Dreaming up your perfect steed? Here are some tips on speccing your custom bike
When buying any bike it's important to get the right bike for you and your type of riding. This only gets more important when buying a custom built bike, as you have much more freedom and control over every part of the bicycle which accumulates to completely change the way the bike feels and behaves.
We are often asked "what is the best bike you sell?" - the fact is there is no one bike that is the best for every person. Yes, some bikes may be higher spec than others but it's all about matching the bike to your own needs.
We caught up with our shop manager Jake to talk about all things custom bikes, what you need to think about and some key questions when thinking about purchasing a new custom bike.
First of all, the type of bike/bike geometry would be the best place to start. Do you want a performance focused road bike that is purely designed to stay on the tarmac and be as fast as possible? Do you still want to stay on the road but have something a little more comfort orientated for those longer days in the saddle? Or do you want something that ventures off the beaten track and is more comfortable when being thrown down trails? Or finally of course something that aims to sit somewhere in the middle depending on the set up? All of these factors will change the type of bike geometry you should be looking for.
Frame Material is one of the main factors that will influence the characteristics of the bike and possibly which brand you end up going with as certain manufacturers often will specialise in a particular material.
The main choices are carbon fibre, steel or titanium. While aluminium is a very common material for complete bikes, it's less common for custom builds although still possible.
Carbon bikes will often be the lightest, stiffest and most performance orientated of the options, as the frames can be laid up in particular moulds allowing only as much material as is needed to be used. Here at Richmond Cycles For Carbon bikes, we offer framesets from Vielo and Trek and the type of bike you can get can range from race-ready road bikes to full on rowdy MTBs.
Steel bikes do an excellent job of smoothing out the road surface and can often be a great choice for touring or gravel bikes as not only are they often very comfortable, they are durable and can take the occasional spill much better than a carbon frame. Although steel bikes do generally tend to be a touch on the heavier side if weight is a big focus. For steel, we mainly offer All-City bikes with a big range of some quite quirky paint jobs and framesets available.
Titanium frames have a similar way of absorbing vibration as steel but can often feel that bit zippier as they tend to be a bit lighter than their steel counterparts. Titanium frames can vary depending on exactly what alloy is used for the particular frame. One of the drawbacks is titanium is a difficult material to work with and therefore can tend to be on the more expensive side. These frames however can be finished in multiple different ways such as anodising/left as a raw finish (hence most titanium frames not being painted and being left silver). We offer Enigma Bikes here for a range of titanium models to suit your needs.
We do try to have a range of various demo bikes at the shop so that you are able to try a particular type for yourself (of course when regulations allow).
What size should I get?
After the frame model itself, you have to make sure you select the right size for you. While there can be general rules to help size up a bike, this will vary between individuals as we are are all different. Some frames will come in "off the peg" sizes (I.E. 54cm, 56cm etc) while others such as the Enigma frames can be made to order with custom geometry should you feel you cannot achieve the right fit on one of the standard sizes (it is worth noting this does increase the cost of the frame). We are here to help you with this process and can happily help advise which size frame would suit you best.
What about components?
After frame size, the finishing kit can massively vary how the bike is set up and feels once assembled. With the choices of stems, seatposts, cranksets, pedals and saddles out there, the way you interact with the bike can be hugely altered. Again, we are here to help you through the vast array of options to suit your needs by factoring in our own recommendations from our experience combined with particular brand preferences from yourself.
How long does a custom bike take?
In previous times, the timescale for getting a bike custom built for you often would have been a few weeks in order to book a finalise on a list of parts (both spec and size), get them ordered and have a slot booked in the workshop for the build. This timescale would often be slightly longer should you order a custom geometry frame or paint job/finish. Since the pandemic at the start of last year, the bike industry has seen extreme amounts of demand which has led to many parts being out of stock for extended periods of time. This includes framesets, groupsets and finishing kit.
When it comes to finishing kit, there can often be other similar options should a particular part go out of stock, however with grouspets and frames, due to how much they change the finished bike, we are seeing the timescale for getting a bike custom built often extend much further (even to multiple months) but this really is a case by case basis. We hope that as the industry works through this period we can get back to a point where more options are available at shorter timescales.
How much does a custom bike cost?
When considering how much a custom bike will cost it again can vary a huge amount depending on the choice of components. For example, a steel frame combined with some more budget friendly parts, the full build could cost around the £1800 mark. Of course, this is a starting point, for a custom Enigma we often see build coming in around £3000 - £4000. With all the bells and whistles certain bikes can sometimes reach over the £10k mark for those extra exclusive builds.
Fancy a custom bike? Get in touch!
Should you have any questions regarding a build of a particular bike, then please do feel free to get in contact with us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to help.