Robb Vandermaark is the founder of Seven Cycles and over the last decade he has been dedicated to creating and perfecting the ultimate custom-bike build program. With the recent proliferation of custom builders, we decided to ask his opinion on where the custom bike business is these days:
‘This is an area that is in upheaval at the moment. Over the next decade the effect of customization, improved fitting technologies, an aging population and ever-increasing customer expectations will coalesce. The result will be a technology-driven market for improved individualization, bike fit, and performance for the high-end customer. However, in response, the industry is bifurcating at the moment. On the one hand ?custom’ is all the rage, and nearly every high-end bicycle retailer is providing fitting services. On the other hand, more and more bike suppliers are offering fewer and fewer sizes of bike. In the next decade, customization, individualization, and tailor-ablity will play a larger role in frame and component design and compatibility.’
‘True customization will be the cost of entry for smaller builders. Customization will not look like what most people think of today; customization will encompass a lot more than just the ?fit’ of the bike. More companies will embrace the challenge of customizing for improved performance, comfort, service life, and planning for the future use of the bike.
‘Custom frames will be customized not just in terms of frame geometry-each tube angle, top tube, etc.-but also in terms of ride characteristics through tailoring each tube of the bike and the actual geometry of the frame to accentuate or mitigate characteristics of performance and material.’
‘Components obviously have a big impact on the fit and performance of a bike. From a fit standpoint, components will play a larger role in the optimization of bike fit-components that are more adjustable in size than current offerings. These parts will be adjustable for rider size, changing use-road training during the week versus road racing on weekends for example-and for evolving fitness and skill.’
‘Materials will be applied more specifically to the customization process. Material choice currently is driven by perceived technological value-or, at least, perceived ?cutting edge’ value. Soon, particularly as carbon’s strengths and weaknesses become better understood in the market, the four primary materials-as well as the newer ones on the way-will be applied, not so much for wow factor but rather because they are the right materials for the rider’s needs.’