Frame - Rivendell Custom



Product Details

 Made to order. Call 800 345 3918 or email

Testimonials at the bottom.

More photos from Custom customers can be found on Flickr here.

Print out the Custom Frame Order Form here.

One 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.

There's no 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 out right.

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 from there.

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 for.

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) or a modern copy of your old favorite Rudge or Legnano. There are lots of builders out there who do that and want your business, but a custom Rivendell—for better or worse—is a custom bike for you in the sense that I design it for your body and your kind of riding and all that—but it has all of the Rivendell values that we put in all of our frames. Please don't think we're snobs or mean for keeping Rivendells Rivendells :)  The country has dozens of custom builders who are more flexible than we are, in that way.

Currently, 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?
That 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 overlook.

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 it may not occur 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?"
They 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.

A custom 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).

If 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 basic frame and fork with a Joe Bell paint job will run you $3,500.  As these are custom frames, options are aplenty and Mark Nobilette is up to the task.  Here's a list of options and their associated upcharges.

  • Custom Lugs (Nervex style) ... $200
  • Schmidt Dyno Dropouts ... $175
  • Paul Centerpull Posts ... $50
  • Compass Centerpull Posts ... $110
  • Chainstay Slap Guard ... $50
  • Light Wire Guides ... $75
  • Internal Brake Routing ... $175
  • Fillet Brazed BB* ... $220
  • S&S Couplers (each) ... $150
  • Extra Braze-ons ... $20

*Only available if design dictates.

To order:
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 $1200 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:
If 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!

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