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Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I have spent a lot of time discussing custom bikes and, in particular, custom titanium.

There really is nothing more durable and smooth as a great fitting titanium or steel custom frame. I could go on at length about the importance of riding a bike that fits, and how this trumps frame material any day. I find too often that manufacturers make a big deal about the ride characteristics of their materials to sell whatever bike they would like to hawk. Right now it is carbon composite.

What you can argue is durability. For long lasting frames that can take a little abuse and be more easily repaired, steel and titanium are tops. These materials are the top choices for a long term frame, though there are many alloy and carbon frames that have been holding up for decades.

When I made my choice for a new frame, I came very close to going for a domestic custom titanium frame. You may be surprised to find out that Taiwan is not entirely OEM/ODMs. Taiwan actually has a few small players in the custom metal frame business. One of the better known is Rikulau.

Rikulau is a Taiwanese custom frame shop named after the Formosan Clouded Leopard, which had once been one of the top predators in Taiwan before its habitat was reduced and it was hunted to extinction. The localized name that is indigenous to Taiwan makes a very clear statement and I am happy to see some pride in being a Taiwanese brand.

The company makes a wide range of road and mountain bikes in steel (4130, 853, 953), and titanium, both 3Al 2.5V and 6Al 4V. These are all very high quality materials, with varying degrees of hardness.

I have seen several of these frames up close, including my buddy Dwight's orange Grateful Dead custom painted road bike. The workmanship is quite good and the paint quality is top notch.

The reason I decided against showing my own Taiwan pride through this domestic builder, is simply their limited degree of customization, which is mainly in the finishing (paint).

Still, for anyone looking for a high quality metal road bike with a custom paint job that doesn't cost a fortune, take a look at Rikulau. Taiwan pride, baby. Taiwan pride.

Made in Taiwan is definitely a badge of honor.

This company review has in no way been paid for or supervised by anyone other than Taiwan in Cycles.