented by bored office workers looking for an excuse to avoid doing any work.


    Going custom I think is more about ride characteristics if you do know what you want and geometry than size. As Brant said on the One One site, you can do more with the saddle/seatpost/stem/bars than and inch in the toptube does for you and I think I agree with him.

    Premier Icon funkynick

    I had a custom frame made a few years ago as I was looking for a nice singlespeed frame and about the only ones I could find available over here were the original Inbred or a Kona Unit, or to order something from the US.

    In the end I decided to go for a Solitude frame(waves to Alex if he is reading), as it only worked out a little more than a Kona Unit at the time and I wanted something with slidey dropouts…

    And I love it… it's by far my favourite bike and it sounds like a bit of an oddity as it doesn't have a looooong headtube!

    As others have said though, with the range of choice out there now I almost certainly wouldn't have had a custom frame made…

    Premier Icon scaredypants

    oh yeh, good point – if you want certain drop-outs or EBB or bolt-through wheel (or a 150mm rear hub & wider BB – I often think that'd be good)

    Premier Icon jimmy

    I had a Roberts built – never again.

    I would just echo Roter Stern – know EXACTLY what you want and sanity check it before its built. I wouldn't have known any different when mine was built, but it was a mess from start (ordering) to finish (2 months late).


    I have a custom 853 road frame (10 years old now) built for me by Andy Thompson. I still ride it nearly every day – built to take 23mm tyres and Salmon guards. Now on its second groupset and bars. There's nothing else around that'll do what that frame was designed to do without alterations.
    Its still a great bike but for longer faster days I've got a Merlin.

    Premier Icon cp

    i went custom as i have a slightly odd body shape (long legs, short torso), so thought for road bike it would be ideal. Went to Dave Hinde, got measured up (this is where i started to get doubts) as he really didn't spend long going over stuff or playing with set up.

    got the bike hoping it was going to be ace. it wasn't! Such a short top tube, really short head tube, it was almost like the top tube rising to the rear of the bike. So odd! It was not very nice to ride, and after much perservering, I sold it – at least they could test ride it first!

    I fit much better on a standard off the peg bike…

    If you have a good idea of what you fancy in terms of angles and measurements you could have a full custom titanium frame made in four weeks for around £500 🙂

    Probably only for the brave but take a peek at my blog if you're interested:


    Premier Icon one_bad_mofo

    Hmm, it must be the luck of the draw with Roberts. Mine was finished early – an SS DogsBolx, the first one they'd built at the time (2001). I've still got it and it still gets ridden. The strange thing is on the maiden voyage on the road, to get to the trails, it felt terrible and I was beginning to think I'd made a huge mistake. I was wrong, as soon as I got on the dirt it came alive. What was meant to be an hour's riding, just to make sure I'd bolted everything together okay, became a four session.
    Why custom because I could, there wasn't much choice of dedicated SS frames at that time and I'd always wanted a DB ecer since I first saw the original black and white one with Suntour Microdrive kit on it in MBUK.


    I toyed with the idea of a custom mtb frame , but decided against it as the benefits for me couldnt be justified by the cost, I think fit on a mtb is less important then a road bike were your doing 100 mile rides mainly seated. I have decided to put the money towards learning to build my own frames, It will probably cost around the same as a custom frame but tubesets are probably about £150-200 for 853 and you can play around with different geometry / sizing. You also get the pride of riding your own steed round the trails

    Went to Dave Hinde

    And there is your mistake !!

    Premier Icon molgrips

    If it were me, I'd start with a frame I knew well and say 'I want one just like this but with longer this, shorter that, more stiffness here and more compliance here'. I'd be lost speccing one from scratch.

    But, it's not 🙂


    "If it were me, I'd start with a frame I knew well and say 'I want one just like this but with longer this, shorter that, more stiffness here and more compliance here'."

    that's pretty much how i've specced all my custom frames (well, apart from the "more compliant, more stiffness" bit), with added input from the framebuilder as to which of my decisions and measurements will and will not work, and they have led to spot-on frames.

    the only time i trusted a framebuilder to make a bike 'their way' was a total and expensive disaster, a look at the drawings, which i didn't get, would have quickly averted this though, live and learn.


    My brother had a custom Merlin titanium singlespeed built and it's just a thing of beauty – crazy expensive but he wanted the best, is an engineer so understood what he was signing off when he had the frame plan, and it has turned out to be a fantastic bike.

    I'd get one if i could afford it 😥

    (He did however have a cheaper singlespeed prior to this purchase to check he actually liked singlespeeding before taking the plunge on such an expensive frame 🙂 )


    Interesting, I do have a pretty firm idea of what I want, and it is based on my existing bike. A few tweaks here and there, and Parragon dropouts so that I can have the option of hub gearing the frame, if the SS is disastorous for me, at a point in the future.

    I also like quality and attention to detail, which doesn't make the bike ride any better I'm sure, but I know I will enjoy it much more.

    It'll be steel and localish, if I do it!


    I had a Audax frameset made for me by a famous Bristol frame builder and I was never realy happy with it, the bike did not climb very well and it felt like the back end was holding it back.

    I bought a Il pompino and it rode realy well so I bought a Kaffanbak a week later, swapped all the bits off the custom frameset and ended up with a better bike to ride

    Conclusion for me a custom bike was a waste of money and the kaff was 1/4 of the cost too

    i splashed out on a solitude at the end of my gap year – saved up enough money for a full build inc rohloff. took 10 weeks, cost between £7-800 for the frame and i ended up with what i reckon is a stunning bike which is great to ride.

    its now on its 3rd version – the rohloff is now on a 29er, it was a SS for a bit, but i've now plugged fatter forks with bolt through, and a double and bash and its ready for its 3th trip to the alps.

    only issue i've got with it is that because i specced it for a rohloff only its not got proper cable guides for regular gears. totally my fault. also, the dropouts weren't rear mech compatible.

    fortunately the 29er frame i got also had sliding dropouts, so i swapped them round – a bit of filing on the 29er's ones means they fit fine in the solitude. other issue (which is currently the headache) is fitting a front mech (seat tube dia doesn't seem to lend itself to a front mech) and finding an aftermarket outer cable stop…
    once this is done, and i've swapped the BB for one with a longer axle, it'll all be hunky dory.

    so i guess the lesson i'd advise is either to make sure you get the bike built for one purpose, and stick with it (i.e. don't get a rohloff specific if you might ever run proper gears with it), or get a few optional extras fitted for future-proofing.

    overall i'm super happy, may treat it to a new lick of pain in the next few months though, its getting a bit battered! 🙂



    I have never had one but worked for a company that did customs if people really wanted them, reasons to avoid that spring to mind are;
    Longer wait for your bike / frame,
    More chance of mistakes during the build that could go unnoticed,
    position can be altered massively using different stems bars and moving saddles on a factory frame (very cheap),
    custom will almost always at least double your cost,
    having spent £1000 on a frame you will feel the need to have an expensive paint finish which will last no longer than a cheap powdercoat or the original finish on a mass market bike.

    However, if i was swimming in bits of paper with the queens face on I would be tempted to sign up for a Dave Yates course.


    Valid comments there hungry monkey, I like your approach.

    I've been running a Rohloff for over four years now, so as long as there is an option for that as a fall back. I'm pretty sure I'll get on with the ss, I've ridden a few.


    woodsman, if i were in your position again, i'd get sliding paragon dropouts. that way you could, in theory, add either paragon rohloff or paragon mech hanger dropouts. outer cables can always be zip-tied on without too many issues.
    when mine gets a re-spray, i might look at getting an outer cable stop brazed onto the seat tube…

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