Living in the handmade frame bubble can make it seem like everyone’s on the same page when it comes to distinguishing between a handmade frame and a production frame. However, as the comment below illustrates, that assumption is far from the truth.
I think that bicycle frames occupy a middle ground where small scale production by artisans is possible and expensive but not always unacceptably so. In other fields of manufacture it is pretty clear cut; as fastpedaller implies above electronic integrated circuits just can’t be hand-made by artisans and generally speaking neither can motor cars, with even Morgan relying on engines and transmissions built largely by robots. Things like art works and some clothing items are at the other extreme where the artisan construction is seen as a virtue in itself. If we separate out design and manufacture it’s not clear to me that an artisan manufactured frame offers me anything that a mass produced one won’t.NetworkMan
What is the difference then? What do I offer that a mass produced frame cannot?
When you step into my workshop seeking a new bike, my goal is to craft a personalized bicycle tailored specifically to you. This involves considering your unique riding style, physique, size, weight, intended riding activities, and the specific features you desire on the frame.
I possess a myriad of additional customizations and personalization options at my disposal to bring you closer to your ideal bike.
Bike tubing is available in various alloys, offering choices in diameter, shape, and wall thickness. These selections are crucial in tailoring the ride experience to match your individual preferences and needs.
In contrast, with a mass-produced bike, I would endeavour to match you with the closest available option that aligns with your requirements. However, achieving perfection would be challenging, necessitating compromises. Production frames are designed to accommodate a broad range of riders, potentially leading to suboptimal performance for individuals. The sizing might not be an exact fit for your body, though adjustments can be made with stem length and seatpost layback. Nevertheless, achieving precision is challenging, impacting the bike’s handling characteristics due to shifts in the centre of gravity.
But I just need a stiff frame, right?
Sure, the big manufacturers might sell you on the idea that the stiffest frame is all you need. But here’s the scoop: they can’t tailor a frame with that perfect blend of suppleness that suits you. Instead, they end up making frames that cater to everyone and, in turn, fit no one perfectly. So, what does the marketing department do? They hype up the “stiffest frame” pitch to make it sound like the ultimate solution.
Numerous factors justify the purchase of a custom handmade bicycle, with the utmost significance lying in “your reasons.” It is these individual motivations that guide the customization and personalization of your frame to truly reflect your preferences.