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Custom Steel Rouke - Worth it?

bmxboy10bmxboy10 Posts: 1,933
edited October 2013 in Road buying advice
I posted a while back as I was going to Rourkes for a fitting but due to personal reasons never got to go to the shop and meet the guys:( I am trying to get another appointment but the thing is I am about 4 hours away from Rourke and bearing in mind they like you to be there for 9.00 its going to be hard to do this in one day. Anyway forgetting the logistics it got me thinking about the need to go custom especially after seeing the Shand on the Your Road Bikes section this week. I want a Rourke and want something bespoke as its for my 40th in the spring so I guess I would just like some views on whether or not a custom 853 steel frame will be any different to say a Shand 853 off the peg frame and is a Rourke worth the trek up to Stoke bearing in mind I will need to stay over and the cost of the round trip will probably be in excess of £200.
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  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 16,015
    Custom is only really worth it if your body shape is odd enough to justify it. After all, if a high quality off the peg suit fits you perfectly going bespoke is just spending money for the sake of it.

    And if you are potentially grudging the cost of the trip then I wouldn't bother. It's all part of the fun of the process. I went from Leeds to near Kidderminster and back 3 times as part of the process of buying my Look. I daren't think how much the fuel alone cost but I neither care nor have thought to include it in the cost of what was a really enjoyable experience. Personally, I'd just set off at 5am.

    The other thing is - why a Rourke? Why not get something just as nice made more locally?
    Faster than a tent.......
  • bmxboy10bmxboy10 Posts: 1,933
    To be honest I just like the product and the price is quite competitive. Enigma are just down the road but I think they are quite expensive in comparison. Who else builds frames in the south?
  • Ber NardBer Nard Posts: 827
    Rolf F wrote:
    The other thing is - why a Rourke? Why not get something just as nice made more locally?

    That's what I was thinking. I know you want something special for your 40th so you shouldn't compromise but the fact an early start is putting you off sounds like having the frame built by Jason Rourke isn't the most important factor.

    I'd love a custom steel frame. It's a pipe dream but if it became a reality it'd be a Rourke. I think a big part of the appeal is keeping it local (as best you can) and I'm lucky to have Rourke's just the other side of the city. When I lived in Brighton it would have been an Enigma for the same reason.

    Rob
  • napoleondnapoleond Posts: 5,990
    Rourke only do custom
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  • HoopdriverHoopdriver Posts: 2,023
    Enigma is just down the road for me too and I really enjoyed the experience of buying so locally - hopping on my old bike and pedalling over to my local framebuilder to get a frame built for me. I didn't they were expensive for the quality of the bike they were turning out, and at any rate they were cheaper by a long ways than my Pegoretti.
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 16,015
    solboy10 wrote:
    To be honest I just like the product and the price is quite competitive. Enigma are just down the road but I think they are quite expensive in comparison. Who else builds frames in the south?

    I'd have thought plenty. Within about 45 minutes from mine, I could get a bespoke frame from Woodrups, Bob Jackson, Ellis Briggs, Chris Marshall and Ricky Feather and there's probably a few I've missed. There's no need for four hour trips or necessarily the more obvious options like Enigma.
    Faster than a tent.......
  • Long way to go for a bike fit and bike. Rourkes is only 15 minutes away from myself but do not like the shop myself.
  • Jim CJim C Posts: 333
    You wouldn't regret buying a Rourke :-)

    Mine is 631 audax with mudguard clearance. Its terrific in every way. A 40th birthday present 7 years ago
    jc
  • A custom frame is a state of mind, it is totally unnecessary, but it is nice to think it is your bike.
    I know people who have gone the bike fit route twice plus custom frame and are still not 100% happy with their setup and they never will be. While I, like others, have never done any of that and I am very happy with any frame size 53-56... so if you think it will be life changing, it won't be... unless your body is strangely proportioned. it will be the same thing but made especially for you... if you can justify the extra money go for it, otherwise don't.
    There are many builder and they are all quite expensive... there is a recent thread in the General section, if you want to read it
  • rajMANrajMAN Posts: 429
    Yeah and you wouldn't want to support the British framebuilder would you, totally unnecessary!
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 16,015
    There are many builder and they are all quite expensive...

    Really? http://www.bobjacksoncycles.co.uk/produ ... 9kqvv2evc3

    £510 doesn't seem expensive for a hand made in the UK Reynolds 631 frame. All relative I suppose though.
    Faster than a tent.......
  • rajMAN wrote:
    Yeah and you wouldn't want to support the British framebuilder would you, totally unnecessary!

    I think right now they are all doing pretty well, too well in fact...given you have to wait one year for a frame... :wink:
  • rajMANrajMAN Posts: 429
    True, but that's a good thing. It is a great experience deciding to go custom, I remember the excitement of driving a fair few miles to the shop and seeing stuff not available locally etc. then going to pick up the frame and having it built up. All part of a great experience and the bike felt totally mine. Mind, I didn't have to get up early which was another bonus. :shock:
  • bmxboy10bmxboy10 Posts: 1,933
    The journey to Rourke is possible its just when I think about needing 2 days off work, 2 tanks of fuel, not seeing the kids, grief from the Mrs etc.....

    Liking the Bob Jacksons though. These seem to be built up in 631 which I assume is not as good as 853? Will call them for a chat. Liking the Enigmas too but by the time you add in the forks and headset they are very expensive compared to a Rourke.
  • solboy10 wrote:
    The journey to Rourke is possible its just when I think about needing 2 days off work, 2 tanks of fuel, not seeing the kids, grief from the Mrs etc.....

    Liking the Bob Jacksons though. These seem to be built up in 631 which I assume is not as good as 853? Will call them for a chat. Liking the Enigmas too but by the time you add in the forks and headset they are very expensive compared to a Rourke.

    Well, don't get obsessed about the material, it's got little relevance and you won't notice any difference between 631 or 853 or even 953 in the way they ride... the geometry of the frame is the main thing...

    Roberts in Croydon worth a chat? Not much to see there though
  • drlodgedrlodge Posts: 4,826
    I booked into the travel lodge the night before in order to get to my 9am appointment, I live in Guildford, Surrey so its a long trel. Travelodge is cheap, but ask for a room which isn't facing the noisy road!

    You need to ask yourself (a) why you want a custom frame and if yes (b) why you want a Rourke. It is a state of mind, but you also end up witha frame that fits you perfectly and will last a lifetime.

    My frame is based on a CAAD 8/10 54cm geometry, the main difference being that the headtube is longer so not as much of a drop to the bars. Being 46 and not that flexible, its what I need and would struggle to get this position on a standard road frame. Having said that, I expect a standard 54 frame with a load of spacers and a flipped stem would get pretty close. I would say the main benefits/things in it for me are:
    - the whole experience of getting measured up, having a frame designed to fit YOU, choosing the paint scheme and other details specific to YOUR bike. It will be one of a kind.
    - liked in to the above - their legendary service. Its good. You get to meet the people, talk with them. I was there for 5 hours, Brian was there the whole time, chatting about this and that. Asking questions, learning...
    - the material. I chose 953, its stainless and offers more paint options since parts can be left bare. It won't rust, it will last. If you can only afford 853, then perhaps get 953 chainstays to be left bare?
    - TIG welding at Rourke rather than lugged, it offers more geometry options and I think looks sleeker/nicer. It may also be a bit stronger, not that its of relevance as both are strong enough.
    - I have ended up with a one-of-a-kind bike, exactly to my specification.

    Its a once-in-a-lifetime experience and something to be savoured!
    WyndyMilla Massive Attack | Rourke 953 | Condor Italia 531 Pro | Boardman CX Pro | DT Swiss RR440 Tubeless Wheels
    Find me on Strava
  • kingstoniankingstonian Posts: 2,847
    I am in Kingston, getting Tom Donhou to build me a bike. He is in Hackney, so way easier than trekking across the country
  • bmxboy10bmxboy10 Posts: 1,933
    Off to see Roberts next week thanks for the heads up Ugo. Have to say though the Bob Jacksons look pretty good value don't you think? I know the BJ is not custom as such but it can be customised via the painting. Not sure if I want a lugged frame as I want the bike to be steel but modern looking hence the reason I like Rouke. Roberts looks promising but again they are more expensive than Rourke :x
  • People get obsessed about these things and end up believing that there is some magic that some have and others don't... when really, it's 9 lengths of pipe welded together.

    If you go for Roberts, get the Master with the horizontal top tube, the one that looks like a road bike and not a mountain bike with drop bars
  • HoopdriverHoopdriver Posts: 2,023
    People get obsessed about these things and end up believing that there is some magic that some have and others don't... when really, it's 9 lengths of pipe welded together.

    If you go for Roberts, get the Master with the horizontal top tube, the one that looks like a road bike and not a mountain bike with drop bars
    How would you know? As you say, you've never had a bike custom built. There are reasons tubing manufacturers make different types of tubing - 853, 953, Columbus Spirit, XCR etc and reasons behind the subtleties in frame design and variations in the styles and talents of the builders themselves. And yes, some custom bikes, the ones that fit you perfectly, do have a certain magic whether you care to believe it or not.
  • robbo2011robbo2011 Posts: 1,017
    Quite bizarre how the custom wheel builder who tailors wheels to suit particular riders then says that custom bikes are all the same and just a load of tubes welded together. Beyond Irony.
  • robbo2011 wrote:
    Quite bizarre how the custom wheel builder who tailors wheels to suit particular riders then says that custom bikes are all the same and just a load of tubes welded together. Beyond Irony.

    TBF fair I'm pretty sure Ugo has offered to pick up some old Italian steel bikes on his trips to Italy, which would perform as well as any overpriced a fool and his money easily parted custom steel build.
    I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles
  • HoopdriverHoopdriver Posts: 2,023
    I can't work out whether it is envy or ignorance which promts some of these comments, but it doesn't seem to be actual experience...
  • giant_mangiant_man Posts: 6,878
    Hoopdriver wrote:
    I can't work out whether it is envy or ignorance which promts some of these comments, but it doesn't seem to be actual experience...
    yup, as always ...
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 16,015
    solboy10 wrote:
    Off to see Roberts next week thanks for the heads up Ugo. Have to say though the Bob Jacksons look pretty good value don't you think? I know the BJ is not custom as such but it can be customised via the painting. Not sure if I want a lugged frame as I want the bike to be steel but modern looking hence the reason I like Rouke. Roberts looks promising but again they are more expensive than Rourke :x

    You can have the Bob Jackson frames built custom. I think it's about another £200 or so extra. As for Tig welding - well, it does look smooth but then it makes your bespoke steel frame look like a basic alloy frame!
    Faster than a tent.......
  • my point is that I have ridden frames built by Ernesto Colnago and Ugo de Rosa (the real ones, not those built in China) and they were exactly the same as those built by people you have never heard about, like mr Dernini in Albiano d'Ivrea... which brought me to the conclusion that there is nothing magic about those frames... it is a craft, it is not an artwork
    IF Merckx had ridden Batavus or Claud Butler instead of De Rosa, we would be here to say how great Batavus and Claud Butler are, that's all
    I currently ride a frame welded in Taiwan by somebody who probably gets 2 pounds an hour and it's just as good.

    Hence, there is nothing magic about welding together some lengths of pipe, provided you know what you are doing and of course the same applies to wheels, if you know what you are doing and use decent quality parts. I still admire someone who can make a living out of a craft and if I had the money I would support him. This is a far cry from being against bespoke frames... just if you ask me if a custom frame is worth it (as per thread title)... then I have to be honest and say no, it's not... but the question lends itself to opposite answers, doesn't it?
  • neebneeb Posts: 4,448
    The tube set certainly makes a big difference - a steel bike made of oversized lightweight tubing (853, 953, XCR etc) is going to ride very differently to one made out of skinny, heavy tubes. But I guess any two frames with exactly the same geometry welded together with exactly the same tubes are going to be largely indistinguishable to ride. The advantage of going custom is being able to specify geometry precisely (as well as things such as paint, braze-ons, etc). With something made out of really good tubing such as XCR or 953, the frame is going to be expensive anyway (due to the cost of the tubes and the fact that they require more skill to weld), so the up-charge for going custom is not such a large percentage of the total cost. For my lovely XCR frame (from Enigma) I could probably have got something off the shelf a little cheaper, but it was worth the small additional cost to have the head tube length, seat tube angle etc. exactly right (not to mention being able to choose the paint), purely for aesthetic reasons.
  • HoopdriverHoopdriver Posts: 2,023
    Some of these comments sound to me like those from people who once had a £35 bottle of wine, couldn't tell it from a £2 bottle and declare there ain't no difference, let alone any value to a £200 bottle, and anyone who says otherwise is just kidding themselves.
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 16,015
    There is a valid point that, even if you can tell the difference when swapping between bikes, can you tell the difference after you've been riding for an hour? I can tell the difference between my Ribble and my Look when changing between them - and it always feels particularly nice to be on the Look (tbh, that in part as the Ribble is more likely to need something servicing) but, once riding, I never feel that the ride is so much better or so much worse for being on one bike rather than the other. Basically, it is as much fun or pain whatever machine I'm on. I still love the Look though.
    Faster than a tent.......
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