Take a look at the finished bicycle here..

Friday, 30 September 2011

The plycycle in the sun. Plus, accounts.

It was a sunny day, so I took the plycycle outside and took a few quick snaps. Soon I will take some proper photographs and make a site to show them off at but at the moment will that link will bring you straight back to this blog.

Also, quite a few people have asked how long and how much it cost to make. Well I didn't keep a diary of the actual time it took but I have totted up the time I think I spent on it and it is about 42 hours over 6 months. However I think it would take longer than one working week to repeat because outside the actual hours I spent working on it is all the time allowed for curing of resins, paint and varnish. that would probably double the build time.
As for the cost.... well I kept the receipts and did some adding up. I nearly fell off my chair. It cost more than I thought. Its lucky I didn't charge myself labour. 

Tools           £  58.35
Materials     £213.78
Cycle parts  £  92.33
TOTAL       £363.03  

The funny thing is that the core material of plywood cost £38, the rest was on bespoke metal tubing, epoxy, varnish, spray paint etc. The frustrating thing was that often I had to buy lots more of something than I actually needed, so that has possibly inflated the actual price of some items. As for the bike parts, most came off my fixie, so actually saved lots there.

I suppose that for a hand built one of a kind bike it is not a bad price, and spread over six months it was not so bad.

Monday, 26 September 2011

The PLYCYLE, it works!

At last the chain arrived, I quickly fitted it in the exhibition space at Aardman and got the bike outside as quickly as I could. A couple of pals joined my for the maiden ride and we filmed it.

The first ride of the plycycle.

I have to say that it made me beam from ear to ear. I was happy that at long last I could actually ride the bike I had set out to make back in March.
How does it ride? Well it is well balanced, and stiffer in the frame than I had expected. There is substantial twist in the frame if you push hard on the pedals off the line of the crank, but I expected that. It is however less than I had anticipated, which is good news.
I now want to do some proper test rides and carefully find out if it will be strong enough for the road. 
But whatever happens next, I am pleased as punch that the project became a reality.

I also have grown to really like the handle bars that I put on so although I had thought of making a wood/aluminium hybrid bar, I dont think I will now.

The plycycle lives.

Friday, 23 September 2011

On show.

The plycycle has been on show as part of the Aardman Animations (where I work) staff 'show and tell' exhibition of personal creative projects.

It is sporting the new stem set, but still has no chain, and is therefore still unridden.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Its finished...mostly.

It is mostly finished. Here look......

The mostly finished plywood frame bike.

So why is it not finished? Well I have all the bits except about 10cm of chain. In my excitement, I bought the chain I wanted without checking that it was long enough. So I need to buy another chain to match and make it up to length. Then the bike will be ridable.

I have sat on it and it didn't break, that is an achievement in itself.

However I am going to make some substitutions of some components. Mainly the stem. I fitted a classic Campagnolo style stem and I think it looks a bit weedy on the fat wooden frame. It also rakes down which I am not so keen on now. So I am changing it for a black ahead stem that will slope up to the bars. It is also a clamp type that will allow me to fit the wooden handle bars (with ally bar re-enforcement) I am hoping to make next.
I am also undecided on the bars I put on or if flat bull horns would be better. If  I make bars they will be flat bull horns, a bit like the 'Charge' ones but without the upturn on the ends.

Mostly finished bike movie.

What bugs me? Well heaps, as you can imagine. The seat post is not at an angle that lies true to the frames angles. Also it slipped in its grips when setting and the seat sits ever so slightly off true. The varnish is thicker and more gaudy than I had expected. I should have done a test with it. There are lots of bumps and bits where I have either rushed or not thought a process through properly.

However. Having said all of the above, I am very proud of what I have made, having never attempted anything like this before, and having done it from my garage.

Remember this....

It ended up pretty close.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011 last.

Finally I am putting on the varnish. Each time I went to do it recently I found another little thing that I had forgotten to do. Just lots of little things like drilling the holes for the sheer bolts that will strengthen the rear stays. The big one was that I hadn't drilled the big hole for the seat post, and it was much more tricky than I had thought. Mainly because I didn't have the right clamps or bench to hold it securely in the correct position. So I gerry rigged up my workmate with a small pillar drill. It worked OK, but did cause a bit of vibration to begin with when I had the bit extension fitted, which caused the top of the whole to be , well, not round. So I took the extension bit off and managed to drill with the standard bit, just. But the damage was done, once the seat post was fitted I filled the wonky top of the hole with epoxy and sanded it back. Not perfect, but I have a seat post in now.
The seat post is permanently fixed in with epoxy, I thought I only needed to fit me.

See my less than ideal drilling rig.

I have done the varnish primer layer, thinned 50/50, I have done a first coat thinned 75/25 and I have done the first neat coat. one last coat and then wait for it to set. The varnish will take about 4 days to harden properly, then I can bolt it all together.

Varnishing in the dark....

The varnish making it look all shiny.

The way the varnish has brought the wood to life is amazing. I really didn't expect it to work as well as it does. I have used Hemple varnish and thinners and it has been great. Designed for boats, it is flexible, durable and has UV protection, hopefully that will cover every thing I need it to do.

Thursday, 1 September 2011


I have been sanding, sanding, sanding, sanding, sanding and sanding some more. Nearly ready to varnish.

Just got to drill a hole for the seat post.

Also, this project made the final edit of a Fixed gear bike documentary a friend of mine made, which I was interviewed for. The film is called BOIKZMOIND keep a look out for it.