How to Become a Framebuilder

What it takes to become a framebuilder and tips to get there.

Feel a burning desire to scratch metal?

Many start out at the United Bicycle Institute (UBI) in Ashland and Portland, OR, home state to the Oregon Bicycle Constructors Association.

“Do it for the love of making things that are functional and beautiful,” said Brian Baylis of Baylis Handmade Cycles. “Doing it for a living full-time will take the fun and much of the creativity out of it. Try to deal as locally as possible, maintain close relationships with your clients. Learn the basics of fitting, designing and building the frame before you get artistic with your creations.”

Sam Whittingham of Naked Bicycles said framebuilding “is a highly skilled craft that is tricky to make a living at. Most builders fail after a few years because there is just too much to know. The few of us that are still going after 10 years are making very good bikes.”

Johnny Coast of Coast Cycles, a newer generation “steel and lugs” framebuilder, quips that he learned to weld at the earliest legal age possible as the son of a custom car builder and hot-rodder. He shares his shop with fellow framebuilder Seth Rosko, who specializes in TIG welding. “After my UBI training, I apprenticed under master framebuilder Koichi Yamaguchi,” said Coast. “Learn from great people, and build as many bikes as you can.”

Excellent Viewing for Aspiring Framebuilders and Owners Alike

Oregon’s United Bicycle Institute: bikeschool.com

Bespoke Exhibition at MAD: collections.madmuseum.org/code/emuseum.asp?emu_action=advsearch&rawsearch=exhibitionid/,/is/,/516/,/true/,/false&profile=exhibitions

Richard Sachs ranked national #1, 2009 Master Cyclocross: usacycling.org/rankings/index.php?f=no&sex=M&state=&org=road&disc=cx&cat=MR&msj=mr&agemin=30&agemax=99&year=2009

Tom Kellogg, Spectrum, on lug-mania: spectrum-cycles.com/43.htm

Richard Sachs “Perfection is Perfection DVD” (28 minutes): richardsachs.com/site/sachs-toys

SOPWAMPTOS, Society for People Who Make Their Own Shit – sample list of awards: forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=135155

Bruce Gordon Rock’n’Road: bgcycles.com/rocknroad.html

1 Comment

  • Tom Baker

    You don’t have to go to Oregon anymore to learn how to build a frame. Paul Brodie (of Brodie bikes) is teaching a course in Abbortsford, BC. I’m halfway through it and highly recommend it. Paul is a master craftsman and a great, easy going person to learn from. He has lots of courses coming up in 2011 and there are still lots of spots available. Its offered through the University of the Fraser Valley and the Aerospace Training Centre at the Abbotsford airport.

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