How do I learn about bicycle design?
February 3, 2015 1:45 PM   Subscribe

Later this year I hope to head up to Portland's UBI to take a frame building class. That will teach me the process of tube selection, cutting, welding, etc. In the meantime I'd like to learn as much as possible about the actual design process of a bicycle. Angles, fit, different materials, etc. Maybe even laying out the design in CAD (which I have no experience in). Seems to me this exists in a realm somewhere between product design and industrial engineering. Can anyone recommend some resources?
posted by matt_od to Education (8 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I would recommend reading Sheldon Brown's great site:

I have paged through and think it might be worth consideration.

Like you say, a marvelous intersection of physics and humanity in a bike.
posted by nickggully at 2:10 PM on February 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

CAD is a lot of fun to learn. I am taking a class now through my work. I have a friend who owned a local bike shop and he told me learning spot welding will take you far but that online he is seeing a lot of people designing very intricate models requiring milling. It really depends on how far you want to take it, because a business requires a lot of money for manufacturing.
posted by parmanparman at 3:13 PM on February 3, 2015

Response by poster: I'm definitely more interested in the hand-built steel, titanium aesthetic as opposed to carbon fiber or anything of the sort.
posted by matt_od at 3:22 PM on February 3, 2015

The Icarus Frames blog isn't meant to teach anyone anything, but it does go pretty in depth into the design and build process of specific bikes.
posted by Juliet Banana at 3:34 PM on February 3, 2015

Response by poster: Ooo nice. I love Icarus bikes. Beautiful stuff.
posted by matt_od at 3:43 PM on February 3, 2015

Response by poster: Ah, but unfortunately it doesn't look like he's updated it since 2011.
posted by matt_od at 3:56 PM on February 3, 2015

A good number of working frame builders can be found posting on the Frame Forum on Velocipede Salon. Also, locate a copy of the Paterek Manual for some good basics.
posted by asterisk at 4:24 PM on February 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Before going off and trying to learn a full fledged CAD package, try BikeCAD which is designed for frame builders. There is a free web app trial version.

I've read this book which wasn't bad. There's another frame building book from many years ago which I found more useful, but it's out of print (this guy by Talbot). My library had a copy and I photocopied the more salient chapters. I liked Talbot's book a lot.

You can do most of the frame in your basement with no special tools. I would find a local frame builder to do the rake on the fork for you, and then get your local bike shop to "chase and face" the frame and fork. You may need a cold alignment also which the bike shop should be able to help you with. Letting someone else deal with those parts saves you a couple grand in tooling.
posted by backseatpilot at 9:47 PM on February 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

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