How do you go about making your dream bike come true?
In this column, cyclist Cecily Walker and bike builder Darren McKay from Dream Cycles explain how they turned Walker’s wish list into a reality.
Walker made the decision to go with a semi-custom build (loading a Rivendell stock frameset with fully custom components) after years of riding bikes that were too cheap, too small, or too heavy for her riding goals.
She identified Rivendell’s Betty Foy frame as the foundation for her ideal bike and she worked with McKay to choose components with the perfect mix of function and aesthetics. A stock Betty Foy costs $1,225 USD while a custom, one-of-a-lind built-to-measure frame could cost roughly $3,500. Walker's two-wheeler cost aproximately $2,400 and will last her a lifetime.
For the Betty Foy, McKay was able to help Walker find cork grips that provided enough of a platform for her hands to prevent pain from the limited wrist flexibility that comes with rheumatoid arthritis. They worked together to upgrade the 32-millimetre black tires recommended by Rivendell to a slightly wider terracotta tire, which provided Walker both riding comfort and a look that matched the overall aesthetic of the bike.
McKay explained that one of the biggest advantages of going with a custom build is that you’re not stuck with the stock components that are selected by company owners for off-the-shelf bikes. If these components turn out not to be ideal for you — which is often the case, as Walker found — you can easily spend more money making the bike work well than you would have spent by going custom right from the start. A good builder will even pay attention to things like bearings, which the customer doesn’t see.
When the Dream Cycle team works on a custom or semi-custom build, McKay said their goal is to make a bike that’s a perfect fit for its rider and one that will last. The greatest benefit of this process is that the bike shop and the customer work together to create a product that makes everyone happy: something the builders can be proud of and the rider can cherish.
Walker, who is a librarian like myself, waited years to build a bike specific to her needs and style. She said the wait and the cost was well worth it.
“This is my bike. Nobody else in Vancouver has one even remotely like it,” she said. “If — heaven forbid — it's ever stolen, people will know that it's my bike, and I have high hopes it could be recovered quickly. It fits me beautifully, I feel great when I ride it and I know that I've started a relationship that will last until my body gives out.
“By swapping out the wheels, tires and handlebars, I can completely change the bike's personality. I'll never need to buy another bike for the rest of my life, so if the cost is amortized over time, it doesn't turn out to be that extravagant of an expense. To me, that's a fantastic advantage over buying bikes off the floor at bike shops.”
So far, her best moment on the bike was the first.
“The day I rode her home from Dream Cycle, just knowing that I finally owned the bike I'd been dreaming about for years was an incredibly emotional experience. Bikes have never just been tools to me. They're about capturing a feeling of freedom I had as a child and being able to access those feelings of joy and awe every single day that I'm in the saddle.”
Could any of us ask for anything more?
Do you have a bike you love to ride and love to talk about? Tell Kay Cahill and we'll profile your two-while ride. Reach her at email@example.com.
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