Why go custom?
Why go custom?
When it comes to buying a new bike there are almost limitless options and there should be a bike for you. Then again, what happens if you fall outside of the usual size ranges, want geometry that doesn’t fit with current trends or fancy something unique? The answer is to go custom.
Handbuilt framebuilders have enjoyed something of a renaissance in recent years and to find out more about why some people choose to go custom, and just what is possible in the world of bespoke bicycle frames, we spoke to Tom Donhou of the eponymously named Donhou Bicycles and Adam Roberts of London-based Comtat.
Donhou has established himself as one of the UK’s foremost framebuilders, specialising in steel (and, increasingly, stainless steel), and took the covered ‘best road bike’ award at this year’s Bespoked handmade bicycle show. Roberts, meanwhile, offers custom, Italian-built carbon fibre frames from both his own Comtat brand, and also Italian brands Casati, Tommasini and Chesini, as well as offering steel and titanium frames to customers.
“People want to go custom 50 per cent of the time because they are an odd shape and have realised that, even with a bike fit, an off-the-shelf frame will never work properly for them. The other 50 per cent are choosing to go custom because they want something different,” says Roberts.
Geometry plays a big part in why many riders choose to go custom, Donhou says, with customers drawn in by the prospect of buying a machine which is made to measure. He also believes much of the appeal in buying a handmade bicycle comes in owning something unique, locally made and built for the job in hand.
“Everyone has a different reason for going custom,” says Donhou. “A lot of people say, ‘I’ve been riding carbon and now I want to get a steel frame.’ Generally, they are looking for something that isn’t so race-focused, that is more comfortable and more of a joy to ride.
“Being a custom builder I get a lot of orders for frames that are unusual sizes, that makes up a lot of my work. People come to me because they want to know where their bike came from and they like the idea that their frame was built locally, rather than having something that was built anonymously somewhere else in the world.”