- Talk to me about Custom Steel Frames.
If you haven’t seen this yet it is worth a watch. Basically it is the film to go with the book mentioned above – All about the Bike. Rob lives just down the road and we often get to hit the trails for an evening ride. When discussing the bike he built for the book he points out that it actually cost far less than one might imagine, and certainly far less than many “off the peg” boutique bikes out there. Nice bit of inspiration for you. It is a shame Rob is much smaller than me as I would love to give the bike a run one day.
[video]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4GI1YZmFe48[/video]Posted 4 years agotangMember
If you don’t want custom but want a Genisis Volare 953 road bike frame and enve fork for just over a grand:Posted 4 years ago
I decided I wanted a custom steel road frame for my 40th, saved up, put my name on the waiting list of a well known english builder (together with a substantial deposit)….and waited….and waited….
After a couple of years (and my birthday) had passed and there was still no sign of any kind of final design or completion date I eventually had to threaten him with small claims court to get my money back.
I bought a Van Nicholas Ti frame for less than the custom steel and subsequently taught myself to braze. No. 1 has got over 2000kms on it and no cracks, and I’ve just picked up No.2 from the painters….
Anyway, if I was in your position I’d book myself onto Dave Yates course, there really is nothing like the feeling of riding a bike that you designed, cut, filed and brazed yourself.Posted 4 years agoMacavityMember
More forks in lathe
The Bicycle AcademyPosted 4 years ago
OP you’re being far too rational!
I do know what you mean though because unless you know exactly what you want you feel like you may be taking an expensive punt on something that might not be “magic” when you ride it or just a bit “meh”.
I talked myself out of an Eriksen or Potts hardtail (I’d wanted one for 10 + years) because I came to the conclusion I didn’t need another one and I couldn’t decide on what geo to go for.
On the other hand, I’ve convinced myself that my old roadbike won’t take guards so that’s turning in to an excuse for a custom steel roadbike.
To invest a large chunk of cash in a frame this time I need some “emotional” reason, and I like the idea of having something “locally” made.
I’d considered Rourke, Mercian and Field and decided on Field partly because I knew one of them (plus they look fantastic). Then I realised I’d overlooked Sword cycles. The guy is ex Mercian and I like the fact that he’s really local to me and he works out of a garage. I’m going to copy my current bike completely geometry wise as it’s set up perfectly for me. I also like the fact he used cromaworks for the paint (as do Field).
I think the point I’m trying to make is that unless there’s an emotional attachment or a big “want it” screaming in the back of your head, I’d hold on to the cash and wait ’till it kicks in (it will at some point). Then you’ll get the buzz :).Posted 4 years ago
How much is it then for an average ‘Field Cycles’ frame then?
I hate it the way the vast majority of custom frame builders don’t quote any sort if price just contact me.
I don’t know how they can command such high prices for steel, sometimes well north of £2000 when there are very well respected uk frame builders who will build you a full custom frame for £350 with Reynolds tubing:Posted 4 years ago
Some of the new ‘upstarts’ to frame building seem to charge a lot for a steel frame and while I’m glad to see so many new frame builders out there I certainly wouldn’t want to pay some of those prices when you are getting one of the first handful of frames, I want the 5000th frame out of your workshop and all the knowledge, experience and learning that comes with it. A pretty paint job is great but it doesn’t make a bike ride well. (I wanted both so bought a pegoretti)
Recently had a Chesini road frame in columbus spirit built up which is everything I wanted it to be. Basically a slightly stiffer, cheaper version of my pegoretti with modern attributes like over size fork, internal brake cabling etc.
That would have included a qualified Retul bike fit if needed.
I wouldn’t dismiss an Italian built frame, they have been doing it quite a while and make some great tube setsPosted 4 years agomaximusmountainMember
Well not sure how they make money off of 600 quid for a 853 tubing, all the parts for mine cost me £450, doesnt leave a lot of space for consumables and time!
I’d personally if not making my own go and see Lee Cooper, he is down to earth and has been doing it for ages, quoted £800 for 853 steel mountain bike (with my getting the fancy 142×12 drop outs)Posted 4 years agomickmcdMember
I want the 5000th frame out of your workshop and all the knowledge, experience and learning that comes with it.
this ^^^^^ if i had stayed in the USA for a few more years BITD that wouldn’t have been far off the mark
it looks like the website might be out of date, says forks from 60 quid? can you buy a fork from a manufacturer for 60 quid?Posted 4 years ago
Columbus Tusk carbon forks available on Ribble for £70 and that’s with then making a good profit.
I know somebody who had one built a couple of years ago maybe 2. Lovely job, full custom with original 531c (proper stovepipe! Prob won more Tour de Frances than any other frame material) frame and forks with plenty of braze on for less than £500Posted 4 years agowalleaterMember
I want the 5000th frame out of your workshop and all the knowledge, experience and learning that comes with it. A pretty paint job is great but it doesn’t make a bike ride well.
Mine was the second MTB frame that the builder made (his own being the first). He’s made a few road frames. I’ve enjoyed being a guinea pig to be honest, and my fillet brazed frame cost at a helluva lot less than some Indy Fab with geometry straight out of 1991. My builder had no biases so I was on my own to do whatever I wanted with the frame design, although he offered advice along the way based on his knowledge of the materials, bend profiles of the tubes etc.
I certainly wouldn’t discount a ‘start-up’ if you know that they could be trusted, will stand behind their work and the price reflects experience.Posted 4 years agoMostly BalancedMember
To the OP. Make sure you know EXACTLY what you want and think about how your preferences might change in the next ten years before you order. In 2006 I bought my dream custom Ti frame which I absolutely loved until I got a 29er. I’d never sell the Ti bike but it’s been by far my least ridden bike for the last couple of years.
With MTB ‘standards’ changing so frequently I’d advise getting a road or CX frame as the ‘bike for life’.Posted 4 years agoNortonMember
MrSmith – Member
If someone can get a Reynolds Steve Goff bike for £350 and deliver it to me in the next 6 months I’ll send you £700 back.
I would send the bike back, who wants a stovepipe 525 frame that’s a wet noodle and weighs 21lb
Bit harsh that, I’ve had one custom frame and one frame refurbished by Steve and they been fine. Just because someone doesn’t have interesting facial hair and charge “I saw you coming” prices doesn’t mean they do a bad job. Cycling used to be a working class sport and there are people like Steve who’ll still be serving that market long after some framebuilders have returned to IT middle management or wherever they came from…Posted 4 years ago
Cycling used to be a working class sport
Well, yes and no – find an original Hetchins price list, or any quality brand from the ’50s say, and the bikes are very expensive as a factor of average wages. Even a bog-standard Raleigh from then is the equivalent of £700-£1000, and that’s for a mass-produced bike not a custom one.
I have no experience of this framebuilder’s work as far as I know, so I can’t comment on the quality of his work. What I do doubt is that he can make a sensible living from charging that much for a custom frame.Posted 4 years agoshandcyclesMember
Bit harsh that, I’ve had one custom frame and one frame refurbished by Steve and they been fine. Just because someone doesn’t have interesting facial hair and charge “I saw you coming” prices doesn’t mean they do a bad job. Cycling used to be a working class sport and there are people like Steve who’ll still be serving that market long after some framebuilders have returned to IT middle management or wherever they came from…
Yeah, on reflection it probably was a bit harsh. The truth is I don’t really understand how it works. I don’t mean to put the guy down. I’m sure he’s built way more frames than I and I’m sure he’s very good at what he does. It does make you think though that if he’s making £100 on a frame, and he wants to clear an £18K salary he’s going to be building and painting 3 or 4 bikes per week. That’s a lot of work for £18k. I don’t really know. It’s all guesswork I suppose.Posted 4 years agophilxx1975Member
I’ve seen loads of Stoaters, etc by Shand bikes and some from Macavity’s list of others so how the hell do you place some of the lower tier builders in the same league there’s some on this list that have built one frame and tried to forge some kind of image from it, complete bobbins!Posted 4 years agomick_rSubscriber
I’m sure his oversize 853/columbus spirit frames are spot on, i was commenting on using small o/d thick walled 1950’s tubing to make a bike frame, steel has moved on bit since then
Smaller OD maybe, but my Reynolds catalogue from 1994 ish says:-
531C top tube 0.8/0.5 wall. Down tube 0.9/0.6 wall. Seat tube 0.8/0.5. Seatstay 0.5. Chainstay 0.9.
Today’s fancy tubes aren’t that much thinner, and the larger diameters might actually make the final frame heavier (but stiffer).Posted 4 years ago
there’s some on this list that have built one frame and tried to forge some kind of image from it, complete bobbins!
I’ve seen some first frames that have been excellent (some shown on here) and some frames from very experienced builders that have been pretty shoddy. So I don’t think you can generalise like that.
But I agree, there is a bit of the hipster beard-and-cool-workshop aspect to some builders, yes 😉Posted 4 years agogrowingladMember
Sorry it’s taken me so long to reply, work and life has been a tad busy of late.
Thanks for all the suggestions and food for thought.
This is very unlike me as I’m normally like a bull in a China shop, but for once I’m very much taking my time on research etc.
Think I’ll look at getting a CX which I can also use for road duties and bit of touring.
Although going bonkers on my full susser puts the biggest smile on my face, I do enjoy riding the cross, it’s a do it all bike which I could still see me enjoying in 20-30 years time (and hopefully more).
Thanks again GL.Posted 4 years agoemanuelMember
I’m a bit late, but here’s my 2p.
A custom bike can be lots of things, it can be a pretty paintjob, it can be a solution for a hard to fit person, it can be about being different.
I think it’s all those things, but it’s about the rider, about who you are, how much you weigh, how fit you are, where and how you ride. What you want.
I think it’s not just about the building a frame, though it’s important.
It’s about understanding, listening.
About angles, weight distribution and pedaling style.
Translating that into a bike.
We’re all unique individuals, so we all have slightly different needs and wants.
here’s my latest, on one of my local climbs.
As much as love bikes, as vehicles, objects, craft, I think they’re tools, for riding.
A custom bike should be a better tool.
It can cost more, or less, but it’s not the point, the point is to ride.
The real cost of a bike, any bike, is the time we spend riding it.
For me as a builder, the real point of a custom bike is a better riding experience.
Posted 4 years ago
You can see moregrowingladMember
A custom bike should be a better tool.
It can cost more, or less, but it’s not the point, the point is to ride.
I ride my CX bike all year around, I might not know much about geometry and different types of Steel, but I can see what works and what doesn’t work with regard to the “use ability” and durability of the bike.
Not only do I want something that looks a tad different, pretty, but is also up to the job I intend for it.Posted 4 years agoemanuelMember
Exactly, bikes are meant for riding.
there’s a bit of show going on, and that’s fine.
we’re all proud of our bikes, and rightfully so, they’re gorgeous elegant machines.
But the main thing, is that they be fit for purpose.
And what’s fit for purpose changes, because we’re all a bit different.Posted 4 years agoRichTSubscriber
I had a similar decision for my 40th. My advice is get a good bike fitting and if you are of normal proportions an off the peg bike or frame might do. Custom is an expensive option so if you can get a production frame/bike that fits and does what you want, custom my not be good value. There are some nice frames available e.g. Gunnar.Posted 4 years ago
I ended up with a production road frame (Salsa Pistola), built up with a range of nice bits.
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