Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Case for Custom

"I love the bike, it's really comfortable, and felt that way instantly. It's nice to finally ride something that fits me!"

That's a perfect ending to a story about a classic case for acquiring a made-to-measure frameset.

Being tall, with proportionately long legs, Vivien is the type of rider that bike shops will put on a small stock frame in order to satisfy the reach requirement. The saddle gets jacked up extra high and, with the short head tube and a threadless steerer which typically has been cut short, little can be done to raise the bar to follow the saddle. (Even those popular, ugly clamp-on extenders have their limits.) That's how she ended up owning a Surly that, with a very large drop from saddle to bar, produced a lot of pain on long rides.

Vivien had other requirements which couldn't be found in a stock frame. She wanted an all-conditions rig with wider tires and fenders, but didn't like the toe overlap that comes with this setup on a bike with a shorter front-center dimension. And she would benefit from the use of lighter-gauge tubes in a frame that is resilient enough to work in harmony with her slender build. And, of course, there were all of those braze-ons for lights and racks that make a complete rando bike.

The solution is a big 61cm (c-t) All Road frame, with a top tube length like you would find on stock frames that are 6-7 cm smaller. The contact points design places the handlebar about 4 cm below the top of the saddle. The 650B wheels and the corresponding low-trail steering geometry help to eliminate toe overlap. The tubeset is a custom seletion of tubes from Kaisei, Dedacciai and True Temper, in light gauges overall, and "standard" diameters in the front triangle. A custom front rack completes the package.

Did I mention that Vivien's favorite color is pink? The assembly-day photo below really doesn't capture the stunning paint job, done in a shade called "Two Lips", but you get the idea.

OK boys, if you're out there on one of those dirt roads that figure into most rides in Vermont, and something pink rips past you, that was a girl. Understand?