|Handcrafted rigs run from $6,000-$9,000. Local shops that carry these bikes include Helen’s Cycles, I. Martin Imports and Bicycle Johns.
Calfee Design. The pioneer of carbon now makes bamboo frames, too.
Seven Cycles. The first name in titanium.
Independent Fabrication. Also has the world’s coolest paint jobs.
Richard Sachs Cycles. There’s a three-year waiting list for this one-man shop; Sachs doesn’t care who you know.
It’s impossible to get the bike that Lance Armstrong rides, but it is possible to buy one that’s even better.
Armstrong’s carbon-fiber bike weighs 15 pounds, the minimum allowed by the Intl. Cycling Union. However, custom cycle designers can make bikes that weigh less than 13 pounds and are designed for your body and riding style.
“It’s the difference between buying a suit off the rack and having one custom tailored,” says Julio Ayala, associate buyer at Helen’s Cycles in Santa Monica. “A half centimeter or half degree can make a huge difference after two hours on the bike.”
By the numbers
To give you the yellow-jersey treatment, a shop will measure everything from your arms and torso to your inseam, feet and calves. Then they’ll ask if you’re like Armstrong, who prefers a stiffer ride that transmits his horsepower to the pedals, or if you’re seeking a more comfortable and compliant ride.
As Armstrong’s 20-speed “writes” in his own Austin American-Statesman blog, “Listen, it is about the bike. If you’d prefer, I can arrange for you to walk around France. But be forewarned: You don’t get to date hottie rock stars by walking around France.”