This post, combining this project with my other failed experiment, is 8+ years in the making. In March, I posted progress I had made on building a carbon fiber bike frame that I was building from scratch using epoxy resin and raw carbon fiber fabric. This is the short and sweet conclusion to that post. The bike is finished, and it works. It is a step for me to say that outright, because I feel in some way that it still might tempt fate to do so. I’m not superstitious, but I am a little -stitious.
I’ve put 100 miles on the frame, mostly on DC’s potholed, nightmare of city streets and bike paths, and I think I’m ready to declare this project a success. I’ve climbed and put stress on the frame, and I’ve taken it up to 20+ mph for long stretches. No play or flexing in the frame geometry, no vibrations, and it’s just… silent. My real road bike is louder, creaks more, and is more fickle than this is. (Its components are 10+ years and thousands of miles old, but still.)
When I was a senior in high school, I made a bike out of bamboo joined with wrapped carbon fiber thread. For various reasons, including my own impatience, inaccurate measurements, cut corners, lack of an income, and just a general ‘winging it’ attitude towards the project, I failed. While it looked nice, the bike broke at the head tube lug on just the second ride. I had made some questionable design choices, including but not limited to sanding the carbon fiber lugs after every carbon fiber wrap (basically ruining the strength of the carbon fiber every time I wrapped it), and not having any sort of strategy with respect towards orienting the carbon fiber wrap in an optimal way. I never squeezed out any epoxy, so the carbon fiber was very loosely wrapped on the lugs, and leaving much of the strength of the frame dependent on the epoxy. I was 18, didn’t know very much, and I never tried again.
I’m 25 now, and after a lot of research I know a tiny bit more about working with carbon fiber, and a lot more about working with bikes. I have an income now, and am arguably more patient with myself. So over the last few months, searching for a distraction from the gloom that is the world outside my apartment, I picked up framebuilding again. I proceeded to get way in over my head and drew up plans to create a whole frame out of carbon fiber.