No “I” in Academy: Inside the Bicycle Academy

Knowledge is best passed, like a torch, through experience. There are many institutions which educate hopeful framebuilders in the art of design, construction, and finishing of a bicycle frame. They each take their own approach to this process and many of our favorite builders have learned in this hands-on, classroom environment.

Nestled in an industrial building, within the town of Frome in Somerset, the Bicycle Academy threw their towel into the framebuilding education ring a few years back and in that time, have grown their curriculum into an impressive institution. All this could not have been possible if it were not for the successful crowdfunding operation and the 183 people who donated money and 23 individuals who donated their skills to jumpstart the Bicycle Academy.

There are four staff members on hand at the Bicycle Academy. All of which bring their experience with framebuilding to the table. Whether it’s fitting and design, tig or fillet brazing construction or hands-on construction techniques, these individuals walk hopeful builders through the process, all while adhering to the underlying principle and shop mantra of “Practice Makes Perfect.”

Something for Everyone

Whether you’re interested in fillet brazing or tig-welding, the Bicycle Academy has a course for you. Their Standard Framebuilding Course takes place over 7, full-time days and walks the students through frame design and construction through hands-on exercises. If you’re looking for a more thorough investigation into framebuilding, then the Advanced Framebuilding Course is for you. Over 10 days, that’s two weeks, you’ll learn more involved techniques, including custom fork building and capillary brazing techniques. The Fillet Brazing Masterclass is a 1-day course that teaches you to braze with precision. For those looking to take on tig-welding, the TIG Welding Masterclass is for you. Finally, the Fitting and Design Masterclass can help you turn your ideas into a brand.

Each of these courses will take your intrigue and interest in framebuilding and turn it into an experience. The class sizes are kept to intimate sizes and book up quickly, so inquire with the Bicycle Academy for pricing and availability.

Tools for the Job

Under the umbrella of the Bicycle Academy is their framebuilding tool company, Academy. Their jig in a box won an award at Bespoke Bristol, their disc brake guide makes understanding and aligning disc brake mounts easy and their peanut butter knife fillet scraper makes finishing fillets easier. There’s also workshop aprons, tube cutters, blocks and other handy tools on the way. That’s just the tip of the iceberg for Academy. Keep an eye on the Bicycle Academy’s blog for more information to come.

Hack Bike Derby and Other Accomplishments

The Bicycle Academy’s headmaster, Andrew Denham, has a long history with event organizing and most importantly, fun on bikes. Andrew created the Cobble Wobble, a steep, pavé hill climb race, as well as the Black Canon Collective, a mountain bike club that takes their trail stewardship to Longleat woods. Most recently, Andrew organized the Hack Bike Derby, a DIY, down and dirty rat rod bicycle race, where the shottier your creation, the more fun you’ll have. I can tell you that when I first saw the Hack Bike Derby, I wanted to sop up all the online coverage I could.

Perhaps the most intriguing and most ambitious undertaking has been the Old Skool x New School framebuilding events Andrew has been planning. We’ve seen the Tom Ritchey event already, including the bike, but even more is soon to come.

TBA Africa Bike

Classes, community involvement, beautiful tools and helping people reach their dreams are all great, but the Bicycle Academy didn’t stop there. They created a bike specifically for Africa, designed to withstand constant use and abuse for years to come. These bikes have long wheelbases, are designed to carry heavy loads, have puncture-resistant tires and have even acted as ambulances, when needed.

There is No “I” in Academy

Perhaps the most important take-away feeling that I had in my afternoon of hanging out at the Bicycle Academy was that it’s an all-hands-on-deck environment. Everyone pitches in to turn the wheels. Like a hive, each teacher has their own role and welcome information exchange. The environment oozes creativity, while mainting functioning order. I can say after spending a lot of time focusing on framebuilders, their spaces and their creations, the Bicycle Academy experience I’ve had really resonates with my perception of framebuilding. I can only hope to work on more projects with this team and I hope you’ve enjoyed this gallery. As always, there’s more to come, so stay tuned! Who knows, maybe I’ll end up in one of their classes one day.

If you’d like to learn more, point your mouse over to the Bicycle Academy.

  • Ben Kither

    Thanks for the insight into this amazing facility. Pretty rad that a company like BTR uses the academy as their base. Shows the quality of machinery and space at the Academy.

  • Dain Z

    Did you get to weld or braze anything, John? Would you go back and take one of their classes? This story has me daydreaming about learning how to weld!

    • I’m going back later this year to do a fillet class. 👍🏻

      • Brian Richard Walbergh

        You building a whole frame?

        • That’s the end product of the glass I’ll be taking, yes. :-)

      • I’d love to have a chance to hook up with you and show you some of my goods (mackworkshop.com) while you’re over here if you have the chance as I only live about an hour away from Frome.

  • Sarkis

    Was there for a frame building course, loved it, learned more than at uni about design, often think back about the experience. Thanks TBA!

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