The Chainlink

First, let me say how much I miss the Chicago cycling community.  You people made the transition to Chicago MUCH easier.  And much harder to leave.  

Now the reason for my post, I am contemplating a custom steel ride and would like to get some advice on what to look for/avoid in this process.  I am basically going to have this bike for longer rides (20, 40, 60+).  I am not a small guy so I do not care about grams or ounces, but I do want a lighter bike.  I am more than happy to call somebody or just have an email exchange.  I appreciate any help you can provide. 

And lastly, is any one Malort better than others?  How is Jeppson's Malort?

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Ron is taking orders. He is also good at talking you out of the project and putting you on a ready made bike that gets the job done.

Craig Williams said:

Go to RRB Cycles in Kenilworth.  Ron Boi, the owner was a natonally recognized frame builder, back in the day.  He may still do custom frames.  If he does, it would be worth your while to meet him.

So . . . I am kicking this topic back up as I am now a Tennessean!  Yeah, I know WTF?!

I did not make a move on the custom bike before but I have been toying around with a Kona road bike . . . Any thoughts from these experts?

Good to see you back! Are you still thinking about steel? 

Wow - Tennessee?! You're definitely getting to see the U.S. :-)

What are you looking to buy? Why Kona? Just curious - I owned a nice bike by them so I'm definitely a fan. I'm in love with Focus for road and cx. I own a Felt carbon road bike and really love it but Focus bikes look so pretty to me.

Thanks!!  Yes, it has been an adventure!  

Kona was a recommendation, and people love them.  But I am definitely looking for steel!  Would you have another steel road bike recommendation?

I love my Bianchi Volpe and now they have it available with disc brakes. 

Custom builds like Waterford and Riv are wonderful. I'm planning on touring Waterford soon. I can't wait. 

Last weekend we met Waterford's original framebuilder who does his own custom builds and they are beautiful - Sotherland Custom Bicycles http://www.sotherlandbikes.com/  

They are a really nice husband and wife team that run their shop in Whitewater, Wisconsin.

I did get some of the Letherbee Malort and I can testify that is is pretty awesome. I never managed to acquire a taste for the Jepson's version, which tastes like lighter fluid with a slight herbal (and not in a good way) undertone.

First - get the custom steel frame. Spend the money and don't look back.

Second - Yes, talk to local and area framebuiders - Method Cycles, 1138 W. Randolf, is right in town. I don't think Ron Boi is still building, but I may be wrong. Waterford Wisconsin is more or less on the way to Milwaukee, and you can't get much better than a new Waterford.  www.waterfordbikes.com

A good framebuilder will talk with you extensively about your riding, goals, flexibility, cycling experience, etc., can measure you up properly, and is in the best position to help you choose an appropriate set of tubes and components.

What's the color scheme of your frame, Thomas? I distinctly remember telling a guy with a beautiful waterford, "Nice Bike!" that day.

Thomas Casson said:

Waterford Bikes (Waterford Wisconsin) is a custom steel bike builder that has built two bikes for me. They have 4 levels/types of custom (and stock) steel frames: 33 series -light, fast road/racing bikes, the 22 Series Artisan, the  Artisan Stainless 22 Series and the 14 Series Vision.

Back in 2004 Waterford Built a 22 Series Artisan-RSE 22-.  I wanted a lugged, steel couplered bike that I could ride for just about every type of riding I enjoy: touring, randonneuring, centuries, commuting. 40,000 miles later it remains my favorite.  It's not a light bike, OS tubing, lugged and the couplers bring it in at21 llbs, but it's been a sturdy, good looking,  comfortable bike over the long run that has performed well over 8+ years.

This past December I began to research custom frame builders using the North American Hand Built Bicycle (NAHBS) 2013 Exhibit website to select about dozen custom frame makers to determine who I wanted to use to build a light fast steel bike. After several weeks comparing and contrasting  I wound up going back to Waterford.  What got my attention was the steel  they were using to create especially strong and light thin walled steel tubing-Tru Temper S3.  Frame tubing that would bring the frame under 3lbs.  The 33 Series bike they built for me is a wonderfully light strong fast tig welded machine that comes in at 17. 3 lbs.  I recently successfully tested it's durability on the Great Lakes Randonneurs 200k brevet last Saturday out of Delavan Wisconsin.

waterfordbikes.com 

 

It's a bright red frame with an off white (waterford calls the color vanilla shake) down tube panel that has Waterford in script.  I recall a guy who complimented the bike.  Likely you.

Lanterne Rouge said:

What's the color scheme of your frame, Thomas? I distinctly remember telling a guy with a beautiful waterford, "Nice Bike!" that day.

Thomas Casson said:

Waterford Bikes (Waterford Wisconsin) is a custom steel bike builder that has built two bikes for me. They have 4 levels/types of custom (and stock) steel frames: 33 series -light, fast road/racing bikes, the 22 Series Artisan, the  Artisan Stainless 22 Series and the 14 Series Vision.

Back in 2004 Waterford Built a 22 Series Artisan-RSE 22-.  I wanted a lugged, steel couplered bike that I could ride for just about every type of riding I enjoy: touring, randonneuring, centuries, commuting. 40,000 miles later it remains my favorite.  It's not a light bike, OS tubing, lugged and the couplers bring it in at21 llbs, but it's been a sturdy, good looking,  comfortable bike over the long run that has performed well over 8+ years.

This past December I began to research custom frame builders using the North American Hand Built Bicycle (NAHBS) 2013 Exhibit website to select about dozen custom frame makers to determine who I wanted to use to build a light fast steel bike. After several weeks comparing and contrasting  I wound up going back to Waterford.  What got my attention was the steel  they were using to create especially strong and light thin walled steel tubing-Tru Temper S3.  Frame tubing that would bring the frame under 3lbs.  The 33 Series bike they built for me is a wonderfully light strong fast tig welded machine that comes in at 17. 3 lbs.  I recently successfully tested it's durability on the Great Lakes Randonneurs 200k brevet last Saturday out of Delavan Wisconsin.

waterfordbikes.com 

 

Near Chicago, in Waterford WI we have Richard Schwinn's Waterford Precision Cycles, which makes Waterford and Gunnar bikes in the same factory that used to make the Schwinn Paramounts.  Richard's great grandfather, Ignaz Schwinn founded the Schwinn  Bicycle Company in Chicago.  I've seen some beautiful work from them.

first of all, you dont need a custom frame to ride 20, 40, 60 miles. But if you really want one, I'd find a builder or fabricating company that has built a few hundred frames at least or has been established for awhile. I'd avoid the builder that simply went to UBI for two weeks, invested in a jig and a torch, but who's actual framebuilding experience is quite limited (single or double digits). 

If you want a bike that's designed for long riding, fairly lightweight, has a good set of braze-ons, built with experience, and still is on the lower side of cost (as compared to full on custom jobs), I'd have a look at a boulder rando frame. built by waterford up in wisconsin, designed by mike kone in colorado who is very friendly and knowledgeable -- he'll answer your questions and steer you in the right direction. turn around would be a few weeks. you'll save money with an off-the-peg frame. a fully custom job, at the point, would just be diminishing returns, imho. invest what you'd spend otherwise in nice wheels, etc. 

http://www.renehersebicycles.com/Randonneur%20bikes.htm

Or head to a shop that has a relationship with a custom frame builder. iron cycles + indy fab, for one example. get a grip & seven is another example off the top of my head. you'd get measured up at the shop and they send everything in. I'm sure the build-up & fitting would be included or discounted as well. something to consider. 

http://www.ironcycles.com/services/custom-builds/

Last weekend, I met a frame builder just north of the cheddar curtain. He worked at Waterford, and built thousands of Schwinn Paramount, Rivendell, and of course Waterford frames before starting his own shop.

He was a really nice guy, very knowledgeable and passionate, and you'd be hard pressed to find many people who can top his resume. And best of all, his lugged, hand built frames aren't that expensive compared to others in the field. http://www.sotherlandbikes.com/

Regarding materials, steel is awesome, but I'd also suggest considering titanium too. I have both steel and Ti bikes and love them equally...but the Ti bike is lighter, it has a really nice ride...and I never have to worry about rust. Just something to consider.

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