Well Made Things To Make Things Well
History and background
The Bicycle Academy mission is very simple; we want to make it easier for people to build great bicycle frames.
We work with all types of frame builders; from school children, to hobbyists, to professionals and big bike companies. Our work centres around making it easier for people to do a great job, which involves providing great education, consultancy, designing and producing user friendly, accurate and well made tools, and a huge amount of other work we do behind the scenes to help the industry develop and grow.
Born out of a desire to raise standards and remove unnecessary barriers to entry the Academy Tools project is a great example of this, started by The Bicycle Academy in 2012 to create innovative tool solutions for established and aspiring frame builders everywhere.
TBA has a strong engineering and design pedigree with each of the core team having trained and worked professionally as product, industrial, mechanical and aeronautical design engineers prior to coming together to work at TBA. Academy Tools is the culmination of our insight and knowhow and that of the numerous professional frame builders that we work with.
We create tools that empower every user, rather than tools designed just for power users.
From the very beginning we have focussed on designing tools that are super easy to use. Tools designed as products rather than solutions in the absence of alternatives.
Our first commercially available frame fixture, the MFF, had many user focussed features such as; tool orientated heat and chemical resistant measurement scales with calibratable and low parallax pointers. The system was also designed to give unparalleled access to each of the bicycle frame joints, so that frame builders have the very best access for welding, brazing or bonding. As a result we sold out over every batch of the Modular Frame Fixture before they were made, such was the demand for this product.
Tools for hobbyists
Despite an increase in the number of people starting to build bicycles frames in their spare time, there aren’t any credible tool solutions to address the needs of the hobbyist frame builder. Cheap tools tend to be significantly compromised; they’re often inaccurate and offer very limited functionality.
In the face of few alternatives many people attempt to make their own solutions; while this is something that can be a very rewarding process it is a complex and technical challenge which often comes at great cost to their available time and budget, limiting their capacity to build bicycle frames.
We are working hard to change this.
Low Cost Frame Fixture
The Academy Tools LCFF achieves both affordability and accuracy thanks to clever design. The result is the only credible solution for hobbyist builders globally, costing less than £1000 complete, the LCFF is flat packed then user built, configured and calibrated.
We started this project in 2012 with some steel prototypes, then continued working on the project with concepts created in plywood in 2013 before creating an Aluminium prototype in 2014 (complete with an early fixture alignment concept) that preceded the first Modular Frame Fixture.
In December 2017 the LCFF went into full production and since then over 80% of LCFF customers are people who had never previously been able to start frame building, until the LCFF was available. This is really exciting.
Academy Tools User Calibratable Fixture Alignment System
Unlike traditional jig designs, the Academy Tools User Calibratable Fixture Alignment System [patent pending] gives you the functionality you need to check and control the alignment of your frame fixture, independently at every interface, every time.
We’ve removed the risk of ever building frames on a jig that has unknowingly fallen out of alignment, and opened up some really exciting possibilities:
- Reduced manufacturing and production cost
- Flat-pack design
- Reduced shipping footprint & cost
- User assembly & calibration
- Huge build range
We’ve been working hard to develop, test and produce a number of different products over the last 7 years including frame, fork and component fixtures, component and design measuring tools, frame alignment measuring and correction tools, tube mitring systems, cutters and scrapers and a lot more.
All of our current tools will be in rolling production from spring 2019, and all new products will be available to pre-order as soon as they are in production.
What people think
Thousands of bikes have been produced, all over the world, using Academy Tools. Our tools are trusted by professionals and hobbyists across the world, including the likes of Bastion Cycles, Saffron Frameworks, Prova Cycles, Robot Bikes, Five Land Bikes, BTR, Quirk Cycles, Mercredi Bikes, and many more. Academy Tools have been displayed at the Design Museum in London 2016, and have won ‘Innovation’ and ‘Technical Excellence’ awards at the UK Handmade Bicycle Show, 2017 & 2018.
We get wonderful feedback from our customers and are proud to help them to do what they love, well.