Frame Building Courses
With 1-to-1 tuition, using quality hand tools and jigs, you will be able to make a made-to-measure lugged or fillet brazed steel frame.
Our frame building course is a truly personal experience, choose whether you would like a steel or carbon fork, the style of lugs and braze-ons and then, sometimes the hardest bit: choosing the colour.
If you have ever made something, even the most simple of items, you probably know the great pleasure and pride that you had in using it or giving it to someone. Reading this probably means that you like bikes and cycling, so how would you feel riding a bike on a frame that you made to a size and shape to fit you perfectly?
Maybe you haven’t made anything with your hands before. Don’t let that stop you from learning and trying. You probably have the ability but haven’t had the opportunity. We have the patience, skills and abilities to enable you to build a bicycle frame. You just need a positive can-do approach, an open mind and basic hand-eye coordination.
Peter Bird was the first frame-builder in the UK to introduce a frame building course back in 1993. The courses today are taught by either Peter Bird or Robert Wade, both very experienced frame builders who produce Swallow bespoke frames and design the Landescape range of aluminium and carbon fibre frames. Both have won many awards for their frames and bicycles over the years, and both were the worlds youngest Reynolds 753 Approved Master Framebuilder back in the 1980s
We don’t like to restrict what you can do, though there may be some frame styles and techniques that would be outside the scope of a week-long course. We will send you an initial assessment questionnaire to see what type of frames and techniques would be suitable for you. We prefer that the frame is complete and ready for painting by the end of the course.
What’s involved in a frame building course?
We offer two types of courses, a beginners course for building a lugged frame and an advanced for more experienced students to learn fillet brazing (see notes in the FAQ below).
Both week-long courses start on Monday morning. First, we size you on our sizing jig and explain the basics of size and frame geometry. By using CAD, this is then translated into your bicycle design and then onto the frame jig. Then you can start cutting and mitring tubes. Before taking brazing torch to your frame, you will work on a small test piece. You will then work through each step of construction, and we’ll make sure that you gain the understanding of the work you have done. By Friday afternoon you will have built your very own frame.
Before the course, we will discuss with you the type and style of frame that you plan to build and the type of equipment you will be looking to utilise with the frame. We can also help you design your paint scheme. After the course, after the frame has come back from being painted, you can return to do a wheel-building and/or an assembly course to complete the build of your bike.
Summary of the main areas of the course:
- Building your very own bicycle frame and forks
- Fundamentals of sizing and fitting rider and bicycle
- An Introduction to basic design, choices of tubing and Bike CAD use
- An introduction and practice of brazing techniques and some silver soldering
- Quite a bit of filing
- Frame alignment and tracking
- Discussions on many other frame and bicycle industry related topics
Bike Radar followed one of our courses – the write-up and images showing almost step-by-step the processes involved can be seen here.
Some of our clients have written blogs during their courses and these can be seen here:
Other examples of bikes and frames from our courses can be seen on the Bicycles by Design Facebook Page.
Availability and booking
Please contact us to discuss suitable dates and availability – we are quite flexible as tuition is 1:1 and there are two of us that teach. Let us know which dates work for you and we’ll see if we can fit you in that week. We will hold an initial date for you for 7 days to allow you to make any arrangements. A firm date is only secured with a deposit of £300.
For more information drop us an email or give us a call. Below are some frequently asked questions that may help you.
When is the next available course? We can be booked up some months ahead, check the above calendar to see when the next course dates are available. The dates shown in white are the dates available.
How much does it cost? For a 5-day course, Monday to Friday, £1250 plus materials. The fee includes as much tea and coffee as you can drink and one of black denim workshop aprons.
What materials do I need to build a frame? A tube-set, lugs, bottom bracket, frame ends, forks, fork crown and steerer (if required), braze-ons and bosses for the type of frame you are building, flux, brazing rod, silver solder, gas and air. We will discuss your exact requirements and then order or supply these for you. To ensure compatibility of all frame parts we encourage you not to buy these from other suppliers.
And how much do the materials cost? That depends on the tubing and style, but from approximately £150 for a Reynolds 525 or approximately £250 for a Reynolds 853 race frame. Forks blades range from £60 to £80. Frame parts again do vary from around £50 to over £130 depending on types of lugs, crowns, frame ends and BB shells.
Can I use some of those curly lugs with fork crown and bottom bracket shell to match? Nice as they are, they do require very accurate and clean brazing, something that is not easy to do on your first frame. Simple plain lugs, fork crown and BB shell are the order of the day, and there are quite a few variations.
Is it possible to have stainless lugs and polish them? Stainless parts require silver soldering, so are outside of the scope of your first frame. Filing and cleaning up lugs plus polishing lugs adds about another 2-3 hours work per lug, and they have to soldered very cleanly. So again outside the scope of a first frame and a weeks course.
Can I build in Reynolds 953, 931 or Columbus XCr? These require very advanced techniques and skills. Only if you can convince us that you have the appropriate skills and experience, would we consider this request.
Can I build a lug-less frame? It requires very advanced techniques and skills and is quite time-consuming. If you can convince us that you have the appropriate skills and experience, would we certainly will consider this request. Experience can include a previous course with ourselves or another quality frame building course or if you have done any brazing before. Welding is quite a different technique, so although there is some heat control, it is not quite the same. However, please do contact us to discuss. We do suggest that on a 5-day course (due to the extra time required for brazing and filing) that we use a standard BB shell and the three main frame joints are fillet brazed.
Can I build a frame with an Eccentric Bottom Bracket for use with hub gears? Unfortunately, there is currently no lugged BBs available to facilitate this. For hub gears you can use sliding rear frame ends.
What about lug-less 953? Shall we learn to walk before we can run? This is outside the scope of a week’s course, see points above.
Can I build a tandem frame? This is definitely a two week build-time due to being lug-less, the sheer number of joints and is not for the faint-hearted. It requires very advanced techniques and skills and is time-consuming. Only if you can convince us that you have appropriate skills and experience, would we consider this request.
Does the course give me a qualification? As yet there is no UK qualification in bicycle frame building. You will have been taught the basic skills by an experienced frame-builder, but you will require a lot more skills and experience before you could consider becoming a frame builder by yourself.
Could I set myself up as a frame builder after the course? Ask this question after you have done the course.
So what do I get at the end of the course? A ride able frame that will require painting, photos of you building it, some great memories and a notebook full of notes and techniques describing how to build a frame. We provide the initial outline of the techniques and the course structure to you once you have paid your deposit.
Do you provide accommodation for the course? We give you lots for recommendations of good local B&Bs, hotels or campsites that you can book yourself but we don’t do the booking for you.
Terms & Conditions
- To secure a place on a course a non-refundable deposit of £300 is payable at the time of booking.
- If we provisionally ‘pencil’ a booking for you while you check your diary/commitments, we will hold it for 7 days and then you must confirm and pay the deposit. The 7 day rule also applies if you need to re-schedule your course dates.
- The deposit is non-refundable if you cancel. We will always try to accommodate a change of date within a reasonable time scale. If this is not possible, then you may have to wait longer for suitable date.
- The balance of the course fee must be paid at least 4 weeks before the agreed start date of the course. This is non-refundable if you cancel. We will always try to accommodate a change of date within a reasonable time scale. If this is not possible, then you may have to wait longer for suitable date.
- If booking a place within 4 weeks of the start date of a course the full fee must be paid in time of booking. This is non-refundable. We will always try to accommodate a change of date within a reasonable time scale. If this is not possible, then you may have to wait longer for suitable date.
- We will make every effort to accommodate requests for specific material choices. However, we reserve the right to substitute materials and parts of an equal or superior specification, if the original choice is not available.
- The material cost will be calculated once a frame design has been agreed. If there are any variation in the agreed material specification, or requirement for additional materials during the course, these must be paid for by the end of the course.
- The course fee covers tuition, use of the workshop equipment and safety equipment.
- We will ensure that every effort will be made so that course participants produce frames of the highest quality. We cannot offer a warranty on the frames that you make.
Tour our showroom & workshop
Using google street view, you can tour our showroom & workshop, find instructions how below.
Our workshop is on the lower floor, to change floor level, click the floor number above the compass.
- To move around, hover your cursor in the direction you want to go. Your cursor becomes an arrow that shows which direction you’re moving.
- To see where you might go next, look for the X. Click once to travel to the X.
- To look around, click and drag your mouse. You can also use the arrows to the left and right of the compass.
- To zoom in or out, scroll with your mouse or two-finger zoom with a touchpad. You can also use + and -below the compass.
- To position your Street View north, go to the bottom right and click the compass.
- To change floor level, click the floor number above the compass.