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Bicycle Frame Building Course!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Well, I've done it. I've gone and registered for the bicycle frame building course that I mentioned a couple times last year. Think of it as my 43rd birthday present to myself, because it starts on September 9th and my birthday is on the 10th. As a result of my highly elevated work-induced stress last year I took advantage of a program at work to spend some time talking to a councilor. One of the suggestions from that was that I needed to take some more "me" time, and this course is one of those "me" times.

That high-stress period of time pretty much knocked me off SP, and I've been only sporadically here since then, but I'm still kicking around from time to time. Still cycling to & from work, still running occasionally.

Work is fun right now. I'm right in the middle of the early design stage for a product that'll come out in 2014, right in the middle of all the cool technical problems. I'm also coordinating 5 or 6 other people all working on aspects of the project, and am already working on two patent disclosures discussing some of the new inventions. Fun times. Busy, and yes there is stress, but it's the *good* stress!

Now that I've registered for the course, I really need to do some more serious planning. Sorry, Bruce, no bike porn with pretty pictures this time, but I'm sure I'll do one or two of those as things come together.

At this point, I'm planning on building a CycloCross frame, and outfitting it with a Roholoff 14-speed Internal Gear Hub and Disc brakes. Given that I've never done TIG welding, I'm probably going to be braising - old school! A lot of people have mated the Rohloff Hub with a Gates carbon belt drive system, however the belt drive system is extremely picky about the chain line and given that it'll be my first attempt at building a frame I'm going to go with a more forgiving chain. It's also in line with the old-school CroMo braising. I'm planning on vertical drop-outs, and want to use an Eccentric Bottom Bracket for chain tensioning, and I want to run the cables through the top tube and then down the seat stays, keeping them away from the ground as much as possible. The Rohloff hub uses a twist shift system with all the indexing in the hub (their initial goal was to build the most reliable MTB IGH hub they could) so the shifter is set up primarily for use on flat bars, but there are several options for using it on drop bars, and I need to do more research. One thing I'm sure of: I want to take advantage of the Rohloff's wider gear range to give myself a little bit lower gear than I have with my current bike, 21 or 22 gear inches instead of 26, while still giving myself a bit more at the high end.

I've built up a great big list of links, discussing bike design (including the older edition of the Patarek manal), frame geometries, frame construction, components, as well as a couple YouTube how-to videos on a whole bunch of topics. I'm wanting to do as much of the work as possible (including building the wheels!) but I'll be going to Mighty Riders (my LBS) to do some of the things I can't do or don't have the equipment for. I'll also get them to check over my work just to make sure I don't royally screw it up! It's a hole in the wall, but Ed (the owner) is one of the most knowledgeable bike mechanics in Vancouver, and his shop is the go-to place that both Shimano and Rohloff send people to if they need IGH servicing in British Columbia. He also does custom fitting, and I think I'll book a session this summer to work out the geometries to make the bike fit me. My goal at this point is to have the wheels built up and have my fork before the course, and have a pretty good idea of everything else. Given that, I might have a chance to have everything together and take it for a spin before Halloween!

Of course, after I have a frame and before I can attach any components I'll need to get it painted. Given that it'll be a "go out and have fun" bike, and will probably get used for a little bit of everything including commuting in the rain, I'm thinking that I should get it painted in the most garish day-glo high-viz yellow I can get. Perhaps with retroreflector glass beads in a clearcoat on top? Perhaps that might be a bit much. Oh, and I need to think of what to call my bike, and come up with a head badge design.

This will be fun!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Great idea. All parents need time to pursue their interests!
    1667 days ago
    Hi Bill,

    You have some great ideas. I recently purchased an old-school chrome-moly Surly Cross-Check and really enjoy the way the bike rides.

    Old-school brazed lug construction is very cool indeed. The eccentric bottom bracket is a creative way to do chain tensioning. You could also consider a horizontal rear dropout and using the Surly Tugnut.


    The tugnut is lighter than the eccentric bottom bracket and may be easier to fabricate. Surly also has frame parts for fabricators.

    I think that disc brakes are a good idea. But old school cantilever brakes are cheaper and work OK. Depends on your intended use. I recommend lot of "braze-ons" for racks and bottles and other luggage.

    Geometry is crucial for an enjoyable bike. Cross bikes generally have a higher bottom bracket than pure touring bikes. I know you get this. For my local conditions, a cross-bike is the cat's meow!

    I also do expect some bike porn in the future. BTW - the Gates belt drive is super cool and worth considering.

    Good Luck!

    1764 days ago
    I agree with Striver57. Enjoy the "me" time.
    1765 days ago
    Sounds like it will be a very cool bike. I have to say your description was all Greek to me except for the colour options. That's how I choose my cars you know... "This one's a pretty colour." lol So I feel free to weigh in on the colour discussion. I say the brighter the better and the reflector beads sound like a plan too. Please bear in mind that this is coming from someone who has been hit on their bike TWICE! Bright is no guarantee four wheelers will see you but it improves the odds some. Have a blast planning your me time.
    1765 days ago
    1766 days ago
    Good to hear from you! Sounds like a fun project!
    1766 days ago
    sounds like fun and great you-time!
    1766 days ago
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