American Custom Bicycles in Steel, Titanium and Ti/carbon mix
Over the last two decades, Shimano's most popular road group has become a signifier for many cyclists. It's standard equipment for a high-end bike. And so there are hundreds of stock bike choices at this level.
Here's how a custom Seven stacks up in this important category:
We offer better quality parts in our build kits than most big companies offer with their stock Ultegra bikes.
Stock Bikes - They include house brand wheels, headsets, sometimes cranks and tires, too. These are always inferior to the parts from companies whose main business is wheels, headsets, cranks and tires. Often the whole 8 piece group isn't even Ultegra, with proprietry parts subbed in to lower costs. What results simply doesn't work as well, even if it is, technically-speaking, compatible. A Shimano chain works better (and wears longer) with a Shimano cassette and a Shimano crank.
Your Custom Seven – You get the wheels, tires, headsets and cockpit you want. Every part of the group is Ultegra. This results in a better overall bike every time.
Seven builds competitively light bikes, even if we seldom try to deliver the absolute lightest bike possible. Weight is the great red herring of the bike quality discussion, probably because it's the easiest thing to quantify. It's just not that important for 99.9% of riders, whereas many other factors really are important, though harder to quantify.
Stock Bikes - They talk a lot about what weights they can achieve without talking about what focusing on weight costs in terms of performance, comfort, and durability.
Your Custom Seven - We take a holistic view of bike design. If we can achieve all the performance and comfort goals for the bike AND make it lighter we will, but we don't let this less relevant factor distract us from building a well-balanced, great riding, long-lasting bike.
Every commonly-used frame material has something going for it, but titanium offers the best overall characteristics for most riders. This may seem like a controversial statement, but just consider what Ultegra bikes are made of.
Stock Bikes - Carbon fiber can be light and stiff, but it isn't always. Because of its fibrous nature it dampens vibration well, but that can lead to the bike feeling dead. The big companies build with carbon fiber because it's the cheapest way to get a frame with some desirable ride characteristics. It's also more fragile, unlikely to last a decade or more.
Your Custom Seven - We build mainly in titanium, with the ability to integrate carbon fiber only when it makes sense for the type of riding you want to do. Titanium has a lively feel to it, like steel, but is much lighter at the same strength, making it the best possible blend of road feel-to-weight-to-strength available. It's tough as nails, and it lasts forever.
Obviously, our custom sizing (basically infinite sizes with micro adjustments based on individual body type) gives us a huge advantage here.
Stock Bikes - They offer 5-8 sizes. Is that really ideal for high-end bike? Does it make sense to invest in a high-end bike that you've got to adapt to, sacrificing comfort or handling or both?
Your Custom Seven - We build every size in every shape. Even "average" size riders have preferences related to frame geometry that stock bikes don't speak to.
Many riders confuse handling with fit, since the two are inextricably linked. A well fit stock bike will not necessarily handle well. In many ways, this is the secret sauce of custom bike design.
Stock Bikes - Most stock bikes offer two different fork rakes, with no adjustability in headtube angle. That means the bike either handles well, or it doesn't, no matter what you do with fit.
Your Custom Seven - By controlling not just HT angle and fork rake (by sourcing forks from multiple suppliers), but also BB drop and chainstay length, we make the bike come alive beneath you. They can corner "on rails." You can descend more confidently. That's for every rider of every size.
Upgradeabilty and cross-compatibility are big factors in a bike's ultimate useful lifetime.
Stock Bikes - Many big companies are engineering their riders down dead ends with proprietary BB standards, headsets and even brakes. These bikes will not be upgradeable, limiting their useful life and making repairs more costly as time goes on, and hastening the day when the bike will need to be replaced.
Your Custom Seven - We build to open standards to produce frames that will be upgradeable and cross-compatible for decades.
Stock Bikes - Customers accept components that aren't their favorites or forgo a third water bottle mount. Riders give up fender mounts or rack mounts or a pump peg or a certain top tube slope they like. They travel with the bike in a big travel bag rather than an optimized case.
Your Custom Seven - All of these things are customizable on a Seven. No compromises. See the table below.
In nearly every high-end stock bike purchase there are hidden costs, things that need to be changed to make the bike right for you.
Stock Bikes - Because the part spec is fixed, you will have to swap saddles and possibly handlebars, stem, and crank (for length). You might change the bike's gearing. The chances that all this is right with the bike, straight out of the box, approach zero.
Your Custom Seven - All of these details are sorted out in advance, during the design phase, so the bike costs what we say and comes out of the box ready to build, perfect for you to ride away.
The way a bike looks matters.
Stock Bikes - Most high-end stock bikes come in two colors. Assuming they're both available, is that enough choices? What about top tube slope? There's one choice.
Your Custom Seven - With Seven, it's all on the table: brushed titanium and bare carbon fiber, 20+ stock paint colors, gloss or matte finishes, bead-blasting, custom colored decals. If anything, there are too many ways to personalize the look of your bike.
Think of those bikes on the shop floor that fit into this category. Is there a single factor above where they can compete with a custom Seven? Seven wins this 9-point Ultegra bike shootout every time.
Sometimes a stock bike costs less than a custom Seven, but the difference is worth it when you consider all the things you get, the personalization, the durability. And then, sometimes, a custom Seven costs even less than a stock bike.
Upgrades on these bikes are available as part of the normal order process. Ask us during your design interview.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.