Custom steel frames – who and why?

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  • Custom steel frames – who and why?
  • Premier Icon letmetalktomark
    Subscriber

    I will admit to being a bit of a serial frame swapper.

    I have lost track of the number of frames I have had over the last 10 years 😳

    There have been elements of each I have liked but, in my mind, have had too many compromises for them to be perfect fit and ride wise.

    Having a longer torso than leg (but still a 34” leg) I’ve found frames either cramped (too short in the TT) or long enough in the TT but the stand over too high for my liking.

    Sooooo …. I’m contemplating going custom 😀

    I did think of doing this a few years ago but convinced myself that the cost outweighed the compromises .

    Now I feel that done right I could end up with a perfect frame and reduce the number of “other”* bikes.

    I’ve had a chat with Curtis who were great to deal with and I plan a visit down to them.

    I’ve spoken to 18bikes albeit some time back.

    Who else?

    I’m looking for:

    29er
    Steel but not 953!
    Sliding dropouts

    Thoughts/Pictures of work done/suggestions all welcome.

    Cheers,

    MArk

    *this is just a pipedream!

    cynic-al
    Member

    Very happy with my Shand (not that I paid full whack for it).

    EDIT not that I don’t think it’s good value – I just don’t know the market well.

    Premier Icon letmetalktomark
    Subscriber

    Al – I had forgotten about Stephen. Not sure if he is sill doing MTBs though. Will ask though!

    Is yours a MTB?

    cynic-al
    Member

    Yes. And I think it’s Steven.

    Premier Icon wwaswas
    Subscriber

    chickens

    &

    enigma

    Premier Icon letmetalktomark
    Subscriber

    Your quite right Al 😳

    sharkattack
    Member

    Feather Cycles

    Ringo
    Member

    Ive got a black cat custom. Because I wanted too have super short stays On a 29er. Oh and cause there really nice

    gonzy
    Member

    try BTR fabrications

    I’ve had a bike made by matt at 18bikes,

    very pleased with it.

    Rob Mather.

    Very happy with mine, (now almost 10 years old).

    Premier Icon oxym0r0n
    Subscriber

    Curtis – not much 29er geo experience ime but a good bet if you know what you want
    Matt @18 seems pretty sorted and would be on my list but don’t seem as bling if that’s what you want
    Last time I saw Robin Mather’s work at the hand made bike show he was veering towards “city” bikes
    Black cat are lovely (waiting list)
    Also check out “Ari” on Facebook -he’s on my shortlist if I ever go custom 😀

    Raouligan
    Member

    IF are just right always, I’d happily just replace everything I have with an IF.

    44 bikes look really nice too, there’s some serious thought goes into each frame.

    Tom Donhou produces gorgeousness as well

    Depends what you want really and how much you’re prepared to pay for quality there’s a huge difference in what you’ll get from different builders.

    Conversely I’d avoid Mercian like the plague though worst custom frame I’ve ever had in terms of frame fitting components and finishing, very very poor indeed really trading off of a reputation these days…
    For the money I paid for a Mercian I’d kind of expect my fork crown to be fully painted no matter how difficult it is and my seat tube reaming…

    Premier Icon Jerome
    Subscriber

    IF here albeit bought 2nd hand . The only bike I would not move on.

    Premier Icon lunge
    Subscriber

    Brian Rourke? That is where I would be heading if I had the money.

    Premier Icon rOcKeTdOg
    Subscriber

    Have a look at Ted James Design http://www.tedjamesdesign.com

    Premier Icon letmetalktomark
    Subscriber

    Thanks guys.

    Some useful suggestions there.

    I would like to stay UK as the I would rather spend the money on the frame rather than import, VAt and excess shipping.

    Premier Icon letmetalktomark
    Subscriber

    @ SS_Shep – Is your 18bikes a 29er?

    Ringo
    Member

    I got a ti India fab too. 29er can’t go wrong with if

    bobgarrod
    Member

    Mark – Burls cycles http://www.burls.co.uk/index.php

    not too far for you to travel for fitting.

    iolo
    Member

    Jerome – Member
    IF here albeit bought 2nd hand . The only bike I would not move on.

    The OP asked about custom builds. You bought 2nd hand so were you exactly the same size as the guy you bought it from?
    That was lucky.

    The OP asked about custom builds. You bought 2nd hand so were you exactly the same size as the guy you bought it from?
    That was lucky.

    What an odd comment. You wouldn’t buy an incorrectly sized bike if it was new, off the shelf, bespoke, second hand, third hand etc.

    thomthumb
    Member

    demon cycle works

    JonEdwards
    Member

    18
    Saffron (JoB has a lovely 29er)
    Ted James
    English (not UK based though)

    I’d consider Donhou & Feather, but I’m not sure how good they are on the mtb side of things. (roadies are lovely though) Likewise I’m not sure Rourke “get” mountain bikes either.

    My thing is that there are plenty of people who can glue tubes together in a sound and artistically pleasing way, but I’d want somebody to do the design work who actually understands the particular variant of the sport of riding bikes I do (it’s why I like Cotic so much – Cy enjoys the same kind of stuff I do, and our styles are very similar). On a custom basis, that would propably put me straight into 18’s hands…

    Premier Icon jameso
    Subscriber

    There’s no right, wrong or best builder for a custom imo, it’s too personal. I would buy from someone with good experience over many years who can make what you want and also give good guidance on fit, handling etc if you need it. If you know what you want the builder may be less critical, just comes down to style, location etc. If you want a lot more guidance on geometry, ride feel etc that may guide the decision more.
    Your first custom may not be spot on – if not your second will be (from experience)

    qwerty
    Member

    I popped in to see http://www.tedjamesdesign.com and he is doing some work in Reynolds 921. I was in awe. Awesome & local to me. He is also Reynolds test welder for their tubesets.

    Premier Icon jameso
    Subscriber

    ^ New 5-valleys area workshop? Meaning to call in there sometime. Ted does some great stuff, like a Brooklyn Machine Works of the UK )

    tang
    Member

    Ted James is a good friend of mine(we live in the same village), and I can vouch that he is a builder of fantastic frames. He can ride some and knows his tubes(Reynolds test welder). He even machines the drop outs and head tubes.

    qwerty
    Member

    If you go see TJ when its cold… make sure you wear some mega thermals – his workshop is soooooooooooo cold!!!

    @ SS_Shep – Is your 18bikes a 29er?

    No, I had pub bike made.

    Matt was excellent, talked through what I wanted then over a few conversations and emails we got it finalised.

    I was a pain in the a£$e customer, wanting a couple of alterations along the way. Some could be worked in some couldn’t. Overall it was great. I wanted a simple bike to ride to the pub, down a few bridleways with nice parts.

    I’d recommend looking through the flickr’s etc of a few frame builders. make a list of the nice features you’ve seen on other bikes, A rough geometry ideals. Then speak to a few builders and see what they can do. Just because you haven’t seen a framebuilder doing what you want doesn’t generally mean they can’t do it, more like their customers haven’t asked for it.

    Its a great process I’ll be getting a new mtb frame in the next few years and will be going down the handmade route for sure.

    Candodavid
    Member

    Next months STW has a feature on UK built, non off the peg bikes I believe ( I have insider knowledge on this)

    Premier Icon Farticus
    Subscriber

    Curtis bikes did it for me – always loved the look of the raw frames, and Candodavid’s XC9 was the final straw.

    noteeth
    Member

    I’d get Paul Sadoff to build me a modernised version of the Bontrager Race frame.

    Thanks to JonEdwards for the Saffron heads up, nice 8)

    Premier Icon jameso
    Subscriber

    No, I had pub bike made.

    Lovely bike, great job. I’d end up down the pub too often, and in hedges on the way home.

    Matt @18 seems pretty sorted and would be on my list but don’t seem as bling if that’s what you want

    8)

    Premier Icon Jerome
    Subscriber

    I was lucky in buying an IF that was an exact copy of the on one 29er it replaced.
    To be honest i would feel a bit nervous about a custom build.
    And yes i emailed IF and indeed the original rider details matched me.
    Happy days….

    Premier Icon oxym0r0n
    Subscriber

    SS-Shep – I take it back – that’s your pub bike 😯

    Oh, and a public apology to candodavid for being the first person to sit on his bike (before he did!)

    Premier Icon gofasterstripes
    Subscriber

    If I had all the time and money in the world – I’d do my own geo and get Richard Sachs to put it together.

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