How Custom is Custom?

I was looking for custom bikes the other day and chanced upon this super informative and great article about custom bikes from Spectrum Cycles. Great read for anyone looking to buy a custom bike and don’t want to sound like a fool without knowing all the right terminologies!

The “Custom Build”
This is the term used when a local bike shop builds up a stock frame with a components kit chosen especially for the customer. With the Custom Build, a good dealer can usually adjust the fit of the stock frame so that their customer will be reasonably comfortable and efficient. However, customization of the bicycle frame is not an option with a Custom Build. As a result fit suffers and the center of gravity cannot be effectively tuned. Handling and ride characteristics are compromised.

Custom Adjusted
The “Custom Adjusted” frame set is a category of high-end frames where the dealer or customer has the opportunity to choose from a limited number of adjustments from “stock” specifications. The list might include short or long top tubes, an extra stiff bottom bracket or custom braze-ons. There are often some limited color options available as well. With the help of an accomplished dealer, a Custom Adjusted frame-set can improve the fit and feel of a bicycle. Custom Adjusted frame-sets are a step above Custom Builds but still far from a Full Spectrum Custom bicycle.

“Custom Geometry”
The most common kind of custom frame falls into the category of Custom Geometry. This kind frame is built with frame angles and dimensions specifically requested by the customer. Designed properly, it can address many of the customers fit and handling concerns assuming the customer knows exactly what geometry matches his/her riding style, racing needs, and physical characteristics. Most often, these custom frames are built with tube-sets provided by one of the major tube mills. e.g.; Columbus, Easton, Reynolds, True-Temper or Dedacciai. These tube-sets allow for some limited “tweaking”of a bicycles ride characteristics. Custom Geometry frames are often available with some form of paint and braze-on options.

“Full Spectrum Custom”
This truly rare Full Spectrum Custom process requires a frame builder who can pick and chose each and every piece of metal involved in the production of a one of a kind Full Spectrum Custom Bicycle. Guided by client interviews, fit sessions, and physical characteristics, a Full Spectrum Custom builder must choose each individual tube used in a frame in order to optimize the balances between weight, stiffness, feel and strength. Tube-sets are not an option with this custom process as they limit design decisions and frame options. From the first tube cut to the last clear-coat applied, the client and builder control each phase of bicycle production with no limit placed on the level of customization.

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