View Full Version : how to chose/build a new bike?

05-23-2005, 09:31 AM
ok... so i know you can walk into any bike store and pick a bike and get fitted to it...

but what is the process if you want to "build your own" sorta.. not really put it together myself.. but pick all the pieces and parts and have the LBS put it together...

the LBS isn't a fit king.. more of a small town shop.. how do you know what size of everything you need? you can't sit on it like you can a store bought bike... so where do you start?

go to a serrotta fit place? but aren't they just going to tell you to get a custom if you are off even a little centimeter from that optimum fit?

05-23-2005, 09:55 AM
I'm probably a bad person to talk to since I have 3 bikes that I ride, and they were all custom frames. The first was really the important one, since the others ended up based on that one. I went to a custom frame builder - Peter Mooney (http://www.peter-mooney.com/) - who has a one-man custom bike operation and is also co-founder of what I consider to be the best bike shop in the Boston area (Belmont Wheelworks). Peter measured me, and watched me ride on a trainer. We talked about what I was planning to use the bike for - in my case, loaded touring. Our first meeting was all about the frame. Later on, I returned to the shop and we talked about and chose components. I have to say that the custom bike experience was one of the best times I had spending money! At the time I bought this bike, there didn't appear to be many good touring bikes out there, and I wanted a bike that fit me well and a bike that I could rely on. Rather than compromise on the frame I decided to go totally custom. My other 2 custom bikes are Bike Fridays, and I was able to use the measurements from my Peter Mooney bike as a starting point.

One of my co-workers just had a custom Independent Fabrication (http://www.ifbikes.com/) bike made. His is a much more high-end road bike where mine was made for touring. He's had his bike less than a month, and so far is very happy with it. He also went to Belmont Wheelworks and had a fit done - then they ordered the frame, and later built the bike with the components that he chose.

Custom frames come at many different price points, so I'd recommend figuring out what your price range is ahead of time. If your LBS doesn't normally deal with the type of fitting and custom bike building that you're looking for - is there another LBS close to you that does? Or do you live in a low-bike-shop area?

Have fun!
--- Denise

05-23-2005, 09:57 AM
caligurl ~ Check out this article on building a custom bike on the girlbike.com
web site: http://www.girlbike.com/custombike.html

Good luck!!


05-23-2005, 10:02 AM
lol! i don't think i made clear what i was asking! if i have a frame... premade.. not custom.. picked out that i want.... how do i go about finding out what size of the frame and other stuff i need?

05-23-2005, 10:09 AM
You do a LOT of research and then you do some more research.

Frame: how does your tubing of choice ride, what kind of geometry will give you the handling you want, frame measurements from your favorite bike combined with the stem length. I've never had a frame custom built for me but I've built up lots of bikes and bought the frame based on all of the above, unridden, and been veddy, veddy happy. Fortunately, at 5'3 1/2" I just fit into the easily available 700c production road frame size market. Mtbikes frames are more limited in the avaialability of smaller sizes but it's getting better. If you're shorter than I there are production frames but you may have more difficulties but there are a ton of wonderful production frames out there totally worthy of a custom build. If you're taller, the sky is the limit. Many web sites have fit sheet calculators on their sites. www.wrenchscience.com has 5 different ones depending on the type of bike you're buying. Realize that 90% (or more) of the pro ranks are riding stock frames these days.

Components - More research! Read reviews on the web and ask the folks here and over at www.bikeforums.net. Be very specific about what you expect from the bike and how you want it to handle. Your size and riding style is very critical. A gruppo is the easiest way to go but I like to support some of the smaller companies like Paul's, Cane Creek, etc. A lot of this stuff isn't it the shops unless your LBS can afford to stock "boutique" stuff. It can be expensive for them to stock such items but they LOVE working with the unusual stuff. Again, be sure to discuss your riding style and weight because some components may be great for someone 200 lbs and just beat up a rider who only weighs 120 lbs (For instance, many carbon forks are way too stiff for a lighter rider).

Since Bubba and I do our own assembly, we save money by shopping mail order sales and buying a few parts from the LBS. Many mail order companies that also do custom builds will give you a discount on the components at the same time that you buy the frame and can really add up. I'm not sure if your LBS can do the same but it is worth asking.

An entire tome could be written on this subject and I'm sure that all of us will keep offering you our 2 cents. So, this is my first 2 cents. What's my budget? :D

05-23-2005, 10:13 AM
lol! i don't think i made clear what i was asking! if i have a frame... premade.. not custom.. picked out that i want.... how do i go about finding out what size of the frame and other stuff i need?Have you narrowed it down to one frame? I compare the measurements of my current frames to the production frame. In my case, I look for the top tube length since my long legs mean standover is rarely a problem. If you have a long torso you need to be sure the standover isn't too high. Different companies have longer TTs than others. Try the fit sheets also.

05-23-2005, 10:16 AM
thank you sadiekate! that's the kind of information i'm looking for! all 2 cents are MOST welcome!!!!!!!!!!!!

05-23-2005, 10:19 AM
Glad to help out. I'm trying to talk Kim into trying this route with one of those Kelly sale frames and we'd help her assemble. I LOVE to spend other peoples money!

The only thing we don't do is install the headset because we haven't coughed up the bucks for the headset press. I love riding a bike that I "built" myself. I'm even thinking of taking a frame building class . . . in my spare time. ;)

05-23-2005, 10:26 AM
lol! i don't think i made clear what i was asking!

Oops - sorry! I definitely misunderstood what you were looking for. But luckily SadieKate didn't have the same problem that I did!

--- Denise

05-23-2005, 10:32 AM
caligurl ~ Check out this article on building a custom bike on the girlbike.com
web site: http://www.girlbike.com/custombike.html
Good article with lots of good links.

05-23-2005, 10:34 AM
denise... i think it was the way i wrote it.. that's why i added the post about a premade frame (i have a bad habit of knowing what i want to say but not getting it into print correctly!

i've read the whole girlbike article... yes.. it has LOTS of good info! i love that site!

denise again! lol! ya.. i live in a low bike shop area! there are 2 in the small town about 20 minutes from us.. but the key word: SMALL!

there is a good ritzy one in palm springs... VERY high end stuff... there is also another shop in palm springs (where we bought hubby's first bike) but we had some bad experiences with them service-wise.. so won't buy another bike from them! we actually do drive to the coast (huntington beach, seal beach, etc) to check out shops and stuff.... talk to them for info.. but don't want to "waste" too much of their time since they are really too far away to buy from....

05-23-2005, 11:24 AM
Cali, you didn't say what type of bike you're working on but here is another fit calculator with an interesting discussion on the riding positions for road bikes.


By the way, what are you looking for? Road, cross, mtb, time trial, track, bent, :p ??????

05-23-2005, 11:31 AM
road! :cool:

05-23-2005, 02:34 PM

Which bike shop is which? I live in Palm Springs and I would really like to know. If I am paying for service on my bike I sure don't want any problems and I always feel bike shops are always willing to take advantage of women.


05-23-2005, 03:26 PM
luckily SadieKate didn't have the same problem that I did!'Twas dumb luck!