Seven Cycles Elium SG Road Bike
Frame only, $3,595; as tested, $7,500; www.sevencycles.com
WHAT YOU GET: This frame is a superlight marriage of buttery-smooth titanium and stiff carbon-fiber tubes tailored and built to your precise height and weight. Watertown, Massachusettsbased Seven can tune the ride characteristics as well, manipulating tubes and anglesstiffer for high-octane racing or more supple for long hauls down country lanes.
THE PROCESS: Seven's 12-page workbook asks for 11 body measurements, covering everything from inseam to shoulder width. It also asks for a detailed record of your current riding position and any associated ills, descriptions of your cycling style, and the kind of terrain you roll through. Seven ships you the frame, and you have your local bike shop build the bike up, using the parts of your choice. This 16-pounder came with Tour de Francetested Shimano Dura-Ace components and Mavic Ksyrium wheels.
THE PAYOFF: The Elium may be the most comfortable high-performance bike on the planet. Everythingthe handlebar drops, the brake hoods, even the reach to the water-bottle cagesfeels like an extension of my body; there's never a sense of strain or overextension. I've put almost 4,000 miles on this bike, and my finicky lower back has barely noticed a single one.
Rocket7 Road Cycling Shoes
WHAT YOU GET: Rocket7's ultrastiff carbon-fiber-soled cycling shoe engages every contour of your foot for maximum transfer of power to pedal, plus socklike comfort. The Puyallup, Washingtonbased company makes the shoes to order, so it can eliminate extraneous carbon fiber and leather to deliverat just over 12 ounces per pairone of the lightest shoes on the market.
THE PROCESS: If a local dealer is unavailable to take your measurements, Rocket7 will send you a comprehensive kit that includes foam molds, for replicating the exact shape of your soles, and measuring tapes and rulers, for recording foot volume, length, and width. With your dogs dangling in the air, have a friend press the dry-foam molds against your feet, avoiding the variations in foot length and width that come from standing. After that, trace your feet both while seated and standing; this allows Rocket7 to find the happy medium of fit among all three measurements.
THE PAYOFF: The Rocket7 is much more comfortable than most bike-racing shoes, especially if, like me, you have wide feet. The small pains that I've long accepted as part of cycling have simply vanished.