Archive | March, 2013

Always practicing…

…always learning.

When was the last time that you did something just to get better at it?

A tricky fillet braze, or an awkward hand mitre?

Did you make real progress?

Meaningful practice means more than just doing something often. You need to spend time considering the outcome, you need to know what to look for and crucially you need to know what you can do to improve.

We know that it takes a long time to become a master at something, so our courses are designed to teach you the practical skills and understanding that you need to be able to engage in meaningful practice. We teach you how to learn.

So if you’d like to get better at getting better – give us a call.

Original photo by Richard Olivier –

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Bespoked Bristol 2013

Bespoked Bristol really is the highlight of the year for all things frame building in the uk.

Aside from our own stand and staging the first live frame build,  we’ve got some really cool things lined up: we’re going to be launching our own range of frame building tools and Jigs, bicycle sizing and fitting courses for frame builders, along with other brand new frame building and skills courses too.

If you haven’t already booked your show tickets make sure that you do, just follow this link and have your wallet at the ready:

See you in a few weeks!

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Live Frame Build

We’re really excited to be staging the first ‘Live Frame Build’ event at Bespoked Bristol this year.

Dreamt up over a coffee at Look Mum No Hands after last years Great British Braze Off the event will give people a chance to get up close and see frame builders at work whist they collaboratively build a single bicycle together over the course of the show.

With help and support from Weldability-Sif and Air Products we’ll be setting up a frame building workshop at the show, complete with all the files and emery cloth you could ever need.

Phil (organiser of bespoked) has done a great job of getting everything together and we can’t wait to get started. Here are the full details pulled straight from the show website:

“Bespoked Bristol and The Bicycle Academy will be staging a collaboration between some of the world’s best frame builders, wheel builders and bike fitters, and include some of the worlds finest cycling components. The result will be a very special bicycle made especially for one lucky person. This bicycle will be made live throughout the show.

A raffle will be held at the show’s launch on Friday 12th, April (17.00 – 20.00), with the draw taking place later that evening alongside the show awards presented by Bristol’s Mayor George Ferguson. The winner of this raffle will be measured and over the course of the weekend the frame will be designed and built (finishing and presentation of this bike will take place after the show).

Raffle tickets will cost £5 with the money raised being donated to The Bristol Bicycle Project and World Bicycle Relief. The bicycle will be a custom made, Reynolds 725 single speed, with Columbus carbon forks.”

Bespoked Bristol & The Bicycle Academy – Live Frame Build

The Bike

Frame: Reynolds 725

Forks: Columbus, Minimal

Lugs: Ceeway Framebuilding Supplies

Dropouts: Paul Component Engineering

Cranks, Bottom Bracket, Headset: Velo Orange, Grand Cru – Freshtripe

Bars, Stem and Seat Post: Nitto – Tokyo Fixed

Saddle: Brooks England

Brakes: Campagnolo – Athena Skeleton Brakes – Chicken Cycle Kit

Hubs: Paul Component Engineering

Rims: Brick Lane Bikes – H Plus Son Archetype

Spokes: Sapim – Chicken Cycle Kit

Tyres: Schwalbe

The Frame Build

The frame will be built live throughout the show by some of the best in the world!

Bike Fitting: Andy Sexton – Bike Science and Phil Cavell – Cyclefit

Frame Design, Geometry & Materials: Paul Hewitt – Paul Hewitt Cycles, Robert Wade – Swallow Bespoke and Brent Curry – Bike CAD

Tube, Lug Prep, Mitering and Jig: 
Andrew Denham – The Bicycle Academy and Ryan McCaig – Oak Cycles

Brazing: Mark Reilly – Enigma, Jason Rourke – Brian Rourke Cycles and Marco Bertoletti – Legend.

Frame finishing: Matthew Sowter – Saffron Frameworks (to be completed after the show)

Wheels: Jon Webb – Just Riding Along  and Klaus Greuter – Sapim Spokes

Paint: Armourtex London (to be completed after the show)

The Equipment, tools and consumables

Frame building equipment and tools: The Bicycle Academy

Brazing equipment and consumables: Weldability-Sif

Gas:  Air Products

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Swarf Cycles

We’re really lucky, we to get to teach lots of different people here at The Bicycle Academy; from first timers to part time frame builders and also working pro’s. This week we taught Adrian from Swarf Cycles, a one man bike brand that Adrian runs from his workshop at home in Dorset.

Adrian’s a design engineer working in the Aerospace industry so it’s safe to say that he’s got more than enough engineering knowledge to do the job, but as is often the case he wanted to really get to grips with fillet brazing so came to us for a Fillet Brazing Masterclass.

Adrian’s got some great designs including this 6″ FS prototype complete with a beautiful home made custom carbon swingarm. Having ridden it I can honestly say that I really want one, I think it’s the perfect UK DH bike and it pedals well too!

It’s really exciting to be a small part of projects like this, we’ll be following his progress and keep you posted with how the bikes take shape.

To stay in the loop have a look at the Swarf Cycles Facebook page and give them a ‘like’.



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Made In Brunel (well, Frome actually)

Over the past few weeks we’ve been working on a cool side project with Brunel University student Kat Harris and Charge Bikes. Kat’s one of three students working with Charge Bikes to develop some new products for the Frome based brand, a project which she’ll be unveiling towards the end of April.

We were asked by Charge Bikes to help out by working with Kat to create a prototype of her design, teaching her the practical skills and making the relevant tooling.

Well we’re chuffed with the progress that we made in such a short period of time, ‘daylight tight’ hand filed mitres in only a few hours, then great fillet brazing the next day after less than 3 hours of training from scratch. Kat did a great job!

To cap it all off the second day was filmed by Alex Rankin so watch out for the new Charge Bikes videos as we’re in one of them looking more than a bit awkward trying to talk into the camera!

Photo credit and Copyright Richard Olivier

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Worth the wait…

These frames are well overdue.

We scheduled them in to be made at the end of autumn last year but just as Brian he got started he was taken seriously ill and had to be signed off work.

As time went on he started to get better but then things got worse and he was back to square one. That went on for 4 months.

Sure we had things to do, but nothing as important as Brian’s health and nothing that couldn’t wait.

We’re pleased to say that Brian is now almost fully recovered. He’s been spending the past few weeks working towards starting to braze and teach again, and of course he’s been finishing off these little beauties.

Each frame has taken almost as long to make as a full scale bicycle frame, with a special set of jigs, cutting and bending tools all of which had to be made first. They’ve been hand made with love, care and attention. Now we’ve just got to get them clear lacquered, then they’ll be sent out to our lovely backers.

We know that these have been a long time coming, but they’ll be worth the wait, we’re sure.

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100,000 hours distilled into 8

There’s fillet brazing and there’s fillet brazing.

You only have to look at the wide range of results produced ‘straight out of the torch’ by tutors, builders and enthusiasts to see that some rely more heavily on the file than others to achieve a final result.

Fillet brazing is a technique that many schools shy away from because it’s notoriously difficult to master and most find it difficult to teach. Some insist that students pass an entry evaluation, or hold your hand the whole time, or insist on students taking significantly lengthened courses, or suggest that it simply isn’t possible to teach to a suitable standard; it’s just a matter of lots of practice and building up experience.

Well, there’s teaching and there’s teaching.

We get asked by lots of people how we teach our students to fillet braze to such a high standard in such a short period of time. Well we’ve got a great combination of ingredients; over 50 years of fillet brazing expertise, great equipment and materials, and we’ve got a real passion and a proven skill for teaching.

We’re proud to say that we’ve taught just under 100 novices how to fillet braze, developed the skills of award winning pro’s like Tom Donhou and are working with two famous British bicycle manufacturers to provide them with fillet brazing tuition.

So when people say “it can’t be done” that’s just because they don’t know how. We do it every day of the week.

If you’d like to learn how to fillet braze, you can book onto our Fillet Brazing Masterclass and if you’d like to learn to build frames too you can book onto our Frame Building Course (which of course includes fillet brazing tuition).

Straight Out Of The Torch #StraightOutOfTheTorch

Photo: TBA student Gareth Howell fillet brazing his first ever frame (he was a complete novice only 3 days previously).

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