Gael-a young French lad- is a material science graduate and engineer by trade. Having spent the last five years designing and making carbon fibre brake ducts for Red Bull Formula One cars, he fancied a change. He wanted to add TIG welding to his skill set and move back to France to set up a frame shop.
In November 2016 I took on a Tig welding course applied to bicylce frame building at Downland Cycles. For the 8 days of training in the countryside near Canterbury, we were 3 students. There was Dave, Chipps and me. If you speak English fluently, I can only recommend the training offered by Julie and Bryan. If you are interested here is the link to their website. It has to be noted, that they also offer all the trainings to the mechanics cycles possible and imaginable.
Dave was not new to bike manufacturing, and he decided to raise the bar very high: He was embarking on the manufacture of a Reynolds 953 stainless steel road bike frame. Of course, the main advantage is that they do not rust, but it is also very light because the tubes are extremely thin …
Chipps wanted to build a versatile “café racer” in 27.5 “and he was also there to write an article in his excellent Singletrack magazine. I can only invite you to visit his website here.
As for me, given that during my first training I had made a road bike using the filet brazing construction, and because I was willing to develop my skills as much as possible, my choice was to build a Cross Country mountain bike in 27.5 “.
The training, although very conclusive for me, made me realize how difficult the Tig welding process is. It is indeed a technique that requires very good precision and control! If mastered the result is magnificent. On the other hand, when the control is not total, things start to become difficult! This materializes with blow holes that appear quickly on the edge of the thinnest tubes when you come to heat them up a little too much. Of course the thinner the tubes are, the greater the challenge. Dave made this crude experience and was forced to re-orient his build towards the filet brazing construction in order to save the manufacture of his racing bike (and the expensive tubing!). Chipps did manage to weld his frame. He himself mentions it in the article of his magazine: