Did it the wrong way twice- looking to get it right this time.


New Member
Aug 15, 2011
Started cycling 3 months ago. On the advice of a friend trying to save me money he suggested I measure myself and buy a used bike on ebay - I did and ended up with a 2008 Specialized Tarmac with a cracked frame (did not realize this for a week after I received it and the crack started growing). I took it to my LBS and he arranged to get me a Crash Warranty (discount on a new frame) and ordered me a 2012 Specialized Tarmac Pro SL4 - great bike, but it never seemed to fit correctly. I tried 2 different LBS for fittings - neither actually measured anything and the bike still did not seem to fit. Did some research and found a LBS that had great reviews for fitting a bike. Went to him, he measured me (8 different body measurements) and the started fitting me to the bike. He told me his job was to fit me to the bike, but if he was selling me a bike he would not have gone with the Tarmac. He says my legs are long, my torso is short. The Tarmac has the handlebar height too low (I need to ride more upright with lack my flexibility) and the top tube is too long for my short torso - causing me to slide forward on the seat (6'4" but all legs I guess). He changed handlebars, lowered my seat made several adjustments that have the bike feeling much better - but still not where I need to be. I am comfortable until I start pushing myself and then I tend to slide forward on the seat because the bike is too long for me on the top tube.

He suggested I sell the frame set and instead get a custom frame to fit my out of proportion body (I'm outside of normal on 6 of the 8 measurements). He suggested a Guru custom titanium frame. My question - having never heard of Guru and having never ridden a titanium frame (or for that matter anything but Carbon Fiber) will I notice a major difference going from Carbon Fiber to Titanium (I can get a custom Carbon Frame from Guru as well) but he strongly suggests the Titanium - everything else he has done has been a huge help but I don't want to buy yet a 3rd bike in 3 months unless the advice I have received is solid. I'll buy the new frame in a moment's notice if it will help, but after making the wrong choice twice I wanted a sounding board for the advice I was given.
Titanium rocks, but I've never ridden carbon, either. And I won't ride carbon until I have a bunch of disposable income and race, neither of which is likely at this point in my life. Mark Hickey at Habanero Cycles is very helpful and responded to my numerous e-mails quickly prior to, and when I bought my bike from him 7+ months ago. http://www.habcycles.com
Frame material is only a minor factor in how a given bike rides. Things that have much more influence are fit, tire pressure, frame design, frame build quality/QA, and on and on and on. Unfortunately there is not guarantee that any given fit technique will yield a perfect fit. All different methods start with a basic set of assumptions and/or fit parameters. A proper fit will get you to the best possible fit or close to that fit. Note that sliding forward on the saddle can be the result of several different things: too long top tube; too long stem; stem too low; seat not far enough behind bottom bracket; seat angled incorrectly........

If you're going to look at a custom frame, I would suggest that you talk to potential frame builders about your issues. The good ones will work with you to produce a frame that best suits you (at least according to that builder's build philosophy). If I were you I would contact several or many custom builders to discuss your issues and to find a custom frame that will fit your budget, your aesthetic sensibilities, and your body. You can search this forum as well as the internet tubes to find hundreds of custom builders.
How weird are your proportions? If your legs are 50% or more of your total body height, then I'd say, yeah, get a custom bike. If not, a stock frame with a shorter top tube and a longer head tube, such as a Trek Madone in H3 geometry, a Felt Z series, or a Giant Defy, might be just he ticket.