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High-Tech vs. Handmade: The N+1 Dilemma

"The correct number of bikes to own is n+1, where n is the number of bikes one currently owns.”

 Cyclists have found themselves in the same habit for generations: one can never have enough bikes. Especially true today, with new disciplines of gravel, off-road, adventure riding all coming to the forefront. It seems today that we could have an arsenal of machines at our disposal and still long for one more. 

Eventually, one decides on letting themself have a “new bike day” (our favorite day of the year!) and begins the process of finding the bike that matches what their heart desires. The first fork in the road is to decide between high-tech and handmade.


High Tech vs. Handmade


Years ago, every bicycle was handmade. Someone would have to cut the tubes, weld the frame and measure the geometries to make sure the bike was correct. Nowadays, most of the large bicycle manufacturing companies use molds for their carbon fiber creations, and the alloy frames are worked on less and less by actual people. The benefit? Very little margin of error, and quite a bit of simplicity; if one normally rides a 56cm frame, they will likely fit onto any 56cm frame with little to no change in components. These bikes are built to go fast, be reliable, and do as they’re told. 


But there has always been a contingent of people who never strayed from handmade. Some of the best frame builders kept making bikes by hand (Enrico Bellé and Dario Pegoretti to name a few). There is something special about these bikes, knowing it was measured, cut, welded, painted, finished all by human hands. Even more than that, this bike is built from the rider first; there isn’t a “standard geometry” that the rider has to adapt to. Instead, each measurement is decided on in advance to create the ride of your dreams. It may not have the same wind-tunnel tests behind it, but every one of these bikes is certainly unique to stand out from the crowd. A handmade bike feels like a tailor-made suit.


The Process: Geometry


The first step in having a new bike is to size up the rider. It’s easy to pick a bike “off the shelf” and pick the size that you are used to riding. The bike is ordered, delivered, built, and that’s it. Within a week its already ride-ready.

With a custom frame, it’s more of a process and we like to guide you throughout the whole process. Ordering a custom bike through Peloton de Paris means Vince (our chief-mechanic) will sit with you and discuss what you expect from this bike, what ride quality and riding-surface you prefer and how you would like the bike to handle, frame geometry, desired groupset, tire clearance, parts,... Even if you're not into all the technical details of the bike, we can translate your needs into the desired geometry for your new bike. His knowledge of how each part of the bike impacts the ride means that your bike will handle exactly the way you want it to; adjusting lengths and angles to create more responsiveness or to smooth out the ride until it’s just right, keeping in mind that the bike should be balanced according to your body geometry. At the same time, a cockpit size (handlebars, stem, seatpost) can all be decided upon to make sure the final product is perfect. The dimensions are sent off the the custom manufacturer who gives his feedback and input, and after sign-off by the customer the waiting game begins.


The Process: Components


The high-tech bike normally comes with a few options; mechanical or electronic shifting, sometimes a choice between disc and rim brakes, but for the most part is shipped as is. If later one wants to switch these components, like upgrading to a new carbon wheelset, it comes an extra cost to order that different set of components. The gearing on these bikes are standard, selected by the company in advance. And if you have a preference of drivetrain manufacturer and your bike doesn’t come with those parts, that’s an added cost too. Since we don't believe in "standard" bikes, in most cases we already change these components (like cranksets, gearing, wheel sets, tires, ...) according your own preferences, even on "standard" bikes like for example Ridley or Eddy Merckx bikes. And the best part, in most cases this can be done without an additional cost.

On the handmade bike, although we’re waiting a few more weeks to have our hands on the frame, you can pick exactly what you want on your bike together with our guidance. Your drivetrain can be what you’re used to, your gearing can fit exactly what you want to ride, and we can add fancy extras like ceramic bearings or more engagement on your freehub body for an even smoother ride. A custom bike isn't just the sum of the components, since all components work together to create a unique ride quality. 


The Process: Paintjobs


Most standard bikes come in a few pre-determined colors and if you don't like these colors, too bad. Some companies however, like Ridley, have standard paint schemes that you can pick the colors on, and we offer on most bicycles from Ridley a free custom paintjob at Peloton de Paris. But if you're looking for a unique piece of art for your steel frame, that's possible too. Let your imagination be your guide and we'll translate the concept to the frame painter who puts the idea on canvas (in this case, your custom steel frameset). Intrigued by the process? Feel free to schedule an appointment for your n+1 at and we can guide you throughout the whole process.

 Therefore, custom is king, and you can go wild with your imagination ;-)

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