(Spoiler alert: we don’t think so)

You might be forgiven for thinking that if something has been made specially for you, that it will be more expensive than something that’s been mass produced. There are times that can be the case. But truly, it depends on what you want and where you go to look for it. 

Stephen Roche from The Bike Tailor is here to explain how getting a custom-built bike from a boutique bike maker can actually cost you less than one off the peg – and be better for you in the long run.

Who buys custom-built bikes anyway?

SR: I work a lot with customers who are already bike owners and have maybe bought two or three bikes before coming to me. Once you get into a pursuit like cycling, it’s natural to start with a lower cost entry level bike, then raise your budget for the second bike and the third bike and so on. 

So, when an established cyclist is thinking of spending a bit more on their next bike, they often start to think, what can I get for my money this time? Essentially, they come to me looking for features they just can’t achieve with an off-the-peg machine, things that are suited to them as a unique rider and slightly more luxurious and comfortable.

That’s not my exclusive client base though, and I will say from the outset that getting a custom bike is possible for any rider to do. 
For example, many employees in the UK are also taking advantage of the Cycle to Work Scheme where your employer can give you access to a bike of pretty much any value, with help from the UK government, saving around 40%. That’s a great opportunity for lots more people to get on their bike!

So, how much does it cost to get a custom-built bike?

SR: It is possible to get a custom bike from around £5000. While that might sound a lot to some people, it’s all about the context…

Let’s look at a ready-made bike example that includes a few decent features. A great frame from a brand such as Festka will cost £3, 500. Add to that a top quality groupset such as SRAM, and a set of wheels from say, Enve, and you have a good basis for a bike. 

But an off-the-peg-bike builder will undoubtedly finish the machine with lower quality, mass produced stems, bar, handles, and other features. And the total of this example off-the-peg combination can set you back up to £10, 000.

We don’t want to slag anyone off here, either other consumers or other bike makers, but going to someone like The Bike Tailor means you can spend much less than that and have every little detail completely bespoke. 

Our point is that, if you’re going to invest in a bike and spend some decent money on it, then for a couple of grand less than the shop-bought alternatives, you could have a bike that’s completely tailored to your body, with features that suit how, where, and when you like to ride. We can make everything tailored to you, including the nuts and bolts! You can choose the parts yourself, or we can recommend them for you.

What am I getting from a bespoke bike and how can it cost less than one from a shop?

SR: I work directly with brands that I have handpicked, with whom I have a great relationship and who ship directly to my workshop. I’ve made sure I’ve visited every brand I use so that I can see how they work. Not only for quality control but for understanding their ethos and suitability for applying their components to different kinds of bike. This process cuts out the middleman.

Secondly, I don’t have a shop front, but a workshop and fitting room. By keeping my set up small I can work with the right clients on the right bikes, rather than having a production line churning out many bikes in a year. 

A bonus for the rider with a bespoke build is that you get three follow up services included in the cost of a bike with us, and you can call us any time if you have a problem or question. 

We can deliver straight to your door if required, and we love to provide a highly personal, tailored service to our frequent customers. You see, we’re enthusiasts ourselves, and we want to be more than a bike shop: we want to be your personal Bike Tailor.

How does it work, then?

SR: We love to have a quick phone chat with you to discuss what you need. This is the chance to see if we’re the right fit for each other. Then, we ask customers to make a visit to our fitting room at the stunning Stanmer Park, just outside Brighton, so that we can get all your vital statistics. If you can’t get make it to us, we will do our very best to come to you to grab the info we need. 

If you have a bike already, we think it’s a good idea to measure that too. Obviously, you don’t want a new bike with different sizing and positioning to your existing one. You will certainly feel it if you continue to use them both. 

We also get down to the detail in figuring out what parts you need. If you have a colour scheme you love, we can get that nailed at this stage too. 

Once you’re happy, we’ll draw up a CAD – Computer Aided Design – and then get in touch with our friends around the world…

Do I have to wait ages for the new bike?

SR: We gather everything we need for your bike. Many of the makers we work with are boutique, so this process can take six to ten weeks. But we promise you, it’s worth the wait. And we keep you in the loop at every stage. 

When we receive the frames and other parts at our little workshop, we make sure they’re all nothing less than perfect, then start your custom build.

Your custom-built bike

SR: Your bike needs trying for size, and just like getting a suit from Savile Row, we will tweak and pinch any areas that require attention. So, we invite you to come along to the park again to see how it fits you. 

If you can’t get to our place, that’s OK! We can come to you – wherever you are – so that you can take it for a test ride. That’s part of our service. 

You also get three follow up checks as standard after six weeks, six months, and twelve months. If you need a natter about any problems, or you just miss us, we’re always at the end of the phone line. 

So, what do you think: interested? 

Contact Stephen at The Bike Tailor to see what he can do for you


do you have any other questions?

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