Friday, November 15, 2013

I Built a Bike

There are several things you could mean when you say you 'built' a bike. Most commonly it means you took a bicycle frame and other components and attached them to each other to make a ride-able cycling machine. We do that here at Hub Bicycle all the time -sweet fixies, super commuters, racing machines- what ever you want we can and will (and have) build(t) it.

What I haven't done up until now is 'build' a bike. Or more accurately- a frame. I started the process in April(ish) by buying a box of steel tubes. After many months of planning, cutting, filing, brazing, more filing, sanding, etc. it was finally ready to ride this week.

This is my first attempt at frame building. So I knew it wasn't going to be perfect. Early on I decided to name this project 'The Practice Pancake'- after the first pancake in every batch that comes out less than perfect. You know, sometimes the pan is a little too hot, or not hot enough. It takes one to gauge how the rest of the batch is gonna go.

That's how I approached this bike. One to warm up (or cool down) the pan. I didn't want to over think it, or make it seem too precious. This bike is a tool that has/will serve two purposes- to teach me how to make bike frames and to transport me from point A to B. It was a fun process, and I learned a lot.

It seems to me that frames are best built when the full plan is set ahead of time. I'm more of a plan as-I-go kind of gal, so this was a personal growth project as well. The biggest mistakes I made were because my plan wasn't fully formed at the start, so I know what I need to do for the next one.

After building it I built it with my existing commuter bike parts. It's rocking a disc brake mullet (disc brake up front, road brake out back) because of some serious non-planning...practice makes perfect (pancakes). Mr Paul Carson is responsible for the metal-flake purple finish and it looks great. If you're in the market to get a bike powder coated- give him a shout.

Pic by Bike Safe Boston
The thing that struck me the most about that first ride is how unremarkable it was. I poured many hours, tons of thought. love (and a little blood) and I built a bike and it rides like a bike. If I closed my eyes, I wouldn't be able to tell that there was anything different about this little baby (right before crashing, because riding with your eyes closed is a terrible idea). In the end, I set out to build a bike and that's what I did, so mission accomplished. On to the next bike.

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