I was given the privilege of exhibiting at this year’s Bespoke bicycle show in Bristol where I hoped to generate interest and contributions to this website. I was gratified to meet many frame builders who were hobbyists rather than professionals, though even the professional builders were accommodating with knowledge. I hope that many of those I met will indeed keep in touch to help disperse their knowledge.
Below are the aspects of the show I thought may be helpful to framebuilders, though actually having a stand at the show leaves little time to get around and view!
Jigs and Tools
There were only two frame building jigs on display and both appeared last year:
THE BICYCLE ACADEMY jig above was displayed last year as a prototype. The production model is anodised in black. The first batch sold out on pre order. I do not know the current price but it was to have retailed at around £2000. You would have to contact the Bicycle Academy direct for more details.
SPUTNIK TOOLS jig you have to admire even if you have no chance of affording one, prices are on the website. Jeff Buchholz is based in Maine, New England so VAT and import duties apply. He does a lovely range of tools and was on hand to explain some of them to me, the most popular being the frame clamps for holding cable guides etc. His bottle boss fixture also seems perfect but I was most taken by the heat sinks which were steel and bronze and expand to fit the seat tube or bottom bracket. they have to be sized but I think I shall be contacting him soon to order a seat tube sink.
BEAR BIKES in Bedfordshire have a CNC machine and were looking to offering CNC machining services to frame builders so you can have your own dropout designs etc. I wasn’t sure how small a run of components they would find viable but they may be worth a try if you want something of your own design. They have already produced dropouts for other small builders.
Frame Building Courses
There are now several more mainly “under the radar” frame building courses out there. Two were exhibiting at bespoke.
PHOENIX HOTWORKS frame builder Darren Barber offers 5 day courses only, but they are 1:1. A limited range of tube sets is offered. I presume the courses are somewhere in London
NERVE BIKES based in Newhaven, East Sussex, offer 5 day courses using the usual tube set options and will also offer a second course after the first to build in stainless steel. Tutors are Mark Reilly and Jon Chickens.
Frame techniques and details
These are pictures of details on various bikes that highlight how many different ways there are to do things:
This is Matt Teague’s take on a frame splitter. He did explain the finer details but still not sure how he plumbs the down tube other than there are 3 layers. It bolts through to prevent rotation when pedalling and the seat tube is simply split and held together by the seat post. the frame is Reynolds 631. It also features cable splitters. The S&S system most widely used isn’t available to non professionals but Andrew Denham at The Bicycle Academy assures me that can offer a course to fit them if anyone has an interest.
My personal favourite at the show, and winner of the public vote was this tourer from Toad Cycles. Not sure if he made this rack but the torch is definitely non standard. Built for this years L’Eroica Britannia ride apparently due to a rule change which allows new build steel bikes provided they have vintage style components and down tube shifters, helpfully still manufactured by Dia Compe. See http://eroicabritannia.co.uk/general-information/bike-rules.
Gerald Gilbert is a Jeweller by trade and makes lovely model bicycles and accessories cast in bronze. He brought two track bikes, his most spectacular one having various hand made bits, in particular the cast bronze stem and hand made brake lever. See http://exeterdesigner.com/geraldgilbert/
integral brackets and cabling for lighting systems now seem popular
This Sturdy Cycles time trial bike has integrated lights also. The lower handlebars form part of the fork and are attached to the top bar, the headset mechanism being hidden behind. It uses Columbus ovalised tubing except the top tube was ovalised by Tom Sturdy but I didn’t ask him exactly how. The seat height is fixed but a sliding arrangement could be substituted.
Below are some further frame features that caught my eye:
I am also always interested in racks and their connections with the frame. Here the racks are mounted on the V brake bosses:
And lots of details come together in the Paulus Quiros bikes, a result definitely to aspire to, though I don’t think I will come close:
I was given to believe I too could make a bike like this Swarf Balance bike prototype if I watched enough you tube videos:
One bike that really impressed me was the single speed Electric assist bike from TI Cycles. Based in Portland, Oregon, builder Dave Levy assured me it was a “blast” to ride. Based on the Italian made Zehus hub which is completely self contained and wireless, controlled by bluetooth from your smartphone. Currently available only as single speed. It needs specially constructed dropouts though drawings are available on their website to have them made. You cannot retrofit the hubs because of this so it is an ideal innovation for custom builders. Still not sure if they will sell me one though.
Finally a word on the ‘Best in Show’ bike as well as ‘Best New Frame Builder’, made by Timmy Rowan of Rowan Frameworks. This is only his fourth bike! Should give us all encouragement.
You can see more detailed and much better photographs at www.headsetpress.co.uk/feature/bespoked-bristol-2015