Editor’s Note: This is H’s review of her first custom bike. She is exceedingly humble and doesn’t like to talk about herself, despite a phenomenal resume as a bike racer. She has multiple national championship titles (in mountain, road, track, and collegiate racing). Her credits include 2-time Masters National XC champion, 2-time Masters National Super-D champion, and Short Track XC National Champion, and Marathon XC National Champ. She’s won two Nationals on the very bike reviewed here. Don’t be fooled by her whimsical writing style; she has superb bike handling skills and secretly delights in crushing most guys. Mostly she just loves riding bikes, really fast.
I’m Going Custom!
What do you do when you can never find a stock bike that fits you quite right because you have grasshopper legs (34.5″ inseam) and T-Rex arms on your short upper torso? What stock bike is going to fit? Just go custom!
I have been waiting all of my life to go big and make the splurge into custom bike ownership. I have such long legs and a short upper body that my legs want to ride a large bike but my torso wants a small bike. My best choice in the bike shop world is a medium frameset, where my seatpost has to be maxed out for my long legs and my stem has to reach to the sky just so I can touch the bars without breaking my back. Since no bike manufacturer makes a size smedium or a melarge that will fit me well I chose a custom titanium 29er hardtail made by Eriksen Cycles of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. I was measured and fitted to precision by the expert eye of Dario Frederick at Whole Athlete.
I must also add that I once exclaimed that “I will NEVER ride a hardtail again!” when I made my late entry into full suspension mountain bikes a few years ago. But I didn’t know about 29ers. Oh the 29er! The sexy smooth 29er, a beauty to ride, as she just flows over the bumps with her big wheels as long as my legs…
I have made the switch to the 29″ wheel and I couldn’t be more pleased. Once you go 29 you don’t go back.
Why go custom?
I mulled this over a thousand times in my head, believe me. I had to justify this big expense, and now I hope I can persuade you as well. The number one reason, as I already stated, is bike fit. To ride a bike that is made for you is the most amazing feeling. I’m just so jealous of all you folks that have been riding all of this time on a bike that fits like a glove. I had no idea what I was missing out on all of these years until I rode my new Eriksen custom. I feel that it is my duty to inform all of you about the merits of good bike fit. At least get an expert to check out your position on your current steed. I did. And that is how I found out that I was the perfect candidate for a custom fitted bike. My old bike was so wrong for me that we had to push the seat way forward, and install a hideous looking adjustable stem with a 30-plus degree reach, ack, was that ugly looking! But I felt better. I rode better. My bike handled better. So, I did it. I made the call. I placed an order. I would have a bike that could use a normal stem and normal seat position. YES! Look at me now!
My bike is made to fit me perfectly. My bike is designed and built around my leg length, torso length, arm length and even riding style. It is customized specifically for me, yes, ME! You can’t get this on a stock bike. And not only that, my bike is not made on some assembly line in China, it is hand made in the USA by a master craftsman. Go USA! This automatically gives me style points that your carbon Cookie-Cutter Sette Deluxe will never have. Major coolness is actually embedded in the titanium frameset at the factory, by hand, of course. (Note: I’m not actually a carbon basher, I own several of them also)
It will last freaking FOREVER. I will get tired of this bike before it gets tired. Unlike most carbon bikes, a well made Ti bike will last a lifetime. Isn’t Superman made of titanium or something like that? I equate titanium to Superman’s powers. It is tough. And to top it off, it is repairable. If for whatever reason you crack a weld or bend a tube, my builder can fix it, as most Ti frames are repairable. Take a lateral impact to a carbon frame and it may destined for the garbage can. To top it all off, titanium always looks great. No rust, no chipped paint, no corrosion, no dings, and no scratches. Wash it and it’s like new again. That buttery smooth finish is delectable. Try that with your painted or carbon finish bike after years of use and abuse.
- Hand made in the USA by a master craftsman, not on an assembly line.
- Made to fit you perfectly! Leg length, torso length, arm length, riding style all customized specifically for you.
- It’s a “forever” bike- unlike most carbon bikes, a well made Ti bike will last a lifetime.
- Repairable- If for whatever reason you crack a weld or bend a tube, most Ti frames are repairable. Take a lateral impact to a carbon frame and it may destined for the garbage can.
- Ti always looks great- No rust, no chipped paint, no corrosion. Wash it and it’s like new again.
- Has a cool factor that an assembly line bike will never have.
- It’s a hardtail. Hardtail bikes will transfer all your power to the pedals without suspension bob. In addition to snappy acceleration, you’ll probably notice fewer pedal strikes as well because the bottom bracket isn’t constantly changing height.
- Requires picking a good line – increase your skills!
- Awesome to ride uphill!
- Expensive – but worth it!
- Weight penalty- about 3/4 pound over many carbon fiber frames on the market.
- Requires picking a good line. Let’s face it, many riders use suspension to compensate for riding skills.
- It’s a hardtail- hardtails transfer more of your power to the pedals, and more trail impact to you.
- Depending on terrain, may be slower on rocky descents more suited to dual suspension (although a skilled rider will be able to rip no matter what bike they ride).
- You’ll need better braking control with a hardtail than a dualie. Dual suspension bikes help keep the rear tire in contact with the ground. In loose terrain, hardtails require more brake feathering to keep from locking up the rear tire (which is a sign of poor riding skills and trashes trails).
Details and Specs
I set my bike up with the full SRAM XX group, 2 x 10. This is also my first foray into 2 x 10 land. So far so good – no third chainring to drop! I like the simplicity of having only 2 chainrings, shifting is easy! No worries about the gearing , it has done it all so far. The fork is a Rock Shox SID XX with remote lock out. Her big wheels are Stan’s ZTR Crest, tubeless of course.
Total weight on the bike came out to 22.8 pounds (ready to rip with bottle cages and XTR pedals). So it’s a bit heavier than an off-the-assembly line Chinese carbon bike- but it’s handcrafted in the USA and not made of plastic.
My bike has bling. Eriksen put nice little touches on the bike such as a matching red seat collar, derailleur hanger, seat post collar, and headset. I opted for the laser etched logo, subtle yet elegant. How about that Viking flag headbadge? Perfect for a Nordic blonde such as myself. And that crisp titanium look and feel You can’t go wrong with that. In a few years when S’s Sette carbon is chipped and scuffed (if it even makes it that long), my Strawberry Ti-alicious Delight will still be looking good!
She climbs like a dream. I have never had her front end rear up or wobble. Rear traction is never lost either. Hmmm, could that be because she was made for me? I’ve gone up some steep stuff and have been thoroughly impressed with her climbing ability. The remote lock-out on the fork is a nice bonus as well, eliminating that energy wasting fork bob.
The number one improvement on all my other bikes is weight distribution. My weight is centered on the bike and now I am able to move where I need to be. I was challenged on my old ill fitting mountain bikes to get my butt back behind the saddle. First off, my tall seat would get in the way, then my short arms were hindered by the long top tube, not allowing me to shift my weight completely back. A-la-Endo! I was always kind of front-end heavy on my bikes on the downhills due to poor bike fit, not so good for drop-offs and the like. So far on my Eriksen Ti, I can transfer my weight easily, like second nature! This has increased my confidence and improved my downhill riding for sure.
Who likes fire roads? Blech. But if you have to ride them, the 29er wheels get you over them fast. I don’t like fire road downhills, especially rutted, gravelly, baby head studded downhills. Here is where you want the full suspension, just point and go. With the hardtail you have to be a line picker to go fast, but I am working on that! So my downhill non-prowess is not to be blamed on the bike, she does it well for what she is. A smooth, stable, confidence inducing non-twitchy ride. She is more like a road bike on the fast fire roads, which is good for covering distance.
Did you say singletrack? Yow! She is great in tight spaces. I’m thinking that a lot of her quickness and agility is attributed to her custom fit to me. Never have I felt so centered on a bike before. Nor had I been able to comfortably get behind the saddle. This fit aids me to move the bike like I have never been able to before. Switchbacks that challenged me before are now made with ease. Tight turns, ditto. She flows!
If you are one of the human species that don’t fit a stock bike and are on the fence about getting a custom fit bike, talk to me! I can’t believe that it took me this long to appreciate a good fitting bike. All of these years of riding I have underestimated the importance of bike fit. Not only have I gained comfort, but power and efficiency as well. Just being able to sit on my bike and hold the bars where they should be is a great feeling! It transfers to my ability to ride fast, far, and efficient. And if you have not tried a 29er yet, Go Big!