My first build: Yamaguchi Frame Building School!

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to spend two weeks in Rifle, Colorado to attend Koichi Yamaguchi’s framebuilding class. Usually this class has 3 students, however by chance I was the only student in this session so had a full 1:1 experience building my frameset!

Coming into this I had absolutely zero metalworking or fabrication experience.

Everything started with a discussion on my goals for this bike, my measurements, and drawing a 50% sketch.

All tube cutting and mitering was done by hand

Starting to see a frame come together on the table

Tacking the front triangle




Frame mocked up with fork and stem

Cleaning fillets

Fast forward a few months…


…fast forward again…

Final build!


Very cool. Great work documenting the process as well. It’s funny to see that the jig and alignment table are the same thing. How efficient.

Your experience is what I love about building bikes. You can go as high tech and as low tech as you want.

A couple of questions:

  • What did you find most difficult about the process?
  • Whats the next bike you want to build?

Most Difficult:
Going slowly, and being patient. From getting the flame right, to getting precise miters by hand, slow and steady really did it. So much fitting, adjusting, refitting, etc. to get seams perfectly right. But I soon realized I loved that part as I further began to understand it.

Next bike:
I’d really like to get a hardtail bikepacking rig setup. Be able to fully customize it as I want it, maybe even some crazy long stays à la @liberationfab

I really enjoyed the class - I had looked at UBI as well, but was told if I wanted to learn to run a production shop - go to UBI. If I wanted to learn the art and process, go to Yamaguchi.

At least half the time is him showing photos and telling stories of his amazing experiences. The bikes on the wall are a history of modern bike racing and design. I can not recommend it more!


I would desperstly love to attend this building class. Ive been a huge fan of his frames for my entire track life. Congrats an a aweosme build mate

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I loved when I would ask Koichi a question and he would run over to a filing cabinet and start pulling out a bunch of folders and photos :grinning:


100% Or if he didnt have it on the ready, the next day it would be pulled out for you!

And since I did the class solo, it was all stories, all the time.


I took Yamaguchi’s class a little over a year ago, working in my home shop now I’m so glad I chose him. I really enjoyed the hand filing and building off the alignment table, and it’s so helpful/conducive to building at home. Really inspiring to see what he can do out of a very modest little shop!


Fond memories in that little shop! Koichi and Barb are both great storytellers.

Your build looks great and I love the paint/bivo combo!


Ahhhh I’m signed up for the March class I’m so psyched!!! Tried not to read too much of your post so it’s still a surprise but I’m wicked hyped.


Happy to answer any questions if it may help!

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That’s awesome you had 1:1 time with Koichi! What an amazing human.
I took his class July 2021 when he was still taking on 2 students at a time.
It was my second class and 8th frame, and going in to pick his brain was incredible. Your post makes me think I should put something up as well. I think I took north of 500 photos over the two weeks?


Yes please!

I can tell Koichi is not the most social media savvy (I wouldn’t expect my asian dad to be either :rofl:). But because of that, I think his work and legacy fly under the radar. The more information out there, the better!

One project that I was thinking of pitching to a media outlet is interviewing and photographing some of the influential framebuilders before they retire. Yamaguchi is definitely on that list.


For sure you should do it! I’ve checked out your stuff on Instagram and would be interested in more behind the scenes!

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ditto on Yamaguchi class, building from home and I love alignment table and jig in same thing. Most handy and efficient.


I’ve now been trying to take some additional classes in fabrication so as to ramp up my abilities should I ever have the time or space to build myself. Taken basic classes in flux-core, MIG and TIG welding at a local maker space. Hoping to be able to get in there and get some more practice. Maybe building up some stems etc.


Yamaguchi has got to be one of the finest and most-experienced builders in the States, if not the world at the moment. I mean the guy built like thousands of frames before he even left Japan in the 80’s! Spending those two weeks with him, seeing his work, and seeing what he can do with brazing (holy moly! :fire:). IMO a lesser-known Master of Masters. Only lesser-known because he’s just not online. Heck his website doesn’t even work anymore.