Framework Bicycles Review: Thoughts on Balance

Framework Bicycles turns blocks of aluminum and spools of carbon into one-off custom bikes where obsessive precision and iteration becomes rideable art. In this long-term, long form Framework Bicycles review, Morgan Taylor details the experience of designing and riding their custom road bike. Did they strike the perfect balance, or produce their own Homer car?

Framework Bicycles uses a parametric 3D model and a humming machine shop to craft beautiful and highly precise custom bike frames. Last spring I was given the chance to work with Jonathan Hornell-Kennedy, self-described as “the only human employee at Framework,” to build a custom bike for review. I detailed Framework’s production process in an earlier story, and in this story I’ll speak to my experience both in working with Jonathan and with riding the bike.

I left off from the previous piece wondering if I’d designed my own Homer Car – if I’d had a hand in creating something that I thought was great but wouldn’t turn out so well in the real world. Fortunately, Jonathan’s approach to creating bike frames from wound carbon and milled aluminum leads to a striking aesthetic that tends to look pretty good no matter what. The fit would be spot on. But what about the ride?

A Geometry Nerd’s Dream

The opportunity to spec every aspect of a frame’s geometry down to the millimeter (and fraction of a millimeter) is a long term geometry nerd’s dream. Framework’s process feeds into my desire for deep nerding. Given the design constraints of a drop bar and through-headset cable routing, I envisioned what I’d want from a road bike in 2024: lots of tire clearance, pavement-friendly handling, and a low bottom bracket, with my fit transposed on top.

I’ve ridden and reviewed a lot of bikes in the all road / gravel / rando / touring sphere and my long form reviews tend to focus on handling characteristics and a never-ending search for the perfect frame flex. With Framework’s custom process, I would have complete control over the first of those themes, but was very curious how this unique approach to framebuilding would contribute to compliance and flex.

About Balance

Bicycles are all about balance. When we learn to ride a bike, after those few wobbly pedal strokes, we set off on a dance together. Human and machine working together to create possibilities. Yet beneath that silent dance, there is a mathematical order: interactions between circles and triangles. We take for granted how easily that balance can be upset. When it comes to the balance inherent in a bicycle, millimeters matter.

On top of this basic interaction of circles and triangles, we add a human element, something that could easily be reduced to more circles and triangles. But the reality is humans are the interpreting element, the qualitative addition to a system that can otherwise be reduced to numbers plotted in imaginary space. The human variable means the same bike can ride very differently for different people.

Full Custom Process

While the opportunity to go nuts with progressive geometry was right in front of me, I chose to build something that drew from positive experiences and took advantage of the parametric process to build around my unique fit needs. This work obviously benefits from existing geometry charts, and experiences with bikes both good and not-so-good.

In a video consultation with Jonathan, I was able to see how tweaking a distance here and an angle there would affect the functional aspects of the bike’s ride as well as the aesthetics. Within Framework’s parametric 3D model, Jonathan and I plotted numbers in imaginary space, and my vision came together.

Numerology of Geometry

An arguably perfect bike should be tailored to the needs of the rider – fit geometry, handling geometry, and flex. Given the chance to spec every angle to the fraction of a degree and every measurement to the fraction of a millimeter, I went wild. My fit, in terms of bar height and reach, and saddle height and offset, would be applied over a steering geometry, bottom bracket height, and rear end length.

I imagined a road bike with big tires, 700×32 at the small end, and up to 700×42. I wanted to strike an aesthetic where rear wheel to seat tube clearance was intentionally minimal, and where angles and lengths were massaged to hit numbers that showed the same amount of care and soothed my desire for complementary numbers both on the chart and by eye. These factors may disappear when you’re riding the bike but they still spark joy in the subconscious.

My Weird Needs

The strongest argument for a custom bike comes from folks who have trouble fitting available production bikes. I had my first professional bike fit in 2009 and my fit has remained relatively stable in that time. I’m 6’0, and run a saddle height of 76.5-77 cm, which isn’t all that uncommon, yet I almost always find myself on the edge of production frames’ ideal fit proportions.

Where my fit diverges from most is my need for more saddle setback and frame stack while retaining a long reach. If you imagine a triangle drawn between the bottom bracket, handlebar, and saddle, my fit would be rotated so the saddle goes back and the bars go up – essentially an endurance road style fit, but with lots of saddle offset. Over the years I’ve accommodated this by seeking out 25mm+ offset seat posts and slacker-than-usual seat tubes, often going up a frame size.

Anything But Simple

As such, saddle offset became the number that grounded the discussion for my Framework’s fit geometry. I had extensive experience with my own saddle offset and knew the ballpark where I wanted my seat tube angle and post offset to land. This is in contrast to the usual process with a custom builder, where based on an existing bike that fits well, the builder will ask for a measurement from the tip of your saddle to the center of your bars, and calculate from there.

Most folks will approach Jonathan with a request for geometry similar to an existing bike they enjoy riding – much simpler than my ground-up approach. However, I still think it’s super important to have a professional fit done before you start the conversation with any builder – especially if you’re looking at integrated systems and through-headset routing.

Seat Tube Angle Versus Saddle Offset

Knowing that I wanted to be able to run the more widely available 15-20mm offset posts with my saddle neutral on the rails, I figured I’d need a seat tube angle around 72º on my Framework. Most frames in my size have a seat angle of 73º or 73.5º, with some trending steeper, and a select few “classic-inspired” frames in the slacker direction.

For reference, at my saddle height of 77 cm, each half-degree change in seat tube angle equates to about 6.5mm of fore-aft difference. On my Rock Lobster, with a 73º seat tube angle and a 35mm offset post, the saddle is relatively neutral on the rails. That’s basically how I landed at the 72º number as a ballpark for a seat angle that would let me run a post with less offset: a full degree slacker means 13mm more rearward offset.

Lines in Space

And yet, considering a 72º seat tube angle on a road build, something didn’t sit well. One of the aesthetic geometric qualities inherent in bike frames is how imaginary lines drawn from the head tube and seat tube interact. If the head tube is slacker than the seat tube, those imaginary lines will converge somewhere above the bike. If the seat tube is slacker, the lines converge somewhere below the bike – and diverge above the bike up into space.

For whatever reason, I’ve always preferred the look of frames where the imaginary lines converge above the bike. The imaginary triangle created above the frame rather than below just sits better in my brain.

But, going even further, the most interesting relationship between these angles is when the lines are neither convergent nor divergent – it’s when they’re parallel, and will never touch. Going back to the road bikes of the ‘80s and ‘90s that I rode before getting into modern bikes, parallel 73º head and seat tube angles was a classic road shape. Cross bikes were historically 72/73, NORBA geo mtbs 71/73 – both convergent.

Actual Versus Effective Seat Angle

I got it in my mind that I wanted my Framework to have parallel head and seat tube angles – but I didn’t want a 72º head angle. For the road bike I was creating, I was imagining a head tube angle somewhere between 72.5º and 73º. I was fully immersed in geometric art as it intersects with my fit needs, and I felt stuck.

While we’re talking about differences under 10 millimeters, I wanted everything to align philosophically as well as get the fit within a few millimeters in every direction. And that’s when Jonathan suggested a solution: Framework’s parametric model allows the seat tube junction to be moved forward or backward in relation to the crank with the click of a button.

Jonathan suggested we could maintain a steeper actual seat tube angle, but keep the saddle offset I needed, by offsetting the seat tube junction on the bottom bracket by up to 10mm in the rearward direction. This would have the opposite effect of a traditionally curved seat tube, which effectively steepens the seat angle.

Landing on Parallel

The stuck-ness I was feeling between my inane geometric ideals and actual fit needs was now just another number to play with. Looking at the possibility of a 72.5º actual seat angle to match a 72.5º head angle for numerologic bliss, I chose an offset of 7.8mm, which resulted in 14.3mm of further rearward offset than my Rock Lobster – just right for a 20mm offset post.

Of course, I can see how absolutely ridiculous this whole situation is. But once you’re down the road of reaching for aesthetic (both visible and invisible) and functional geometry, well, being stubborn is a thing, right? With a bottom bracket drop of 78mm – exactly ten times the seat tube offset – we had the backbone of my weird fit and my mystical geometry sorted.

A Quick Aside

I want to take a moment to step back and look at the components being incorporated into the build, as they had an effect on choices in the next design phase. Since the beginning Jonathan has worked with Speeder carbon components to finish off his builds. This includes an integrated stem-bar to complement Jonathan’s preference for through-headset cable routing, a few different fork options, and carbon rims of various widths and depths laced to hubs of your choice.

Jonathan had also done a couple of builds with Campagnolo Ekar, and suggested we could build around that. Having ridden various iterations of Campy in 9, 10, and 11-speed over the years, I figured this would be fun. I’ve long been a fan of Campy ergonomics, so I was excited to try the relatively new 1×13 group. After that we only needed to choose tires, a saddle and post, and bar tape to finish off the build.

Finalizing Fit Geometry

Our next problem to solve was frame reach and stack, which was constrained by the integrated -10º stem-bar and my bar height with respect to Jonathan’s desire to have the stem sitting as close to right on top of the headset as possible. I have never “achieved a slam” with my fit, other than on the Rock Lobster, which has a 200mm head tube and 30mm of external headset on a 400mm axle-crown, and a 100mm -6º stem.

Fork options were either the Speeder All Road with a 370mm axle-crown and clearance for 32mm tires, or the Speeder Adventure Bikepacking with a 398mm axle-crown and clearance for 55s. While 55mm was way more clearance than the frame would end up with, the shorter fork wasn’t gonna work with my alternate tire choices. My options with the Speeder Integrated Gravel bar were a 395 c-c with 95 or 105mm extension, or 415mm with 105 or 115mm. I went with the 395×105 for maximum aero and similarity to my Rock Lobster’s fit.

On top of that, Jonathan was concerned that my need for a lot of stack and his desire for as few spacers as possible was going to result in a ridiculously long head tube, and suggested we work with the longer fork. By this point he was certain that I was creating a Homer. What we ended up with was a 210mm head tube plus 10mm of bearing cover, putting the stack at the top of the headset nearly identical to my Lobster and the reach slightly shorter to accommodate the longer stem.

The Last Details

With head angle, seat angle (and offset), bottom bracket drop, and head tube length all finalized, all that was left was to land on a seat tube length and rear end length. Jonathan’s Solidworks model includes a tire’s width and outer diameter, and we were able to see that a 42mm tire would be approaching zero millimeters of clearance with a 430 rear end, so we went with that.

I might have chosen a shorter rear end for a pure “road” experience, but my rides lean toward longer rather than shorter, and I feel the relatively long front center is balanced by a slightly longer rear end. Choosing a seat tube length was completely an aesthetic choice, and Jonathan showed me a few options in the 3D model. My preference ended up being 590, for about an 8º slope on the top tube.

The Magic Number

There was, however, one more detail to finalize, and that was the custom crank length and chainring tooth count. While Framework is capable of producing literally any crank length, and Jonathan was encouraging me to try ones shorter than I usually ride, I wanted something predictable, but was willing to go a bit shorter than my usual 172.5s. I asked Jonathan if he could do one decimal place… yep… two decimal places… yep… three decimal places??? Yep. So, we had to make the world’s first and only 169.420mm cranks. Nice.

On the chainring side, Jonathan told me he had a 9-42 Ekar cassette for the build. I would rather be undergeared than overgeared, and find a 1:1 low gear is always just slightly on the too-much side for some of the steep climbs on our local routes. So, I looked to the long end, and saw 36/9 as a 4:1 ratio or 108 gear inches, and figured, that seems fine, even if it looks small, and gives me a 36/42 or 23” low gear. There’s a particular climb – from the dock on Indian River Drive – that I chose this gearing around.

The Black Rainbow

Unrelated to the custom specs that actually matter is the finish on the tubes. All of Jonathan’s bikes up to this point had been clearcoat over raw carbon. It’s a stunning look and one that shows off the surface of the filament wound tubes beautifully. Solidifying my position as a problem customer, I couldn’t help but ask if Jonathan’s painter could do something with color.

The painter came back with a sample tube showing a fade between translucent colors. I said “yep, that’s it, do that” and left the rest in the painter’s hands. The result is a subtle red-yellow-green-blue fade that only reveals itself in indirect light. In the year that’s now passed, Jonathan is now screen printing his own logos and doing clearcoat in-house. It means my bike remains the only Framework with color on the tubes.

My Homer

In the end, what we ended up with is essentially my Rock Lobster’s fit geometry – with a slacker seat tube angle to negate the need for a high offset post, on top of a 58R Fairlight Secan’s steering geometry, bottom bracket height, and rear end length. I didn’t specifically set out to recreate the Secan I’d reviewed, but that’s where things ended up, and I wasn’t mad about it.

I find my unique fit, with a relatively high bar height (for a performance drop bar bike), can be tough to build around aesthetically. In true Homer fashion, the gigantic head tube on my Framework looks somewhat disproportionate to the skinny rear end – and while this wasn’t intentional, the ride qualities ended up echoing that visual balance.


You bet your butt I was excited when my Framework Homer arrived. Beyond my ramblings about millimeters, this bike is a literal rocketship. Deep carbon rims on 240s, 13-speed and legendary Campy ergonomics, not a cable to be seen until a few inches to its destination. The aesthetics of modern road bikes and the culture that goes along with them aren’t really my cup of tea, but this bike is super, super sick.

It was so cool to see a bike I’d envisioned from the ground up, refined details in a 3D model, and seen in a few photos, finally in person. The machining on the aluminum parts is more impressive in person than in photos, and the translucent paint over carbon turned out very nice. I was grateful that Jonathan did the headset cable routing for me while leaving the final details of the setup for me to finish.

Visual Imbalance

Once I got the bike built up with the black carbon post and cork saddle that Bjorn Cycles had custom branded, something didn’t look right. I would describe it as the front end having significantly more visual weight than the rear end. Based on the diameter of the lugs and tubes, combined with choices made to accommodate my fit needs, this isn’t entirely surprising.

With a huge head tube to accommodate internal cables, a tapered carbon fork, and 1-1/4″ and 1-3/4″ top and down tubes respectively, the front end visually overpowers the rear end with its slim 5/8″ chain and seat stays and 27.2 seat post. I’m very critical about the balance between light and dark on my builds, and I also know that bikes tend to “come into their own” over time, so I wasn’t particularly worried.

That said, I couldn’t help but try a couple things, and I was pretty sure the seat post area held potential for restoring the balance. My first move was to try a black saddle, which turned out to be good. But the lights came on when I tried the silver Thomson post from Stephanie’s Wolverine. Something about having a block of silver up there – creating a triangle with the head tube and the cranks – helps a lot, to my eye.

Tuning Tubing

Of course, the visual aspect of a build is part of the overall picture, but we build bikes to ride them. So let’s get into that ride quality. While Framework’s parametric design provides the greatest visible opportunity for individual customization around fit geometry, filament wound carbon tubes are doing important work in a less visible way.

The tubes in Jonathan’s frames are created by wrapping a ribbon of continuous carbon around a rotating spindle with a calculated amount of resin before curing in a heated and pressurized mold. The curing process is not unlike traditional carbon bike frame construction, but using filament wound tubes rather than sheets of woven carbon is unique to Jonathan’s tube-in-lug design.

Weird Flex?

Unfortunately, my frame is early enough in Jonathan’s journey that he wasn’t yet winding his own tubes – and it turns out the balance is off. While the front end feels stiff, yet damped, the rear end is surprisingly soft laterally. For someone who’s written at length about how bikes aren’t soft enough, particularly in the rear end, I was surprised to find a carbon bike too soft for my preference.

The tubes in my bike came from US carbon supplier Rockwest, and the flex characteristics of Jonathan’s earlier frames were at the mercy of the available tubes. Rockwest only has one option for 5/8″ round filament wound tubes and, as it turns out, these are underbuilt for my needs. The bike feels fine under normal power, but any time there’s a spike in power – like starting from a stop, or standing up and sprinting – the rear end flex is quite noticeable.

Iterative Solutions

The Rockwest tubes were essentially a proof of concept for Jonathan. They allowed him to build out his parametric model and get his ideas out of his head and into the real world. Starting from scratch, the Framework story is one of taking on challenges and moving toward having control over as much of the process as possible.

Last summer, just as we all converged on Portland for the MADE show, Jonathan came through Vancouver with his new personal gravel bike, built completely with Framework’s made-in-house tubes, and another update: rectangular chainstays. After just a few pedal strokes, I could tell this frame struck a more classically balanced flex characteristic than mine.

Classically Balanced

When I speak of a classically balanced flex characteristic, I’m describing the way a bike flexes laterally – both in the front and the rear. Like I mentioned in my recent Elephant National Forest Explorer review, most bikes are built so stiff both front and rear that only the heaviest riders (or those loading up for a trip) will experience any of the flex I’m describing.

When bikes are very stiff both front and rear, their flex is inherently balanced – as in, they don’t have much. Most folks experience their bikes this way. When bikes are built flexible enough to have discernible flex, we begin to expect similar flex from both the front and rear – but if one was to be more flexible, it feels more natural for the rear to be stiffer and the front to be softer. My Framework has the opposite characteristic: stiff front, soft rear.

The Bent Crank Feeling

How does this play out in practice? Well, as soon as I jump on and pedal up the hill out of our place, it feels like the bike has a bent crank arm or pedal spindle. Those first few pedal strokes after riding another bike are always surprising. And then, within a few minutes, the effect disappears, except in the previously mentioned power spikes.

Despite the rear end being softer than usual, this bike is incredibly fast. Over the first couple of months, I repeatedly PR’d segments that I’d ridden dozens of times. I wondered if I’d just get used to the flex; 99% of the time I’m on the bike, it feels perfect. And as I’ve written about a few times already, this kind of flex is not detrimental to how fast a bike goes – but it sure does feel different.

I’m 100% confident that a lighter rider or one with less power wouldn’t notice anything odd about the bike. The “too much” flex only happens at higher power outputs, and it doesn’t bother me at lower speeds, but it’s quite disconcerting when standing up and sprinting. Since I’m not a racer, I don’t have much reason to sprint, so I avoid it on this bike.

Road Bike, Big Tires

A 72.5º head tube angle is steeper than what most would consider a “gravel” bike, placing this as a road bike with big tires rather than one that’s more dirt-primary. I’m a big fan of a 35-38mm tire for long distance riding on pavement in various states of disrepair. Even in road racing the pendulum is swinging toward a “wider is better” attitude for mixed surfaces and there are lots of great tire options here in various knobs and casings.

Despite the frame being relatively large, the wheelbase is pretty tight at 1038mm and that makes for a zippy cornering feel. It’s not afraid to spend some time in the dirt, but is happiest on surfaces with some grip to slow the steering. The fork was initially set up in the 52mm position but I found the lower 47mm offset to slow the handling in a positive way. Running a narrower bar makes things a bit more spicy, but that was a choice to prioritize speed over confidence.

Coming Into Its Own

As I rode the bike more and made adjustments, the visual balance continued to settle out. The biggest change visually is the huge frame bag from Orange Cat Packs, made from Challenge Ultra200TX. The next big change was black tires instead of tan, black pedals, and then a sticker here and there, some bottles with a bit of color, and the taillight that I leave on full time… it all helps.

I think the frame bag helps spread some of the visual weight toward the back of the bike. I like how the Ultra fabric matches the matte carbon of the fork, bar, and rims. But my favorite part of this bag is all the little features: internal mesh pockets, daisy chains, and intentional choices around straps. It quickly became my favorite frame bag of all time, and I’ll write that up separately.

Shop Talk

Campagnolo Ekar. Real talk. This has been the most finicky drivetrain I’ve used in… decades. I have had this bike up in the stand to mess with shifting setup more times than I can count. If it’s shifting OK, it’s often still making noise. I’ve reset the b-tension and cable tension to zero as well as checked the hanger alignment numerous times, and have found that the only way it works acceptably is if I set up the cable tension slightly loose.

My experience with Campy in the past is that it’s really sensitive to a good cable setup. I checked in with friends at three shops that service Campy and they all confirmed that Ekar especially doesn’t like tight corners. That means the only reasonable next step is running new housing through the internal handlebar and headset routing. I’m inclined to throw an electronic group at the bike instead.

And yet, the 9-42 cogset provides a very useful range with a tightly spaced corncob at the high end and bigger jumps in the easier gears. The hoods are super comfortable, as I would expect with Campy. And the brakes are really quite nice. I just think through-headset routing maybe should be reserved for hydraulic hoses, and not finicky Campy mechanical cables.

Speeder Carbon. Adventure Bikepacking fork, All-Road Gravel wheelset, Integrated Gravel handlebar. This was my first encounter with Speeder as a parts brand, and I’ve got zero complaints about this stuff. Through-bar cable routing limits my compulsive bar swaps but it sure looks sleek. I did put a rack on the fork for a week of errands, and found the recessed mounting holes required extra spacers to fit the rack, but they also sit flush when not in use. The wheels set up tubeless relatively easily, and 40mm is just on the verge of wind-affected depth, so that’s OK.

Tires. I’ve had a bit of a debacle with tires on this bike. The first setup was Challenge Gravel Grinder 36s. These cotton casing tires are infamous for being difficult to get on and off the rim, but also legendary for a cloud-like ride feel and speed. I was curious, but could never get them to hold air longer than a few hours.

Turns out cotton casings aren’t compatible with ammonia-based sealants like Stan’s. Folks have told me that Orange Seal tends to seal them up after a few rides, but I also found out that Challenge makes their own sealant. I also found out from Challenge at MADE that I likely had an older pair of these tires, and the newer production ones are easier to fit. They sent me a pair of the new tires and their sealant, and… they were difficult to get on and still didn’t hold air for long. I loved the ride quality, but would hate to have a flat with them.

I put on a second pair of tires that Jonathan sent with the bike – Pirelli Cinturato Gravel H 35s – and they’ve been totally reliable since day one. They’re quite a bit heavier, but in a different category than the Strada Biancas. They’re quite damped, and feel slower, but test well on, proving the butt dyno inaccurate yet again. I run them in the mid-40s, a bit more in the rear than the front, and they measure out to 37 at those pressures.

Details I Don’t Love

Tire clearance. While I said above that I was hoping for the bike to fit 42s, it turns out there’s about 6mm on each side of the current tires that measure 37 wide. I’d say it safely fits a 38, as though there’s no sign of tire rub. Framework’s parametric model allows for various adjustments to get more clearance out of the frame, and I kind of wish we’d pushed those chainstays out to bring the rear end clearance closer to the fork’s.

Derailleur hanger. This one’s been solved in a more recent iteration, but Jonathan’s earlier bikes started out with a derailleur hanger that doesn’t stay attached to the frame when the wheel comes out. This means, when you do take the wheel out, the derailleur also comes out. It’s a bit fiddly to get it all back together, and once, when I took the wheel out on the road as part of troubleshooting the shifting, I didn’t get it back together straight. Again, solved, but annoying on this particular bike. Now that Jonathan’s got a UDH dropout design, I’d go with that.

Crank bolt torque. While the no-preload-necessary expanding collet system on Framework’s cranks is super slick, the torque required to get the bolts adequately tight is crazy high. While Jonathan initially had engraved 40 Nm on the bolts, he’s now changed that to 120 Nm. For comparison, most two-piece cranks spec between 38 and 59 Nm.

It’s pretty tough to get 120 Nm into a crank in the shop, let alone in the field. At home I use a 14mm allen wrench that’s 11.5” long, and give it a lot of gusto. Jonathan suggests an impact gun. I’ve been carrying part of an old crank puller in case it comes loose on a ride, but ideally will end up with something like the Dispersed 6mm-to-14mm adapter (which doesn’t fit this crank, as I need a 6-point 14mm, not 12-point) or the Race Face / Easton Cinch 8mm-to-16mm adapter.

Bottle mount location. The holes for the bottle mounts were drilled in the tubes before I thought to say “please mount the bottles as low as possible to make room for the frame bag.” I was able to use King Cage Lowering Cages to get enough room for tall bottles, but there’s still room to lower them further. People have suggested the Wolf Tooth B-RAD system, and my response there is, that’s not my ideal solution on a custom bike.

Details I Love

Deep thinking and quick iteration. I really appreciate Jonathan’s willingness to solve problems with outside-the-industry-box thinking. He’s a skilled machinist who questions the status quo. Sometimes that means making mistakes like a derailleur hanger that comes out with the wheel, but it also means iterative fixes can happen very quickly.

Precision machining. The detail on Framework’s machined aluminum pieces is pure art, with impressive fit and finish. The way the headset cover blends into the head tube, the smooth curves on the bottom bracket and dropouts, the textures and shapes in the cranks – this frame draws you in and leaves you curious.

Custom-wound carbon. Not only do filament wound carbon tubes look super cool with the winding weave left visible, the potential for custom tubes complements the adaptability of Framework’s parametric model. Jonathan has direct control over how much material is in each tube, and machines his own molds. He’s just begun working with oval tubes and I’m excited to see where he goes with it.

Custom cranks. Despite the high torque required to tighten it all up, I think Framework’s parametric crank design is super cool. Folks are curious about running shorter cranks and if these were easily adapted to existing standards, perhaps by using an existing spindle standard, lots of options would open up. And who else can make cranks to three decimal places?

Internal routing. I know this seems totally backwards after all that complaining about the shifting, but that would be a non-issue if we’d gone with an electronic shifting system. Hydraulic hoses are totally happy to get routed around tight corners, and an integrated system just looks so sleek. It’s also an aero advantage, if you’re counting. Lots of folks complain about through-headset routing, but the reality is, if your fit is sorted, you shouldn’t need to pull hydraulic hoses for a few years.

On Balance

One of the most interesting things about Framework’s process is how quickly the iteration can happen between designs. It’s been nearly a year since Jonathan and I finalized the details of what became this frame. Between then and now he’s built another 17 frames. That’s 17 chances to make subtle – or significant – shifts to design and function. He says he now considers my frame to be four generations old.

I’m confident that if my bike were built with Jonathan’s in-house tubes and the rectangular chainstays, the front-rear flex characteristics would be more balanced. I rode Jonathan’s personal bike with those tubes and immediately knew I’d be happy with that flex balance. Interestingly, Jonathan tells me that nobody else who has these chainstays has complained about them, which further proves that the human element is a big factor in perceived ride quality.

Is the flexy rear end a deal breaker for me? Unfortunately, it does strip some of the joy of a custom bike I had a hand in designing. It’s also a question of how much more time I spend trying to bring this bike to perfection. The Ekar isn’t happy, and Stephanie wants her seat post back. Long term review bikes like this one often serve as a platform for future component reviews, but if it’s not 100% joyful for me, should I pass it along to a new rider?

In the end, I’m beyond grateful to have had the chance to work with Jonathan on this project. It’s allowed me to experiment with some of my own ideas, and work with a super smart human as he hones his craft around a complex new project. Thank you, Jonathan.

See more at Framework Bicycles.