Semi-Custom versus Custom Bicycles

KGS Bikes offers Parlee semi-custom frames in addition to our full-custom bicycles. We are asked many times, “What is the difference?” and it is really quite simple. The difference revolves around the way frames are chosen, and the confidence one will have of the correct position if a semi-custom frame is specified. If a custom position is applied to an existing frame with components in a way that the true position is attainable with minor compromises in the types of components, it is a semi-custom bike.

All bicycle frames are either manufactured in advance to a set number of sizes or are manufactured on demand to a specific size. This means that from a manufacturing perspective, there are either “stock” or “custom” sizes available. Since this is the case, how does the consumer know if custom is better than stock, and of course, the third variable, “semi-custom” is still not defined.

Our answer lies in our BalancePoint™ positioning system and our ability to fully define and design a custom bike. With this as the starting point a few key points are defined:

  1. The foundation of our system lies in the concept that “the rider is more important than any bicycle” and as such, we derive a position independently of the dimensions of an existing bike. This allows us to focus entirely on the variables that count for a particular rider and it does not matter whether a stock bike geometry will work or not. What matters is whether a bicycle can possibly be manufactured that will accommodate this position.
  2. Once we know what your true position is, then an objective decision can be made to either design a true custom frame or use an existing frame that will allow us to duplicate that position exactly, even though we may need to use a different number of spacers, different stem, or different setback seatpost to get the setup than if we designed a custom frame.


Parlee has ten different sizes in their stock lineup and the way they design them, we can use them as Semi-Custom bicycles in many cases. They have paid attention to trends in positioning and offer models of frames with taller head tubes that will work very well. Still, the best candidate for a semi custom frame is a longer torso’ed individual with good power and flexibility. Short torsos require shorter toptubes and the long legs that come along with them require taller headtubes, so we still find that many people need the true custom frame to support their position, but for the lucky ones, a semi custom bicycle is a much less expensive and a great option.

Sign up for our ezine - Perfectly Fit and get our free report: The Big Three – What Every Cyclist Needs

*We promise to never sell, rent, trade or share your e-mail with any other organization.