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Going Custom: Part Three, Initial Consultations

Have you ever had one of those days when you drive by the lottery billboard and immediately think of what you would do with the money if you won? Who would you give some money to? What would it be like to pay off all your bills? Who could you make happy? Who would you donate a little to? Where would you move? Would you move? What would you buy?

One of the most exciting things about a custom bike is getting exactly what you want. Since deciding to buy the Gaulzetti, I have been “lottery” daydreaming about what I want. There is no doubt in my mind that I would have had a hard time finding anything off the shelf even close to my preferences in an aluminum or carbon frame. There are plenty of race bikes out there, and some that take direct mount brakes. Less of those offer the ability to run 28-30 mm tires, and almost zero offer all three of those things for rim brakes and a threaded bottom bracket. It’s possible that with an endurance style frame and disc brakes, I could get that, but I really wanted a straight up rim brake race bike. Oh, the beauty of custom.

After sending the deposit to Craig, I waited for his response. He quickly replied.

HI Bob:

Thanks! We got it! I'll email you some next steps when I get back in the shop tomorrow. We'll need to set up and interview time as well. If you could send me three forty-five minute windows that would work for you between 10am and 6pm Pacific Time- Wednesday through Sunday, I'll get back to you with one that works for us too.

In the meantime, if you could send me your current positionals on the bike that fits you best I can get started. Please send me your saddle height measured from the center of the bottom bracket to the top of the saddle- your saddle set back (drop a plumb from the nose of the saddle and measure the distance it sits behind the center of the bottom bracket), your reach (measured from the nose of the saddle to the center of the stem- take this measurement diagonally and parallel to the ground) and your drop (take the measurement of the saddle height off the ground and subtract the height of the handlebar tops from the ground.)

Let me know what saddle is on the bike and what handlebar you are using as well.

If you are not happy with your current fit- don't worry about that. These measurements are important either way!

Thanks for the deposit! I'm excited to work with you on this project! Craig

So, I got to work the next day when I got home from work. I downloaded the bike fit worksheet from the Park Tool Company, and I began to measure away on BOTH of my current framesets, the All-City Mr. Pink and the Trek Madone 5.2. I also downloaded the geometry of each bike to send along to Craig. One of the things I noted in my measurements was how close the positions were on each bike. I was pleased with myself to see that I did a good job in matching the fit I got on my Trek to the purchase and set up of the All-City. There are lots of other things that make them different, but seat height, set back, reach and stack height were pretty darn close. No wonder they fit so comfortable all day long.

Just as a side note, I have used the classic LeMond formula for setting seat height. To get this you take a measurement of your inside leg measurement and multiply by .883. My height has long been 73 cm, measured from the top of the seat to the middle of the bottom bracket. When I started riding, I had slowly adjusted the bar stem height to a comfortable position that allowed me to get into the drops and also ride on the tops with equal comfort. I experimented and adjusted a little after long rides, races, and any time I felt discomfort or a lack of power. When I finally got to the bike fitter, he said he was shocked at how close my position was to what he would have settled on for me.

When I spoke to Craig on the phone, we went over the measurements, and he asked me some other questions. Here are some that I recall and what my answers were (I should have recorded this or wrote it all down sooner).

  • What do you like about what you’re riding now? I really like both bikes. I like the all-day comfort and road feel of the steel All-City and I like the aero quickness and performance of the Trek. Fit-wise I feel like both are the right size frame for me, but I wish both were a little snappier.

  • What are you looking for that you are missing? I hate the proprietary brake position and adjustment on the Trek. I also prefer the option of the threaded bottom bracket and slightly bigger tires. I have no issues with the All-City, but it is not a race bike. I mentioned not wanting to go to an endurance geometry, but rather that I wanted a racier feel. The cornering on the steel All-City was a feel I liked. It tracks so much better through turns than the Trek. I want that locked in feel for crits and such. I mentioned several times how I loved my old CAAD10 and that I would be still riding it if I could use bigger wheels and tires with it. My sense is that the Interclub is going to be a CAAD on steroids.

  • What seat and handle bars are you using, and are you happy with them? Fizik Antares or Brooks C17. We talked a bit about both and how either were easy for Craig to get a fit idea from when designing the frame for me. I told him that I really liked the C17 for long rides even though I know it isn’t a race saddle per se. I mentioned using a 40 cm Ritchey WCS or Zipp Service Course Ergo 80 with good success. I think these features will help Craig with fit. I’m not too picky about bars, but I know I like a shallow drop and a 40 cm narrow feel.

  • What tires and wheels are you looking to use? What brakes? I plan to use the Aeolus 5’s and Aeolus 3 Pros with the Hutchinson Sectors or a comparable 28 mm tire. This can be easily accommodated with the direct mount brakes. I even mentioned possibly looking into the ee/Cane Creek direct mounts eventually. Craig thought these were great and would make adjustments a piece of cake.

  • What group set do you expect to use? I am going to swap over my eTap, so we decided to make the cabling internal to limit the cables being exposed. It should make for a nice clean set up.

  • Integrated seat post or traditional seat clamp and post? I decided to go with the ISP, as I do not really adjust too much, and I want to see what the feel of the ISP on an aluminum bike is. I feel like this has been a long-offered feature in the Gaulzetti line, and there must be some reason for it. Craig explained briefly that it gives the rider a nice connected feel. I realize the downside is resale, but I am honestly not too worried about selling off my dream bike build anytime soon.

  • What do you see yourself doing with this frame? I want a frame that is snappy and that I can race crits and road races on one day and then ride centuries the next without going with an endurance model with a huge head tube. Craig mentioned that a true race bike should easily accommodate that, and when you think about it most pro tour bikes are all around road machines. They ride hundreds of miles in comfort and are lacking nothing when they sprint to the finish.

  • What sort of paint scheme are you looking at? I have no real answer. I would like something that matched the kit I wear 90% of the time, but I wasn't sure I want to lock myself in. Craig mentioned keeping an eye open and browsing for schemes and two-color combinations that looked good to me. If I wanted a special paint scheme, it would be an option at a cost. I am thinking plain, maybe even a matte finish, but there is time to think. I am currently logging ideas on the computer and saving pictures of bikes I love.

So, that is where we left it. I am finding ideas for paint, and Craig is drawing up some frame geometries. I am waiting patiently and starting to build up something that came in the mail to keep me busy. Stay tuned.

I am excited to keep working with Craig and his folks on this project. And for $2800, I didn’t have to win the lottery to make this daydream come true.


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