I wanted to speak more to my intro and give a little more history as I think it touches on the “thinking of going pro” thread while highlighting my “newness”.
I got the bug to build frames in 2009 while I was recovering from a hit & run incident that happened to me while coming home from my late night bike taxi gig. After that incident I never wanted to return to an office job and I started to explore different aspects of bicycles since I was done with racing. In 2010 had no home and a little bit of cash to take Dave Bohm’s Framebuilding course in Tucson Arizona. I finished the 2 week course with my first frame painted and ready to build up. I then moved back to Austin Texas to reset, since it was the closest thing to home I had at the time, including some some serious responsibilities.
I wanted to build bikes more than anything, however I needed a job to pay the bills fast and so I did what I had to and joined the tech world once again. I started enrolled in welding classes at the community college in Austin since they had a stellar welding program. For the first time in school I was getting all A’s even though it was part time outside of work. I finally made a track bike from a Nova Cycles kit I scraped together with an Oxy-Fuel set up I acquired. This was almost 5 years after Dave’s course. You lose a lot if you don’t use it. Especially with only a 2 week intro to bicycle frame building. Since I had a decent paying job, I was able to slowly acquire some of the basics including a shipping container as my work space that my landlord allowed me to drop in our backyard. At the time I was supporting my soon to be wife during this “how do I make the switch” phase of my life while she added new skills and schooling in order to get where she needed to be. This all took time, as does everything. I was still taking night classes and weekend classes learning about art metals and structural welding. Ironically not many industrial welders have a thing for thin wall bicycle frame tubing. I was really good at blowing holes in the tubing when I tried to TIG for the first time. And that was discouraging as all get out. In 2015 I felt the need to get another perspective, so I took the Yamaguchi frame course. I then built my 3rd bike for my wife. I stuck with oxy-acetylene construction and eventually made my first mountain bike 4 years later. Then I made my SS. Both of these bikes were totally rideable and ridden for several years, but after what I have learned now, I wouldn’t show them off at a show focusing on your “A” game builds. At this point it’s 2019, my wife has a super stable job, I have saved enough money working at a software company supporting their cloud infrastructure and been given the “green light” to make it all happen. With the help of a friend who charged an affordable price, we built out my shop in our backyard in Austin Texas. I continued to build bikes and work on my construction methods and still only had built maybe 10 frames or so for friends including my SS and the geared hard tail that my son still rides. As luck would have it, we were visiting Colorado that summer and I stopped by Brave New Wheel in Fort Collins where my friend from Austin now worked. I told him I was going to take a stab at building frames and he encouraged me to come to the Friday Night Lights Frame building show in Fort Collins that was showcasing several Northern Colorado builders. It was here where I was re-introduced to James Bleakley of Black Sheep Bikes. James built me my first custom frame in 1999, when I was living in Fort Collins. I think I bought like his 3rd or 4th frame which was a road frame that I rode everywhere until its unfortunate demise in 2008 due to the previously mentioned motor vehicle-bicycle incident that knocked me down for a couple years. We didn’t know that Covid would pave the way for my wife to work remotely and as luck would have it, our next trip to Colorado inspired me to reach out to James and see if he would be wiling to let me help out at the shop. We officially moved to Fort Collins in October 2021.
I interned with the Black Sheep family between July 2021 and this past Summer 2022. I have learned more in the past year than I have learned in any years prior. I am definitely not a pro, but I am getting better. I have built my own fixture, learned how to machine parts and tubing on the lathe, how to operate a horizontal mill and how not break the bank by acquiring certain tools from Harbor Freight that get the job done well. However I am not making enough money to support myself, but I am gradually getting there.
I feel quite fortunate since this path is not lucrative from a traditional money making perspective. And I would do so many things differently given time and circumstances. I promise to share anything I have learned with anyone on this forum for which I am extremely grateful for. I know that there are a lot of other builders out there with massive talent and not getting any spotlight too. My aim is to learn as much as I can, and send it back out there.
So here’s the build that I am working on now: I am building my friend a 29r Steel hardtail that accommodates a 29 x 2.6 wheel and a 32T ring. There’s no yoke on this, so it’s a tight, but works. I just pulled it out of the fixture the other night after tacking it once I had the seat stays aligned and symmetrical. It’s all 4130 Straight gauge tubing except for the seat stays, which I picked up from Andrew @BFS.
Thanks for reading and looking