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minorhero 02-08-14 08:22 AM

Wooden Bicycle - Need Help Picking Components
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Hello all,

I am hobbyist woodworker and casual bike rider (mostly for exercise). On a recent vacation to California I happened to see a store that sold hardwood bicycles. At the time I was not able to go in, but the image of the hardwood bicycles hanging in the window has stuck with me. As a result I am going to be building my own hardwood bicycle frame. The woodworking part of it I feel pretty comfortable with. The main hangup I have right now are the components for the bike. I will have to purchase some of these components before I can begin my build since their dimensions will definitely influence how I build my frame.

I have two big concerns right now. The first and foremost is the front derailleur and how to attach it to the frame. Most front derailleurs clamp onto the bike with specific sized clamps. It will likely be very difficult for me to make my frame that precise size, mostly because my frame will likely be bigger and probably not perfectly round. Instead I will have to go with a direct mount front derailleur. Are there any direct mount front derailleurs that allow for greater freedom when positioning the front derailleur? The more the better in this case since I will be literally shaving away pieces of the frame to get it to mount correctly.

The second concern I have is where to find certain metal parts I will need. More specifically I will need 3 metal tubes and two wheel brackets? (not sure what to call them). I need a metal tube to go into the frame for where the seat post will mount, where the front fork will penetrate the frame, and for the crankset. I also will need metal brackets for the rear wheel to attach to.

To give you an idea of what I am trying to do here is a picture of a bike made by Renovo (the company that inspired this whole thing to begin with)

Thank you in advance for any help.

Andrew R Stewart 02-08-14 09:28 AM

Cool project. You're smart to source and have on hand all the components before designing your frame.

Ft ders can mount with a few typical methods. The clamp around the ST. The "braze on" bracket, the E clip (a bracket that is held in place by the RH BB cup) and a newer Shimano design that has a threaded boss in the side of the ST. Shimano has some very detailed tech docs availably through their website. Sorry I don't have the link. They have been referenced before here so a search might find them. Be aware that MtB ft ders and road ones (by Shimano and I think SRAM) have different cable pull ratios as well as chain ring sizes they're designed around.

As to where to get metal tubing try industrial sources like or . Then there are the bicycle fabricating ones like Nova, CeeWay, BikeLugs, Henry James. I would think you'd want to get prethreaded inserts for the BB. The ST and head tube fittings can be easily machined in place as needed. These sources will also have drop outs to check out.

I might suggest that you do some practice pieces to study the methods and test their ruggedness after construction. I can also see a need for fittings for a rear brake, this is where significant forces will happen regularly. You also will want to befriend a source for the tooling needed to machine a frame for the components to fit well. A good LBS often has the reamers, taps and facing tools.

Have you found the wood bike company that you saw on line yet? You might gleam some construction details form careful looking at their bikes. Andy.

minorhero 02-08-14 10:45 AM

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Yes the company renovo has a pretty big web presence so they were easy to find. From looking at pictures I decided they were defintiely using a direct mount front derailleur but I am not sure what type. Additionally I had hoped there would be a type that would allow some adjustment after it has been attached thus allowing me some wiggle room with mounting.

Renovo solves the rear brake problem by using aluminum dropouts that they bolt onto the frame (see picture below). I don't suppose that is a standard part and not something they are having machined just for their use?

taras0000 02-08-14 11:52 AM

The Renovo dropouts are proprietary. The braze on type of derailleur mount is often riveted onto carbon or aluminum frames, so you can place it quite accurately. They tab that the derailleur actually bolts to is an elongated slot, so you would have about 1cm of wiggle room. If you leave the bottom of the seat tube substantially thick enough, they you would be able to move your derailleur tab a couple of times using screws before you settled on a location. Just glue the screws in once you're set on a position. Shouldn't be a problem if the wood is thick enough.

fietsbob 02-08-14 12:18 PM

The guy who built up the Wheelsmith Brand went on to make Wooden rims, again ..

MassiveD 02-08-14 12:26 PM

You will want the head tube and bottom bracket, and probably seat tube in Aluminum since it bonds with epoxy better than most metals. It needs to be cleaned with special chemicals, and then can be bonded. A good epoxy is the WEST brand, because it is engineered for maximum strength in this kind of application. While Renovo is making very nice bikes, so nice that Meade Gougeon of WEST fame actually bought one. That said, there are lots of people who have made wooden bikes before they got around to it. You can find info on making recumbents (which are in some ways easier to make, but the bits are the same). You can also find a lot of info an bamboo bikes. Best way to take loads off is hardware bonding, in which studs are mounted in an oversized hole filled with epoxy.

Canaboo 02-08-14 11:52 PM

You'll have to really figure out the best way to glue your metal inserts into the wood in a tidy manner. Actually sourcing the Aluminum is very easy. Nova has BB/ST and HT Aluminum.
You can just cut out your own dropouts from Aluminum plate. Pretty easy with a fresh hacksaw and a good set of metal files. I've done many sets of handmade dropouts. Even managed several sets of split dropouts for belt drive and Paragon sliders.
Do you have a plan to hollow the frame out?

minorhero 02-09-14 07:05 AM

Bad news that the renovo dropouts are proprietary. I will have to find a similar product or see if I can buy a pair from them. I doubt my own ability to hand make this part without lots of trial and error. Getting the wheel bracket part exactly right on both sides will be annoying.

I actually have no intention of hollowing out the frame. Renovo hollows there's out as do a few other people to save on weight and because they have access to cnc routers so it is easy to build their bikes in two halves. I do not have access to a cnc and I am not much worried about weight. This is going to be a comfort or fitness bike, not a mtb or road bike. So the extra 5lbs (estimated) from not hollowing out the frame is nothing I will worry about.

Mark Kelly 02-09-14 07:24 AM

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The FD mount is a standard SS campagnolo style mount bought from Ceeway in Britain.

It is attached using three screws into the seat tube - that being said the woods I use are stronger and tougher than anything to which you have access in North America. The bottle mount bosses are brazed onto a strip of SS, inserted from the inside of the tube and bonded in place: you could do this with the FD mount too.

Canaboo 02-09-14 08:29 AM

If you think you can make the frame, you can make the dropouts by hand. Trust me. There is nothing intimidating about it once you start. To make them identical you just have to clamp your two dropouts together when you get them close to the same shape and work both at the same time.
The frame itself will be far more challenging than filing a few bits of metal to shape.

Here is a close up of an aluminum plate split dropout for a Paragon slider. It's also 3/8" thick. You will only need 1/4" which will be much easier to cut and work.

Andrew R Stewart 02-09-14 10:54 AM

I agree with Canaboo in that fabbing the drop outs will be easier then other aspects of the frame will be. There will be a number of other aspects that will need metal attachment or bits too so you might as well just try and see what happens. In the time it takes to do a thorough interweb search the drop outs could be mostly cut and ready.

Get yourself some 1/4" AL plate, double or triple what you think you need to allow for errors. Basic hacksaw, 8" bastard half round file. 8" med/fine cut one, some 10x32 bolts to hold the two pieces together, a drill and bits and a vice and your good to go. Mock up the drop out shape on cardpaper then trace/transfer the shape to the AL sheet and start cutting. Andy.

reddog3 02-09-14 11:46 AM

Agree with Canaboo and Andy. Fab them. Since you asked about front DR mount- Renovo has some good pictures of the front DR mount. Vey straight forward, and also an easily fabbed part.

Canaboo 02-09-14 01:26 PM

Also get a large rat tail rasp. Even if it is more geared for working wood. The coarse teeth will really eat into Aluminum and it makes the shaping of curves much easier. You can use a diagonal "scooping" action to rough out the curves as much as you want and then finish them with a finer half round.
I rather enjoy making dropouts despite the added time. It's very good hands on detail work that helps your general workmanship.

minorhero 02-10-14 05:43 AM

The consensus seems to be to make the dropouts as needed. It may come to that, but I did online find several vendors selling dropouts in steel and titanium. Nova sells them in aluminum for cheap but theirs do not have much excess material I could use for drilling holes (the ones with disc brake attachments anyway).

I already own all of the rasps mentioned, I use them for woodworking of course, but I have quite the collection in that department already. The next thing I will do is pick my various parts and then post a list of them. Hopefully someone will let me know if my proposed list is incompatible with itself ;)

minorhero 02-13-14 09:19 PM

Ok I have spent a couple of days getting a handle on some terminology as well as looking up some reviews. I think I have a list of components for my build, but I would really like someone to look over the list and make sure everything is going to be compatible.

There are 4 pieces that I will absolutely need to buy right away so I can plan my build around them. Those pieces are 1) the metal insert for the bottom brocket, 2) the metal insert for the headset, 3) the metal insert for the seat tube, and 4) the rear dropouts.

With that in mind I have selected from Nova the following parts:

HEAD TUBEAL7005 for Road and MTB



I also selected dropouts from Paragon. I like the idea of sliding dropouts because I think they give me the greatest adaptability.

DR4009 - Left Side Insert for Flat/Flanged Sliding Dropout, 135 x 10 Skewer, ISO Mount, Bare

DR4006 - Right Side Insert for Flat/Flanged Sliding Dropout, 135 x 10 Skewer, Hanger, Bare

For components, I have selected a number of different ones that I think will work. I used amazon to keep track of them and because I like their wishlist system, they may or may not be where I end up buying these parts.

You can see the list here:

If folks could look this over and let me know if I have things of the right size I would greatly appreciate it. I don't want to order tubes and components only to find nothing fits together the way I expected it to.

Additionally if folks have any suggestions I would greatly appreciate it. This is going to be a comfort/fitness bike and I am not trying to break the bank on it. Keeping things under 1k is definitely my aim (and preferably as far under 1k as possible). The dropouts I selected from Paragon are sliders and I could buy the other parts that mate to the frame for 70 dollars, but I think I will try my hand at fashioning those parts from aluminum plate as others have suggested. I was wary about making the parts that the brake and wheel attached to directly, but I feel reasonably comfortable with trying my hand at the fixed parts that simply hold the slider dropouts.

Andrew R Stewart 02-14-14 07:37 AM

The first thing i wonder about is the steel BB shell and the AL ST. Will they touch? Galvanic corrosion would be my concern. Andy.

minorhero 02-14-14 08:02 AM

They will not touch, there will be quite a bit of wood between the two, I will keep the seat tube only as long as needed to give me good range with the seat post.

Canaboo 02-14-14 08:25 AM

Why are you using a cro-mo BB?
The dropouts are the same type as those in my pic above. Making a regular pair of dropouts with thinner plate would be much easier than making the slots for the sliders to go in by hand for your first attempt at metal work.
The tolerance needs to be very good if you want them to slide with no play. They do not simply hold the dropouts as simply as you seem to think.
Buying the actual dropouts themselves would not be a good idea since they don't have any length of metal to attach with.

minorhero 02-14-14 11:05 AM

I am using the chromo bb because it is 38.1mm in diameter, or 1.5inches and it is a lot easier for me to drill 1.5 inches then 40mm or 41 etc.

I am actually pretty confident about making the slots in the aluminum plate. I have a drill press and a fence for it, so making holes in a line is pretty easy. I can then sneak up on any corrections the size by using a fine toothed file. I am pretty good at this actually. Its putting holes in the right place and alignment for disk brakes or to hold a wheel where I am concerned about, hence my use of the paragon dropouts. And if it doesn't work quite right, I can always use the paragon dropout holders for an extra 70$.

Canaboo 02-14-14 11:50 AM

Sounds like you are both unsure and very sure at the same time.... Making disc brake holes and an axle slot are no more complicated than drilling three holes in the right configuration. Not really a big deal and actually far less complicated than making two inch matched slots that are the correct tolerance.
How would you plan to attach the Paragon dropouts to the wooden stays with the tiny tab they come with?

minorhero 02-14-14 12:36 PM

I think our lines of communication are actually being crossed. I am not attaching the paragon dropouts I linked directly to the frame. I am attaching them to a custom made aluminum dropout I will be making and attaching the custom dropout to the frame.

The positioning of the disk break and wheel bracket may seem very simple to you who have made many bikes before. But to me who has never made one before, it is actually very mysterious since I can see how a bad alignment there would mess the bike and make things very annoying for me.

What I really need help with right now is whether the tubes I listed are the correct size for the components. Is the bb the right one for the crankset, is the seat tube the right one for the seat post and collar? Is the headset tube right for the fork, and do I need any other parts to make this bike work and come together?

Canaboo 02-14-14 02:58 PM

I meant if you can't make the slotted dropouts the Paragon ones for $70 don't have the material to attach to the wood unless you think a single bolt will do for each tab.
Many of your other component choices won't work as the sizes are not compatible.
I think your seat tube is 31.8 outside diameter so the inside is probably 27.0 potentially needing to be reamed to 27.2. The seatpost and the collar won't work.
Are the wheels disc compatible? Probably not. Not sure about your rear dropout spacing either when it comes to the final wheelset choice.
The headtube still needs to be machined to accept a headset.
You have listed a three ring crank with just a 2x10 shifter..
Lots of research needed before you finalize everything..

minorhero 02-15-14 08:54 AM

Ah thank you! this is exactly what I needed help with. With the seat tube, the stats list as follows: "Dimensions are 31.8mm diameter x 2.25mm/1.3mm/1.6mm wall x 550mm long"

So you mean the 38.1 is outside diameter and the inner wall on one end is 2.25 thick? I assume that means to figure out the inside diameter I need to take 31.8 - 2.25 - 2.25 = 27.3 inside diameter?

And your right about the wheels, I originally had a different set of wheels and switched them out not checking for disc compatibility on the new ones.

What type of machining needs to be done on the headtube? Should I just pick a threaded headset?

The shifters are 2/3 speed so they can be switched to work with 3 ring cranks.

Canaboo 02-15-14 10:12 AM

I don't even want to hazard a guess as to the specific interior diameter of the seat tube. It seems that most available material needs some sort of machining.
Your head tube needs machining/reaming to accept the cups. A threaded headset does nothing to change that.
The FD only has 2 positions so linking a shifter with three positions isn't going to solve that.
This thread is turning into a bit more of a bicycle basics than a frame building thread. ;)

minorhero 02-15-14 10:48 AM

Ah FD, before you said shifter.

Ok I corrected the seat post, collar, wheelset and FD to compatible options (I think).

And yes, definitely bicycle basics since this is my first frame and there is not much point in building it if I end up making it to impossible specifications ;) I do appreciate the help though! I have been trying to figure this stuff out on my own but it seems a lot of the questions I have can only be answered by one with experience.

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