After 15 years and 45 thousand hours at the workbench,
our process is dialed and our bikes turn out right.
Fit & Balance
There are two facets to a good fit: your posture, (the shape that your body takes) and then the way that that shape is balanced above the bike. With all of the variations available in stem lengths and rise, all of the seatpost options, and the ability to move the saddle forward and back, tilt the handlebar, etc, it is relatively easy to get a good posture on the bike.
I ride a 55cm frame – with the right stem and seatpost, I could make anything from a 50 to a 60cm frame “fit”. Just because I have the right shape though, that doesn’t mean I'm balanced over the bike. If I slam the saddle forward or back, that’s either going to put too much weight on the handlebar, or take too much weight off. Both have their problems. Not enough weight on the handlebar means that the steering will be light and the rider won’t feel connected to the road. Too much weight on the handlebar and you end up needing to support that weight with your arms, locking out the elbows and using your arms like stilts. This results in the shock from the road hitting and damaging hands, wrists, elbows and shoulders. On top of the physical effects, too much weight on the bars means to much weight on the front wheel. This makes the steering heavy. Remember riding someone on the bars when you were a kid? This is a minor version of that. If the balance isn’t right, not only will the fit not feel good (too much weight on one body part or another) but the ride will be compromised as well.
Fit is about finding the right posture for the rider on the bike so that they engage all of the muscles that will keep them comfortable and efficient. A big part of that fit component is balance. Making the rider feel at home and connected to the bike inspires confidence.
In the design phase we take the contact points (saddle, handlebar and pedals) from a good fit, which up until now were just points floating in space, and create a bike around them. The purpose of the design is to create a bike that both rides like it should (making a road bike ride like a road bike, or a touring bike ride like a touring bike, etc) and that looks like it should. You can imagine, if you have three known points but the canvas is otherwise blank, that the design can connect the dots in a way that looks very “custom” i.e. weird and out of proportion, or the design can look proper, fast and will make you want to ride. The same goes for the handling of the bike: it can be awesome, or a disaster and everything in between. And of the hundreds of subtle choices that go into a bike design, if just one of them is off, then the bike will only ever be some fraction of what it could have been.
Fabrication & Finish
The fit without the design isn’t going to nail it. And if you have a design that isn’t based on a great fit, that will come up short as well. A precise and beautiful fabrication with neither a good fit nor good design means bike will be well constructed and may be beautiful, but it’s going to ride like shit.
A builder develops their process over time. When the process is dialed, and steps 1 through 100 (or whatever) are followed, then the bike will mirror the design and the bike will ride and fit as intended by the design. Our process, after 15 years and 45 thousand hours at the workbench, is dialed and our bikes turn out right. “Pretty” is expected, but the combination of fit, design and precise fabrication make a complete package that will change your experience on the bike.