How to Buy a Custom Handmade Bicycle

Natalie Ramsland of Sweetpea Bicycles offers her advice for first time custom bike buyers.

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Natalie Ramsland of Sweetpea Bicycles offers her advice for first time custom bike buyers:

1 Get a custom-fit from a professionally trained bike-fitter

A custom bike can fit as poorly as an off-the-shelf bicycle if the fitter/ builder lacks knowledge about your body or purposes. A professional fit should examine your body in motion rather than rely on static measurements like inseam and arm length. To achieve your ideal riding position, you need to get a fit that has included your range of motion, flexibility, strengths, and injury history.

2 Account for the ways your use of the bike and your body may adapt over time

Hopefully, you will have your custom bike for a long time, which means you must consider the future potential uses of the bike. Just because it is your “sunny weather” bicycle now doesn’t mean you should skip fender mounts – you might find your custom bike is the only bike you want to ride, no matter the weather! You should also have the bicycle designed at the center of a range of adjustability, allowing you to easily change your position to be more aggressive or more relaxed.

3 Buying a hand built custom bike should not seem daunting

Anyone who loves to ride but can’t find a bike on which they feel fabulous is a candidate for a hand-built custom bike – especially women because of made-for-men industry standards. You don’t need an opinion on or a deep knowledge of all things cycling. At Sweetpea, you can leave the “bike-nerding” – silver vs. brass brazing, theories about ideal chainstay lengths, or a 15,000 miles-a-year riding habit – to Natalie. The builder should be able to translate what you express as the most important aspects of your ride into build and components.

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