here is a quite-long exchange on an internet forum
regarding custom frames and what that term implies...

Originally Posted by S_____
"People talk about the design of a particular brand's bikes
and what sets that particular bike apart from other brands.
If you are custom ordering a new bike you can design the bike
as you wish, so that you can get obtain the ride characteristics
that you desire. You can specify the head and seat tube angles,
the length of the top tube, seat tube length, rake and hence trail,
head tube extensions, etc. You even have a choice of tube stiffness.
In other words, does a producer, like Serotta or any other custom
producer, allow you to basically design the bike as you want? How
much leeway is given?"

what is custom?
if you design it, what do you know about the sum total of
all your choices that would allow you to guaranty the net
results - the gestalt of it all?
i stopped making custom frames in 1978 and the seminal
moment is described about 1/3 into this interview with grant:
the bicycle has to fit you and it has to work well. the
first part can be a collaborative effort between the client
and the builder and the second part is best left to the builder.

Originally Posted by C______
"This is not rocket science and it's not magic - this is getting
the fit right and knowing how certain characteristics effect ride.
Plenty of customers can figure that out after a while, and plenty
of builders might interpret vague notions of ride quality different
from you. For my dollar, I want it spot on, and I know what I am
asking for."

most people can ask for anything but may not be aware how the
resultant measurements from their requests come into play.
what charateristics affecting ride are you refering to?

Originally Posted by e_____
"What if I came to you and asked you to copy what I have? The
geometry is from a stock road bike from a big name and has proven
to be a good design. I also feel very comfortable with my current
setup. Would you do that or would you take my seat and bar measure-
ments relative to the cranks and go from there? Would you keep my
stem length into consideration as well?"

why wouldn't you simply buy another bike like the one you already
are comfortable with; the same one, that is?

Originally Posted by b_____d____
"Well if people thought like that, no one would ever own more
than one bike(assuming they liked their original bike)........"

the guy wants to buy another bicycle. my point is that the
original maker should be part of the equation.

Originally Posted by b_____d____
I'm saying that just because Joe Blow has a Colnago that he loves,
doesn't mean he wouldn't also like to have a Ritchie Sachs with the
same geometry. Am I reading this wrong (definite possibility....)!?
Man, the hostility on this forum is just sickening. You should all
be ashamed of yourselves!!!!!"

have some decaf, eh.
if he has a colnago that he likes, what is the point for him
to have someone replicate it; the colnago was made in a factory
and the sum total of all the choices made at that factory is
what "he" likes; it is not just the geometry.

Originally Posted by b____d____
"So anyone who has a bike they like, and they like that geometry,
they should never consider buying a Sachs or any other different
brand bike. That is what you are saying? That is pretty weird.....
Oh, I mean......weird-issimo...."

don't put words in my mouth you substance abuser. follow the
thread; his "fit" is worth replicating. for him - the proverbial
"him" - to want the same bike he has to be built by another builder
is not logical because his frame is factory made and, as such,
those production assembly methods are part of the package that
he enjoys. should i be getting pre-heaters and automated equipment
to fill that order?

Originally Posted b____d____
"I respectfully disagree, Mr Twizzler. Do we need to
'take a pill'???"

how can you disagree?
the geometry is part of the bicycle "he" wants replicated.
what about the construction details, the alignment tolerances,
the nuances of the original brand? all these (and more) are part
of the equation. how can "these" be replicated? so...
let me make it simple for you: if augy busch gave me his rolodex,
could I make budweiser?

Originally Posted by b_____d____
"...Is that what Indurain did when he got a frame from Dario?
He called him and said "Well Dario, you know, I like to climb
and time trial a lot. Build me a bike"..............or did he
call him and say "I need a bike with these measurements..........".
When senior jerk ordered his big leg emma, did he tell Dario to
surprise him with the geometry, or did he give him the numbers?"

i bet you a meal at mcsorleys that dario designed the frame and
that the fit meaurements/contact points were indurain's, and they
prolly looked like what he had been using up until then. if he
needed a changin', then the new frame would incorporate it. if
i'm wrong, you can't just order soup and then expect to get dinner
on a return trip. (note: that was a seinfeld reference...). as far
as jerk goes, there's a case of fenway franks in this for you if
you find that jerk "designed" the frame pixel by pixel."

Originally Posted by e_____
"1) Would you mantain my contact points and go from there?
2) Would you even want to know what the current geo I'm riding
is? 3) I was under the impression that the tube choice would
effect the ride I'm looking for in this situation because I do
like the handling of the bike."

1) if they are correct for you and you are riding injury-free, yes!
2) nah. i'd "study" the position details.
3) i'm not sure if that is relevant because if it is,
then you also have to factor in the build quality
and sequences of the frame you love in the
first place - and "replicating" those details is
not possible.

Originally Posted by S____
"Not that I'm an expert, but I think it's because people are stupid
(some people, at least--noone here). To put it a more gentle way,
they're short sighted. I would think that had the folks in question
said to there builder, "I want to be riding this thing in ten years,
leave me room to grow," they would've gotten that. But they probably didn't."

i'm curious - what other consumer good would you purchase where
you'd ask for a similar concession?

Originally Posted by S____
"I'm assuming that was directed at me. As I said, I'm no expert
(obviously), but if I understood Sandy correctly, he was saying
that he's seen bikes built for older people that leave them no
room to get older, less flexible etc. In other words, they fit
well for the time being, but are pretty well maxed out as far as
being able to raise the bars etc, which a person may want to do
as they get older. I was simply saying that if this request was
made to the builder, I would think it would be accomodated in
some way or another--after all, it doesn't seem to me (the non
expert) that there is only one position that the bars can be
in--there should be room for adjustment --a person would just
need to be thoughtful about what type of adjustment s/he might
want to make (e.g--up) and ask the builder to keep that in mind.
I guess I see it as an issue of having good communication with
your builder and telling him what you want, your concerns etc.
Why is that strange?"

i was just curious; i didn't use the word strange.
but i am still curious! my experience with "all this" is that
the goods will surely last the 10 years you mention but often
the attention span doesn't. folks like to buy new things. no?
that suit you wear. the slr camera from the early '90s. fill
in the blank _______ . i just don't get the read on this issue
that folks purchase bicycles with a concern that they (the rider
and/or the bike) will change much in a decade.

Originally Posted by S____
"Why should you have to go that route and use a positive rise
stem? What possible reason to cut the steerer tube, if not for
aesthetics? For me, the flexibility for change is far more important
than the look of the bike. I guess that you could always buy a
new uncut fork."

stoopendous situation.
it begs the question: when was the last time you bought a bicycle
frame where the fork was made by the builder rather than forks R us?

Originally Posted by S_____
But what reason other than aestheics? It certainly looks better,
giving a more balanced look, without a stack of spacers. I agree
with that, wholeheartedly. Think about this- If bikes always came
with a stack of spacers, then if you introduced a bike without the
stack, it would look strange and odd without them. Just like the
"new" compact designs, compared to the more traditional with the
level top tube."

there's a point at which spacers are merely a stop-gap solution;
the better fix would be to add head tube, but you can't. if the
fork is too short, and the "10 year" issue looms, why buy the unit
in the first place?

Originally Posted by c__
"my custom builder refuses to make me what i want _ it's not fair!?"

wierd thread.
do you tell a doctor what to prescribe?
do you tell a tailor how to cut a pattern?
...a teacher how to teach you?
what is custom anyway?
if sandy's first example was on the mark and he could specify
angles, etcetera, then the guy that builds it - well, jerk's
reply is not far off! (note - the jerk's sentiments were:
the jerk knows alot but he's not a frame builder and any frame-
builder who would build a bike based on a customer's design spec
is not a frame builder either. he/she/it is just hired out-sourced
labor if you ask the jerk)

Originally Posted by v______f______
"It also seems that even the builders who blatantly advertise
the ability to do "custom" are not really anxious for the customer
to meddle..."

the few that use the term custom are doing so innocently and
realize the term is quite ambiguous. i think the word/term is
a stepchild to the industry jargon born out of the 70s bike boom.

Originally Posted by R__ E.M_____
"Will some builders get these retarded specs from a client and
push back for something not so wacked, or even decline building
the frame?"

in reality, and based on pm's with several other builders on the
forum, most folks really don't send the retarded work orders that
are being bandied about in this thread. an informal survey leads
me to state comfortably that the builders collaborate with the
client on fit issues and er, pull rank, when it comes time to
blueprint the design.