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WHEELS OF STEEL: Designing and building a home made bike...

Ian James has a passion for bikes so much so he is designing and building his own road bike frames. The frame building is a joint project with his father (a retired technology teacher) using his garage based workshop.

Their first frame was built using Reynolds 631 steel tubing (collected from the Reynolds factory in Hall Green Birmingham) using brazed lugs. The wheels are hand built and all the final build was completed by the pair.

The bike was designed as an all year round commuter bike with disc brakes, mud guard mounts and a carbon fibre fork. The drive train is a mix from the Campagnolo range with finishing bits from Thomson and FSA and Hope. The bike has now covered over 600 miles and it rides in a straight line, is stable and corners well which is not bad for a bike made in a garage by builders with no previous experience!

Ian has now started designing the next frame which will use a combination of Reynolds 853 and Columbus Spirit tubing and it will be fillet braze instead of using lugs to get a seamless finish. The geometry of the second bike will be more aggressive and the final build should be lighter producing a faster and more agile bike, perfect for summer outings.

Ian is in the process of modelling the frame on the computer in 3D using the same CAD software Fleming James Architects use to design building. The use of 3D computer modelling is proving to be a great way of resolving design issue before any steel is cut in anger, much like the benefits of designing buildings in 3D.

The following are a series of photos showing the progression of the build:

The start point for the first frame - tubes and lugs

Work in progress images showing the first frame in construction.

Original drawing for the bike graphics. This image shows how basic the original drawings were for the first frame in comparison to those worked up in 3D for the second frame.

The anatomy of a bike showing all the parts before it was built up

The Completed first bike called iSB/01 (Ian's Special Bike) as suggested by Ian's 5 year old son.

Work in progress design drawings for the second bike ready to be tweaked following a professional bike fit to determine the exact frame size to suit Ian.

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