Taking the step to buying a custom bike can be a long journey.
It often starts when the you are left dissatisfied with what you get from the “step into a shop, instant gratification” option. Or you have constant bike set up issues.
I believe it’s most often a long journey because we don’t really know how a bike should feel when it actually fits properly, This is due to a number of factors ranging from:-
- Not having enough knowledge
- Not having heard of anyone else buying a custom bike
- Less options and low awareness as there are fewer companies making custom frames
- Being ‘retrofitted’ by a shop representing bike brand that has moved in the direction of having fewer sizes; retro fitting you to the bike with the a stem, seat post and saddle position to get you close, gives you a feel that you’re being ‘custom fitted’.
- Being poorly measured up by someone with limited experience
- Assuming carbon being better than steel
- A belief that the lighter the better
I have lost count of the stories of people being sold a bike too small or too large because that’s what was on the shop floor.
My personal experience of ‘measurement’ and ‘fit’
1. The first was a “bike fit” with a shop in Melbourne who then “sold” me $500 bucks worth of stem, seat post and handlebars to fix my position. This did fix one problem but also then created another. In reality, the frame was too small and when the stem was adjusted, it affected the handling. I also ended up feeling like I was riding a city bike.
2. A few years later, we were in Italy and I had a full set of measurements done at the De Rosa headquarters, with a frame built up for me from scratch and delivered a few days later. A truly beautiful bike, fast and comfortable. Bellissimo.
Until just recently, when I ordered a steel frame from a master frame builder with a small shop in Florence. I followed the instructions on how to get the correct measurements, sent them off and then the frame was made for me, to my specific body measurements. Three months later, a classic steel beauty was ready.
When I collected my new prized possession, there was also a “final fitting” as it were, to get the exact position correct. Then I was away.
There were a few micro tweaks in the first week to get the new saddle in just the right position, but what just absolutely floored me (and still does) is the fit. I now actually feel as though I am part of the bike.
I’m lower and my default position seems to be in the drops. It feels as though the machine and the man are now one. Truly amazing.
The art of going Custom
“There is something special about taking a step back to a time when waiting for something to be made was worthwhile”.
Going custom not only gives you the perfect fit, but also the opportunity to go completely bespoke, taking the time to search and research what to put on it, how to do the paint work and create something beautiful and unique.
There are so many different options and brands out there, so enjoy it – have your wheels built for you, find some beautiful hubs and rims and build it, don’t just go for straight out of the box. There is something special about taking a step back to a time when waiting for something to be made was worthwhile.
I made a choice of steel because it rolls as quietly as a ghost, floating over the ever changing terrain. I will have this frame for life. Just like the machines of L’Eroica, there are bikes from the 1920’ and they are still going strong. This is the type of quality and durability I want in a world which has become obsessed with disposable.
Overt the course of ordering and through arranging the details for the bike I came to understand and appreciate more of what goes into making a bike in the way that it was in the past, and in my view, should be more in the future.
Formigli Custom Bicycles
Renzo builds every frame with a tube-to-tube construction process as it allows for the creation of a custom frame to be based on each individual’s specific body measurements. Tube-to-tube design also enables the use of superior carbon that varies in layers and composition.
- bone lengths and body ratios to determine various bicycle geometries that would be suitable;
- explanations of the particular characteristics of the bicycle they are looking to ride; i.e.. comfort, speed, descents, long legs, back problems, etc.
The Power of Advertising re: Bike Weight
When Renzo talks about a perfectly balanced bike vs a light bike, he says that to sell a bike today, there are three important things: The first being the bicycle must be light, second that the design is eye catching and beautiful, the third it must have good advertising.
It means that you have a personal connection between the builder and rider in what amounts to a work of art you can use for a very long time.