How to Buy a Custom Handmade Bicycle

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

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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