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Discussion Starter #1
I have been trying to post this for some time now, but it has been a little hectic this year! Now that I am not spending all of my free time on the trails (wet, cold, and dark) I figured it was time to share my experience with this forum. I first started dreaming about building my own bike in 1992 when I worked in a bike shop that historically built frames (Proteus in College Park MD). It is project has been gnawing at me for almost 30 years!
The plan
  • A simple fillet brazed steel 29er hardtail. All hand built with modern components and somewhat retro geometry. Designed for my local smooth, XC trails – Patapsco state park near Baltimore MD.
  • Never stop making progress. This is a big one for me. If I start obsessing about a feature or fixture I run the risk of stalling the project and eventually abandoning it. This happened on a previous road bike build.
  • Work at night and on weekends so as not to impact the family or career.
  • For me it was all about the process. If I could get one ride in this would be a success.

What I learned
  • I spent more time on the fixture, the design, and component selection that I ever thought I would. It really feels like a second bike of similar design would take me about 20% of the time.
  • I did not consider tire clearance on the seat stays in the design. I ended up buying three pairs before I got a pair to work. Thanks to MattiHill and bikefabsupply.com for solving that problem.
  • I was really stressed out about alignment. A simple check on the main triangle after tacking showed that it was really straight. I decided to stop worrying and I am very happy that I did. My BB is also shifted about .125” to the non-drive side. Initially I was stressed about this, but a couple of shims took care of this nicely.
  • My chainstays are nearly too short! I can only fit a 2.25 in back. The clearance to the seat tube is minimal.
  • My 32t front chain ring nearly hits the chainstays. I really should have spent more time working on the layout of the rear end!
The build
  • I used numerous parts bin components, and I have been gradually swapping them out as I get more comfortable with the fit. I was going cheap at first in case the frame did not pan out.
  • Full XT 9100 12 speed group set. Single piston brakes. I am pretty happy with performance, but an equivalent SRAM group might have been better suited to my XC use.
  • I initially bought Shimano wheels. There were few options for micro-spline hubs when I bought in. These wheels were far too wide/rowdy/heavy for my use. As a 50th birthday present to myself I bought a pair of Boyd cycles Trailblazer wheels (you can guess why). I love them.
  • I started with 160/160 rotors. I immediately upgraded my front to 180. Not sure what I was thinking.
The result
Day one I threw my leg over the bike and hoped I could get to the mailbox. So far, so good. Confidence builds. Aggressive backyard riding feels solid. First drop to flat doesn’t break my frame! Pushing harder and harder. About 4 months in and I am pushing this bike as hard as I would any other bike.
It has changed my riding for sure. My absolutely favorite experience is when another biker stops me to ask about my bike. My crew hates it!
 

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What I learned
  • I spent more time on the fixture, the design, and component selection that I ever thought I would. It really feels like a second bike of similar design would take me about 20% of the time.
This hits me right at home. Haha.
I'm starting my third frame now. Just keep in mind, it only gets worse.

Also the part about having other people ask about your bike. That's always fun.
 

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I really enjoyed your write up, I have been working on an all road design for a couple of months, my pandemic project. I think I have my design completed, now working on tube selection.

Your drawing that you posted, is it hand drawn? I have been working in rattlecad/free cad to hone my design. Rattlecad, I hope, will solve the chainstay/seatstay problems, which I am worried about.

Sent from my Lenovo TB-X705F using Tapatalk
 

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Nice work! I know the hope it gets to the mailbox feeling too, that made me laugh. You made a great looking bike and wrote a very refreshing post. I feel like this forum brings out the "who is a better builder" measuring tape (PVD holier than thou attitude) more often than it is a community that feeds off each other so thank you for the humble write up!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks all for the feedback.

Frame drawing was done in AutoCAD. It was a quick and dirty 2D assessment of my favorite bikes all overlaid to give me the design I was looking for. Other than the having so much trouble with the rear end the approach worked out pretty good.

The head badge is indeed a Gingko leaf. We have the county champion Gingko in our yard and it has become a symbol for our family. I was married under that tree. I almost didn't put it on, but I was so pleased with how the bike looked after powder coating I just had to add the embellishment. Additional thanks to this forum for helping me figure out how to attach it!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Forgot to note - while the bike is exceeding my expectations in so many ways there is one thing that is just not working well. I used a braze on seat post binder bolt from an old road build attempt and it just does not work. The seat post keeps creeping down. Perhaps I did a bad job with the alignment during brazing. I suspect that soon I will file it off and put an external clamp on.
 

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Nice lines on that frame. Congratulations! Your first is waaay better than my first.

Paul Sadoff from Rock Lobster has said in the past that using a binder bolt brazed in is designing in a future failure. I still use them but I leave enough seatpost to do what you are thinking of doing.

For future MTB builds I am going to move toward the clamp.
 

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I really enjoyed your write up, I have been working on an all road design for a couple of months, my pandemic project. I think I have my design completed, now working on tube selection.

Your drawing that you posted, is it hand drawn? I have been working in rattlecad/free cad to hone my design. Rattlecad, I hope, will solve the chainstay/seatstay problems, which I am worried about.

Sent from my Lenovo TB-X705F using Tapatalk
Not sure what your specific problem is but...Some friendly advice regarding tackling CS SS clearance etc...have the crank and BB on hand that you are going to use. Seek out the spec drawing from the manufacturer as well.

Do a hand drawing of everything. When mm count...its invaluable.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Halekai - I definitely second that. If I was able to line up my chain stays with my actual crank and chainring it would have made a big difference.
 

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That is awesome for a first frame! I love the way you've constantly checked yourself and improved throughout the process - it really shows in the end result. I love the clean, simple lines and bold colour. Congrats!
 
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