Testimonials at the bottom.
More photos from Custom customers can be found on Flickr here.
Print out the Custom Frame Order Form here.
rider in fifty has body proportions that warrant a custom, but if
you're heavily invested (emotionally) in bicycles and expect to be
riding your bike until the doctor and your family tell you you can't do
it anymore, then maybe a custom is the way to go for you. AND if you can
afford it, AND you can wait 12-16 months for it, AND you have something
perfectly good to ride until it comes.To be a candidate for a custom
Rivendell, all those ANDs have to fall into place.
universally understood definition of "custom." Sometimes, not
infrequently, a customer figures he's paying the money so he should have
a huge hand in the design of the bike, from angles to details. Many
"custom" builders give you that latitude. In fact, they prefer you
specify everything, because it gets them off the hook if it doesn't come
Here, though, "custom" means it's our design for you,
based on your body dimensions and the kind of riding you plan for it.
You give us your dimensions and say what you're going to use the bike
for, and a handful of other details and preferences, and we take reins
A custom has all the familiar Rivendell values--lots
of clearance, eyelets, low bb, long chainstays, and high head tube--and
it has our lugs and choice of tubing, too. If you weigh 230 and want
the lightest tubing, it won't happen. Part of what you pay for is our
expertise, and we'd be rooking you there if we gave you what you asked
I absolutely listen to your wishes and input, and in fact
require it, want it, and use it. But ultimately it is our name that goes
on the bike, so certain consistencies and standards must be met, for it
to bear our name. For that reason, before ordering a Rivendell custom,
it's important to familiarize yourself with our values and style, and
make sure we're a good match.
You don't walk into a Hof Brau and
complain because the vegan options are lacking, and you don't come to
us if you're looking for a featherweight racing bike, or a suspension
mountain bike with disc brakes (to name two examples).
our customs are made by Mark Nobilette. He has his own private
business, but squeezes in a few frames for us as well. In a perfect
situation he'd build only for us, but life and business doesn't work
that-a-way, and so we get what we can.
How do we compare with other custom frames?
is a good question. A bicycle frame isn't a live thing, in the literal
sense. It is a platform for parts, that ultimately result in a riding
position. Certain other custom frames may tickle your fancy for their
reputation, graphics, aura, fancy carving, or flexibility-of-options. If
you've had it in your head for a decade that you just have to have a
frame built by X, then you should get that X.
What we offer is a
custom bicycle that is fine and fancy, but intentionally not
ultra-frilly, by show-bike standards. Our lugs have their swirls and
whorlies and curliques, but we draw the line on fanciness well short of a
lace doily. A Rivendell custom is a frame that prioritizes your riding
position (and thus comfort) and at the same time looks out for
tire-to-frame-to-brake clearances that, frankly, many custom builders
A Rivendell custom is beautiful and smart, and it is a
rider's frame as opposed to a collector's frame. It has the most
beautiful fork you'll ever see; a head tube that will never bulge out; a
seat cluster that will never leave you stranded in want of a peculiar
binder bolt. It will hold a tire larger than you plan to ride on it, and
even if you live in Arizona, we'll build it for fender clearance and
make sure it has eyelets. You can pick the main frame color, but there's
little wiggle room in our graphic style, which is largely unchanged
ever since 1994.
A custom Rivendell is a smart frame, designed to
answer questions you may not have the wherewithall to ask when you
order it. We've thought of it already, so you don't have to.
YOU MIGHT ASK, "How far off are the NON-custom frames?"
share all the same values and ninety-nine percent of the details. Maybe
ninety-five. The design is just as super and versatile, and if you
follow our sizing methods, you'll get a great fit, probably just as good
as you'd get on a custom. The frames ride as well.
takes your weight and riding style into consideration, but a stock frame
comes in one tube weight only---which is just fine if you're in the
normal weight range (for normal people, not for pro- cyclers).
you're super stout for your height, maybe you DO need a custom. If
you're really light for your height, there again, we can build your
custom with tubes lighter than those we'd put on the equivalent A.
Homer Hilsen, Atlantis, or whatever. But to be honest and to reiterate
something we believe in our bones and can't repeat often enough, the
weight of the frame is a tiny component of the combined weight of you
and your whole bike, and "saving" eight to twelve ounces on the frame.
You're going to gain that much weight over the next few years, anyway
(or lose it!).
As of January 2011, a frame and fork with
a Joe Bell paint job costs $3,500. Even fancier paint adds another
$100. Customized lugs can add another hundred on top of that, and that's
about the limit: $3,800. We know well what other custom frames cost,
and that we're on the low side. We'll fix that sometime early next year,
After much soul-searching and determining
that you do actually want a custom frame, and you want it to be a
Rivendell, call Mark at 800-345-3918. We'll send a form. Filling that out and your $500 deposit starts the process. The form may have an old
$3,000, pre-2011 price on it. But duly note, please, that starting 2011,
it's $3,500. That is a low, low margin.
And then, this:
we sense that we're not right for your custom bike, we may kindly,
humbly, turn down the opportunity. All of our customs must reflect our
values as well, and that's not to say that ours are better than yours.
We have an aesthetic style we like, and maybe you want something more
plain or more fancy. Maybe you've always dreamed of a multicolored bike,
or a bike fitted for internal gears, or some other detail that makes
more sense to you than it does to us.
And, if you are going to be
riding the bike, 'tis you we want to communicate with. You may not feel
comfortable talking about bikes, but you'll have to overcome that,
rather than handing the communications off to an intermediary. Your wife
may start the process, that's OK. But once the ball's in our court, please let us talk directly to you. Thanks!