If you're reading this you likely understand the distinction between factory produced frames and a true custom frame. That establishes you're ahead of the game. Beyond the names of popular manufacturers like Specialized, Trek or Giant, Australia's riding members remain, in general, unaware of what a custom bike can do for your performance. Riders are even less likely to know who master builders like Gianni Pegoretti, Passoni, Cicli Barco or Zullo are.
From the marketing noise that saturates our bike buying experience, its not a wonder that custom frames get drowned out. But here you are. Wanting to identify your best options, your best bike, and how you can enhance your ride experience.
A custom frame presents vastly different buying options. While we also build Factory frames with customisable builds, the custom frameset offers a huge array of potential. The many options and details can be endless and so we want to discuss the main considerations to get you well started on your custom buying journey.
Custom bikes suit riders who dont fit generic frames, like the petite owner of this DeAnima roadbike
The first natural response for many riders considering custom is to throw themselves in research. But the rabbit holes will easily overwhelm. We've established ways to make the path easier.
Because buying a custom bike can be daunting its best to reduce the process by steps. So we set up the first step which is to fill out the Recommended Best Bike Form. By targeting your cycling priorities we can identify a suitable material and brand as well as components. This is an incredibly effective way to get the ball rolling fast. It also allows more targeted research in respect of your time.
For riders who choose to research alone, reading will take time when it comes to sourcing and buying a bike. So at the very least we can offer a few key areas to investigate. (Alternatively you are welcome to use our services at any point.)
Material choice will dictate how a frame is constructed, how it acts and feels, the terrain it best suits and how you respond to it. You'd wish to be educated on the benefits of carbon, steel, stainless steel or a combination of materials. You'd wish to know the different feel of each, why one can be better in certain riding situations than another. For information on the process of carbon frame construction, read our article “Road bike carbon frame construction: What you need to know.”
Tiziano Zullo. Steel is the preference for custom bike owners who's frame are made from this very workshop Image:Alison McGregor, Review Zullo
The Frame builder
As a start point we established in our first article, "What is custom." The true sense of the word involves a frame builder who engineers the geometry to fit your body measurements and ideal riding position. Many will head to images of custom bikes and find one they fancy the look of. To be honest, buying based on aesthetic is one of our least advised methods. You certainly should be proud of your bike, yet not compromise how you feel riding it. At the end of the day graphics and paint can be chosen for your preferred look on any custom frame.
"Buying based on aesthetic is one of our least advised methods"
Rather than research attractive frames, we consider who in the Company is responsible for geometry, building and painting the frame. What is the history of frame building within the company? Where are the origins of their skills or expertise? Importantly, do they outsource the build and where to? For us its important our brand partners have total transparency when it comes to knowing who exactly builds your frame. Every process is accounted for. We appreciate this because it say a lot about the quality standards and consistency of frame building. Knowing the exact names responsible for geometry, build and paint allows us to trust in the entire process.
Cicli Barco - the names of the builders Alberto and Maurizio Barco are placed on the frame itself.
Measurements and Fit
These quality considerations contribute greatly to our recommendations. Once we establish an ideal frame builder, we equally assist in the steps that lead to purchase. A frame builder requires very accurate measurements. But we do more than that. We also provide your levels of flexibility and ideal ride position according to your bikefit completed at our IdMatch Lab. The lab includes a smart bike which will change your position according to chosen ride style and your sense of comfort and efficiency. More than that, it gives you the opportunity to experience pedalling in the ideal position.
When the frame is designed it will ideally be done in accordance with your riding goals and aspirations. If questions regarding your long term future aspirations have not been raised through the process, be aware issues could stand out when it comes to comfort and performance efficiency over the years. With the awareness of your riding goals your frame is synchronised with how and where you ride. In effect you become part of the machine.
DeAnima Custom carbon frame dialled in for a client wanting fast off road riding
The technical details such as tube length and width and angles will be dictated by experts. But there are plenty of other details, large and small, you can decide on.
We'd suggest that with the correct bike consultants you shouldn't need to prolong the decision. You also needn't compromise and buy a generic bike when you can be supported by experts throughout the step by step process.
The list of variables is by no means exhaustive. Each brand will have its own unique possible options. Cicli Barco likely has the highest rate of variables to provide an incredibly detailed tailored frame. But we manage each enquiry with a one on one approach. The result means every client owns an incredible unique bike to serve their exact purpose. It also fits like a glove and enhances their ride experience.
List of Details
This is a simple but effective list of possible options a frame builder can provide.
Badges : materials, size, style, text
Brakes : Disk or Rim
Cabling : Internal cabling, external cabling choices
Component colours : matching or?
Colours : Graphics, metal finish, painted finish (matt, satin, gloss), colours
Drop out designs
Fork : Design or Brand
Headset Design : External, Integrated, Semi Integrated
Labels and their location : labels include names, tags or quotes.
Seat post clamp systems
Seat post design : Particularly integrated but also may be material
Tubing Materials : Titanium, Steel, Stainless Steel, Carbon, Alloy or a Combination
Tubing : Width (usually the builders decision but can be variable), Finish
As mentioned, each brand will specialise in particular variables. Most frame builders specialise in particular materials.
To find out more about how a custom bike can benefit you, please read here.