Building a custom bike is a big deal. It takes time, research, money, advice and once you are ready to dive in; you want to be sure that the bike you are building is going to be ‘it’ for a good long time and that you get the ride that you’ve always dreamt of.
Here we hope to give you some insight and a fresh perspective on building a custom complete bike, or atleast help you make an informed decision so that you end up with the bike that you have always wanted!
Many things need to be considered when building a bike from the bars down; sizes, lengths, application, strength (in the right places), weight, materials used… Yeah, it’s not as simple as picking out the best looking (or lightest)parts and slapping them together on a frame that simply looks cool- unless you can afford it of course. To begin you need to have a pretty good idea how serious you are about your riding and what direction you are going. If you can answer those 2 questions then the info below will make more sense to you than to others. Either way, which ever way you want to go you are going to need a budget and a game plan.
Budget: Know what you can spend.
Ok, so Dad says you can blow a couple grand on a nice new ride and you want a pimp machine that looks dope as well as fits your riding style….but how much is enough? Well that depends on what you will be doing with the bike, how often you will be riding and the quality of the parts you feel will suit you. Telling you what parts to buy is not the objective here, this article should give a better idea of whether you need an ultra light bike, a finely tuned tool that will make riding and learning a whole lot nicer, or simply a bike that will make you look good at the park.
Obviously a bike of this caliber will cost you alot more than a boxed factory complete bike that you can buy over the counter, but that is the beuty of being able to pick out exactly what you want in the color, style, shape that you like, and that it will stand up to pretty much anything you can throw at it. The idea behind a factory complete bike, is that every aspect of the bike is taken care of for you. Down to the size and type of tire put onto the bike. Bike Companies put some awesome bikes out every year… but as you progress and your bike takes more of a beating, you will soon realize you need something stronger, lighter or better suited to your style. This is where upgrading part for part becomes a necessity.
Game plan: Know what you want.
Begin with size. Most important would be handle bar, frame, tire sizes, stem length and sprocket sizes. Choosing the right top tube size(frame) is a given to some, but its probably the most important deciding factor in this whole equation. Handle bars are just as important, so get advice if you are unsure what to go with. There is so much choice now days it’s best to try before you buy, ride other peoples bikes and ask questions! There are many different aspects of size when it comes to bars and frames. Bars have back sweep, up sweep, width from end to end as well as width between bends. Whew!
Frames have 3 main geometry points that will factor towards the style of frame you decide on; top tube length, chainstay length and head tube angle. Sure there are other specs if you want to have an exact fit; stand over height, bb height, seat tube angle…
Style of riding:
The size and feel of the bike will have an impact on your riding. How did it feel when you got onto a real bike for the first time after riding your overbuilt 5year old hi-tensile complete bike? Just like a brand new toothbrush feels in your mouth, a custom bike should change the way you smile. Most street riders prefer a shorter more compact frame where as trails or park riders require something longer which is more comfortable in the air.
For example, these are the differences between a trails frame and street frame. Note that these specs are approximate and by no means a standard. Your height and personal preference will ultimately decide the outcome of what your bike looks like. These are just an indication for reference.
Trails: longer frame + slacker head tube angle i.e 21″ t/t and a 74.5° headtube
Street: shorter frame + tight headtube angle i.e 20.5″ or 20.75″ and 75° headtube
Focus on specific parts:
We all progress and learn differently on the bike. Some of us are more abusive on the the bike than others…some wreck bars, stems or pedals as others destroy forks or cranks quicker. Being able to build a custom bike allows you to focus on the parts you wear through quicker. A good example are wheels. Some riders just have to have triple wall rims whereas others get away with a whole lifetime of riding on one wheelset (I’m comparing riders of the same level here). But the rider that is light on the wheels is more than likely hard on something else on his bike.
Pro’s & Con’s of a custom complete bike build:
– Its custom! You chose every part for a reason. i.e choice of color, size, style
– Build it to a specific weight
– You can focus on parts that you may be harder on than others
– You can take your time getting the parts you need
– It costs more
– It takes longer to research what to buy
– Some parts may not be readily available
You could even take this one step further:
If choosing parts, frame, bars, fork is not enough there is always the option to have a frame or bars custom built to your desired specifications. Companies like S&M, Fit and even local companies like Salvo and Daylife can manufacture a part exactly like you want it. I did this years ago when there wasn’t anything out there that suited me. It costs a hella ova lot more but in the end every little helps.
Ask questions, ride other bikes, try something new and have fun doing it. Peace.
Specs on our (very sexy)Custom Complete Build:
Frame: 2011 United Mothership frame – Black
Size of top tube: 20.8″
Fork: Primo Kamikaze V3 fork – Chrome
Headset: Animal Bikes Integrated – Red
Stem: S&M Redneck XLT – Red
Bars: Primo Samsquantch Bar 8.25″ – Chrome
Grips: Animal Edwin flangeless – Black
Seat: Fit PCP Kevlar Slim
Seat post: Primo Stump Piv
Crankset: Primo Hollowbite crankset 175mm – Polished
BB kit: Primo Mid BB 22mm – Red
Sprocket: Animal Sprocky Balboa 25t – Red
Chain: KMC Pintle Half Link chain
Pedals: Fly Bikes Ruben pedals Alloy – Red
Rims: Front and Rear: Primo VS rims, 36 hole – Black
Spokes: United Stainless 184mm – Black
Front hub: Primo N4 Fl hub – Black
Rear hub: Primo Mix Cassette hub, 9t, RSD – Black
Rim tape: Animal Bikes
Tires: Fit FAF Redwall 1.95″ rear, 2.3″ front
Est. price: R14000.00
A few more samples of some custom bikes we have built.
Updated April 11th 2019