Refining your Bike Purchase : Factory Frames Custom Builds
(This is part 2 to the article Benefits of Factory Frames / Custom Builds)
Sitting on a bike can place many stresses on the body. To reduce this we aim to build a bike around you. In some cases that's meant literally as a custom frame is created to support all your nuances. But custom is not always possible in terms of budget or wanting to work with your favourite brand. For clients turning to Factory produced frames, we suggest they build them with selective components to emphasise their strengths and work with their weaknesses. In short, by identifying unique attributes of a rider we produce better performance and comfort and successfully achieve longer term cycling goals.
As Ive discussed during an article on Frame Geometry, there are three contact points between you and the bike. There are consequences that affect your ride when an imbalance exists between the points. Problems manifest in pain when you bare excess load or troubled bike handling with incorrect load. The consequence of these issues is pain and potential injury, hindered power and speed as well as hampered bike control. Instead we propose to get the bike purchase right the first time to chose components suitable for you and your riding.
We will look at which components can be chosen in consideration to your body measurements, history and intended riding.
A rider came to us complaining of saddle sores on the inner thighs. The bike was purchased from a large franchise whose computer assigned his size. During the sale process the saddle height was altered and accessories added. It was the client who altered the setup to try and get comfortable after a month of painful riding. We quickly realised from the saddle being pushed all the way forward (The wider part now placing pressure) other issues pre-existed. When a client feels numbness or pressure on their hands because of their position its natural to want to get closer to the front end of the bike. But what led to this issue on the first place and how do we avoid it?
In this case, the client required a replacement stem a wider bar and a different saddle. The bike size was superficially corrected. But while they were able to correct the pain, what outcome does this have on their riding experience? This gentleman likely wont know until he upgrades to a better sales experience. Little would he be conscious that by reducing his stem length to 70mm, his front handling of the bike changes to become more twitchy. Meanwhile, his body weight is now shifted further behind the front wheel, and his power is reduced.
If the client had been expertly assessed so that a bike had been fitted to him, he'd have gotten on with the process of riding rather than wasting both time, money and pain. Unfortunately the state of bike sales treats the process the wrong way around. The client is fitted to a bike. In some cases like our typical rider mentioned, the bike is necessarily contorted so that the client can gain what is a high priority, comfort.
How we as individuals are built plays a large part in that weight distribution. It should be a defining factor when it comes to choosing not only a frame, but components. The result of ignoring your own unique traits and buying because a friend thinks the bike is good, can often lead to not only pain, but inadequate ride performance. That translates to inefficiencies like fatigue, loss of power, inability to control the bike in certain conditions.
There are an array of problems that can be avoided with the luxury offered by choosing components at the original point of purchase and we will look into each of these.
The largest issues caused by incompatible components of a generic bike? Pain or injury, reduced motion and motivation, improper position on the bike and consequent issues in bike handling that can cause unsafe riding practices. When weight is not placed on the bike correctly the bike can in worst cases develop unmanageable tendencies like speed wobbles or vibrating through the frame. For most riders, its not too soon after they begin spending money on bike fit and pay for new components, upgrades and parts to compensate.
All these reasons are useful to know before buying a bike, and the education should have a rider asking an expert about options in building a factory frame.
Where to begin?
How do you start if you aren’t educated in bike components? An exceptional bike shop will ask you a good amount of questions to best suit you and your aspirations. The frame is the heart of the bike and that’ll be the most integral choice to make.
While there are clients we believe deserve and require full custom geometry and tubing, many riders are enamoured by larger manufacturers. There are good reasons to purchase frames from reputable frame manufacturers like Cipollini or Basso. Firstly, these particular bikes are 100% made in Italy, they are built with expert knowledge in geometry and can engineer an exquisite frameset.
The financial support of large companies ensures innovation in materials and technology. Most will equip professional riders with their bikes and understand the extreme needs during Pro Tours. This means stress tests are important and no product enters the road without their conducting rigorous analysis.
Factory frames are expected to offer warrantees and after services. In short, we recommend custom builders over factory when a client has specific individual needs, wants something unique or is investing in a bike to last forever. Otherwise we've stable faith in the factory branded framesets we supply.
Beyond the frame : Components
Having establishing the frame best suited for your riding you'll be considering the groupset (mechanical parts). There are several brands, but the overarching question remains - mechanical or electronic? For riders with electronic gears its rare to return to mechanical. The convenience and ease of the shifters and the programming makes it a no brainer. However its an expense that riders especially new to cycling may not be willing to take.
The bars and stem are definitely important to individualise. Your measurements and your flexibility will contribute to this decision and if you’re served by experts the choice will be specific. Things such as the width and drop of the bar as well as the shape matter. The length of the stem certainly can alter your position and therefore should be accurately chosen.
The saddle is likely the first thing a generic bike buyer will change. A majority of riders fit neither the long nose nor thin style brands installed on generic bikes. Measuring your seat bones in relation to understanding your position on the bike is the best practice when fitting a saddle.
When it comes to wheel sets you can start with carbon or alloy options. Is it also important to have tubs, tubeless, or tubes? Do you want the rims wide for better cornering. Do you want tyres with slick tread, gum walls, thicker walls or race ready? Is the hub a ceramic bearing or standard and are the spokes aero bladed or rounded and easily replaceable? While the theory is great and you can likely find the answers online, its better to know from the word of experienced riders. A best practicing bike shop will certainly have staff who’ve personally tested the product and can ensure you decide on options to suit.
There are many more considerations that offer better performance or feel which can be further discussed in another blog, but these listed above are certainly the most popular considerations. In summary, the benefit of the factory frame / custom build is long term comfort proven an effective ingredient for increasing performance the longer time you remain on the bike.
Find out the options available for Factory Frame / Custom Builds here