The Little Red Pill

brazed, hand built bicycle frame0 comments

I thought I should nurture my inner child so I decided to build my self a 20″ bike.

It’s a goal of mine to build every type of bicycle out there and that my personal collection of bikes are all of my own making, ( as to the first I’m doing pretty well, I’ve achieved the second and the collection keeps growing )

I designed the 20″ sitting at home one night after a few beers and a visit to the boys at Hell on Wheels earlier in the day was enough to convince me that a 20″ bike was what was missing from my collection. After a few hours on The Oracle (internet) and I had a hand full of dimensions from a range of frames that I liked, then it was a matter of pulling out the numbers I wanted and feeding them into my bike cad program and tweaking it till I had what I was looking for. With frame building it’s always a balancing act between what’s wanted and what is possible. There’s a hell of a lot of variables with any frame build and one small change will have an effect some where else, I call it the bicycle butter-fly effect, finding the symmetry is always a good challenge.

I had originally planed to TIG weld this frame but there was a delay getting the welder and the I had all the tubes mitered and ready to go, I couldn’t wait. I get pretty excited about new builds and my eagerness to see a frame progress sometimes gets the better of me, so it was out with my torch and laying down some fillets.

I used a set of shroud vertical tips I’d designed and CNC’d for a custom build a month earlier. For chain tensioning I used an eccentric BB, a double cup design from the guys at Brooklyn machine works. It runs a press fit bearing for 19mm profile cranks, I have several sets of these so it was on with a 165mm set of chromed profiles with the  TI axel .

I used 4130 on the front triangle and Columbus single bend seat and chain stays. The build went together very cleanly, though the shroud tips are always a bit of a challenge as they have to be hand mitered. There are three angels that have to be cut into the stays to make them fit, this requires lots of small cuts filling and dry fitting to get the perfect fit, but the effort is worth it I really like the look of the tips on a bike.

I built the forks for this bike a good six months before I had even thought of drawing up the frame. I was going thru some stock I’d bought from John at Cycle Underground when I came across these wide solid cast fork crowns, I spent a bit of time thinking what bike build I could use them with. In the end I thought they would make a cool 20″ fork, definitely different from anything out there so with a bit of fitting filling and some brass I had a tidy set of forks. They sat in the draw for the next six months waiting for their time, I would often pull them out and think about the frame that needed to go with them.

The last thing of note for the build was the bars, I had a set of  4130 cruiser bars in my stock they didn’t have a cross brace but the height and angle was good so I mitered a cross brace and tig welded it in. I stripped them back and gave them the rattle can treatment they came up very nice.

Next up it was off to Star Enamellers for some color, I didn’t go all out with the paint job for this one, just a single color no decals no clear coat (I did fit a carbon head badge afterwards). I pay particular attention to laying down clean welds and spend a lot of time dressing the welds to get the shape and clean lines on the joins. This shows up in the finished paint job which can make any imperfections in the filets stand out when no filler is used to blend the welds. Nothing hiding under this one just smooth workmanship.

Build wise I have a Chris King head set with a devolution step down to 1″ steerer that I was running on the forks, azonic stem, syncross post, old settee royal saddle, tektro brake lever and lizard v brake calipers. For the wheels I had a pair of campy record hubs, old screw style on with a cassette rear. I stripped them down dug out some new axles from the huge stock of after market axles I have in storage and rebuilt them with velocity aero head rims. Just waiting for some tyres to come is and will be out hitting it up soon.

My inner child just keeps counting down how many sleeps till I can ride bmx bandit style again.

  1. PukeFlavor says:

    That’s pretty cool. It’s really similar to the setup used on RRS frames in the early 80’s. Check out this page, there’s some RRS bikes and an ad showing all their tricks:

  2. GAry says:

    Awesome, very very cool bike, I would love to have one, guess that wont happen..
    Next best thing, please submit it to the BMXMUSEUM, and let me take it for a ride next time I am in AUS..

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