Frame Building Class FAQ
Below are the most common pre-class questions students have asked about our frame building classes. If you have any additional questions, please contact us at any time.
1. Are there any prerequisites for any of the frame building classes?
- No. We assume you have no prior knowledge or experience. Students who have at least average mechanical ability and reasonably good hand-eye coordination tend to do well. Corrected vision needs to be at least fair in the medium to close-up distances. Students must be at least 18 years old to enroll.
2.What is the class size?
- We limit the class size to eight students. Our student/teacher ratio is 4:1.
3. Should I take a welding or brazing class prior to taking a frame building class?
- No prior knowledge or experience is assumed, but evening or weekend brazing and/or welding classes can be helpful. UBI offers a weekend TIG Welding Seminar specially designed for frame builders. The TIG Welding Seminar focuses on equipment selection and setup with extensive hands-on welding practice. The practice is specifially designed to teach the skills necessary for you to TIG weld bicycle tubing.
4. I'm signed up for the brazing class, should I also take the TIG Seminar?
- If you are interested in TIG welding, or simply want to find out more about it, the class is a great introduction to the practice, though it is not required. The TIG Welding Seminar is sometimes offered immediately following the brazing class primarily so students can learn both brazing and TIG welding skills. Learning both skills is particularly helpful if you wish to be a frame builder. You may also take the TIG Welding Seminar as a standalone class at any time in the future.
5. What kind of tubing will I use to build my frame?
- In our steel frame building classes, we use high quality, butted, chromoly tubing. In the titanium frame building class, we use certified 3/2.5 titanium tubing.
6. Why can't I build using the super light, heat treated tubing?
- Even the best students do not develop enough heat control during a two week class to be able to build a safe bicycle using very thin heat-treated tubing.
7. Why can't I build with aluminum or carbon fiber?
- Both aluminum and carbon fiber offer challenges to the beginning frame builder that make them inappropriate for learning frame building.
8. What type of bicycle can I build?
- With the exception of tandems, full suspension bikes and recumbents, we do not restrict you from building any particular type of bicycle. As long as the available fixtures and lugs can accommodate your design, you can build the bicycle. Past students have successfully built road, mountain, hybrid, touring, cyclocross, trials, BMX, fat bikes, and track bikes.
- In our brazing classes, traditional bicycle designs work best. Small bicycle designs offer the greatest challenge to the frame building student. Traditional bicycle designs usually include normal seat tube angles (73 or 74 degrees), and normal head tube angles (71 degrees for mountain bikes and 73 or 74 degrees for road bikes). Though traditional road bikes often have a horizontal top tube, mountain bikes can be built with almost any slope if it is fillet brazed, or a slope of seven degrees if it uses lugs.
- In our TIG frame building classes, you certainly can build a normal-size, traditional bicycle design, but you could even build a not-so-conventional design. There are limitations, but as long as the fixtures can hold the tubes together, and you have adequate access to TIG weld the joint, then it's buildable. Even so, the normal-sized, traditional bicycles are easiest to build.
9. Why can't I build a tandem or a recumbent?
- Fixtures is the biggest problem. Non-traditional designs require specially designed fixtures. The fixtures that are used are often custom fabricated by the builder to accommodate a specific design. They are not commercially available.
10. Why are my geometry choices more limited when I build with lugs?
- Lug availability. Lugs are made for specific frame tube sizes and angles. They are not made for every tube size, and they are not made to accommodate every tube angle. Lugs are made for typical tube sizes and angles.
11. In the brazing class, what type of lugs are used?
- We use the high quality investment cast, chromoly lugs.
12. Can I build an elevated chainstay bicycle?
- No. The reason is fixturing.
13. Do I get to build a fork?
- No. There simply is not enough time in a two-week frame class. You can order a fork through a distributor during your time at UBI.
14. How much of the work do I get to do myself?
- You will have an opportunity to do all of the work on your own frame. In fact, most students do every single step themselves. If you do need help, a UBI instructor will gladly help you anywhere along the way.
15. How are the days structured during class?
- Class days run from Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the weekend off. Weekday class sessions will begin each morning with a lecture and demonstration, followed by an afternoon work session. Lunch breaks are one hour long and usually begin between noon and 12:30 pm.
16. What does tuition include?
- The tuition includes practice material, tubing, dropouts, lugs (if applicable), bottom bracket shell, braze-ons, use of the UBI facilities and tools during assigned times, instruction, and handout materials. Certain frame components like slider dropouts may carry an upcharge.
17. How much of the work do I get to do myself?
- You will have an opportunity to do 100% of the work on your own frame. In fact, most students do every single step themselves. If you do need help though, a UBI instructor will gladly help you anywhere along the way.
18. Will I be able to finish my frame?
- Most students have no problem completing their frame. In many cases the frames are ready, or nearly ready, for painting at the conclusion of class. Frames that aren't quite ready for painting usually require various amounts of filing or sanding to make them ready.
19. What about the tool discount?
- For every class you complete here at UBI, you are entitled to one order at wholesale prices from the United Bicycle Supply catalog. Your purchase may be made anytime before one year from the last day of class. Some restrictions apply. You will be given a complete Tool Discount Sales Policy handout before you complete your class.
20. Can I buy components for my frame from UBI?
- There will be an opportunity for you to purchase a parts group at a significant discount during your attendance. We will discuss the policies and restrictions for the group purchase in class. Also, while you are attending UBI, you may buy individual components from a selected distributor at a significant discount. Orders must be made, received, and paid for while you are in attendance at UBI. There will be no backorders, and parts will not be shipped to your home.
21. Will I be able to paint my frame at UBI?
- No. Painting could easily be a one or two week course itself. We will supply you with a list of frame painting companies.
22. Do I receive a certificate upon completion of the class?
- Yes. All students who successfully complete any of our classes receive a Certificate of Completion.
23. Can I get a job building frames after my graduation?
- Though many students have taken our frame building classes with a desire to build just a single frame for themselves, others have taken the class with professional aspirations. Many past graduates have gone on to become successful custom frame builders. Some have acquired jobs with large bike companies. Check the job listings area of our website.