SF Cyclotouring

Ride reports and other ramblings from a San Francisco cyclist.


Do I want a custom frame?

Things I'd want in a custom frame:

+ 1-1/8in threadless steerer/headset

+ 40-45mm trail, for good handling w/both wide tires and front-bag load

+ 44-45cm chainstays

+ simple/plain lugged or TIG'd

+ lightweight tubing, but stiff enough to prevent shimmy

+ titanium? steel fork definitely

+ powdercoat finish (if steel)

+ 70mm BB drop; clearance for 172.5-175mm cranks

+ vertical dropouts

+ lowrider braze-ons on fork

+ canti or centerpull brakes

+ clearance for 700x40mm tires & fenders

+ chainring clearance for 26x38x48

+ standover height ~84cm (my PBH is 86-87cm)

+ TT length 58-60cm

+ DT shifter braze-ons

+ 3 bottle cage mounts; ST cage mount should straddle the clamp-on front derailleur; under-DT mount should be as low as possible to clear front wheel/fender

+ pump pegs on the left seat stay

+ 132.5mm rear spacing

+ 27.2mm seat post

+ 68mm BB shell

+ separate seat post clamp collar

+ 11-o'clock TT rear brake cable routing, w/ housing stops

+ standard under-BB derailleur cable routing using the normal Shimano plastic guide

+ hydraulic brake hose guides on R fork leg for hub-generator wire routing, also along underside of DT?

+ dual eyelets at fork-tips and rear dropouts

+ proper fork crown and SS/CS bridge placement for good fender lines

+ 73/73 angles

The Kogswell 700C P/R comes close, but I already have one of those and, well, you all probably know my issues with that. The Box Dog Pelican is another close call, but it uses semi-horiz rear dropouts, and a 1-inch threaded steerer for a standard quill stem. The V-O Passhunter is another near miss -- very similar to the Pelican, and it also has vert rear dropouts. What else is out there?


Blogger Unknown said...

how about the ebisu All Purpose. it has vertical drop-out but has 1" steerer. But you can use this combination to use 1 1/8" stems http://velo-orange.com/vothstad.html. I personally like quill stems, but wouldn't mind the extension plus threadless stem combination

11:49 AM  
Blogger Jim G said...


I lust after an Ebisu on a near-daily basis, but the All-Purpose frameset doesn't quite fit my requirements. I'd need to have the geometry tweaked, which basically makes it a semi-custom frame (although not quite the full-custom Shula). I'd basically want nearly exactly this bike...

11:54 AM  
Blogger Jim G said...

Also...if I asked Hiroshi to powdercoat the frame, he'd probably be very cross...

11:58 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

Doesn't Ahren Rogers make both the passhunter and the pelican? Drop him a note and see if he can tweak one for you.

12:16 PM  
Blogger Gino Zahnd said...

Yep, you want a custom frame.

12:27 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

1" headsets are the new low trail.

You definitely sounded like you were in the Ebisu ballpark, and I was thinking the Pelican, too.

Custom opens up the worm-can big time. Most of the folks one would want have enough of a backlog to make it a bit of a wait, anyway.

You need to take the UBI class and then build a JimG frame!

So maybe, "Self-made frames are the new low trail." ;^)

11:29 PM  
Blogger Marco Velo said...

I picked up my Ebisu All Arounder frame recently and am in the process of building this up (waiting for the brakes to arrive). It's a superbly made frame.

A couple of things I wish I'd asked for: second eyelets on top of the front drop-outs, a braze-on on one of the seat stays for a sidewall dynamo. (will go with a SON 20R front dynamo hub in the future). If you look at the Toei book there are some very inspiring examples. On some bikes they have rear rack mounts that bolt to the rear canti brakes.

I'm setting my Ebisu up with a Phil Wood titanium bb, Sugino Alpina double crank with TA Zephyr 48/33 rings, 105 front and rear deraillers, Nitto Pearl stem, Nitto Jaguar seatpost, Paul Touring canti's, I have a set of Ultegra/Campy wheels with Mavic Open pros and Panaracer Pasela 700x32s. Will forward a photo when I'm done. -Marco

8:39 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Talk to Steve Hampsten at Hampsten Cycles (www.hampsten.com). He can certainly do this-either lugged/brazed in-house, or in Ti(by moots or Kent Ericksen), tig steel by Independent Fabrication or Co-Motion. I have a Ti bike from him, and we also have a steel fabbed by IF. His Tournesol line is exactly the kind of thing you describe.

10:03 AM  
Blogger Marco Velo said...

Also, on the Shula, here's a link to my Shula 102 that I bought new from Hiroshi in 1985:


Since the photos were taken, I've changed the crank to Sugino with TA 50/33 rings.


4:20 PM  
Blogger Tarik Saleh said...

I think you want a custom. I think there should be enough people who can build you a frame like that that you can avoid the absurd waiting list. I would call rick hunter up if it were me, he does nice work, can fillet braze and tig it.

I find that 1" threaded headsets an absolute deal breaker for me for a new bike, dumbest spec ever.

10:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like a custom frame is in order- Steve Hampsten at Hampsten Cycles (www.hampsten.com) can for sure make a bike with your specs-His Tournesol line would work great. I have one of his bikes in Ti, and one in tig welded steel. Also, he made a 1 1/8"steerer threadless fork in steel for me, or he does 1" threadless forks and uses the Chris King headset that works perfectly. Being in Seattle,he knows fenders, too. His tig welded frames don't have a huge wait time, but his lugged frames can take a while. No affiliation with Hampsten, other than as a pretty happy customer. My Hampsten Ti "Strada Bianca" worked perfectly this summer on my Seattle to San Diego ride. I used the steel fork (slightly less trail than my regular, every day fork) with either a full front and rear panniers and small handlebar bag, or with just the bar bag and in both configurations the bike handled fine-no shimmy, hands off stable, and descended just fine.

3:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Jim -- how about the new Taiwan Riv? Oh wait, you want low trail... For me, if I could afford one, the Sam H. is exactly what I'd want in a custom, right down to the 71.5-degree seat tube, and my specs are the same as yours but for the low-trail front end.

I've talked to Ahren Rogers (he's here in Madison) and he'll do a custom for 1200-1500 depending on options. Not sure what his waiting list is these days with the production work he's doing, but he already makes a frame that's 90% of what you want so he knows what you're talking about. Other than talking to him briefly, enough to determine "he's a good guy" I have no connection.

Good luck, and thanks for posting your experiences on your P/R. I've since gone from wanting one of those to getting two frames to try out this coming year, a Karate Monkey and one of the canti-Rawlands. Of course, taking my daughter mountain biking last fall and finding out she loves it influenced my decision to go to a more dirt-oriented bike.

Dan S., WI

6:06 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...


It sounds ,ike we're in the same territory (I have a P/R, and a Riv Road, an dhave been thinking about an Ebisu, or a VO, or a Tournesol). These look interesting:


It looks like your basic wants are there: TIG'ed at "W", lightweight tubing, verticals, clearance for 37's with fenders (should take 40's without), canti's, separate seatpost clamp collar, threadless HS, built for fenders (should have good fender line), 73/73 angles, 59 TT in a 60 frame size, designed for lighting. Can't tell about some of the other details like wire or cable routing or DT bosses. The only obvoius miss I see is single fork tip eyelets.

The downside - it's apparently only available as a complete bike. Not cheap, but maybe not outrageous as such things go. I like the preliminary parts spec. A front rack and a SON hub are included. And I've got to believe that these folks have some idea what they're doing, if they're carrying on the Rene Herse name!


10:11 PM  
Blogger Ronald Lau said...


One word, Bilenky.

Tell him, Life, light fork, threadless AND 27.2 NOT 26.8

Come by my place sometime take a look at my Bilenky fleet.

11:33 AM  

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