By Rich Bernoulli
The United Bicycle Institute’s frame courses provide the opportunity to build a lot of different bikes. From the 148mm-Boosted, 160mm hard tail, (for better or worse, this does exist); to the horizontal dropout, disc-braked DJ; to the flat mount, T47, gravel bike; and of course the smooth road bike, there are enough combinations of components, and frame designs to make your head spin. To peek into the process of what is available at UBI and why we choose the frame bits we do, we’ll use the newer road disc brake design, the disc brake flat mount, as an illustrative case study.
New ideas are constantly flooding the bike industry and although some are actually good, most require at least some level of analysis to determine their worth in the industry. As an academic institution, we have to take the examination to another level since we don’t want to waste our student’s time with a suspect concept, or our own, in developing fixtures and curriculum. Moreover, it is our responsibility to provide an environment in which students can learn efficiently and that includes the options we provide for the frame design.
In the case of the flat mount brake design, it mounts exclusively to the chain stays. This can be advantageous both in structural performance and possibly aesthetics. Since chain stays are typically larger, stiffer, and stronger than seat stays, the frame will likely flex less under the braking load resulting in more power to the brake. Theoretically, the frame will last longer because it doesn’t flex as much with each brake cycle. Aesthetically, a lot of our students have expressed how they like the clean, tucked away look of the caliper between the two stays. For these reasons, coupled with their popularity within the industry, and our assessment of their educational value, we decided to formulate a plan to offer them in our curriculum.
Once a new item has been given UBI’s approval, implementing it into our curriculum can range from super easy to laborious and tedious depending on the item. For example, 44mm head tubes were relatively easy: the course timeline didn’t change, we outfitted our fixtures to accept the new size, and purchased applicable holesaws for mitering the top tube and down tube, in addition to facing mills and reamers for frame prep. Overall, a fairly small change to our curriculum.
However, flat mount bosses fall in the other extreme. The timeline had to be manipulated to account for locating the miters, setting up the mitering fixture, setting up the jig for welding or brazing and the ultimate action of welding or brazing the bosses in place. Not only does this mean new holesaws and endmills, but it means new fixtures and jigs for locating and cutting the miters, and at least half a day's worth of work for a student; in conjunction with an instructor.
Additionally, we needed to acquire the applicable fixturing to ensure the bosses are positioned in the correct location. We purchased the flat mount fixture from Incepi to get the process started and have since added Anvil Bikeworks’ version of the same. We determined a purging method(to offer flat mount in our titanium classes), a heat sequence that minimizes movement, and a mitering process that accounts for the inherent distortion. Arguably, the biggest obstacle was determining how to hold the stay in the correct location and orientation, in a rigid, repeatable manner, while creating the miter and doing so with an educationally efficient process.
Ultimately, the time and tooling that we create for each addition to our framebuilding courses has been vetted, tested, and standardized; to allow our students the best possible chance at success!
To see the resultant process, you’ll have to sign up for a framebuilding course: https://bikeschool.com/index.php/classes/frame-building. Although be sure to sign up quick! Our 2019 framebuilding courses are already starting to fill up! Flat mount now available!