The hand-built-bike business is on a roll. According to cycling website Road.cc, in recent years “there has been a dramatic resurgence in the number of custom builders in the UK and other countries”. Most work in steel, but there are also frame builders specialising in titanium, aluminium and carbon fibre. The latter may be more complicated to manufacture bespoke, but that doesn’t stop these three bike builders using the super-light material to craft steeds that fit like a finely cut suit.
London stalwart Condor offers in-house fitting for its range of hand-built bikes – in steel, aluminium or carbon. They come in nine standard sizes but can also be constructed according to entirely custom geometry. “Olympic medallist Ed Clancy is 65 per cent torso, for example, so when you put him on a normal bike he’s too short,” explains Claire Beaumont, Condor marketing manager. “We make his bikes with a longer toptube. It’s about being able to go on a cycle ride for six hours or more. A Condor is unique, it’s personal and it’s going to be comfortable. And comfort means more performance.” Condor’s frames can be sprayed in one of 45 standard colours or a bespoke paint. “Somebody wanted the exact colour of their first car,” says Beaumont, “a classic Austin, so we got a sample then colour matched it.” Condor custom geometry, £225, and custom paint, from £225, plus cost of frameset, from £750; condorcycles.com
“The ultimate mandate is to create the best bike in the world,” says Aidan Duff, a former professional cyclist and owner of Dublin-based FiftyOne Bikes. His bespoke work is based around fitting through expert partners, custom carbon manufacture to tune the bike’s character as well as size, and a design process that includes psychometric testing to “draw out” what a client’s dream bike looks like. For MMA fighter Conor McGregor, for instance, this meant “Notorious McGregor” emblazoned over every tube, with highlights in 24ct gold leaf. “It’s like restoring a classic car or a timepiece,” says Duff, “we’re taking the time to create something once that will last a lifetime.” FiftyOne Bikes, frameset from £6,000, complete bike from £12,000; fiftyonebikes.com
“It’s the same experience as going to a tailor’s shop,” says Enrico Sarto – fittingly, as his name means “tailor” in Italian – of the custom bikes his family firm has been building in Veneto since 1950. Today, the brand offers nine breeds of carbon racer, from the flyweight Seta+ to the aggressive lines of the time triallist’s Ferox. Sarto has curated a selection of suggested colours, from Tiffany blue and terracotta to turmeric yellow and charcoal, for a designer’s touch, but of course customers can choose any shades they want. Clients include international executives and startup entrepreneurs – as well as Sarto’s 10-year-old son, who has a custom-fitted Seta+ just like his father’s. “He’s a very strong rider, he wins a lot,” says Sarto proudly. Sarto Bikes, frameset from €4,000, complete bike from €6,000; sartobikes.com