The North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS) comes each winter. The NAHBS showcases an array of bikes and bike builders, ranging from one person builders working out of garages on a few frames a year to the biggest specialty bike builders in the country who employ dozens and build thousands of frames.
While the NAHBS may be the best place on earth to see more exceptionally beautiful, creative and well-fabricated bicycles in one place, there are those who wonder about the relevance of handmade bikes as closing out the second decade of the 21st century approaches. With mass production bikes fitting a wider array of people well than ever before and more options than ever, why would you invest the time and money to ride a handmade bike from a builder like Moots, Kelly Bedford or Parlee? While we agree that mass produced bikes are better than they ever have been, many of our favorite bikes remain handmade bikes from specialty builders. Below are some of the reasons why.
Individualized Ride Quality
If you have ever renovated or built a kitchen to match your needs, you know how much of a difference it can make to have something built specifically to work for you. Handmade bikes can be similar. Tubing and geometry that is selected to match your use, weight and desires is the elixir that can take you to a place rarely found in the world of mass produced bikes.
Manufacturing Quality, Lifetime Durability & Value
Handmade bikes are made one at a time and are not just a piece of equipment. While many mass produced bikes are designed and built with the intention of the rider replacing it every few years, a handmade bike is a piece of craftsmanship that is built with pride and designed to last decades. From a price perspective, one $8000 bike over ten years is less than three $5000 bikes. This being said, value goes well beyond price. Especially if you can’t get out as much as you want, you want each ride to be all that it can be. A handmade bike can be specifically tailored to do that for you. This is added value with every turn of the pedals.
If you want a bike that isn’t like your neighbors, there is no better way to get that than a handmade bike. A handmade bike is unique well beyond paint and aesthetic. But a cool and unique finish is pretty special on its own!
Custom Bike Fit & Design
While production bikes fit a wider array of riders than ever, it is hard to fault the benefit that a no-compromise fit and frame geometry designed just for you offers. Nothing will fit better now than a properly fit and designed handmade bike. Nothing will give you more fit adjustability in the future than a properly fit and designed handmade bike.
Where did disc brakes on road bikes originate? Internal routing of Di2? Lower bottom bracket heights to enhance stability? Endurance road geometry? Developing fork rake options to allow for slacker head tube angles to increase wheelbase and toe clearance? Custom paint? Custom spec? The world of handmade bikes is fueled by passion and creativity as much as art, tradition and aesthetic.
All the world is not carbon. And even it was, all carbon is not created equal. From carbon to steel to titanium and even wood, there are a lot of materials worthy of consideration. While mass produced bikes have almost all become some form of carbon fiber, handmade builders have been refining titanium and steel to a high art form. There aren’t a lot of Moots RSL owners who feel like their titanium bike isn’t one of the best bikes on earth today. And, unlike most mass production bikes, the Moots will still ride and look the same ten years from now as it does the day you get it.
Authenticity & Passion
Handmade bikes are built one at a time by passionate people who love bikes, who love bike technology and who appreciate quality and a job well done. Grassroots passion and a love for the bicycle is what fuels cycling.
Custom Bike Relevance
Custom bikes are not just an extravagance. A properly fit and designed custom bike can be a portal to a new and special cycling experience. An experience that is personal and inspirational for many. If you have current bike fit data, contact us to learn more about translating it into your dream ride. If you don’t, contact us to schedule a Fit Werx Rider First Bike Fitting.