As you become a more experienced cyclist, the inevitable question is;
Should I get a custom road bike?
That is a brilliant question and one that doesn’t have a cut-and-dried answer.
While a custom-built bicycle is not necessary for most, it may be for riders with special needs, extreme proportions, or those looking for fit, quality, and performance.
This article discusses some of the common reasons to get a custom road bike. You can then decide if a custom road bike is for you.
You have specific riding needs
The ideal bike you may need for whatever adventure or riding habit you have in store could require the geometry from one style, design elements from another, and componentry from yet a third.
Your specific demands fall into a niche that is only served through the custom bike process.
You might have burned through three carbon frames already, and the manufacturer is no longer honoring their guarantee, but you still want a carbon frame. Then, it might be time for a custom build with a fine-tuned carbon layup to achieve the stiffness and strength where you need it.
Or, maybe you’re planning a cycling trip in the French Alps and searching for an extra beefy steel frame with an equally durable braze-on to handle the total weight of the gear, bags, and extra parts you plan to bring.
A bike capable of handling your baggage and being comfortable on such a quest is not typically found on any shop floor, so a custom bike is your best option.
More reading : Types of Road Bikes
You can’t find what you want
You’ve swapped out stems, handlebars, and crankarms on stock bikes with no real fit improvement. And you’re sick of making concessions or having constant lower back pain or numb feet, detracting from your joy of the sport.
Any rider who does not fall into the bell curve of sizes deemed sufficient for the masses by large bicycle manufacturers is the perfect candidate for a custom-built bike.
Cyclists that are too short (or with a short inseam) for off-the-shelf road bike frames with 700c wheels are more common. Sadly, this often occurs with women who are already often penalized regarding the market’s quality of stock bike offerings. Liv is the only brand manufacturing road bikes specific to females.
If you’re facing this dilemma, getting a custom road bike is something to consider.
More reading : How to Determine Your Ideal Bike Size
You want to look different
Each of your riding buddies has the same bike brand in a similar color palette. If you aren’t someone who follows the crowd and they all look the same to you, a custom bike is a golden ticket to expressing your personality.
A personalized paint job is the calling card for any custom build, and since you’re starting from scratch, the options are limitless.
- Do you want your name painted in big letters along your top tube?
- No decals at all, or a more subtle representation?
- Who wants to be a rolling billboard for the brands? Not me, so I doubt you either.
A custom bike builder can make your dreams a reality.
You’re willing to spend more
Think of a custom bicycle as a tailored piece of clothing.
A garment off the rack might be perfectly acceptable, but the pleasure, fit, and quality of a custom-made anything is more to your liking. It just fits and looks better and makes you feel great.
While it costs more, it’s money well spent for a bicycle, made for your dimensions only, that you’ll have for a lifetime. Other than the labor that goes into a custom build, it’s the materials that make up the brunt of the cost.
Be it carbon, titanium, Columbus, or Reynolds steel tubing, 6061 or 7005 aluminum alloys, and even wood these days, your choice not only determines how your bicycle will ride but how much you’ll pay for the pleasure.
It may not be as expensive as you think.
You’ll find some pricing very competitive compared to stock models. While there are many custom builders, here are a few real-life examples.
- Baum Cycles is a popular Australian builder. Prices start from $7,000 AUD.
- No22 Bicycles is a US builder with several made-to-order models from $5,000 USD.
- Moots makes titanium road, gravel, MTB, and cyclocross bikes. Prices start from $7,600 USD.
- Condor Cycles is a UK-based bespoke builder with prices starting from £4,200.
The actual costs vary based on the frame material, paint job, components chosen, and foreign exchange rate.
More reading : The Best Titanium Custom Bike Brands
You can wait
The adage says good things come to those who wait.
Getting a custom bicycle can be a long process. It takes time to get measured up, decide if you want lugs or not, and choose your material, components, color, and any decals.
Some custom frame builders create only a handful of bicycles a year so the wait can get long. This is especially true for those with an established reputation.
Handmade production time and delays can take up to 12 months or more.
Delays can be years due to word of mouth and the success of their product. Newer makers with less notoriety may fulfill your order in a reasonable time frame.
You enjoy the entire process
You may just want to treat yourself to a custom bicycle because you’re a big fan of equipment and love the process. Or, perhaps you’re new to cycling, and a custom build is a perfect journey for you to go beyond the basics and deep-dive into the technical nitty-gritty.
There’s so much to learn about every step of the custom bike process, starting with body measurements, the table jigs and choice of lugs (or not), to the different welding techniques, heat treatments, anodizing, painting, decal, and clear coat application.
For many riders, a custom bike may be nothing more than a personal reward for achieving a certain turning point in life, like retirement, an anniversary, or a professional accomplishment.