Portland, OR  |  503-922-1934


What makes a custom touring bike better for me than a production model?

First, any properly designed and built custom bike is going to fit better than a production bike, unless you’re lucky enough to precisely need one of the offered sizes. If you are a male of roughly average proportions, the difference in fit may be noticeable but not critical. As your dimensions depart from the norm, however, the gap between what is ideal and what is available quickly widens. The production market is currently so slanted toward the narrow road-racing male demographic that many females even of average proportions have a hard time finding a bike that really fits.

For a touring bike fit is even more important, because you are in whatever position your bike puts you in for much of the day- for days, weeks or more at a time. What might have only been a minor annoyance on a short ride begins to grow, day after day, until it is no longer an annoyance but a real physical issue that can hamper enjoyment of your trip or (in the case of repetitive strain injury) prematurely end it.

Fit is a non-issue. Will a Littleford touring bike work any better than a  production bike and production racks?

Yes it will. Production bikes and racks can be priced low because they are standardized. Thousands of like objects can be made quickly and at minimal cost when emphasis is put on the efficiency of production. What’s the problem with making thousands of racks all the same? In order to sell, they need to be adaptable enough to fit a full spectrum of sizes and bike designs. The bike frames have been designed either without regard to cargo racks, or with a similar “one size must fit all” approach to the multitude of racks out there. This makes for a lot of potential combinations. Adaptability is accomplished with standardized mount locations, adjustment slots, clamps, and brackets; all at the expense of functionality and rigidity.

With a more integrated approach, every setup is different. Mount locations and geometry are optimal for rigidity and functionality. Adjustable struts are replaced by an integrated wrap-around mount that bolts directly to the seat stays. There are no adjustment slots or brackets because everything is built where and how it needs to be built for maximum strength and efficiency of the machine as a whole. In short, integrated racks aren’t an addition to the frame, they are an extension of it.

The result of this careful integration? A touring rig that feels solid and stable even when heavily loaded, whether at speed on a winding descent or at a crawl in a crowded town square.

Even without an integrated rack a custom Littleford surpasses production offerings because each of the double butted frame tubes is hand selected to suit a particular use, weight and riding style. Where those tubes are cut (and thus the length of each butted section) is also determined with a particular rider in mind. This careful consideration determines the flex and feel of a steel frame- especially noticeable on light weight road and randonneuring frames.

I’ve just made my deposit. What happens now?

I’ll send you a receipt and confirm the expected build date. (While this date is not guaranteed, I try to keep completion dates within or ahead of expectations). If you are local, or would like to visit the Portland area and meet in person, I can accommodate your travel schedule with reasonable notice. Otherwise I’ll get touch with you about a month before your build time to talk about fit and iron out build details (comfort issues, frame specs, component options, etc). Then I’ll submit a detailed parts list and build estimate worksheet to you for any questions and/or changes. Once approved, an initial payment of half the build total is made, frame and racks are drawn, orders are placed for materials and components, and construction of your new Littleford begins.

How does the fitting process work? What should I have on hand?

Ideally, you and your current bike would be on hand so that we could do an interview over a bike ride. This way I can see your posture and riding style, and we can talk about the current fit while you’re feeling it. I would then consider your body measurements, current bike geometry, and your personal experience and feedback to achieve the best possible fit.

If my shop is out of reach, a side view photo of your current bike and another of you riding it is helpful, along with precise measurements of both you and your current bike (especially if it’s a good fit) and an in-depth conversation about your riding style, your current bike, and the bike you want me to build. We can work out any particulars by phone and/or on the web.

I’d like a threadless headset/ disc brakes/ belt drive/ integrated shifters. Can you do that?

Yes I can. Littleford bikes tend toward a classic aesthetic, and the durability and simplicity of components like an eight or nine speed drive train, cantilever brakes and bar-end shifters are ideally suited to the potentially rugged conditions of a bike tour. But not every Littleford bicycle is a touring bike, and even among touring bikes, preferences are preferences. I’m happy to discuss and accommodate yours.

How long will it take to build my bike?

Depending on the extent and complexity of the design most bikes take 3 weeks to 1 1/2 months from drawing to delivery. Wait time before your build is variable, but orders are taken on a first come, first served basis. A $600 non-refundable deposit secures your place in line, and a consultation (electronically or in person) tells me what I need to know to provide a build estimate.