This is my first post on this site, but I couldn't think of a better place to get information.
I am most likely going to be riding from San Francisco to Washington, DC during the summer of 2011. Talking with one of the guys my college's machine shop, I realized that the only that could make the experience better, would be if I built the bike myself.
My buddy has some experience building and repairing bikes from when he was younger and offered to help me out.
I was just wondering if any of you guys had advice for building my first frame. I have practically every tool I could need, but I have to buy the materials myself. So I will definitely be practicing welding before I try and tackle this monster project.
I know a couple of guys who did that. So it is doable. I would also recomend some careful reading on the touring board here, and some touring bike sites. I would be careful about the assumption that a machine shop will have all the tools, more realistically they may just have the stuff one doesn't need, particularly for a one-off. The tools one doesn't tend to find in a machine shop are the frame prep tools.
Also be careful about the specialist forums. They are the place to go to learn, and the place for pros/wannabees. They are generally pretty short with the garage hobbyist, unless he fashions his habby around being a pro some day. Modern frame building is to a very high standard, but the standard has been narrowly acheived, sometimes by people who's head has rarely been out of the box. And marketing wise they don't want to be associated with the hobby builder who has different objectives. You can get an answer to almost anything just by searching those forums, if you ask questions, it can be better to keep the question as narrow as possible without tipping off your adventure builder roots.
Also be careful about the specialist forums. They are the place to go to learn, and the place for pros/wannabees. They are generally pretty short with the garage hobbyist, unless he fashions his habby around being a pro some day.
I'd go buy a decent touring bike. I'd look for the highest quality components, and settle for a so-so frame (just make sure it fits).
I'd go ride the bike, loaded and unloaded. Find out how load affects handling.
I'd try to be very critical about what was working and what I didn't like. I'd keep notes.
In the meantime, I'd be learning to braze thin tubing (scraps of 1020 DOM not bicycle tube sets.)
When it comes time to build your frame you'll know how to braze, you'll have an idea about frame fit and features you want and
you'll have a full set of components to transfer over to your new frame.
I don't think there is much problem with being a hobbiest, it is when your approach is oddball. But one can certainly survive a list very well when careful. I have seen a lot of threads turn imediately into a discusion of whether anyone should build a frame who hasn't built 30 already. Just a word to the wise. You can ask how to braze, but too much info about your project can get people off on a rant. Understandably this happens most when people are trying to sell their first frame, but the same stuff can land on the eager beaver of any ambition. This place is the least prone to that kind of stuff I have seen.
For what it`s worth, the homebuilder section over at bentrideronline is very friendly to everyone from garage hacks cludging old Collegiates in to a different configurations to those few well set up geniuses who engineer and build state of the art aluminum and CF marvels with CNCd pieces. The OP may not be interrested in recumbents, but there`s a lot of How To to be gleened for techniques that would be laughed off the board on other forums. In a similar vain, since recumbents were not easilly available for a long time, many other recumbent oriented websites have killer tips and tricks for homebuilding, some of which could very well be applied to upright bikes.
Good point, I would add velonomad's posts here. He tried something similar a few years back, and I found his posts helpful when I wanted to build a personal touring bike. And there have been others since, like Barrett.
I keep up with the touring forum just to learn all the issues people are having with touring bikes, which these days are not the first rank of bikes for frame builders. I gather back in the 70s they may have been. These days it seems like fixies and 29ers, and various racing bikes are the heart of the mater. Of course there are some makers who specialize in touring bikes like Sakkit, Gordon, co-omotion.
1984 Bridgestone 400 1985Univega nouevo sport 650b conversion 1993b'stone RBT 1985 Schwinn Tempo
Originally Posted by cpopma
Thanks for everyone's replies. I'm not too worried about the touring portion yet, I've done a couple of long rides and I'll be going with a fairly large group.
For now, I'm going to order a copy of "Designing and building your own frameset," practice brazing and keep reading through forums.
Did you manage to find a copy of Richard Talbot"s book to buy? I was aquainted with the author when he lived in Needham, and read through a library copy of his book a few times. I never went ahead and built a touring frame because any bike I designed and built would be essentially a Specialized Expedition or a Miyata 1000, or one of the other touring bikes from the eighties. I have a Bridgestone RBT which is perfectly adequate for any long distance tour.
I rode across the country in 1980 on an Austro Daimler Inter 10, before there were readily available complete touring bikes. Most of the other riders I met had road bikes to which they added racks, and most of them made it across. My first long tour from Boston to Nova Cotia and Cape Breton Island was on a simple steel bike. Good luck on the build.
In a similar vein, since recumbents were not easilly available for a long time, many other recumbent oriented websites have killer tips and tricks for homebuilding, some of which could very well be applied to upright bikes.
FWIW: a few years back a friend of mine built his own Tour Easy recumbent clone, and then proceeded to ride it across the U.S.- in 28 days, fully loaded. His journal is here: http://www.ohpv.org/events/mea/intro.htm