Classes To Learn Mountain Bike Frame Building

bike frame weldingHave you ever thought about designing and building your own bicycle frame?

It may sound incredibly hard but there are actually several schools and classes around the United States that are teaching bicycle frame building. You don’t even have to know how to weld or braze before you start the class. They actually teach you everything you need to know in about a week of hands on personal teaching with a master builder.

When taking these classes you are instructed on all of the topics and techniques needed to build a complete bicycle frame. The tuition cost pays for the shop space, tubing, and materials needed for your own frame. Often times paint work or powdercoating is not included in the class but can be provided for a fee after the class is finished.

The classes allow you to build just about any type of bike you’d want. I’ve focused on classes that include mountain bike frame building. Each frame type needs certain jig and fixture setups as well as specific tubing on hand. Not all classes and builders have this equipment set to allow the building of mountain bikes.

Here are a few things to think about when deciding if a frame building class is right for you to attend:
  • No prior experience is needed in frame building, welding or brazing. Previous experience at a night class or community college brazing or welding is helpful.
  • Have good eye hand coordination.
  • Classes are usually during the day through the week with weekend off. They are usually 5 or 10 days.
  • Your tuition payment usually pays for the building materials of your frame, use of their facility, and their tools. However, you still need to think about lodging, food, and travel arrangements.
  • Most students do 100% of the frame but can ask for help at any point.
  • Cannot normally do recumbents or full suspension frames because of fixture issues.
  • Some builders offer a fork and parts to build a complete bike. Please check with your instructor on these specifics.
Good things to bring along if you have them:
  • Work Clothes including a long sleeve shirt – nothing baggy though
  • Safety glasses
  • Leather Gloves
  • Personal welding helmet
  • Comfortable closed toe shoes
Suggested reading and videos:
Typical Class Topics:

Below I’ve included a list of typical topics that you will learn about in your class. Each instructor and class is taught differently, so these may vary from class to class. Make sure you take a look at the class site to see what exactly you’ll be learning.

  • Rider fitting
  • Frame Geometry
  • Tube selection
  • Tube fitting
  • Welding methods – TIG, MIG, Oxy/Acetylene
  • Tacking and brazing joints
  • Lugs vs Fillet brazing
  • Finishing of frame for paint
  • Tool selection
  • Jig set up and use
  • Shop safety
  • Paint or Powdercoating

Mountain Bike Frame Building Classes:

ANT Bikes
ANT Bikes Frame building class

ANT Bikes Frame Building Class

Class Location: Holliston, MA
Classes Available:
  • Frame Building Class – 5 days
    • TIG Welding / lugless
    • Lugged frame / braze class
  • Frame Building Business Class – 6 weeks
Frames you can build:
  • Road
  • Touring
  • Cross
  • Mountain
  • Fixed gear
  • BMX
  • Basket Bike
  • Roadster City bike
Bohemian
Bohemian Framebuilding School

Bohemian Framebuilding School

Class Location: Tuscon AZ
Classes Available:
  • Beginner – 10 days
  • Advanced – 10 days
  • Welding or brazing seminar
Frames you can build:
  • Build what you like within reason (no trikes, recumbents, full suspension)
Brew Bikes
Brew Bikes

Brew Bikes

Class Location: Creston, NC
Classes Available:
  • Bicycle Frame Building class – 5 days
Frames you can build:
  • MTB
  • Road
  • Single Speed
  • Cyclocross
  • BMX
  • 29er
Doug Fattic Frame building class

Doug Fattic

Doug Fattic
Class Location: Niles, MI

For Doug Fattic’s frame building class I’m going a bit more depth than the other classes. Doug doesn’t have a web presence online for potential students to glance at. I found out he does this for good reason by emailing him to ask some questions about his class.

Doug wants to work with students that have done research in the area of frame building classes. He wants his potential students to have asked around and looked into other classes to find out about him on their own instead of just a quick Google search. By reading past experiences from previous students on blogs and other articles, they get a much better understanding of what Doug has to offer in his class.

Once a potential student contacts Doug he communicates with them via email to answer questions and get to know the potential student. I got to take a look at these inquiries myself. These emails include some really great materials on how the class is formatted, what you’ll learn, and frequently asked questions. You’ll have no doubt reading through this material if Doug’s class is right for you or not.

Some background on Doug Fattic himself:

Doug apprenticed in England with master builder Jack Briggs in the 70’s.  He has undergraduate and graduate degrees in the field of education.  For over 30 years he has served on various school boards and is presently a board chairman. He has been teaching frame building classes since 1976 and has visited many other builders in the United States and abroad. He owns an impressive collection of handbuilt bikes from some of the most prestigious names in frame building. These frames are on display in his shop for students to look at for inspiration.  Doug has also been involved with a project to make bicycles in Ukraine for 12 years for service oriented workers.

Some things that are special to classes with Doug:
  • Emphasis on filing techniques
  • Brazing method to get really clean lug shorelines
  • Incorporate frame alignment into the build process right from the beginning (others do it all at the end)
  • Advanced techniques – like how to do custom lug work
  • Let students work as late as they want in the shop after class
  • Lodging on site if you wish with a fully equipped kitchen
Classes Available:
  • Introductory class – good introduction on frame building to get you ahead of the curve for the 2 week training – 3 days
  • Standard class – 2 weeks
  • Longer class – more instruction time on customization and frame finishing/painting – 3 weeks
Frames you can build:
  • Mountain
  • Road
  • Track
  • Most anything else within reason
Contact Information:

 

MetalGuru (Vicious Cycles)
Metal Guru frame building class

Metal Guru Frame Building Class

<<Dec 2017 Update>>

It doesn’t appear they are offering lessons any longer. But if you’re interested in having someone build a custom frame for you, they are offering that as a service.

Class Location: Hudson Valley, NY
Classes Available:
  • Lessons in Welded Steel Frame building – 68-hour course with flexible scheduling
Frames you can build:
  • Road
  • Track
  • Cyclocross
  • Touring
  • Hard-tail XC mountain (26”, 650B, 29”) either geared or single speed
Ti Cycles
Ti Cycles Frame Building Class

Ti Cycles Frame Building Class

Class Location: Portland, OR
Classes Available:
  • Frame building class – 4 days (2 weekends)
Frames you can build:
  • Any style of steel frame that is compatible with the Hydra frame jig from Bicycle Machinery
United Bicycle Institute
United Bicycle Institute

United Bicycle Institute

 

Class Location: Ashland, OR and Portland, OR
Classes Available:
  • Cromoly Brazing Frame Building – 2 Weeks
  • Cromoly TIG Welding Frame Building – 2 Weeks
  • Titanium Frame Building – 2 Weeks
  • Alumni Frame Building Week – 5 Days
  • TIG Welding Seminar – 2 Days
Frames you can build:
  • Mountain bike
  • Road bike
  • Hybrid bike
  • Cyclocross bike
  • Track bike
  • Trials bike

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