The Y-frame Road Bike Project.

By Steve Robson


The 1998 Y-Frame Road Bike.

In 1998, after building a number of recumbents, I got the bug to try out a road bike. Not an ordinary kind mind you but a very different looking type. I liked the look of the Trek Y-frame mountain bike. I used this as a model for for designing my road bike.

I picked up a Eatons 10 speed at a yard sale and after about a two weeks before cutting it up. This was about one week before the Eatons chain of stores closed. To those not knowing about this, the Eatons chain of was a major chain store in Canada going back about 100 years. In a way, I cut up little piece of Canadian history. Oh well, sometimes that the way things sometimes.

Anyways, once the bike was cut-up, the work was started on getting he new bike together. The parts for putting the rest of he bike came from the the older road bike bike that I had. This older bike was to be cut up and the bottom bracket was used on my Low Racer. The basis of the main frame was 1" by 2" square steel tubing. I bought about 3.5 feet of it for $7.00. It is a 1/8th inch wall material. Although it is way to heavy by normal bike standards, It worked out well for building a prototype bike.

The only remaining sections used for the frame that came from the bike where the fork and the drive train section. The drive train section was cut up further to make the rear triangle smaller as per the plan I drew up.

The first order of busness was to get the design layout set up. Although a drawing done of the basic set-up, nailing the details down had to be done. All the factors of the fit had to be put into place. Basic cuts where made to down on the materials to fit the design I set out on paper. After everything was fitted into place, all the parts where tack welded into place. The head tube angle was set at about 73 degrees. The wheelbase was set at 40 inches. The effective frame size is 20" but because the top tube slopes down, there is much more stand over high greater then on a diamand frame design.

The one area that is not as good as the tubed diamond frame is the placement of the waterbottle. The water bottle on my new bike is placed so it faces backwards and up. This makes the reach for the bottle more difficult then on the older diamand frame bike that I had been using. On some harder impacts like going over railway tracks, the bottle has come out of the bottle cage. Based on my riding style with a road bike, I only use water bottle anyways but there is space for a second water bottle cage on the bottom section of the frame just behind the front wheel.

One item of note is that the basic is that bike stood up with without the benift of paint job until Sept. 2001.

Now for the question, why build an up-right bike? There are some cycling clubs do not like recumbent bikes used in there club rides. I do like riding my own creations and building a different looking type of road bike Also, if properly set-up, both the recumbent and up-right bike bike should be equally comfortable considering what there end use is.

All types of bikes should be equally fun to ride. Although the recumbent bike has many pluses, they also have there weakenes. The road bike is a work bike. Unlike the recumbent, it needs to be looked at with the view as a great go like hell bike. The overall feel is to get a good workout when it comes across with this bike.

A good book to read in regards to bike design is "The Custom Bicycle" by Michael J. Kolin and Denise M. de la Rosa. It is published by Rodale Press. Although it is dated in some ways because of the date of publication (1979), much of the info about is still good to read about. There is a great section of profiles of builders in various counties. The book should be read if you are interested in seeing how quality frames are made. I'm not too sure if it is still in print but you should take look at it if you can get a hold of it.

That's it. If you are interested in doing something like this, give it a go.


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