ONENINETWO/AEIGHTTECHBLOG – BUILDINGTHEONE
The #ÆIGHTMANUFACTORY frames have gone through several evolutions already and we’re only on number nine. Each time I build one I tweak the details slightly, but I think I’ve almost worked out my ideal build…
The build starts with a pile of tubes, some lugs and a couple of drop-outs. The jig is set up according to the geometry of the frame and the fork I’m using. I’ve tweaked the geometry of the frames quite a bit since the third one and I think I’ve pretty much nailed the head angle now – what’s surprised me as I’ve learned more, is how much the seat angle affects the way the bike works, in particular with two of our riders who favour a short reach, but a lot of drop.
All the tubes get precisely mitred to suit the geometry and the headtube gets fillet brazed in place – I love the way the skinny tubes meet the 1 ½” tapered headtube – the whole bike decreases in tube diameter as you go backwards. The seatllug is a relatively standard braze, but the way the seatstays is quite different to most frames – the triple triangle arrangement allows for more tyre clearance and I love the dropped rear end and the way the stays match the angle of the downtube.
At the back I use Paragon Machine Works dropouts which are modular and allow me to use several different set up with the same frame to experiment with different set ups – it also allows for a greater degree of future proofing as it will be possible to modify the inserts in the future. At the moment all the frames are designed to be used 1x with the Shimano Di2 system that I’ve been racing on for years as I feel it’s the best available at the moment – having said that I’ve been impressed by SRAMs approach to Red AXS and their mountain bike AXS equipment which is largely compatible across their new 12 speed ranges.
The original idea of the project was to create a frame which could do everything without compromise. Over the last few years whilst I was working with steel, 3T were working with carbon to produce essentially the same thing and as both bikes have evolved it’s been really interesting to compare my work with that of 3T, which although a major player in the bike component market, is still a tiny company in reality, allowing them to react, change and evolve as quickly as me.
The most important factor in both bikes is that they’ve been built from the technology that’s available first rather than creating a frame and then considering components to fit, which I think is the wrong way round – make the bike fit for how I want to ride it rather than adjusting my riding to suit the bike is a good way to look at it. Therefore if you start with the tyre options and the groupset that you want to use and have a decent idea about the bike fit you want, then quickly you realise that the frame is just a way to connect the two.
This frame becomes the skeleton that allows the human to connect with the best equipment to make themselves smile and to hopefully to allow you to shred. I guess that’s why people say that steel has a soul.
Next time we see how the bike fairs in race testing, built up before paint!
Photos by Glen Whittington.
Thank you to Geoff Roberts for the encouragement, wisdom and cups of tea.
#aeightracer – Glen rides for the Southborough & District Wheelers. He races mountain bikes, road bikes, TT and ‘cross at local and national level. He started building frames in 2013, has worked in bike shops since 2002 and started racing in 1998. He receives personal support from Helly Hansen, Wildside Cycles, Four4th Lights and set-up the.æight.bicycle.cøllective
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We’re always looking for other riders to be on our collective. The #aeightbikeco is about doing things a little differently. We’re looking to kit our riders out with steel race frames made in Sussex. Whether that’s for ‘cross, road, crit, TT or mountain bike we’re offering the chance to have a custom steel bike made for you to race on – not just put together, but fully bespoke.
The best part is that we’re not asking you to leave your team or club – that includes racing in your club/team kit. We’ve got certain brands that we’d like to work with and that we’re adding to, but we’re open to suggestions and maybe you’ve got a sponsor or support that you could bring to the table?
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