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Frame Building: Design and Concept

By June 25, 2014January 24th, 2016Uncategorized
RattleCAD Hardtail mockup

There are levels of bike geekdom. Your average rider buys a bike off the shelf and rides it as-is. A more particular rider might swap small parts like grips, saddle, tires, pedals, etc. Some go as far as to swap major components like wheels, cranks, forks, etc.  True bike nerds, however, scoff at the thought of owning a bicycle even remotely close to stock and insist instead on assembling their own bikes with parts of their choosing. Some might even go as far as to strip the bike down and send it out for custom paint or powdercoat. A VERY particular rider may even order a bike with custom geometry.

At the top of the nerdpile (trademark pending) exists a special subset of bike nerds for whom custom geometry and paint is inadequate and doing it yourself is the only option. I am about to enter the 1% of bike geekdom, the pinnacle of bicycle expertise, the top nerd echelon. I am about to build my own frame.

Is this at all necessary? Why would I even consider doing this? In short: 1) No and 2) Because I can. I’m of average proportions and there are dozens of stock bikes that ride well and would fit me perfectly. I don’t purport to be such a talented rider that I require something unique. I’ve simply acquired a level of knowledge that has deluded me into thinking I can build my own bicycle frame. Oh and I know a framebuilder.

Yes that’s correct, I’m lucky enough to be good friends with a very talented frame welder named Paul Dotsenko. Paul formerly worked for FBM Bike Co. welding steel BMX frames and last year I had him make some custom modifications to an existing steel hardtail I own. Stellar work, really. We’ve talked about frame building at length and Paul just moved to a location 40 minutes from me so the timing is right.

That being said, enough talk. What’s the plan?

The plan is to build a long travel steel hardtail based around a 150mm Rockshox Pike, 650b wheels, 44mm head tube, 142×12 dropouts and a 31.6mm seatpost (dropper post compatible). The geometry includes a 67 degree head angle, 73 degree seat angle, and short (425mm chainstays) attached to a 73mm threaded bottom bracket. The seat tube and top tube lengths will imitate similar large-framed mountain bikes at 19″ and 24″, respectively. Most of the materials will be American-made True Temper tubing from Henry James and machined parts from Paragon Machine Works. 

RattleCAD Hardtail mockup

Rough draft of the frame geometry


Next step: Frame jig design and tube selection/placement.


Chris Berkley

Chris is a digital marketing consultant specializing in SEO and Analytics across industries including healthcare, education, finance and others.

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