Guest Post: What It’s Like To Win and Build A Custom Bike

07.7.2011 | 11:51 am

A Note from Fatty: A lot of you donate frequently and generously in the contests I have where I give away bikes. All too often, though, once the winner has gotten word they’ve won a bike, that’s the end of the story. Well, Yann — the winner of a custom-built Sycip bike in in one of last year’s contests — is going to correct that problem right here, right now.

I won!!!

On June 28 of last year, Fatty notified me by email that I had won a custom fitted Sycip bike for my fundraising efforts for the San Jose Livestrong challenge. I had raised $2300 at the time. I immediately called him to confirm I had gotten the email and to find out what the next steps were in terms of starting the process of getting the bike.

One big question was unanswered: “what should I get, a road bike or a cruiser?” The rest of the day at work was not very productive as I kept going back to the Sycip web site and looking at the different pictures of the bikes that had been built. I already had a nice 2004 Trek 5200 road bike that I truly enjoyed riding. Also, I kept thinking “what would I do with 2 road bikes?” But at the same time, I didn’t really see myself riding a cruiser bike.

I called my girlfriend to tell her the good news, she was thrilled for me and said I deserved it for all the fundraising I had done in support of our friend Lisa, her husband Lloyd and her dad. I was more determined than ever to raise more money for the cause.

The reason for joining team fatty

At the time, Lisa was undergoing chemo treatment after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Her dad was undergoing treatment for leukemia. Lloyd, who in a strange twist of fate, is an oncologist, was diagnosed with a disc problem (not cancer) that was causing him to experience numbness and tingling in his neck, shoulders, arms and hands. Lloyd is a good friend that I have ridden with numerous times. This meant no riding for him until he underwent surgery to fix the discs. He couldn’t undergo the surgery until Lisa was out of the woods with her chemo and her dad was better since he needed to help take care of them.

I’m an idiot

After a very sleepless night agonizing over what to choose, I decided to go for the road bike. I figured I would get more use out of it. I emailed Elden, Jeremy at Sycip and Dustin at Shimano notifying them of my decision. A week later I hadn’t heard from anyone, so I emailed them again.

To my embarrassment, Elden told me about Dustin’s fiancĂ© passing away after battling cancer for a couple of years. Dustin contacted me as well letting me know that he was dealing with some personal stuff.

The fitting

A month or so went by, I contacted Jeremy at Sycip to find out what was next. Unfortunately, he was buried deep in preparations for Interbike and wouldn’t have time to do anything until after the show. In October we arranged for me to come up to his shop for a fitting.

He showed me around the shop where there were numerous bikes in various states of build and assembly. There were also numerous types of completed bikes throughout the shop. Jeremy and I went through the process of measuring my old bike and transferring the measurements to a bike fitting machine. We tweaked some settings here and there to make the bike fit me perfectly.

At the end, one crucial decision had to be made: “what color to paint the frame?” while Jeremy took a phone call, I pondered the question and walked around the shop. Then I saw it, there on a stand, was a partially assembled, metallic-grey-with-orange-Sycip lettering, bike. As Jeremy got off the phone, I walked him back to the partially assembled bike and pointed it out: “I want that color combo, that looks really nice”. With that I thanked Jeremy for his time and I left the shop more excited than when I was when I got there.

I got home that afternoon and kept thinking about the color of the bike. I thought it needed something more. I did a mock up of the frame in Autodesk Inventor, a 3d mechanical design program I used to work on. I placed the Sycip logo on it. I thought the Fat Cyclist logo should also go on as well as Shimano and Livestrong logos. After playing around with the logo placements, I sent the mock ups to Jeremy, Elden and Dustin for approval. The frame was then sent to be powder coated at Spectrum Powderworks.


The delivery

On a Friday in February, Dustin emailed to tell me the bike had been shipped and that I should expect the bike to arrive at my house the following Tuesday. I of course decided to work from home that day as I didn’t want to miss the UPS truck showing up and not being able to deliver the bike.

By late evening, it arrived. I pulled it out of the box with pure excitement. It was mostly put together, wrapped in bubble wrap. As I stripped off the bubble wrap, the frame color looked great, I inspected every part of it and admired the craftsmanship of the bike, the beautiful, barely-perceptible welds, the Sycip logo on the rear dropouts, the Fat Cyclist logo on the seat tube, the Livestrong logo on the top tube and the Shimano logo on the chain stay and fork. I almost missed the Fight Like Susan words on the inside of the fork. I was ecstatic, I had a beautiful new bike.




The first ride

The first ride was unfortunately not to be had till a few weeks later due to bad weather. I took it out on a short 20 mile loop by my house with a friend of mine who complimented me on the beautiful bike.


After a few more rides on it, I felt like I was climbing stronger and riding faster than before, even my riding friends were noticing. Below is part of an email I sent to Elden, Dustin and Jeremy thanking them.

“I have gotten lots of compliments from my riding friends on how beautiful the frame looks in the chosen color and with the logos. Of course they are super jealous of the full Dura-Ace group and carbon tubeless wheels. Btw, I swear I feel a difference in the acceleration with these wheels compared to my 1 year old Bontrager Race X Lite wheels on my 7 year old Trek 5200. I think I could out-sprint the best of the Tour de France sprinters now with these new wheels (just kidding). I’d probably have to lose 40 lbs to get 1/10 of their acceleration. “

To which Dustin replied: “the wheels are awesome and faster!

Then Jeremy: “I think it’s the frame that makes you go faster. Not the wheels. “

Lastly Elden: “I think it’s the FatCyclist logo that makes you faster.”

Finally me: “It’s a combination of the three actually. Add the Fat Cyclist jersey and I can beat anyone. It’s my secret weapon

Unfortunately, the bike only has about 500 miles on it now. We’ve had some bad weather around here. 82 of those were ridden in the rain for the 100 miles of Nowhere ride on June 4th.

That’s me on the left.


Thank You!!!

Finally, to all who donated to my Livestrong page, I thank you. And of course, thank you to Elden for putting the contest together, Dustin for donating the parts and bike and Jeremy for the beautifully crafted bike. I thoroughly enjoy riding this bike every single time.

Looking forward to l meeting you all in Davis for the Livestrong Challenge in July on my Sycip.


PS: My friend Lisa is now fully recovered. Her husband, Lloyd had his surgery around Christmas 2010. Unfortunately, Lisa’s dad passed away last year. My dad is currently undergoing radiation treatment for prostate cancer. Doctors expect a full recovery.


  1. Comment by Mark J. | 07.7.2011 | 12:19 pm

    That is a fantastic-looking bike. Outstanding craftsmanship. Color me jealous. It went to a good home – you deserve it. Thanks for posting Yann.

  2. Comment by ProfessorOrange | 07.7.2011 | 12:21 pm

    Thanks for sharing your Sycip story Yann, good choice, and good reading. I’m glad Lisa and Lloyd are well. All the best to your dad, and enjoy your rides!

  3. Comment by Matthew | 07.7.2011 | 12:31 pm

    Nice bike, you deserve it.

    So how does one pronounce Sycip?

  4. Comment by Liz | 07.7.2011 | 12:33 pm

    Beautiful bike! Congrats and best wishes in Davis.

  5. Comment by Jo | 07.7.2011 | 12:41 pm

    Wow, that bike does look awesome! Congrats and enjoy!

  6. Comment by MattC | 07.7.2011 | 12:55 pm

    Very cool Yann! See you again very soon…(you ARE riding it this Sunday in Davis, right?) Great story…I hope I’ll get the chance to do that someday (build a custom bike that I WON!) I’m so excited….as we drive up TOMORROW!!! Woo-HOO!!!! Look out Davis, here comes Team FATTY!!!

  7. Comment by Zach | 07.7.2011 | 1:16 pm

    It always seems like recipients of the bike giveaways are the most deserving. I love it. Good Karma I guess. BTW Fatty, I’ve been following your tweets and you have some splainin to do. You’ve always been a loyal fisher niner guy but now your on the sworks? Whats up?

    Well, a couple weeks ago I met a guy on the trail w/ a Stumpjumper 29er hardtail and I just couldn’t get it out of my head. So I talked w/ the Specialized guys and they sent me 1 to try out and see what I think. So far, I really like it. And there’s just a hint of “returning to your roots” kind of thing — the Stumpjumper was my first MTB. Although honestly this is nothing even remotely like my 1st bike, except the name, and just barely that.

    The cool thing is, I now have top-of-line bikes of very different types from the 2 best-known MTB manufacturers in the US. One a hardtail (Specialized Stumpjumper S-Works), one a FS (Trek Superfly 100). Each of these have the top-of-line components from the best-known manufacturers (Stumpjumper has SRAM XX; Superfly 100 has Shimano XTR Race). I believe I may be in the position to start making some comparisons and contrasts soon! – FC

  8. Comment by yannb | 07.7.2011 | 1:39 pm

    @mattC, yes I will be riding my Sycip in Davis. My Trek has been gathering cobwebs in the garage. See you in Davis.

  9. Comment by Mike Roadie | 07.7.2011 | 1:42 pm

    Great story!
    Looking forward to meeting you in Davis!
    P.S. Can I try out your bike?

  10. Comment by GJ Jackie | 07.7.2011 | 2:14 pm

    Love the bike! Great story, Yann. Best wishes to your family.

  11. Comment by Brad Schildt | 07.7.2011 | 2:38 pm

    Great story Yann! Thank you, and Fatty for posting it.

  12. Comment by Dan O | 07.7.2011 | 3:18 pm

    Great story. Nice bike. Ride it often…

  13. Comment by Heidi | 07.7.2011 | 4:03 pm

    Loved your post! Fight Like Susan on the inside fork brought tears to my eyes, but at the same time I laughed out loud at your feline bike inspector.

  14. Comment by AngieG | 07.7.2011 | 4:28 pm

    I agree with @Zach. The most deserving win and Yann is definitely one of them. I had the wonderful pleasure of attending last years dinner with he and his girlfriend as well as riding half the metric before being dropped.

    Don’t let them tell you they’re slow! :-)Both super great people and I’m excited to see them and Yann’s new super cool ride!!

  15. Comment by stuckinmypedals | 07.7.2011 | 4:37 pm

    Great post, Yann! Looking forward to seeing you and your beautiful bike in Davis!

  16. Comment by Nurse Betsy | 07.7.2011 | 6:41 pm

    your bike is a beauty and love all the logo’s. Happy you!!!

  17. Comment by BamaJim | 07.7.2011 | 6:58 pm

    Very nice bike, and a good job with the autodesk mock up. Hoping things go well for your Dad.

  18. Comment by Bella B | 07.7.2011 | 8:31 pm

    You did a great job raising money for cancer. Nice bike. Ride on!

  19. Comment by Yahoo!Rob | 07.7.2011 | 11:41 pm

    Nice bike Yann!

    Hey, for those riding the century in Davis, it looks like they’ve changed the route to be an out-&-back from HWY 128. Their turn-by-turn directions are updated to capture this, but their route map still shows the old loop. I took the turn-by-turn directions and mapped them into mapmyride – you may want to take a look:

    No, this isn’t my attempt to get you all to turn around halfway through the race – this is from the Livestrong site itself:

    See you all on Saturday/Sunday!

  20. Comment by a chris | 07.8.2011 | 2:27 am

    Always impressed to see what people have been up to in their fundraising efforts. I’d be ashamed to enter one of Fatty’s “entry-per-donation” type contests with a single entry and win!

  21. Comment by Justin | 07.8.2011 | 7:35 am

    Speaking of winning a bike, or another bike, or a trip… Fatty when are you going to pick the winners of the not custom but equally awesome Trek bikes and the Trip?

  22. Comment by Joe in San Diego | 07.8.2011 | 10:06 am

    If I hadn’t just bought a new bike, I might be buying one of these. BEAUTY!

  23. Comment by Haven-KT | 07.8.2011 | 2:34 pm

    That’s a great story, I love the finished product– the paint scheme and logos look awesome. I love that they put “Fight like Susan” on the inside of the fork! How cool, it’s like that phrase inside the collar of our jerseys!

    And yeah, how do you pronounce Sycip? Sigh-sip? Si-kip? Somebody help me out here!

  24. Comment by MARIE-AGNES BERTAUD | 07.9.2011 | 6:01 am

    Yann nice writing. You have real talent.

  25. Comment by Nate | 07.11.2011 | 1:22 pm

    Congrats! I also enjoyed the disembodied lurking cat in the background of the photos. BSNYC would be proud…


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