All-The-Materials-To-Make-a-Bike Welding a bike together can bring about romantic notions of fire and metal meeting, making something from nothing. Every bike must go through a transition from a raw material into an operable bicycle, and this is where the skill of your custom builder comes in. Some builders are pure artists. Some builders are very skilled craftsmen. Some builders are expert welders. Some builders are master designers. For this particular bike, I wanted something that could be ridden hard, and personally, I’m not really attracted to the ornate bikes that are intended to just look nice. I chose Matter Cycles because of Collin’s focus on design and geometry, and his simplistic style. Take a look inside at some pictures of this  bike moving from 10 round tubes to a tool that will take me ripping down the trail… Perfect-Miters The starting point for any steel bike is clean, perfect miters. A TIG weld can start to get messy, blow through a tube, and even become a weak spot if there are any gaps, imperfections, or contaminants in the welds. Before the high-temperature transformation of metal can begin, the entire bike is test fit together in the jig to ensure all tubes will play together nicely. Collin-Welding Once insured that the tubes are mitered correctly, any small prep work is done ahead of time, such as adding water bottle braze-ons, since it is a lot easier to add them to an individual tube, than to try and fit the torch inside the finished front triangle. Welding-Matter Many people may think that a frame is welded up in a frame jig, but the reality is, they are just tacked there. Once the tubes are ready to join in holy frame matrimony forever, the builder will put a tack or spot weld at junctions, pull the frame out, and complete the welds where they can get full access to all sides of the joint. The process of having the frame in the jig, tacking the joint, pulling it out and finishing the joint, and then checking the frame on a surface plate may be repeated several times as the various parts come together, to insure a perfect frame. HAZ-welding The heat affected zone can be a place of rainbows and unicorns to those that appreciate the joinery of chromoly. The stacking of a fine weld bead is something typically waxed poetic in the halls of NAHBS like a bunch of winos discussing the presence of pomegranate notes in their Pinot. I must admit though, I am one of those, and this picture gets me pretty excited about hitting the dirt. Welded-Matter-Benefat And there it is, in all its glory, ready for paint and parts, and destined for greatness. Check in next week as we finalize the parts kit, and talk about the reasons behind all the part choice.

How to Build a NAHBS Bike – Part 3

How to Build a NAHBS Bike – Part 2

How to Build a NAHBS Bike – Part 1

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Jo-slow
Jo-slow
7 years ago

I thought you were supposed to purge the inside of the tubes with inert gas. Am I wrong?

Matt
Matt
7 years ago

@Jo-slow it depends on the material.

For Ti and stainless steel, yea.

For aluminum and other materials its not so needed.

I think Colin could have used more argon on that frame

Matt
Matt
7 years ago

@Jo-slow it also does look like he purged the tubes. assuming the red line in the photo is a gas line, as it goes to the torch, there is also a red line going into the frame at a bridge in the rear triangle.

so it looks like he did indeed purge the tubes. He also taped off the holes in the frame with the green masking tape.

serious
serious
7 years ago

Man those are nice welds

john
john
7 years ago

Tim – I’m really enjoying this behind-the-scenes look at the frame building process. Thanks for posting it.

The bike looks fantastic, wish I was strong enough to break my Pugsley so I could justify an upgrade to something just like it.

Jo-slow
Jo-slow
7 years ago

Oh! I see it now! Sorry!

satisFACTORYrider
satisFACTORYrider
7 years ago

leave it raw and clear it! would look awesome.

chris G.
chris G.
7 years ago

I love steel frames, I have a Gunnar and I am very pleased with it. Now I should retire and pick up the TIG torch again, it has been years. I wish I would have built frames after I got out of the Navy. Which manufacturer. is this?

mudrock
mudrock
7 years ago

l don’t trust welders that wear skinny jeans..

just kidding. wouldn’t be BR without a snarky comment

Loamranger
Loamranger
7 years ago

The red line is argon and the green painters tape is keeping it inside the frame

Tom
Tom
7 years ago

Colours clearcoat > clearcoat

keoni
keoni
6 years ago

It would be great to see exactly how he made his “perfect” miter cuts. I’ve seen many different techniques and fixtures. What is the best set up?

Steve C
Steve C
6 years ago

How to cut miters depends on who you are. Richard Sachs would probably argue that hand filing them is best. A lot of builders use a mill with a hole saw and a very expensive Anvil jig to cut tubes. I learned both at Dave Bohm’s Framebuilding School in Arizona. The mill method is a great way to ensure uniformity across many builds and with the Anvil jig it is pretty easy to nail it exactly how you want it. A well lubed HSS hole saw does a great job at cutting nice tight miters. I have used a 2×72 grinder with a small fishmouth/miter wheel and finished with a file and they look as good as those miters. There are several programs for printing paper templates for your miters based on your plan that you can tape to the tube and use as a guide if you go the hand file route. If you go the abrasive cutting method, I recommend drawing a rough miter on the tube based on your paper template, remove the template, do the first big material removal and then put the template back on to finish with a file. Otherwise the paper template can catch on fire in the grinder. 🙂