Frame #2

This frame is presented to document my early frame-building aventures. This frame does not exemplify my best work, but I learned a lot from building this frame and over the course of tens of thousands of miles of riding the completed bicycle.

Having ridden a custom fixed-gear road bicycle that felt a little too cramped, I built my second frame for me. Following directly on the completion of the first, this frame was constructed to familiarize myself with lugged frame construction, and was also built under the direction and watchful eyes of Paul Wyganowski in his workshop, from August 2002 through March 2003, after Frame #1 had gone to paint, but at a more leisurely pace.

All of the brazing (and mistakes) was (were) done by me. The tube coping, filing, and finishing were also done entirely by me. Many valuable mistakes were made on this frame, which led to much learning.

All the tubes are Columbus EL OS. The lugs and bottom bracket shell (stainless steel) are from Henry James. The wall thickness for each of the main tubes at the butts is 0.7mm. The front and rear ends are Zeus Pista findings with stainless steel faces added.


The frame was built for 700c wheels to fit me in the stretched out position I favored at the time.

I mistakenly placed the rear end slots parallel with the long axis of the chain stays, rather than keeping the slot parallel to the front-rear axle line. And, other lessons were learned…

After brazing the down tube to the head tube, it was discovered that the head tube-to-down tube angle was off by quite a bit. I attempted to cold-set the down tube, having been warned by Paul that the amount of movement needed could collapse it. After much effort, I was able to cold-set the down tube, but not before the tube collapsed. Ha, ha. Paul ordered a replacement down tube and, after it had arrived, taught me how to replace damaged tubes — a skill that served me well several times when making repairs or alterations to other frames.

The next lessons learned occurred after the frame was painted, assembled, and had been ridden many, many miles…

The frame was originally painted purple (Imron #G5766) by Chris Kvale:


However, during the first summer of riding (2003), it was evident that the seat tube-to-bottom bracket shell joint was improperly prepared and brazed: What began as a creaking noise during hill climbs turned out to be a partially brazed seat tube, which eventually tore out of the bottom bracket shell during an out-of-the-saddle sprint (no injuries resulted, but a very careful ride home commenced). Of course, that meant new paint after I had replaced the seat tube. Another minor repair was reinforcing the water bottle bosses — the bosses in the down tube had started to tear out of the tube from repeated ham-fisted use, so I placed reinforcements while I was replacing the seat tube:

Water bottle boss repair. The down tube wall thickness is 0.4mm.

Thereafter, the frame was painted violet by Terry Osell’s painter, Butch. Even though the fork crown was very well polished, I didn’t polish the seat stay caps as well as on Frame #1, so I opted to have Butch paint over all the polished stainless. When I feel like correcting the placement of the rear ends, I may expose the stainless steel again at that time:

Seat tube and water bottle bosses repaired.

Sometime in 2010, I had the frame repainted in a bright green metallic (Imron #44415), with which I used my new dry-transfer down tube lettering and mylar “Element 26” tubing decal. I also replaced the Dura-Ace 7400-series crankset with a T.A. Alizé crankset.

In 2020, I replaced the Dura Ace 7700-series brakes (for use in another project) with first-generation SRAM Rival brakes; and, also replaced the pedals, handlebars, and brake levers (now Dura-Ace 7810, Ritchey Pro, and Shimano BL-R600, respectively):

Refreshed with new paint and minor component changes in 2010.

If I ever get around to building its replacement, I would use similar findings and geometry, except I would shorten the top tube to 56.5cm and increase the seat tube length to 54cm for a better fit and to accommodate my present riding style. Even so, this is still my commuter bicycle today (2022), and the one I most enjoy riding on daytime adventures up to 300km.


The construction photos were taken with a Nikon CoolPix 950 digital camera (1.9MP:1600×1200). The photos of the frame freshly back from paint in 2003 were taken with a Nikon D100 digital camera (6MP). The last photo was taken with a Nikon D700 digital camera (12.1MP).

Frame #3