Custom Ride or Not?

Let’s talk about custom bikes. I have been riding bikes for most of my adult life and before that I had three bikes: a tricycle, a nondescript bike with training wheels, and a bodacious, freedom loving, adventure hunting banana seat. Then I recall a cheap Firenze my Dad got free somehow, and a Raleigh then a Schwinn and so on and so on. I rode a Schwinn Passages across the USA back in 1986. I digress. I have had more than a few bicycles and yet I still do not have the perfect bike.

Currently in the bike corral there’s a 2006 Trek Portland, a 2012 Kona Mixte Roundabout (the daily commuter bike) a Specialized Globe, and a Cannonade Carbon Synapse Road bike. Also, in the spirit of full disclosure: there’s a Specialized Rock Hopper circa 1987 hanging from the ceiling. It was a birthday present from my husband.

But what is the perfect bike. I have been thinking about this quite a bit. I think some bikes fit a certain purpose. I have no intention on weighing down my road bike with racks and panniers. I bike and I have bikes. There it is. I ride three of the four most weeks. The Specialized Globe has a giant basket rack on the front and my dog likes to ride up front. That’s his bike. Don’t judge.

However, when it comes to the custom build, I always thought it was just for people who were either too tall or too short for what was in the bike shops. I have learned there’s certainly a market there, but what about someone who simply wants a better more custom rig?

Here’s an article about custom bikes.

Point numero uno:

1. Know what you want, and find someone who specializes in it.

I am working on it. You know when you see it. I saw a bike by this builder and it has a belt drive. I think I want a belt drive for my new commuter bike. I have always liked the technology and I think my next bike needs it. It’s ultra quiet, like a Prius for bikes. It’s also lower maintenance. Not to brag, but I am replacing chains regularly.

2. Know what you like and don’t like about your current bike.

I have a list. I am meeting with a bike builder in two days and I have a list of all my bikes and what I like and what isn’t working. But this new bike is my commuter. It’s the bike that needs to take me through all weather conditions and still be cute and sassy.

3. Be a partner, not just a customer.

Definitely! I can’t wait for this meeting. I am giddy about going into his shop and talking about my bikey needs. I have another list. I also have background.

4. Know your budget, and be upfront about it.

This point in very important. It’s hard though. I went to the Shinola store in Detroit a few weeks ago and I almost, just about, nearly bought a bike. But the bottom line is that for $2,900, it still wasn’t quite it. I took the Scott Sub 8, belt drive for a spin and it’s really pretty and super quiet and I loved the feel, but still, not quite it. I even took a Public bike for a spin. It was okay, so I know I have some sort of standard. I love the look of the Shinola Bixby, but at $3500 and still needing modifications, I figure it’s time to have the custom bike conversation.

5. Know exactly what you’re getting.

Well, sure! Duh! But how is this possible? I love steel. I love carbon. I love aluminum… what’s a Bike Goddess to do? I have rented bikes, ridden bikes, bought and sold bikes. I’m not sure how to Know exactly what you’re getting, but this is an step, a first conversation, a start in the right direction.


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