Bicycle frame building course Posts

Frame Building at Downland Cycles

Frame Building at Downland Cycles

By David Cabourn

I wanted to let you know about my experience as a novice frame builder when I took a course with Downland Cycles, who also exhibit at Bespoked in Bristol each year.

I had always dreamt of building my own frame and one Christmas decided to see just how practical making that dream come true would be. After a little internet research I decided not only was it achievable it was also within the modest budget I had available to me.

Downland Cycles in Canterbury run a five day frame building course at their dedicated workshop in Canterbury with the additional option of building a fork on the 6th day. So I booked my course and began dreaming of the bike I was going to hand build.

Designing Frames

Designing Frames

After completing an initial frame building course I did not really have much idea about how to design a frame and have muddled along by trial and error. What does become apparent is that conventional designs work which is why they are still around. A conventional rear triangle is always stiff enough and strong enough for most things you throw at it and therefore most attention needs to be paid to the front end design. Always check you are likely to have enough mudguard clearance, toe clearance unless you are not bothered about toe overlap and heel clearance if you are going to fit panniers. If you are going to be fitting large chainrings make sure they will clear the chain stay. This issue has caused me most problems and close shaves when building the frames up after the fact.
The Paterek manual teaches the use full sized drawings, offering up completed sections of the frame to the drawings to check accuracy and even brazing sections over the top of the drawings on a large table. Perhaps most amateur builders will have the same problems as I have had in not having a large enough space to accommodate said table or being able to find paper large enough! I sometimes do full size drawings of lug sections which helps when sanding out lugs to adjust the angle. I guess building without any form of jig would require the use of full size drawings.