Can Anyone Build Me A Frame?

Hi everyone,

Because of a TBI and neck injury in the Army, I have limited range of motion in my neck, and can no longer lift my head to see cars riding my 2022 56cm aluminum Trek Checkpoint gravel bike.

Frame building is one of the hobbies I plan to pursue during retirement, and I am planning to eventually braise a steel frame for my first project.

However, I currently need someone else to design and fabricate me a frame that will position my torso more upright: short stems and stem spacers make only a barely noticeable improvement: I need something drastic, to achieve the following two top-level design goals:

  • Super tall stack
  • Super short reach

To achieve the above goals, I need an expert in frame geometry to:

  • Slacken head angle to reduce toe overlap resulting from super-short reach
  • Based on my atypical torso angle, analyze my atypical weight distribution to determine the optimal chainstay length

Even if I knew the perfect geometry for my frame, I won’t be ready to build it in time to resume riding this Spring.

Oh yeah, I’m kinda poor and must reuse parts from Trek.

Anyone interested?

If not, do you know anyone that can make me a frame?

I’m not familiar with the Checkpoint but I’m assuming it’s a drop bar bike. I think based on the injury you’ve described a drop bar setup is not going to provide the optimal fit for you without a very compromised geometry. I think moving to a flat or swept back position is the go even if that’s means you’re unable to reuse parts off the Trek.

Eva (@liberationfab) built a really interesting looking lightweight ATB that would be the direction I would probably head in if I was chasing comfort above all else.

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What you describe sounds a lot like the famed “Pedersen Bike”:

Maybe this is worth exploring further?

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That’s really interesting.

Yes, my Trek has drop handlebars.

My initial thoughts were the same as yours, however conversion to flat bars would require not only new brake levers, but also new calipers. Also I like the different hand positions offered by drop bars, as I intend on using this as a long-distance hauler.

I actually don’t need to be sitting fully upright like someone riding a beach cruiser; instead I need to be bent down about halfway as far as usual.

If riding on the hoods, the most significant difference between flat vs drop bars, is the latter doesn’t include the additional 3 inches of reach between the hoods and the top of the stem. For example, on my size Large Trek gravel frame, the reach is 407mm, plus a shorter 35mm stem, plus 80mm (3”) = 522mm <— horizontal distance between BB and hands [on the hoods]. For comparison, a Trek Fuel in size Large has a reach of 485mm; with a 35mm stem, (ignoring backsweep) the horizontal distance between the BB and the hands is 485mm + 35mm = 520mm, which is the same as what I have now… In other words, the reach on a stock road frame with a MTB stem will feel the same as the reach on a MTB frame… so if I decide to get a custom frame with super high stack and super short reach, the road frame is almost as easy to customize; regardless, in order to shrink the reach, the head angle will need to be slackened so front wheel can clear downtube and to minimize toe overlap.

In summary, for a road frame, I will need a stack of around 700mm with a reach of around 350mm-ish.

This is my current bike. I already have over $1000 invested in the brakes, so I’m reluctant to give them up for flat bars.

I’ve done quite a bit of bike fitting for people with mobility issues, what you are describing (short reach/tall stack), sounds like something any good custom frame builder should be able to accommodate. It’s not such a short reach that toe overlap should be a big issue. I’d suggest finding someone local to you who does bike fitting so that you can figure out what your ideal position would be.
I’d also suggest that you could make your current bike fit you a lot more comfortably if you put a short but tall stem on it. Something like the VO cigne stem

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How can I search for builders near me?

Lennard Zinn has done bikes like that before.

If you’re set on drop bars then I’d check out the Analogue Cycles / Tanglefoot Hardtack for the kind of geo that might work. They make an XL with 690 stack and 440 reach but sell them with “0mm” stems so you would end up with your hands about where you want them (520mm forward of BB). And you don’t have to worry about to overlap at all. You could even get post to flat mount adapters if you want to use the same brakes. Custom is an option but that could end up being a very expensive experiment in which case a good bike fit will be key as @olivia_violet suggested.

Have you looked at Rivendell bikes? Grant Peterson (the founder) espouses a very upright seating position with (generally) swept-back bars.

-Jim G

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If budget is a constraint, keep in mind a custom frame will set you back minimum $2500 with fork. HERE is a great resource to find framebuilders locally. It’s by no means a complete list. If you let us know where you are located, we can steer you toward a local builder well suited to the bike you want.

If $2500 on a frame set is not in the cards, there a couple great options below which I might suggest over a custom frame since you’re still exploring what is comfortable to you.

  1. Swap out your carbon fork with a steel fork like the Brother Steel Gravel Fork (which matches the geo of your fork) this will allow you to stack infinite spacers to fine tune the bar height.

  2. Swap out your frameset with a taller stack option like the the Black Mountain Mod Zero. It’s a very similar bike to your checkpoint but has almost 60mm more headtube stack and a steel fork that won’t limit you to only 40mm of headset spacers like a carbon fork will.

Both of these options will allow you to experiment with your position and find a stack/reach that works well for you. Once you find the comfortable position you’re seeking, then have a custom frame made or make it yourself.

As others have said, a Rivendell Style Swept back bar may be better suited to your needs especially if you’re not able to find comfort in the drops during this experiment. The swept back bars have many different positions with the main position being similar to a hoods position when the frame is designed that way (like most Rivendell’s are)

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My apologies to everyone. I am located in Lafayette, Louisiana.