The Bicycle Academy

by TheBicycleAcademy in Frome

We did it
On 13th December 2011 we successfully raised £41,690 with 0 supporters in 42 days

Learn how to make bikes, you keep the skills, your first bike goes to someone who really needs it.

by TheBicycleAcademy in Frome


We couldn't have asked for our campaign to have gone any better when funding our project through, we gained loads of press and managed to raise £40k in just six days. We even managed to meet Hugh who awarded us with a giant cheque! jumped on this story and couldn't wait to tell everyone about our project.

Bdaily also ran a story on our massive success.            

The Bicycle Academy is a new enterprise that will provide people with the skills and facilities to design and make their own bikes.


Can't watch the video? Here's what it said...

"My name's Andrew and with your help I’m hoping to open a frame building school and bicycle workshop.

To many people bikes are a lifeline that make it possible to get food, water, work or an education. Together with the charity re~cycle we’ve started work on the design of a standard bicycle frame specifically for use in Africa. Every student who takes a course with us will build one of these frames which will then be made into a working bicycle before being distributed to those in need via partnering charities.

At the heart of The Bicycle Academy is an important balance of give and take - once graduated students will be able to use the workshop to build their own frames, at their own pace, as and when they want to, so instead of putting all of your energy and first-time anxiety into one frame, you can build it knowing that it will be the first of many and give it away knowing that it will help to change someone's life.

I've partnered with Brian Curtis, a legendary frame builder with over 30 years of experience. Brian will oversee and teach all frame building at The Bicycle Academy. In addition to the courses & workshop hire we'll offer Jig building kits, a library with every frame building book you can think of and we'll sell materials and consumables in small quantities to order. We want to make frame-building as accessible as possible.

Now, to get the project up and running we’re crowd funding The Bicycle Academy using peoplefund and that’s why we need your help.

We've got the workshop, but haven’t got anything to fill it with - We need to buy brazing stations, a lathe, a pillar drill, jigs and a full complement of bike tools.

By pledging £500 you're pre-buying one of the first course places before they become available to anyone else, but that's not the only way that you can help; we're offering rewards for pledges from just £20 - and remember it's all or nothing, your money will only be taken if we reach our funding goal. So, if we fall short it won't cost you a penny, but if we reach the target then everyone will get their rewards and we’ll get to fill our workshop full of tools.

We've made a great start - now we need your help to get it up and running, so please support us by making a pledge.

Thank You"

When will we open?

If we reach our funding goal then we expect to be able to open The Bicycle Academy and start teaching people in February 2012. We're pre-selling the first 8-10 months of course places during this crowd funding campaign so if you'd like to come on a course with us in 2012 please make a pledge for the course of your choice.

What will the Workshop be like?

We’re going to set up The Bicycle Academy workshop in a 700sq ft unit in the heart of Frome, Somerset (the town we live in).

The Bicycle Academy workshop will be equipped with a full suite of frame building and bike shop tools, we'll have a library with every frame building book you can think of and we'll sell materials and consumables in small quantities too. We'll have a number of brazing stations, a lathe, a pillar drill and a kettle, of course.

Aside from being used to provide the courses the workshop will be open all week to all course graduates to work on their own frame building projects at an affordable rate based upon time spent and materials used.

And the Courses?

At the Bicycle Academy we're going to build bicycle frames out of steel and we're going to specialise in fillet brazing (or bronze welding as it's sometimes called) as this is the most versatile method of building steel bicycle frames, and it's what Brian is famous for. So while we won't teach how to make lugged frames (to begin with), you'll come away being able to join any two tubes together in any configuration so will be far better off than if relying upon using pre-made lugs.

We're going to provide frame, fork and jig building courses and one-to-one brazing master classes too, with the following courses now available as part of the crowd funding at a discounted price:

Frame Building

Frame building will be taught by Brian Curtis who will teach students how to build lugless steel frames during 4 day courses (Monday to Thursday), either 2:1 (£500 each) or 1:1 (£1000 each) over 20 hrs. Students will learn by making a TBA Africa bike which will then be built up into a working bicycle by other students before being given to those in need via partnering charities. Once graduated from this course students will be able to use The Bicycle Academy workshop to build their own frames.

Brazing Masterclass

Brian Curtis will teach fillet brazing (or bronze welding as it is sometimes called) during this 1 day 1:1 course (£300) held on a weekday over 6 hrs. This course is aimed at people who have some brazing experience but want to be taught how to fillet braze by Brian.

When can you take your course?

We'll open our calendar (to those who have pledged for course places) for bookings on a first come first served basis, once the crowd funding is over. We're pre-selling the first 8-10 months of course places during this crowd funding campaign so if you'd like to come on a course with us in 2012 please make a pledge for the course of your choice.

What does fillet brazing look like?

Here are a few photos of Brian's fillet brazing, Brian only ever cleans the flux off the joins (as pictured below) but some people like to file the braze to make it look like the tubes blend together once painted. You can do either.


Why build bikes for people in Africa?

To many people in Africa bikes are a lifeline that make it possible to get food, water, work or an education. The Bicycle Academy is working closely with Re~cycle to develop a utility bicycle that is as useful as can be to these people, taking into account everything from frame design to maintenance of components throughout its life.

By developing a single utility bicycle design and standardising its components The Bicycle Academy will address many of the problems associated with suitability, maintenance and sustainability that other bicycle distribution charities encounter.

Every frame will be uniquely identified so that students can find out where the donated bicycle is sent and who is benefiting from its use. We hope to be able to donate our first batch of Africa bikes in late spring 2012.

Why will we give your first frame away?

It’s fair to say that the first bike you build will be the worst bike you build (although functionally fine), so why not give it away to someone who really needs one?

For many people the cost of existing frame building classes coupled with the lack of opportunities to continue frame building means that they do so only once, so it's normal to want to keep hold of it. The Bicycle Academy is different, we'll be open every week for graduates to come back and build their own frames, at their own pace, as and when they want to. So, rather than putting all your focus into one frame you can build it knowing that it will be the first of many and give it away knowing that it will change someone's life.

If you live too far away to make use of the workshop frequently you will be able to benefit from affordable jig building kits, materials and consumables too so that you can do the majority of the work at home before coming down to use the brazing stations to finish your frame. You may even look to set up with some equipment of your own at home.

We're going to make frame building more accessible, and we're going to help some people in need at the same time.

Are we a Business or Charity?

The Bicycle Academy is not a Charity, it's being set up as a for-profit Ltd company with a social conscience and giving at its core. This allows us to grow a sustainable business rather than depending upon grants for support. 

We're a bicycle frame building school and open workshop so we will teach people skills and provide workshop facilities but we also want to do something really good for people in need. That's why we're working closely with the charity Re~cycle to generate frames for Africa that we will donate once made into working bicycles. For a great example of this type of business please take a look at TOMS.

Who are we?

Andrew and Brian

Andrew is a 29 year old mechanical design engineer with a passion for cycling. He is the founder and chairman of the Black Canon Collective mountain bike club & trail development project, and is also the organiser of the ‘World Famous’ Cobble Wobble bicycle hill climb sprint. Andrew is the Director of The Bicycle Academy and is learning to build frames as Brian’s apprentice.

Brian is a 70 year old frame builder and brazing master who's passionate about passing on his skills. In the 1960′s Brian was one of the country’s top motorcycle scramblers, racing frames that he built himself whilst working at Rickmans. Brian, the founder and ex-owner of Curtis Bikes (famed for their stunningly made BMX’s), will oversee and teach all frame building at The Bicycle Academy.

Where are we?

The Bicycle Academy workshop will be set up in Frome, Somerset (the town we live in). The workshop is only 200 yards away from a brand new pump track being built in a local park and is on route 24 of the Sustrans cycle network. Frome, the home of the Cobble Wobble (organised each year by Andrew), is cycle friendly with plenty of mountain biking and great road routes locally. It's also a great place to stay thanks to the many independent shops, restaurants, pubs, cafés, B&Bs and hotels (some of which have bike storage). Finally, getting to Frome is really easy as it's only 45 mins away from Bristol (Britain's first cycling city) by road and has a well connected train station.

If you're planing on staying nearby we can offer discounted rates at local B&B's that have bike storage and are 5 minutes ride away from the workshop.

Why do we need you?

Well, while we've got the skills and drive to make this happen we don't have enough money to fund the workshop. We've got The Bicycle Academy this far and we know that once open it'll be a wonderful place that we will all be able to benefit from, but we need your help and backing to make that happen.

How can you help?

1. Making a pledge

We only get to open The Bicycle Academy and begin teaching if we reach our funding goal before the 6 weeks are up. So if you'd like The Bicycle Academy to become a reality please make a pledge and help us get a step closer to reaching that goal. To raise enough money to open we're going to need to sell all of the course places and a bit more, so every pledge will count.

 *You can always pledge more money than the pledge tier if you like, so if you're feeling especially generous you could pledge £750 for the £500 level if you wish, or even choose not to receive a reward, it's up to you. This 'over-pledge' feature won't actually be live until the end of  the first week

2. Telling people about The Bicycle Academy

 Liking us on Facebook and following us on twitter will also help. Show your friends our website, or send them a link to this page or our video - by spreading the word you'll be helping us to find other potential supporters which is a really good thing.

What's in it for you?

1. Rewards

Every backer will receive the rewards listed on the right hand side of this page that correspond to the pledge amount that they have made. So if you pledge £500 you'll get to be one of the first students on one of our 2:1 4 day frame building courses, you'll also receive the following goodies, all exclusive to backers of the project - a special edition TBA Musette made by (iL) Soigneur featuring a stunning illustration by Matt Wellsted, a beautiful screen printed TBA T shirt, a TBA Badge, 5 TBA postcards and a thank you letter.

Crucially the rewards will either be better value than if bought outside of the crowd funding attempt (the courses), or exclusively available to backers of the crowd funding attempt (the T shirts, musettes and mini bicycle frames etc).

Some of the rewards will be made once the funding is over (like the T shirts, musettes and mini bicycle frames) so we can't show you the finished articles just yet but we'll update you on the designs over the next few weeks. Here's a couple of images to whet your appetite...


2. Satisfaction

 The satisfaction of knowing that you were instrumental in getting the project off the ground. You'll be the reason that The Bicycle Academy will have become a reality, you'll be part of it.

3. Opportunities

 The Bicycle Academy will create opportunities for skills training and for work here in the UK, but also opportunities for people in Africa who will benefit hugely from the use of a bicycle in their everyday lives.

4. Craft

Old-school steel bicycle frame building is a dying craft and there are very few people who can braze as well as Brian. By supporting the project you are helping to keep these skills alive as we pass them on to the next generation of frame builders and enthusiasts.

Why All or Nothing?

1. It’s less risk

We need to spend around £25,000 to equip the workshop, but it’d be pretty tough only having £20,000 and a bunch of people expecting us to complete the project so that they could get their reward. Similarly you’d be pretty annoyed if you’d invested £500 on the basis that you’d receive a frame building course but we couldn’t follow through. This way either we get to equip our workshop and hence you get your reward, or you keep your money and we have to try another way. Backers simply can’t lose.

2. It motivates everyone

If you want your reward, and to see The Bicycle Academy come to life, you’ll help spread the word to give us the best chance of reaching our target, and so will we of course. So, the project must be fully funded by the end of the 6 week funding attempt or no money will change hands. It really is all or nothing.

Can we take pledges from outside of the UK?

Unfortunately at the moment there isn't any way for us to accept pledges from outside of the UK using, so if you are outside of the UK and would like to make a pledge towards The Bicycle Academy please get in touch with us (details below). We are working to find a solution as fast as we can.


Got a question?

If you have any questions please get in touch;


m: 07870 609 871

Thank you

Andrew Denham

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