Frame building: fit, function, form
As far as I'm concerned, there isn't, nor should there be, any Voodoo about the process of creating a custom bicycle. The skills lie in understanding what you want, checking that's going to work as a practical design, specifying the materials and components, then building it well.
First things first
I'm always happy to talk through what might be involved in a specific commission, creating a design in principle and giving indicative costs. I like talking about bikes, that's one of the reasons I make them! There's no obligation. Custom bikes represent investments of time, emotional energy and money. It's important that things are clear, as it makes the later stages far more straightforward.
A brief word about costs. Typically my frames start at around £1,000 - £1,200. That's for a bare metal frame made of non-stainless steel without a fork or paint finish, with a polished stainless steel head badge. Paint costs vary widely depending on what you would like, but as a guide that starts at around £300 for a single colour spray finish.
After the inital discussions, drafting a cost, and agreeing a design in principle a deposit of 35% of the total is required to secure a spot in the build queue.
Now, some details.
If you have an existing bike that you find comfortable then we can work from there, translating the dimensions onto the new design. I also like to work with professional bike fitters and exercise experts. If you're looking to fix a problem that's causing pain I will always recommend that you get your body checked out before we build a bike. Get you right, then get the bike right. From a personal perspective I can thoroughly recommend Jo McRae working out of Le Beau Velo, but I'm happy to work with the fitter of your choice.
Once we have established your contact points on the bike the design can be finalised. We'll discuss how you intend to use it, which will drive tubing selection, wheel and component choice. Costs are taken into consideration, and I always try to create a balanced, appropriate package. I use BikeCAD as my design tool.
The look of the bike is obviously important, and it should sit harmoniously with the function. Paint choice, decorative details and other flourishes will be agreed before the build begins.
I construct bikes out of steel. It's an adaptable material that's good to work with. If you're already in the market for a custom bike then you probably already know that!
I predominantly use fillet brazing to construct the frame, normally with a brass brazing alloy. I do work with silver alloys too, and TIG weld. I also do lug work. I can hand or machine cut the tubing as needed, whatever works best for the job at hand. In other words, I can apply a variety of construction methods as needed.
The frame alignment is checked throughout the build process. Once the frame is complete it will be faced and chased, and whenever possible I like to do a test assembly. People often like seeing frames "in the raw" and building the bike up means we can check there are no issues prior to paint. Because no-one likes redoing a paint job.
I am meticulous about the setup of my bikes, and working as a professional mechanic I am familiar with Shimano, Campagnolo, and SRAM systems, working with the full range of mechancial, electrical and hydraulic components,. I can offer up to date advice on what will work for a trouble-free build.
Once the bike is back from paint and assembled it's ready for you to enjoy.