While it may be a lifelong dream of many cyclists, building a custom bike can be a daunting task. More than just a frame and some wheels, custom bikes allow the rider to get the exact bike they want, which starts with the exact fit they need. Now, Bike ForestÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s BikeCAD program allows you to design a custom bicycle from the ground up, controlling every aspect of the build in an easy to navigate free web app.
What It Does
BikeCAD starts with choosing the type of bike you want to build. With templates for road, mountain, recumbent, and even tandems, if you can dream it, you can design it. The program is surprisingly comprehensive and easy to use, taking into account not only the major design elements like headtube angle and fork rake, but also every minor detail most cyclists could ever dream of. Cranks, handlebars, stems, and other components are all fully customizable, and the program even goes so far as to allow you to animate a virtual rendering of the rider on the bike after it is built. Simply click on the component or element you want to work on from a menu bar at the top, and an easy to understand, fully customizable window opens allowing you to enter or manipulate dimensions or every aspect of the bike. The program always keeps a current rendering of the complete bike in the main window, so any changes made can be immediately seen on the bike.
BikeCAD starts with all the basic dimensions you would expect in building a custom frame, allowing you to enter the size of every tube and angle of every joint. Wishbone or straight seat stays? Aero or straight seat tube? Constant or tapering top tube? ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s all included in BikeCAD. Changes are made in real time, so you can make small, incremental changes to the frame and watch how it affects the fit of the bike overall. After the basics of the frame are worked out, you can move on to wheels, components, and of course, everyoneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s favoriteÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
Color and Decals
Cyclists can be just as picky about the look of their bike as they are the size, so BikeCAD allows you to fully customize colors and graphics of all components so you can get that perfect look you have always dreamed of. Varying paint schemes for the frame, including multi-color fades, allows even the most creative of cyclists to get exactly what they want in a custom bike. A full color palette accompanies every component, allowing you to design bikes with component color schemes that may not even be offered on the market yet.
Finding The Right Fit
One of the major advantages of a custom bike is the tailored fit, but riders donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t always know what the exact dimensions of their dream bike should be. Included in the program is a Ã¢â‚¬Å“fit advisor,Ã¢â‚¬Â which asks for a series of measurements for height, arm and leg length, torso size, and even shoe size. The program can then recommend ideal sizing for crank length, saddle height, seat tube length, and handlebar width, based on the dimensions of the virtual rider created. A customized rendering of the rider can then be placed on the bike to see how they will fit in the saddle.
Taking the fit further, builders can enter 16 additional measurements for the rider, including smaller but equally important details like shoulder roll and pelvis width, to help determine how the rider, just as unique as the bike, will sit.
After the virtual rider is created, BikeCAD allows the designer to then animate the rider in motion while pedaling the bike, to observe how the bike will fit all the way through the full pedal rotation, allowing riders to fine tune their form. Even if not designing a bike, riders could enter their current bike/body dimensions to observe and perfect their current form.
Building and fitting a bike goes further than just the frame, because each component plays an important part in the fit of the bike. With the option to manipulate literally every dimension on the complete bike, builders can integrate the components they already have or plan to use with their custom ride. Take the crankset for example; nine different dimensions, which all have an effect on the ride, feel, and look of the bike, can be altered in the program to mimic almost any crankset available on the market down to the millimeter. Have a favorite set of handlebars? Change the drop, Ã‚Â rise, width, bend, and angle right in the program. Every component is accounted for and fully customizable.
Along with the fitting guides, the program is full of handy tools at every turn. After the bike is designed, BikeCAD can even help with things like gearing choices. Set the number of gears in the front and back, and customize the number of teeth on each sprocket to create your dream drive train, aided by the gear inches calculator included with the program. Once you know the gear ratios your custom bike will run, BikeCAD can also calculate things like speed and cadence or gear inches and gain ratios for each gearing choice.
While designing a complete bike may seem like a difficult task for the amateur, we found the program surprisingly easy, and even fun to use. Windows are intuitive and easy to understand, with a diagram of each component to show which dimensions are being manipulated. The possibilities are endless for a custom bicycle, and BikeCAD can make your dream bike come true, at least in the virtual world.
It seems the program can do everything but physically build the bike, although there is an option within BikeCAD to submit your design to a custom builder for a quote.
You can open the program through BikeForest.com. The page includes links for recumbents and suspension bikes, along with info about an extended software version for professional frame builders.