Night and Day – Made to Fit vs. Built to Fit

Both these bikes belong to Kate. The top one was purchased second hand and made to fit through a series of what we might term “compromises.” You can see that extra spacers have been added under the stem, and the stem itself rises at a steep angle to achieve a handlebar position that works for Kate.

dsc_0001After riding the bike above for a few years, Kate decided to see what we could do for her with a new bike design. We took body measurements. We interviewed her to find out what she liked/didn’t like about her existing bike. We designed a frame that would support her ideal riding position while retaining proportionality, flexibility for future changes to her position AND delivering spot on handling.

Some of this is visible in the photo below of her new bike.

dsc_0002What you can’t see here is the tube set selection we made and how it differs from her original bike, which was stiffer in front and plusher in the rear than she wanted it to be. We reversed that combination by giving her increased drivetrain stiffness and a more comfortable front end. Because we can both select tube diameters and wall thicknesses, and then butt the tubing to give an even more specific comfort profile, we have a massive advantage over every other framebuilder working today.

The other thing you can’t see is the way this bike will handle. When we design a bike we aim to balance the rider evenly over the two wheels. This balance leads to greater comfort, but also to better handling. By designing the frame, via headtube angle and fork rake, to give a very specific relation between rider and ground, we can be sure that every bike we build handles exactly like the rider wants it to, which might be super stable or more twitchy and aggressive, but most of the time in the sweet spot right in between.

Kate’s original bike was a Seven, but it was second hand, i.e. not built for, so in almost every regard it was like any stock bike a rider might get. Those bikes can usually be made to fit by moving the saddle or the stem length, but not without compromising comfort, handling, and ultimately performance. That is why so many of our riders report a night-and-day difference between what they were riding and their new Seven.

By taking control of the frame’s geometry and materials, we are able to build a bike that fits, handles well, and feels good to ride all day. The secret is working forward from the rider, not backward from the bike.