The past decade has brought incredible advancements in bike technology. Progress has allowed riders to go farther and faster on more technical terrain – all in better comfort. With the huge variety of options out there, you can certainly find a bike that’s close to perfect for the riding you want to do.
Some riders, however, have specific requirements not met by off-the-rack bikes. Perhaps you want the geometry of a frame from one brand, but you like the wheels or gearset components from another or need an aftermarket saddle for comfort.
The most obvious way to start the custom process is to zero in on the geometry that fits your own physique. Every rider has a unique set of proportions – arm length and leg length to trunk length – and your bike’s proportions of top tube to seat tube to downtube should put you in a position that’s comfortable while helping you apply efficient power to the pedals. You’ll also want to find a combination of suspension travel, wheelbase, steering angles, wheel size and even frame material that suits the terrain you expect to ride. So, start out with a few demo days on various bikes. Get in as many different geometries and wheel, tire and sizes as your time and budget will allow.
As part of that process you may find you prefer a specific set of gear-change and braking componentry. Take notes after each ride about what worked well for you and what did not.
Maybe you’ll find one bike that does it all. If not, you’ll come away from the demo process with some clear preferences. Some brands offer the option to choose your frame (typically aluminum or carbon, but titanium and even old-fashioned cro-mo steel bikes exist), followed by a choice on build kit – suspension, drivetrain, shifters, brakes, etc. and in the end, with a good brand, a color decision.
The new Santa Cruz 5010 at the Wagner Custom Skis Factory.
Once you have a bike model and build kit picked out, it’s time to pimp your ride. Some of the more progressive bike brands (read: Santa Cruz Bicycles) now offer more options to tune their bikes post-purchase. For instance:
Without over complicating things, these customization options will allow you to optimize your bike. Quite like custom skis help people ski better, these innovations will allow a rider to tune their bike and capitalize on what makes them a good rider.
Beyond these model-incorporated customizations, there are some aftermarket options you should also consider. Here’s our shortlist:
If you are looking for a new bike and a “build your own” shopping option, check out the Santa Cruz Bicycles Bronson and 5010 models. Shoutout to Seb Kemp, brand manager at Santa Cruz, who chatted with us earlier this summer about mountain bike customization. This article was formed with his help and advice. Kemp has done it all in the mountain bike world, from coaching to trail building and traveling all over the world to bike (he’s ticked off more mountain bike locations than you can think of). When he’s visiting his favorite ski towns to ride this summer, the 5010 is his steed of choice. But, if he could only have one bike (gasp) for all his travels, he would go for the Bronson. His top advice? Always enjoy where you are and what makes the mountain biking unique to that area. Happy biking!
Seb Kemp and the new Santa Cruz Bronson at the Wagner Custom Skis Factory.
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