custom made frame vs off the peg

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martinn
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Joined: 1 Dec 2012, 8:20pm

custom made frame vs off the peg

Postby martinn » 20 Feb 2014, 1:21pm

Hi all,

I am looking to buy a new bike. I have a clear idea what i wish to use it for and what I would like it made out of and why. What i am struggeling on is does having a custom frame make much difference to the ride than having an off the peg frame? Also the what components to fit
Essentially I would like a 853 steel frame, style would be Audex plan would be to have an all weather communter (Apart from snow, and ice), and use another bike as a load lugger.
Components wise, I rather fancied Campagonlo with a tripple on the front (52 tooth top ring as I dont spin, but "mash" very effectivly, spinning hurts) but I was reading about problems with the bottom bracket and the thought of using loctite to sequre a part to the bike that I may wish to remove fills me with unease. The alternative option is a 105 groupset, which at the moment would be about 50% of the price of the Campag set up.
The frame makers I have narrowed it down to are Roarke, Bob Jackson and Roberts, with Bob Kackson being on off the peg frame for about £200 less than the equivalent Roarke or £500 less than the Roberts frame.
Question, does a custom frame really make a difference to the feel of the bike and hence the ride experience, and am I right to be a bit wary of the current Campagnolo parts, and are they work the extra expense
(Wheels would probably be hand built)

Many thnaks
Martin

tatanab
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Joined: 8 Feb 2007, 12:37pm

Re: custom made frame vs off the peg

Postby tatanab » 20 Feb 2014, 1:54pm

martinn wrote:Question, does a custom frame really make a difference to the feel of the bike and hence the ride experience
Yes, no, maybe.

If you are of non average proportions then a custom frame may be better to get exactly the position you want. I am Mr Average so could easily use a stock frame - but - I come from a time where there was not the large choice in off the peg frames that there is today and custom frames were the choice of the discerning rider. So I am biased as a result of history. However, I justify my custom frames by pointing out that I have strong views on which brazed fittings I want and where I want them - which is different to that provided by the mass manufacturers, so I choose custom frames to get exactly what I want and I build up those frames with equipment that I have chosen not some accountant in a factory.

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cycleruk
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Location: Lancashire

Re: custom made frame vs off the peg

Postby cycleruk » 20 Feb 2014, 2:12pm

A custom frame should be "made to measure". The maker should measure you up and produce the frame to suit. That's one of the reasons for the extra cash. Not only that but you can discuss any extras you want as well.
An "off the peg" will be a set size and you will have to pick the one that is nearest fit. That is not as bad as it sounds as various parts (saddle height, stem length etc) can be adjusted to make up any minor difference. An off the peg frame can have extras fitted but that will come at a cost as will upgrades to the tubing.

Why would you need "Loctite"?
If any part needs locking in place then there is something wrong. My Campag' doesn't need Loctite.

I have Campag' Centaur on one bike and Shimano 105 on another and there is not a lot of difference between them.
In fact a blindfold test and you wouldn't know which is which. :) They both operate efficiently but, depending on your fitness, I would say that Shimano can offer the lower gears.
One thing that may decide Campag' or Shimano is the ergonomics of the changers. They are slightly different with Campag' having the paddle & button operated against Shimano's lever & paddle.

P.S. Just realised that my Centaur BB is an Ultra Torque and the latest ones are Power Torque. Whether there have been problems with Power Torque ones I don't know.?
There's no such thing as a tailwind.
It's either a headwind, or you're going well.

andrewjoseph
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Re: custom made frame vs off the peg

Postby andrewjoseph » 20 Feb 2014, 2:19pm

my wife and i had custom Ti road/touring frames made by justin burls. this was partly because i couldn't get an OTP frame with the features i wanted,and my wife couldn't get an OTP frame to fit, or the features we wanted.

Burls frames are cheaper than any other Ti OTP frames that i've been able to find.

custom means you can get what you want (within reason), if you don't need special sizing or features, it's only the catchet of a custom frame that you may get. it's up to you what that's worth.
--
Burls Ti Tourer for tarmac
Saracen aluminium full suss for trails.

robc02
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Re: custom made frame vs off the peg

Postby robc02 » 20 Feb 2014, 2:20pm

You might want to consider adding Steve Goff to your list of custom builders. Last time I checked his frames looked good value.

Bob Jackson invite enquiries about non-standard sizes and extras. They might be able to incorporate what you want without the cost of a full custom build.

Like Tatanab, I grew up in a time when custom builds were the norm. When I look around at what is available off the shelf I often find the choice is quite limited (except if looking for an MTB or road race bike/frame), and when I find something that looks promising I find the geometry isn't quite right. Maybe I am being too picky, but I would be very tempted to have a custom build to (hopefully) get something that is just right. - I wouldn't be going to a "boutique" builder, though!

yostumpy
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Re: custom made frame vs off the peg

Postby yostumpy » 20 Feb 2014, 2:35pm

I was going thro the same process 6 months back, thought about the Audax models, but plumped for the touring stylee, as it will take slightly larger tyres and has more braze ons. Anyway I went down the Bob Jackson OTP frame, in World Tour guise, as opposed to the end to end. I have it set up in a slightly more aggressive pose than touring, so its a fast Audax /tourer.
Image

here,s the frame ... and

Image

and here's the finished bike ... 'Blodwyn' I opted for the nitto technomic quill stem, Nitto noodle bars, Nitto sp72 jaguar seat post, and most of the bits from my broken Pearson Audax bike. Tis lovely.
A 'bespoke' off the peg by BJ,Roberts,Rouke, is not the same as one made in taiwan. I ordered mine, in the colors I wanted, with the braze on's I wanted, picked it up from the factory myself, met Donald, The chap who opened the door was the frame builder, and the chap who brought the small pot of 'touch up paint in, was the painter. ll very personal, and hand built, without all the 'inside leg Sir?'

some more words and pics here.....https://yacf.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=79010.0

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BSRU
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Re: custom made frame vs off the peg

Postby BSRU » 20 Feb 2014, 3:02pm

I'm sure one of the Ti frame manufacturers, maybe Enigma, stated that for 95% of people an off the peg frame is just as good as a custom made frame.

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531colin
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Re: custom made frame vs off the peg

Postby 531colin » 20 Feb 2014, 4:34pm

Whether a custom frame makes any difference to the ride rather depends on the conversation you have with the builder.
If you can discuss in any detail things like....
do you want to sit behind or on top of the pedals
what steering do you want("lively" or "stable" is not much use...."livelier than this" or "more stable than that" will help)
how stiff do you want it? (again, not just "stiff" but "stiffer than this".....etc) ...NB stiffer means more jolting....choose carefully!
clearance for what size tyres?
top tube length?
toe overlap?
bar height?

If you will rely on the builder to decide most of the above stuff, you will actually end up with his design** not yours.....a major difference between that and an "off the peg" frame is that you can test ride an off the peg and see if you like the way it rides.....with a "custom" frame, you can't do that, and its a huge disadvantage.

**inevitably, his design will reflect what he likes to ride....if you can't tell him what you like to ride, what else can he do?

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Mick F
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Re: custom made frame vs off the peg

Postby Mick F » 20 Feb 2014, 5:03pm

cycleruk wrote:A custom frame should be "made to measure". The maker should measure you up and produce the frame to suit. That's one of the reasons for the extra cash. Not only that but you can discuss any extras you want as well.
I bought a custom Mercian in 1986 and still use it almost daily (weather permitting).

It wasn't "made to measure" but basically "off the peg" - or should I say "out of the catalogue". Mercian made it for me to my specifications using their sizing and geometry. I knew what size I wanted and their geometry suited me, so I paid my dosh.

I specified things:
Diameter of seat stays
Lamp boss on the front RH fork
Under-bridge mudguard fixings
Chain peg on the RH seatstay
Bottle cages on the DT
Gear cable fittings under the BB
Headset
Colour and contrasting bands
Lug lining

Other than that lot, I left it to them.
Worth every penny.
Mick F. Cornwall

Brucey
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Re: custom made frame vs off the peg

Postby Brucey » 20 Feb 2014, 5:40pm

there are plenty of reasons to get a custom made frame. No single one may be compelling in itself but together they may swing it for you.

Re the groupset; if you fit campag to an Italian frame (with Italian threading) then using Loctite on the RH BB cup would be a good idea. Otherwise I'm not sure if there is an issue to be greatly concerned about. What were you thinking of specifically?

I'm not sure that there is a lot to choose in performance terms between shimano and campag for unladen work. If we are talking 10s I think that 10s campag chains and sprockets are slightly more durable than shimano ones, and some small spare parts (e.g. for Ergos) used to be available for campag and not shimano. However campag have gone to 'spare parts modules' now which means that when your ergos break you might be as well off to simply replace then instead of repair them.

cheers
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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CPeachey
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Re: custom made frame vs off the peg

Postby CPeachey » 20 Feb 2014, 6:10pm

My first custom frame was an HRMorris (1965) cost £14.10s!!! I still ride it in the winter. Now have a new Roberts 953 with polished bits (cost about £4000!!) Beautiful!!! Also have a Roberts tandem which IS definately better than anything off the peg. If you know exactly what you want it will useualy have to be custom made. If the frame builder gets it right (which mine did) you've got a bike for life which you will always appreciate.
If you leave all the details to the frame builder you might as well go for off-the-peg and you won't know the difference.
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yostumpy
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Re: custom made frame vs off the peg

Postby yostumpy » 20 Feb 2014, 7:01pm

I recently read a book called 'its all about the bike'. Basically a chap wants to source all the bits for his dream bike, then pick them up personally, ie USA, Italy, UK. He plumped for a Rourke frame in 853 'custom' When he went to Rourkes, he took his old bike and then went for a ride with Brian Rourke, who followed and observed. A few times on the ride they stopped and the seat position etc was altered, along with a different length stem when they returned. He was told to ride it like this for a month, and after a few basic measurements, he was sent on his way. Month later his revised position was confirmed as correct, and the frame building process then began. IF I was to go custom, then it would be this level of detail I would wish for, NOT 10 mins on a 'bike fit' machine.

robc02
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Re: custom made frame vs off the peg

Postby robc02 » 20 Feb 2014, 7:15pm

Re: Loctite and Campag bottom brackets: Campag say (or used to say) that if your BB shell hadn't been faced it was permissible to apply Loctite to the Ultra-Torque cups and tighten them lightly by hand.

EDIT: Just found a 2009 pdf describing the process. It says use Loctite 222 and hand tighten the cup. It also says to use Loctite on the bolt that holds the axle halves together.There is nothing about facing the frame etc.

My Campag BB is quite a bit older than 2009 and I'm sure the Loctite on cups method was given as an alternative to facing the frame and tightening the cups with a spanner. I must see if I've still got the instructions.

Brucey
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Re: custom made frame vs off the peg

Postby Brucey » 20 Feb 2014, 8:22pm

robc02 wrote:Re: Loctite and Campag bottom brackets: Campag say (or used to say) that if your BB shell hadn't been faced it was permissible to apply Loctite to the Ultra-Torque cups and tighten them lightly by hand.

EDIT: Just found a 2009 pdf describing the process. It says use Loctite 222 and hand tighten the cup. It also says to use Loctite on the bolt that holds the axle halves together.There is nothing about facing the frame etc.

My Campag BB is quite a bit older than 2009 and I'm sure the Loctite on cups method was given as an alternative to facing the frame and tightening the cups with a spanner. I must see if I've still got the instructions.


That is interesting advice. I am far from convinced that it is good advice on BSC threaded frames though. The reason is that they are tapped in a completely different way to Italian (and some other e.g. older French) frames. In an Italian frame the BB tap is run right through the BB in one operation. Even if the BB shell is not faced, the threads are very likely to be true to one another and a Campag BB install will work Ok even if the BB shell isn't faced.

However on a BSC threaded BB shell the threads are put in one at a time from each side, and the centering arrangements for the tap are often somewhat lacking. I've seen plenty of BSC threaded shells with skew threads, but truer faces. These BB shells only give a good BB alignment if the cups are wound in pretty hard. However if the threads are skewed enough the cups can't pull square; in this case the only cure is to retap the threads (using a tapset with a really meaty alignment guide) once more. Often the result feels as slack as a wizard's sleeve, but at least the cups go in square against the end faces.

Note also that a shimano H-II BB has those plastic sleeves that bear against the spindle; these allow a tiny amount of misalignment of the bearings WRT the spindle and presumably the bearing life is shortened (the loading is all wrong) but at least it all goes together fairly easily.

cheers
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531colin
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Re: custom made frame vs off the peg

Postby 531colin » 20 Feb 2014, 8:32pm

yostumpy wrote:I recently read a book called 'its all about the bike'. Basically a chap wants to source all the bits for his dream bike, then pick them up personally, ie USA, Italy, UK. He plumped for a Rourke frame in 853 'custom' When he went to Rourkes, he took his old bike and then went for a ride with Brian Rourke, who followed and observed. A few times on the ride they stopped and the seat position etc was altered, along with a different length stem when they returned. He was told to ride it like this for a month, and after a few basic measurements, he was sent on his way. Month later his revised position was confirmed as correct, and the frame building process then began. IF I was to go custom, then it would be this level of detail I would wish for, NOT 10 mins on a 'bike fit' machine.


Save your money. Buy an off-the-peg frame and a box of stems.