Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Cyfac Custom Frames...
This is dedicated to road cyclists who have no idea what they're doing when it comes to purchasing a road frame.
First of all, if you're racing, and I'm talking about the short road races and glorified criteriums that make up the majority of courses in the US, the last thing you want to do (unless you are sponsored and/or can get a carbon frame cheap) is get caught up in a crash on your $5,000 Pinarello frame. A carbon frame crashed in a race pileup will shatter like an empty 40 ounce bottle of beer hurled out the window of a crack house.
If you are a racer who has to pay for his own sled and you have no hookup whatsoever with a shop, your best bet is to race an all-aluminum frame. It is relatively inexpensive and can stand up to it's fair share of crashes. It's also very stiff. Basically it's everything you need in a race frame.
Those are the pros. But what about ride quality? Isn't it too harsh? Your average race doesn't last too long, and usually you are going too fast to worry about any of the alleged cons. And don't try to be cute and go for an aluminum frame with carbon rear stays. Again, if you crash, that area of the frame will get damaged eventually. Plus, you will lose rear end stiffness due to the glued stays not being as stiff as a welded aluminum rear.
My recommendation is Cyfac. Their pedigree speaks for itself. This small company located in La Fuye, France made frames for some of the biggest names in pro cycling before carbon fiber hijacked the peloton. They do all custom work in their shop and do not subcontract out to the Far East like almost every other frame manufacturer does.
The most impressive aspect of this company is the development of their own method for measuring riders called the Cyfac Postural System. They take into account everything, and nothing is left to chance. You give them the components you plan on using, including saddle and cleats and they do the rest. They also take into account level of flexibility, and require a rider to fill out a form of the measurements from the rider's current bicycle. Below are photos of the apparatus they use to determine body measurements-
The Palmer Set-Up Tool-
Cyfac also make some beautiful carbon frames, but for the sake of this particular article we are speaking of best bang for the buck frame for a rider who races and doesn't want to spend a ton of cash. Here is a short list of other options you can go with-
1) Carbon water bottle cages/seatposts/fork painted to match the frame.
2) Internal cable routing.
3) 30mm bottom bracket.
4) Seatpost in whichever diameter you need.
5) Asymmetrical diameter headtube, in case you plan to use a fork that calls for this.
6) Time trial frames in aluminum and carbon.
These cats leave nothing to chance. My personal opinion is to take a trip to visit them at their factory and put in an order. They'll do everything for you right on the premises. They will even send you to a radiologist to have your femur x-rayed as part of the fitting process. This sounds like overkill but it is the only way to get a true exact measurement of this very critical part of your leg. Someone from a cycling forum had this done when he was in France getting custom fitted and it cost him about $45-$50 US dollars.
Here is a photo of the fitting booth in a Japanese bike shop-
This cat right here had his best season as a pro riding re-badged custom Cyfac frames. You may have heard of him unless you've spent the last 10 years in an opium den smoking it up. Yes, the one and only Frank Vandenbrouke-
Cyfac do not use stickers on their frames. All the designs, including the lettering, are painted on using stencils and then the frame is baked for added durability. You think you get that kind of attention to detail with a company like Pinarello? The answer is a resounding NO.
Another thing they do that gets overlooked-they sand the welds before painting, so the transition from weld joint to tube is absolutely flawless. This is an aesthetic feature that is not practiced by any other aluminum frame builder that I know of. So if you want a totally bad-ass frame that fits you like a glove with workmanship second to none, go with Cyfac. You will not be disappointed.