For some riders, a stock manufactured bike just doesn't make it happen. There has
always been a need among humans to express individuality, to attempt to improve upon
the status quo, to engineer a form reflecting the imagination of it's creator. As
Sinatra would say: "I did it my way"...
If you have constructed a custom bike, submit a photo and description for publication
on this page.
I'm looking for bikes that are either ground up custom designs or substantially modified
To exercise the imagination to create
Owner & Designer: Rod Ratzlaff
Completed: December 06
I have ridden Brenter C-4's for many years, and own several. To date, I have
ridden 16 different skibikes, including most of the current offerings, and I have
never found any other bike that handles as well for my purposes. I'm a tree hound
and I value agility above all else, and these bikes are masterful in the woods and
other advanced terrain. But, like anything else, there's always room for improvement.
This bike is essentially a complete custom frame and rear suspension setup,
with a Brenter front-end, handlebars, seat, skis and rear ski hub.
The first order of business was the frame. There's a price to pay for lightness,
and in the case of the C-4 it's a thin [steel] frame that has been known to sometimes
crack and break, although I've never personally had any problems. Aluminum was the
material of choice, for light weight, corrosion resistance, and for the fact that
it doesn't require painting. I have always admired the single beam construction method,
and elected to utilize that design for it's strength and simplicity. Another advantage
of the low frame-tall seating platform architecture is an extremely low center of
gravity. The dimensions are modeled on the C-4, which I felt were pretty much optimal.
It was a challenge to find a competent fabricator with aluminum tig welding capability,
but after much searching I found a custom bicycle frame builder to assemble my design.
The downside is that good tig welders tend to be very pricey, ouch...
The rear swingarm is custom milled billet aluminum with oil impregnated bronze
bushings. The rear ski hub features adjustable pivot limiter tabs to facilitate the
very desirable "floating" ski feature. I now utilize an air shock, instead of the
spring version pictured. The stock Brenter rear suspension is quite cushy and comfortable,
but is devoid of rebound damping. My objective here was to tone down the "bounce"
utilizing a standard rear shock absorber arrangement, and to enhance the overall
slope-ski interaction by converting to "ski" suspension instead of "seat" suspension.
The sliding [aluminum] seat bracket adjusts fore and aft, while the [aluminum]
seat pedestal can be sized to accommodate rider-height.
I added some small foot rests. It's quite convenient and comfortable to be
able to rest your legs while gliding across the flats. Brenter is the only European
manufacturer that does not integrate this feature.
I elected to add a brush-swirl finish for visual effect. There is a removable
milled plastic cap on the rear of the rectangular tube frame which allows ballast
weight to be added for competition purposes.
The complete front-end can be easily removed for ease of transport.
My objective was to retain the most desirable features of the stock bike, ie:
light weight, super agility, adjustable seating, space under the seat for ease of
lift loading and collapsibility for transportation. Then add a stronger [non-rusting]
frame, footrests, and a more sophisticated rear suspension arrangement. The end result
has exceeded all my expectations. It weighs in at a remarkable 18.8 pounds, complete,
which is slightly lighter than the [actual] weight of a production C-4. Turning ability,
tracking and stability are quite extraordinary. The lowered center of gravity and
suspension alterations have contributed to a noticeable improvement in these categories
over the production model, more than I anticipated, actually. All course corrections
seem effortless, almost telepathic. For me, she is truly a "magic" bike. I use the
older 100cm Brenter straight(er) skis, which I much prefer over the new, short parabolics.
They're faster, more stable, and much more predictable for the smooooth power-sliding
that I love to engage in. I definitely seem to be in the minority with that preference,
though. That's ok...
This was a very satisfying, albeit sometimes frustrating, project. The result
is a smaller bank account and a skibike with enhanced performance capabilities. The
best part, though, is the feeling of accomplishment that comes with the completion
of a creative endeavor. I really think of this as a work of art, like a painting,
or sculpture. Michelangelo, eat your heart out! ~R.R.