The vogue in road cycling among venture capitalists, Silicon Valley techies and exercise enthusiasts has brought technological leaps, including the ease of electronic shifting and the stopping power of hydraulic disc brakes. But the state-of-the-art comes with the luxury of bespoke. You can cherry-pick among the same top brands of components (brakes, wheels, seats, gears, handlebars, etc.) that are set in stone with off-the-rack bikes. And where custom-made truly distinguishes itself is in a frame made just to fit you (no more sore back or sore arms) in the material of choice: super-strong, long-lasting and light titanium.
You start by choosing a maker that specializes in the kind of riding you do. If long-distance treks are your style, look to the Defy Advanced Pro 1 Force, from Taiwan’s Giant. Defy’s frame features “comfort geometry,” based on the set of measurements—wheel base, steering axis angle, fork offset—that determine how it rides. Plus, for $5,600 you won’t find a better bike that offers advanced composite frame, carbon aero wheels, disc brakes and electronic shifting. Giant has a nationwide network of retailers.
Super bikes are the budget-busting eye-turners that are meant for one thing: going fast. The Factor One-S is one of the world’s most beautiful, aerodynamic—and coveted—carbon bikes. The parent company, England’s bf1systems, makes electronic tech for the likes of Ferrari, Aston Martin, Lamborghini and Maserati, as well as F1 racing teams. It has been applying the same precision standards to bikes since 2007. Sporting disc brakes and electronic shifting, one can be had for just north of 10 grand.
Colorado’s Moots was the pioneer in delivering the equivalent of a Savile Row suit in a bicycle, having built bespoke frames exclusively in titanium, since 1981. The bike maker is also an outlier for designing proprietary carbon forks and titanium seat posts to match perfectly. You can visit the Steamboat Springs headquarters or any of 100 high-end U.S. brick-and-mortar retailers for a fitting (delivery is eight to 10 weeks). The most blown out version is the signature Vamoots Disc, with a top-tier Shimano Dura-Ace
component group—better than you will find on any stock model. It runs $12,000, but you can get a bespoke frame with excellent components for several thousand less.