Author Topic: Building a bike frame  (Read 6932 times)

greaper007

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Building a bike frame
« on: June 15, 2014, 10:21:52 PM »
Who's done it?    I know I wouldn't be saving money over say a trek or other big bike company bike.    I would be saving money over a handmade frame though.    I'd also be able to space purchases over a period of time which would be easier on the credit card statement.

I just really like the look and feel of lugged steel frames.   I've looked for older ones on craigslist but the ones I find seem to be beat up, overpriced or snatched up by hipsters before I can make a bid.    Beyond that, many of the frames aren't setup for modern components.    I figure I have an OA torch (plan on upgrading the hoses and running propane oxygen) and I'm able to solder copper pipe.   I also have a small hvlp paint gun and an undersized compressor (think I'll piggyback a tank onto it).    So with a little bit of practice I think I can get chromo steel safely brazed together and painted.

I have an old kona hardtail that I've converted to a commuter but I really don't like it.   It's my wife's old bike and the frame is one size too small for me.   I've turned it into a franken-bike that sort of works by switching out the stem and handlebars to make it fit me.   But it still get uncomfortable after 7 miles or so.   

I could go buy something off the rack.  But wouldn't it be more mustachian to learn how to build wheels, braze steel, and paint?  Those seem like skills I could use in the future....maybe.

Russ

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Re: Building a bike frame
« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2014, 10:49:55 PM »
negative ned here

All frames are handmade. Even if you want small-batch / one-off / custom it is probably less expensive than you think. And no, these are not really skills that you can use to turn a profit unless you discount your time very heavily (except maybe painting, although you will need to be at least semi-artistic to get a leg up on powdercoating). Wheelbuilding you may be able to save yourself money on, but probably not unless you get some excellent brodeals on parts. Machine-built wheels are awesome and cheap, no matter what anybody else tells you. You will also be spending a zillion dollars on tools that you will maybe use three times in your life. Double how much you think it will cost. Triple how long you think it will take.

Also lol at the hipster bit coming from a guy who "likes the look and feel (what does that even mean) of lugged steel frames". The youths are appropriating my bicycle culture!

GuitarStv

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Re: Building a bike frame
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2014, 06:43:52 AM »
There are about a billion bike frames for sale out there.  Do you honestly need a custom built frame, or just one that fits you really well and is comfortable?  If you buy the frame with the wheels and all components as an assembled bike it's usually much cheaper than buying the components separately.

No reason you can't learn to build wheels, braze steel, and paint with a cheap old frame that fits you well.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Building a bike frame
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2014, 06:58:07 AM »
I wouldn't bother. Cool project? Absolutely. But I think rehabbing an old bike would be more fun, and significantly less expensive. Also more Mustachian, since it doesn't require the consumption of new raw materials to produce.

Welding takes a lot of practice. I'm not sure I'd ever spend enough time doing it, personally, to trust the strength of welds at 20 mph on the road.

bogart

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Re: Building a bike frame
« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2014, 08:10:08 AM »

Russ

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Re: Building a bike frame
« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2014, 08:22:12 AM »
... wouldn't it be more mustachian to ...

http://www.instructables.com/id/Bamboo-Bike-Frame/

Missing the point.

If OP wants to conserve resources, getting a used frame would be #1 (after using what he already has of course, but that doesn't seem to be an option), and the carbon fiber / fiberglass / gross adhesives probably make this no better environmentally than brazing up some good ol' steel despite the bamboo hype. Especially considering that a hacked-together bamboo bicycle will probably break in a couple of years, needing either fixing or replacement.

If OP wants to learn actual skills, cutting grass to length and bonding it together with rope and glue is not that.

Left Bank

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Re: Building a bike frame
« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2014, 08:36:05 AM »
I think it is a cool project and from that you will learn a LOT.  On top of that you will have a great sense of accomplishment but go at it from that angle - it's a hobby, you want to do it, so plan on spending the bucks.  Don't bother pretending it will save money/time/discomfort/etc.  Just do it because you want to, can afford to, and there is no need for validation from the MMM community.  Good luck and post up some pics when you are done!

greaper007

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Re: Building a bike frame
« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2014, 09:29:47 PM »
negative ned here

All frames are handmade. Even if you want small-batch / one-off / custom it is probably less expensive than you think. And no, these are not really skills that you can use to turn a profit unless you discount your time very heavily (except maybe painting, although you will need to be at least semi-artistic to get a leg up on powdercoating). Wheelbuilding you may be able to save yourself money on, but probably not unless you get some excellent brodeals on parts. Machine-built wheels are awesome and cheap, no matter what anybody else tells you. You will also be spending a zillion dollars on tools that you will maybe use three times in your life. Double how much you think it will cost. Triple how long you think it will take.

Also lol at the hipster bit coming from a guy who "likes the look and feel (what does that even mean) of lugged steel frames". The youths are appropriating my bicycle culture!

I love steel frames, my first mountain bike was a suspension free steel hardtail and I think it was the smoothest ride I've ever owned.    And I think that lugs just look cooler than welds (doesn't everyone?).    If that's hipster, then guilty as charged.    My comment wasn't really condemning hipsters, I just find that old steel frames on Craigslist are either way too expensive or snatched up before I can even make an offer.   Thus I'm considering making my own.    I'd also like to build my own wheels just so I can understand the process of truing wheels better.    Much like when I started working on my cars in my mid-20s,  I finally started to understand what was happening under the hood.

I have a couple of books on frame building, and if I use the jig free method of building from Paterek book I basically have all the tools I would need to use, now.     Sure I don't have a few specialty things like bottom bracket taps but I could just pay a bike shop a few bucks to do the few things I can't.   I think I priced the specialty tool stuff out at about $80 at a local bike shop.

I'm having a hard time finding a bike I like at a reasonable price.    I like the Cross Check's geometry and braze ons.    But I don't like the bar end shifters and a few other components (thus I'd be dropping a few hundred bucks on brifters and a saddle right away).   The price is still pretty high for what you get too.    I could go with a big name bike company but again it seems hard to find touring/road bikes that can take a rack or haul a trailer.    If there's a reasonably priced bike that can do that, I'm definitely open to suggestions.

I seem to run into this dilemma a lot.   And as a stay at home dad my time is actually worth nothing beyond intrinsic value.    Thus I tend to build/fix a lot of the things we need.   Right now I'm building a 10 ft wide bed because my wife, kids and I co-sleep.    Yes, it's taking twice as long but it's not twice as expensive as what I could pay someone to build something similar.   

kendallf

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Re: Building a bike frame
« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2014, 09:40:04 PM »
I regularly buy old steel frames and fix them up, and have tried my hand at building one from scratch -- buying used is definitely cheaper.  Framebuilding is such a cool thing, though, that I would encourage you to give it a try, just from a skills building perspective.  If you don't buy a bunch of expensive jigs, it's pretty low buck; tubesets start at under $100 from Nova/Cycle Supply.

If you want to practice, start smaller.  I just brazed some rack bosses and another set of bottle bosses into an old Schwinn World Sport frame that I picked up for $5.  It's at the powder coaters now and it will soon be my new commuter rig.  :-)

greaper007

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Re: Building a bike frame
« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2014, 09:43:17 PM »
I regularly buy old steel frames and fix them up, and have tried my hand at building one from scratch -- buying used is definitely cheaper.  Framebuilding is such a cool thing, though, that I would encourage you to give it a try, just from a skills building perspective.  If you don't buy a bunch of expensive jigs, it's pretty low buck; tubesets start at under $100 from Nova/Cycle Supply.

If you want to practice, start smaller.  I just brazed some rack bosses and another set of bottle bosses into an old Schwinn World Sport frame that I picked up for $5.  It's at the powder coaters now and it will soon be my new commuter rig.  :-)

Thanks for the encouragement, I like your idea of practicing smaller.    You don't happen to be in the Denver area and have anything in a 6' male's size?

greaper007

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Re: Building a bike frame
« Reply #10 on: June 16, 2014, 09:44:15 PM »
I think it is a cool project and from that you will learn a LOT.  On top of that you will have a great sense of accomplishment but go at it from that angle - it's a hobby, you want to do it, so plan on spending the bucks.  Don't bother pretending it will save money/time/discomfort/etc.  Just do it because you want to, can afford to, and there is no need for validation from the MMM community.  Good luck and post up some pics when you are done!

Thanks, love the attitude.

Russ

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Re: Building a bike frame
« Reply #11 on: June 16, 2014, 09:45:27 PM »
I could go with a big name bike company but again it seems hard to find touring/road bikes that can take a rack or haul a trailer.    If there's a reasonably priced bike that can do that, I'm definitely open to suggestions.

If that's your hangup, literally any bike would work. Modern trailers have axle mount hitches that fit between the QR lever (or track nut) and dropout. I've hauled washing machines, 55 gallon drums, and 100 lbs of camping equipment and firewood over a mile of train tracks that way and have had zero issues. There are seatpost mount racks, QR mount racks, racks that mount to seatstay and fork crown brake holes instead of rack bosses, seatpost collars with rack bosses, and a million other configurations that will work with anything. I chuckle at my coworkers all the time for finding ways to mount racks on their carpet fiber racemobiles and full sus MTBs, but hey, bottom line is they work. If you post your constraints I can help you find what you need.

I don't have a problem with you building your own frame. It's a cool project and something I want to do someday as well. All I'm saying is that there's not much reason to do it beside that it would be fun.

Rackbuilding would be another good entry into brazing, if you want to get some practice on something useful but slightly less structural/dangerous. If you're building a commuter you'll probs want custom racks anyway. http://alexwetmore.org/?cat=298

Russ

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Re: Building a bike frame
« Reply #12 on: June 16, 2014, 10:03:48 PM »
not sure exactly what size you need, but any of these bikes would be hot shit for a quick commuter. re-rake the fork, add some braze-ons, and build a front rack and you have a sw8 porteur

http://denver.craigslist.org/bik/4523471552.html
http://denver.craigslist.org/bik/4522508659.html
http://denver.craigslist.org/bik/4516019879.html

greaper007

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Re: Building a bike frame
« Reply #13 on: June 16, 2014, 10:06:44 PM »
I could go with a big name bike company but again it seems hard to find touring/road bikes that can take a rack or haul a trailer.    If there's a reasonably priced bike that can do that, I'm definitely open to suggestions.

If that's your hangup, literally any bike would work. Modern trailers have axle mount hitches that fit between the QR lever (or track nut) and dropout. I've hauled washing machines, 55 gallon drums, and 100 lbs of camping equipment and firewood over a mile of train tracks that way and have had zero issues. There are seatpost mount racks, QR mount racks, racks that mount to seatstay and fork crown brake holes instead of rack bosses, seatpost collars with rack bosses, and a million other configurations that will work with anything. I chuckle at my coworkers all the time for finding ways to mount racks on their carpet fiber racemobiles and full sus MTBs, but hey, bottom line is they work. If you post your constraints I can help you find what you need.

I don't have a problem with you building your own frame. It's a cool project and something I want to do someday as well. All I'm saying is that there's not much reason to do it beside that it would be fun.

Rackbuilding would be another good entry into brazing, if you want to get some practice on something useful but slightly less structural/dangerous. If you're building a commuter you'll probs want custom racks anyway. http://alexwetmore.org/?cat=298

Thanks for the reply.   That's the system I currently have on my commuter for the kid's trailer, though I do have braze-ons for the rear rack.   And I've hauled enough to break my trailer twice.    I mostly meant that it seems to be difficult to find a bike with the components I want that has a rear triangle that can take a load at a reasonable price.     

I'd love something with relaxed road bike geometry and braze-ons for things like racks and fenders.   Got any ideas beyond Surly?

greaper007

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Re: Building a bike frame
« Reply #14 on: June 16, 2014, 10:08:05 PM »
not sure exactly what size you need, but any of these bikes would be hot shit for a quick commuter. re-rake the fork, add some braze-ons, and build a front rack and you have a sw8 porteur

http://denver.craigslist.org/bik/4523471552.html
http://denver.craigslist.org/bik/4522508659.html
http://denver.craigslist.org/bik/4516019879.html

56ish, thanks for those.   That bridgestone could be a contender.

capital

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Re: Building a bike frame
« Reply #15 on: June 16, 2014, 10:27:32 PM »
Who's done it?    I know I wouldn't be saving money over say a trek or other big bike company bike.    I would be saving money over a handmade frame though.    I'd also be able to space purchases over a period of time which would be easier on the credit card statement.

I just really like the look and feel of lugged steel frames.   I've looked for older ones on craigslist but the ones I find seem to be beat up, overpriced or snatched up by hipsters before I can make a bid.    Beyond that, many of the frames aren't setup for modern components.    I figure I have an OA torch (plan on upgrading the hoses and running propane oxygen) and I'm able to solder copper pipe.   I also have a small hvlp paint gun and an undersized compressor (think I'll piggyback a tank onto it).    So with a little bit of practice I think I can get chromo steel safely brazed together and painted.

I have an old kona hardtail that I've converted to a commuter but I really don't like it.   It's my wife's old bike and the frame is one size too small for me.   I've turned it into a franken-bike that sort of works by switching out the stem and handlebars to make it fit me.   But it still get uncomfortable after 7 miles or so.   

I could go buy something off the rack.  But wouldn't it be more mustachian to learn how to build wheels, braze steel, and paint?  Those seem like skills I could use in the future....maybe.
Building wheels is fun, and reasonable to do in a home shop (maybe using a bike coop's truing stand). But the other stuff, not so much.

Framebuilding requires buying or building jigs and expensive tools (headset press, tools chase/face various surfaces, etc), and either expensive classes or enough trial-and-error that you've gone through a lot of time and potentially a lot of expensive materials.

There are plenty of lovely lugged frames, or even whole bikes, for much less than new. I recently paid $220 or so for a nice vintage Swiss frame from an obscure bike brand that happens to share my name. The paint was beat up, but any bike you actually ride regularly will get its paint beat up anywayŚ it feels much better to put the 100th scratch onto a paintjob than the first.

Just watch CL/Ebay for a while. Here's a recent example of something really nice going for not that much:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Concorde-Aquila-60cm-Bicycle-Columbus-SLX-/261499486960?pt=US_Bicycles_Frames&hash=item3ce29582f0

Not to say framebuilding wouldn't be a fun hobby for you to pick up, and potentially a nice creative outelt. But there's no way you'll save money by doing it, and you're unlikely to make much money at it as a side hustleŚ it could be a way to bring in a bit of money as a labor of love, but no one gets rich at it.

capital

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Re: Building a bike frame
« Reply #16 on: June 16, 2014, 10:35:37 PM »
I'm having a hard time finding a bike I like at a reasonable price.    I like the Cross Check's geometry and braze ons.    But I don't like the bar end shifters and a few other components (thus I'd be dropping a few hundred bucks on brifters and a saddle right away).   The price is still pretty high for what you get too.    I could go with a big name bike company but again it seems hard to find touring/road bikes that can take a rack or haul a trailer.    If there's a reasonably priced bike that can do that, I'm definitely open to suggestions.
Here's a Cross-Check knockoff (with the exact same geometry, likely made in Taiwan by Maxway just like the Cross-Check) with brifters for much less than the Surly:
http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/motobecane/fantom_cxx.htm

And here's a dirt cheap commuter-CX bike:
http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/gravity/liberty_cx.htm
My girlfriend has this one, and it's served well for 2 years.

Here are a couple cheap touring bikes:
http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product_10053_10052_553824_-1
http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/windsor/tourist-touring-bikes-v.htm

None of them are nearly as beautiful as anything vintage, although the chrome CXX is pretty rad looking.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Building a bike frame
« Reply #17 on: June 17, 2014, 06:35:48 AM »
How much weight are you hauling? Obviously not all trailers are made equal, but I have one of the older Burleys with the solid plastic tub instead of canvas and regularly pull 175 pounds on my aluminum Trek FX.

I've had to re grease the hubs on the trailer but it's held up remarkably well. Probably have at least 500 miles on it by now.

Have fun whatever you do :)

Some day there needs to be a SAHD biker dad group ride, somehow :P

GuitarStv

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Re: Building a bike frame
« Reply #18 on: June 17, 2014, 06:41:00 AM »
http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product_10053_10052_553824_-1

I can vouch that the Nashbar steel frame touring bike is quite nice to ride.  I've been using one for two years now.  No problems fitting front and rear racks on it, works well hauling a trailer.  Even the wheelset is OK.  My only complaint is that the QR skewer on the rear wheel doesn't grip very well (causing the rear wheel to slip occasionally under hard pedalling), but I replaced it with a better skewer and it's been fine since then.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2014, 06:43:06 AM by GuitarStv »

cambridgecyclist

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Re: Building a bike frame
« Reply #19 on: June 17, 2014, 10:36:18 AM »
I took a framebuilding class and built a bicycle frame and fork for under $650 including materials and powdercoating. It taught me a lot of skills including how to use a mini-lathe safely, how to use an oxyacetylene torch and how to braze. It was a cost-effective way to get a custom frame that fits me correctly, and I've reused the skills learned in this class many times. It took about 40 hours to build the bicycle and I enjoyed almost all of that time.

However, it is still a frame built by an amateur. I know my welds are strong but they're not pretty.

If the objective is to get a frame with the features you want, not to productively use your downtime and gain skills in the process, bicycle frames are a cheap commodity and it is easier to find a frame with the features you want than it is to go through the effort of building it yourself.