going custom – how scary is it?

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  • going custom – how scary is it?
  • Premier Icon Nobeerinthefridge

    My mate got a custom steel HT from a guy called small town boy designs. Did exactly what he wanted, it’s like a HT geometron, long, low, super slack (63 deg) and a steepish seat tube, so climbs not bad either.

    It’s raw as well, a beast of a bike.

    Premier Icon beej

    I asked the same about road frames a few weeks ago – there’s some MTB experience on there:


    It sounds like you know pretty exactly what you want so I don’t see why it should be scary.

    I almost went down the custom route for a steel hardtail but managed to modify a production model to get the same geometry (but alloy). I learnt that my plan was a bit too extreme! If I’d been going from a more similar bike I doubt I’d have overshot so much!

    I bet BTR would make something cool – I see they’ve done a fatbike recently.


    Having gone custom when there wasn’t really any alternative, I got something quite usable but with a number of niggles I wish I’d thought about/worked out first. But in your position with something to improve on it should be a bit easier to get a great result, just say “copy this with xyz altered a bit”. Watch out for any unexpected changes though!

    Premier Icon Speeder

    I think it’ll work out fine, you know exactly what you’re after and have something to copy the other bits off. Even if you get a few things slightly wrong it’ll be a better bike than you’ve got now and you won’t know the difference between that and the theoretical perfect frame. Ultimately you’ll get used to anything but it sounds like it ought to be awesome.

    Only issue I can imagine will be finding someone that will do forks as well though I doubt that’s a major obstacle.

    BTR have just done a Fatbike and it looks pretty good.

    Premier Icon big_scot_nanny

    Phwoar, that BTR is bloody mint. lovely.

    Cheers beej, missed that, some good info. Not going titanium though, just some nice steel, so perhaps some of the exotica-related angst in that thread will not apply. fingers crossed.

    thecaptain – just out of interest, what were the niggles?

    there are so many ‘things’ that are part of a bike frame, I can see how it could go wrong.

    Premier Icon big_scot_nanny

    Good afternoon good folks, after a little bit of insight from you.

    I love the way my XXL Ice Cream Truck rides. 2 yrs old now, rigid full fat in winter, summer with 29+ and Blutos. Its just a complete hoot and often my full sus is just for really big bumpy days/uplift days. Really, its hard to express how much I enjoy the ride. Position on the bike feels spot on, seated or not.

    However, there are a few annoyances – top tube is a bit high (esp for snow), seat tube a tad too long for a 150mm dropper (or my legs are too short, + stealth routing would be good), head tube far too short for an XXL frame so has a huge stack of spacers, could be a tiny bit slacker and longer, would be great if rigid fork was same AtC as 100mm Bluto, HATE press fit BB…

    Oh, and I really want a ‘raw’ frame. Pathetic I know, but I want one.

    I’d like to keep all the standards the same (wheel axles, seatpost diameter, chainset width), but address the above.

    Is it a terrible idea to address this with a custom builder? I’d love to hear your thoughts, guidance and experiences.

    I’m terrified that all the changes would leave me having sorted the annoyances but screw up the fundamentals. Talked a bit with Shand a couple of years ago about a Tumshie but it wasn’t quite right (and they don’t do ‘raw’), have sent a note to BTR. Any others you recommend?

    Here is the ‘big bike’ in summer guise for your delectation

    Premier Icon scotroutes

    Depends on who you choose to work with. When Brant helped me realise my custom Ti Plus bike we must have exchanged 30-odd emails. I knew what I wanted, he applied reality, did the modelling and ordered the frame from the manufacturer. I couldn’t be happier with the end product.

    Unfortunately he’s now dropped bikes for trousers. Maybe he’ll drop his trousers at some point?

    Premier Icon scholarsgate

    You could have a mooch around on here…

    Premier Icon adsh

    The more important the issue the more detailed you need to be. Case in point.

    Me – ‘I’m a bit concerned about rear mud clearance’

    Builder -‘We’ve never had any complaints’

    It turns out everyone appeared to be happy riding 2.1s in the dry…….

    Be specific, don’t be fobbed off.


    Yeah, mud clearance was one of my issues. Also random cable guides not where I’d have preferred. Bit disappointing for the money but especially when talking about tandems and/or S&S couplers, non-custom options are (were) limited. The basic fit was correct and the bikes have been ridden for 15y + since.

    Premier Icon keith74

    I’m sure there was something in a bike mag that a company would let you build your own bike in their premises and help you with the design.Means you get the bike you want plus you get to build it.

    If your that way inclined that is not for everyone.I have been in talks with Btr about a full sus fat bike frame and they donr some CAD drawings of what I was looking.


    I went custom (Ti Monstercross) and i’m very happy

    The whole process was exciting and I can’t tell you how thrilling it was after months of studying to put my ass on it for the maiden trip.

    I’m a bit anal with geo so I knew exactly how many mm to put here and there.

    My suggestion is go if you really know what to want


    Sounds like you are into your details enough to get it right.

    No way would I spend the £££ tho, and I have a custom frame.

    Too many other better ways to spend the money.


    Sounds like you got a good idea. Speak to a few people and see what take your fancy.

    Ted James Design http://www.tedjamesdesign.com/ does some really good mtb and BMX. He does more than just stick tubes together, machines loads of parts as well, worth a look if you are after something different.


    Worth talking to Matt at 18 bikes in Hope. He makes some lovely, understated frames.

    Premier Icon big_scot_nanny

    That’s a whole bunch of really great feedback, thanks all.

    Will reach out to those listed and see what the chat is. I think also bencooper off of this parish also builds frames, will give him a bell too.

    Will let you know of progress, wish me luck 🙂

    As someone who designs things for a living, I’d say that if you’re essentially tweaking an existing design then things should go well. If you’re doing a clean sheet design you will only get it right first time a vanishingly small percentage of the time.

    And I’d say that is true for ANYTHING! There’s a reason why R&D takes time and costs money.

    Premier Icon big_scot_nanny

    And, oh dear, I’ve just gone fully down the rabbit whole through that spanner site – very interesting…

    Premier Icon big_scot_nanny

    Yup, have reached out to 18 bikes too.

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