If cycling is important to you then at some point you will make a decision whether your next bike will be built around a stock frame or whether you will have a custom frame tailoured to your unique bio-mechanics using your bike fitting data.
At Cyclefit UK we are unusual because over 80% of our bike builds are custom designed and conceived around an individual, and in that sense we are unashamedly partisan towards the philosophy of custom as an instrument to achieve perfection.
Is there a better way to express a great bike fitting than a tailour made custom bicycle frame. We think not.
The vast majority of bikes and frames sold by manufacturers are 'stock' or preset in a range of sizes. Some are in small 1cm increments like Colnago so the chance of a good fit is realistic (as long as your physiology and aspiration fits with the manufacturers original design intentions). And some manufacturers offer bikes in frames in a size run from XS (Extra Small) in a limited run(usually five sizes) to XL..etc. The 'stock' conundrum is not helped at all by the fact that manufacturers all measure their bikes in a different way so a Trek '56' is nothing like a Colnago '56'. Or by the fact that most manufacturers have very little to say about how their products 'fit' or should be calibrated to the end user (you). When a manufacturer conceives a range of bikes they have no idea who the end user will be. They have to design a frame that will withstand someone who weighs 150 kgs but still feel good to someone who is 50kgs. Common sense should tell us this is implausible.
This where a criteria-specific stock frame is built into a complete bike using a groupset components that are selected to help achieve a more efficient and precise set-up. Bar-width/reach, crank-length, stem-length, saddle..etc should all be thoughtfully reviewed in this process. Much better by definition than stock but not quite 'full-custom' (below). For many shops this is the pinnacle of custom. But there is another level…
This means starting with a cyclist and a blank sheet of paper. A two hour CycleFit UK (or similar) bike fitting session is used to both understand every detail of someone's cycling history, physiology and aspiration. The session painstakingly circles the final equilibrium of an individual's biomechanical perfection. After which an evaluation of possible bike manufacturers from our portfolio is considered and importantly frame materials and material combinations. Stiffness, lightness, durability and aesthetics - steel, titanium, titanium/carbon and carbon are all discussed.
A draft of the custom frame and a CAD drawing are created to show the finished frame archicture.
The drafting process not only ensures that there is no compromise in terms of final position but also that there is perfect weight-distribution of the rider to guarentee perfect riding dynamics.