VC Walcot visits the Bicycle Academy

A group of club members and guests recently visited The Bicycle Academy in Frome to hear founder Andrew Denham speak on the recent developments in the finest steel tubing and how it can be made into frames for custom-made bicycles.

Member Martyn West writes..

“I arrived a little late, but soon got involved with a bottle of San Miguel, a slice of pizza, and a very interesting chat about frame building, the value of educating people rather than just offering experiences or an end product, and bicycles in general, really.

It was really great to hear what everyone’s thoughts were on what their bikes mean to them; what makes one different from one another; why some are more special than others; and why sometimes, perhaps, we should try and enjoy more the bike we are riding rather than chasing after minor improvements to component X, Y or Z… At least that’s something I took away from the discussion, and one that I hope will save me some money going forward!

I must say that Andrew is a superb and engaging speaker, and obviously incredibly passionate about what he does, and what they are doing there as a group.

After about an hour or so of chatting it was our turn to have a go at brazing, in twos and threes.

Brazing, for those that weren’t there, is used for joining two pieces of metal together by melting something between them to bond them together – in our case, some copper. This is a far simpler process than welding, which involves actually melting the metals you are bonding, and is less prone to, erm, cock ups… at least I think that’s what was said.

Anyway, it was good fun to be in charge of a crazy glowing green lightsaber torch thing, and have a go. It was very difficult at first I found, but soon started to improve the quality and consistency of my output. Not good enough by a long way, but improving.

From what I saw, some of the others took to it incredibly well. I can imagine we’d have some pros on our hands given a solid 8 hours tuition on it, as they do each day on the course.

Having had a go at supposedly the simplest task; putting braze on some box steel, I can only imagine the sense of achievement you’d get from brazing together the tubes to build your own frame. Maybe one day…

They extended some offers for any of us that want to book in for a course, with discounts the more of us book, and also some great savings on any paint jobs you may need doing on either a bike you build, or on an existing bike.

All in all, a great evening, and so glad I went!”

The Bicycle Academy website is here

Photos by Rich Wood and Martyn West