For the discerning mountain biker, there’s nothing quite like a custom mountain bike frame that’s been hand-fitted down to the millimeter. Now, for about the cost of ordering a custom frame, two schools are offering classes where students fabricate their own custom bike frame while learning the latest in tube mitering and welding techniques.
Perhaps the best known frame building course is offered by the United Bicycle Institute (UBI) in Ashland, OR where students pay between $2,500 and $3,150 for the roughly 2-week course. Budding frame builders learn everything from fit, geometry, and design to welding and fabrication. Word on the street is that the waiting list for the UBI frame building course is 9-months long so don’t expect to be riding your own handmade mountain bike anytime soon. Still, learning to build bikes AND getting a completed frame at the end should be worth the wait.
For those who like to fly by the seat of their pants, the University of the Fraser Valley in Canada is offering a frame building class starting later this month being taught by mountain bike hall of famer Paul Brodie. At just $2,500 (Canadian?) this one sounds like a steal, especially since the class is limited to just four students. The instructor, Paul Brodie, founded Brodie bikes and was one of the first to integrate a sloping top tube into mountain bikes way back in the 1980s. The UFV course starts September 27 and runs approximately 2 weeks.
As far as we know, mountain bike frame building classes only focus on steel and titanium frames and are limited to hardtail bikes. Materials like aluminum and certainly carbon fiber aren’t exactly DiY-friendly. And full-suspension designs are really best left to the pros for now.
Purchasing a custom mountain bike frame isn’t for everyone and actually building a custom frame takes even more commitment. Still, it’s a unique opportunity to gain a skill, have some fun, and end up with a one-of-a-kind bike.