On the opening day of Bespoked Bristol I was flying off to New York and missed out finding out about something other than lovely handbuilt bicycles. So it was a few weeks later on twitter that I saw a link to The Bicycle Academy founded by Andrew Denham of Cobble Wobble fame.
Immediately this site got my interest. It told me I could learn to build a bike frame, myself, with my own hands. Now this is a skill I would love to begin to learn. I’m very keen on practical skills like this and being able to create and design my own frames would be incredible. I kept reading and it was clear that this project is pretty unique. Not only will you learn to build bicycle frames but you have the opportunity to help give someone the benefit of a bicycle in Africa where it can make a dramatic difference to an individual, their family and their community.
The Bicycle Academy concept is straight forward. It’s a place where you can learn to make bikes. You will be taught to do this at the workshop in Frome, Somerset by Brian Curtis who has been building them since 1972. This can be done through evening classes or short weekday courses. The frame, specifically designed by Bicycle Academy for use in Africa will then be built up into a working bike before being distributed to people in Africa via partnering charities. After this you have access to use the workshop facilities which will be open a few days a week to continue practising your new skills.
Now this is where we see the imaginative approach to the project from it’s creator Andrew. This enterprise will be crown-funded. Crowd-funding is a way of raising money for a project from a large number of people who receive an incentive for their level of investment. If that figure is not raised then the project does not go ahead and no-one pays. If the target, around £30,000 is reached then the project goes ahead, every investor will receive their incentive and everyone wins. That’s the great thing with crowd-funding. No one loses.
Crowd-funding will start in October and last for 30 days. On offer as incentives during this time will be the first 6 months of courses plus things like custom (iL) Soigneur musettes, white duck screen printed and custom designed T’s, possibly some extra special hand made miniature frames and a small run of super limited edition frames too. All of which are yet to be confirmed but sound pretty good to me.
The Bicycle Academy will provide frame, fork and jig building courses and one-to-one brazing master classes. As mentioned the frame building will be taught by Brian Curtis who will teach his unique method of lug less brazing as either evening classes or full-time weekday courses. These courses are arranged to fit peoples schedules.
The plan is to offer:
- A 4 week course based on a 2.5 hour week night lesson and a 2.5 hour Saturday morning lesson for £500. Teacher student ratio is 2:1.
- A 4 day course with 6 hour lessons each day for £800 with a student teacher ratio of 1:1 (or a £500 2:1 option).
- Brazing Master-classes will be on offer for £250 and on a 1:1 basis too.
The courses are still being decided and there may be opportunity for a longer more flexible 10 week course too. Keep checking the Bicycle Academy website as the full details will be confirmed over the next month or so. The cost for the other incentives has yet to be decided.
The Bicycle Academy
I’m pleased to have found this project and hope to get a place on a bike frame course. I’m confident that the target of £30,000 will be reached and that plenty of us will get to learn a skill to build something we are passionate about. Bicycles. I like this project a lot. Especially that the first bike gets to go to someone who really needs it in Africa and that there is plenty of variety in the course options, incentives and it’s modern approach to funding. I can’t see how this won’t be successful and wish it the best of luck.
Take a look at the Bicycle Academy website for the latest details and more information on the project.
Photos and Film courtesy of www.facadephotography.com