Archive | October, 2013

We made the front page…

A little over 6 months ago we were visited by the nice people at MadeGood.bikes who had asked to make a short documentary feature for The Guardian about me and why I had set up The Bicycle Academy . We had a great time with them as they worked their magic stealthily filming the goings on during one of our courses, and even managed to wrap up the talking head shots during a lunch break! It was a seamless operation.

A few months went by and we kind of forgot about the film only to be contacted again by Will who told us that the film would be released on The Guardian website within the next few weeks.

Well the film made the front page of The Guardian website for around 6 hrs, has been seen by thousands of people, and includes me calling Brian an “old fart” on camera. I couldn’t be happier!

Check out the MadeGood.bikes website, they’ve got a fantastic thing going on and have done a great job to provide you with some of the best bicycle related information resource there is, all of which they give away for free.

This short film was produced by MadeGood.films. Sound mix by George Hider & Leaf Troup, music written by George Hider. MadeGood provide free advice on bicycle repair. You can also follow MadeGood on twitter – @MadeGoodBikes


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Swarf Cycles – Curve

We blogged about Adrian Bedford and his company Swarf Cycles a few months back. Adrian had made a lovely prototype steel + carbon all-mountain bike, and was working to develop his next – well after months of hard work he’s launched it.

The guys at Dirt Magazine interviewed him a few weeks back, here’s what he had to say:

“Since I built the original frame I have made myself a jig and learnt to braze. I have to mention the Bicycle Academy as I went on their fillet brazing masterclass day which really gave me a big leap forward with my fillets. Before I was able to make strong joints, but hadn’t perfected getting them anywhere near neat and I was spending a lot of time cleaning joints up. Now I’m spending much less time on clean up and don’t find brazing stressful any more! Anyone wanting to learn bike building skills, give them a call, they’ll get you going in the right way. I braze using oxygen and propane to keep things simple.”

“So far I have made a single prototype frame that has been taking a battering for the last few months, it rides really nicely. I have had a few issues with finding a nice shock tune but in general the frame rides really well. I’ve used it with various different forks and swapped between 26″ and 650b wheels. It’s a really versatile bike and a load of fun! I’ve only run it in the 130mm configuration so far and its coped fine with everything including a week in the alps. The high pivot comes alive when it gets rough!”

It’s great to see our students using their new skills and building such awesome stuff. We think that the bike looks brilliant and are excited to get to ride one of the new demo fleet that Adrian is building at the moment. You can read the full interview with Adrian here:

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TBA Balance Bike Course

Over the past few months we’ve been teaching our Balance Bike Course with awesome results. Take Aron here, a rider who’d always dreamed of making bikes. Well over 2 days Aron made a beautiful little TBA balance bike for his son. From scratch, using fire and metal and plenty of elbow grease. Aron has now developed quite a taste for brazing and his son hasn’t stopped smiling since…

To enquire about this or any of our other courses please get in touch or fill out our booking form here.

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What more could the heart of a man desire?

Hi everybody, my name is Paul Burford. I’m one half of BTR Fabrications and we build mountain bikes designed to be abused. To date I have built just over 30 frames, mostly hardtails, but we have built a couple prototype full susers and have plans to put them into production very soon. Currently, BTR doesn’t make enough money to support both Tam and I, so we’ve always had to to work for the ‘man’ in order to buy food and pay the rent. Until now that is…

I’m teaching the Classic Framebuilding Course, and Tig Masterclass at TBA but How and Why did I get here? Well, that’s kind of a long story… I had been working as a Welder/Fabricator in the factories for a while, but then just before Christmas 2012 I was made redundant. Work had dried up and it was the old ‘last in first out’ jobbie so I found myself back walking the pavements looking for a new job. Now obviously I knew about TBA and I knew that Andrew was a man well connected, although I had never met him. So I fired him over an email asking him if he knew any welding jobs going that I could apply for. It didn’t take long for a reply to come back, he said “Well actually, I was thinking about starting a TIG welding course, do you want to come and visit this weekend?”. He didn’t have to ask me twice!

Obviously this kind of thing takes time to set up, Andrew had to buy all the equipment, and we needed to plan the course (not to mention find a space to teach) so I still had to find myself a job until we could get everything in place. I got myself into a place making heat exchangers for the oil and gas industry, pretty well paid and fairly interesting too. It wasn’t ‘the dream’ though… One day in July 2013 I got a call from Andrew “Something has come up, how soon can you start?” I replied “I only have to give a week notice, I’ll hand it in tomorrow” And that, as they say, was that!

But why? It was going to be more hours for less money. Any normal person would tell me that it didn’t make sense, and they did tell me. They didn’t understand though. I had been a fan of TBA and the work they did since I first heard about the crowd funding campaign, what could be cooler and more fun than teaching people how to make (which I love) bike frames (which I love)? Nothing! To top it all off Andrew said we could put the BTR workshop right next to TBA. Basically I didn’t even need to think about it.

I have been at TBA for just over two months now, I have moved house and the BTR workshop in that time both of which were pretty stressful,  but we’re in now and things have started to settle down a bit. I have to say it’s begun to sink in that this is all actually the dream come true! I really enjoy teaching people how to make stuff, and Andrew is by far the best Boss I have ever had (he’s standing right behind me), I can get Sam (the apprentice) to do all my dirty work, and BTR is pretty much in the same workshop. The girlfriend and I finally have our own house with fields and a river just across the road for walking Themba too.

“What more could the heart of a man desire?”

Keep ‘er Sideways


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Yorkshire Bicycle Show

It’s great to see so many new and interesting shows popping up at the moment, and we’re super happy to be involved in them. 2 weeks ago saw the very first Yorkshire Bike show

Yorkshire is a rich tapestry of cycling success. Its sleepy vales provide a haven for Sunday club runs, tea-stops and cake; its hills have trained the legs of Olympic medallists and its local industries are forged from frame-builders and renowned retailers.

We took part in the event on the Saturday providing a lugged fork building demo with Ricky Feather . It was great to be able to give the crowd a little insight into the processes and workmanship that goes into a hand made bicycle. Ricky did an awesome job and I think that I managed to keep people informed throughout despite a comedy brain burp at the beginning where I proclaimed that track forks don’t have any rake (I’d been driving since 5am so was a little tired!), still made for an amusing back-track on my part, then normal service was resumed.

The show was really well organised, well attended and with some awesome builders in attendance including Ted James, Grim Cycles, and Shed 6 along with Reynolds Tubing and our friend Anthony Oram it was well worth the journey.

Here’s to next year…

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Jig For Sale – NOW SOLD

 This Jig has now been sold

Second hand Jigs are like gold dust, so we thought we’d let you know about a Brew Cycles jig that a student of ours, Stephen Hilton, is selling.

Stephen has been very honest with his write up of the jig making sure that you know what its limitations are, but it’s a great little jig that certainly will help someone make some lovely frames.

“Brew Cycles Aluminium frame building jig, suitable for most sizes of frame. Purchased from Brew (who are in North Carolina USA) in March 2012. Details are on their web site at

I have built 5 frames in the jig and am selling it as I have replaced it with a much better one. The disadvantage with a jig such as this is it requires careful setting up with a ruler and angle finder as there are no guides on the jig itself. Once set up however it works fine. I mounted the jig on a home made stand (see photos) so it does not come with any specific mount or indeed any instructions of any kind.

It comes with two rulers, which are useful, a set square, which I never used, can’t see it being accurate enough and a custom length of angle iron which is used to extend the main beam back to the rear dropout holder to adjust the height, least that is what I used it for. There is a metal tube with a coach bolt through it, I don’t know what that is for, and I will throw in a digital angle finder.

The jig obviously shows signs of use but not abuse. All the fixing bolts are M5 allen bolts except the upper head tube which I stripped and had to re-tap to M6. There is a small groove in the seat tube holder from when I fitted a bottle boss before I realised I had to put the frame back in the jig! The seat tube holder is for 28.6 seat tubes. I guess you could shim narrower tubes and if you used a bigger tube you would have to modify the seat tube block. Brew may be able to supply a larger size. I have also drilled an additional hole in the head tube plate to drop the head tube to build an adult 20in wheel frame.

The Jig is available from Brew for $1600. With delivery and import duties I paid about £1300. So lets start the offers at over £300… and I can work out a cost for postage if necessary.


Stephen Hilton”

Please contact us directly here at The Bicycle Academy if you are interested and we will put you in touch with Stephen.

 This Jig has now been sold

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