The Bicycle Academy frame building school close to reality

Crowd-funded venture raises £35K in under three days

The Bicycle Academy, a crowd-funded frame building enterprise that aims to give people the skills to build a bike and then give their first bike away to charity, has almost reached its target, just three days after taking their first pledge.

Based in Frome, Somerset, The Bicycle Academy, is attempting to raise £40,000 in 42 days through the pre-selling of frame-building courses. With 39 days remaining, they are just £5,200 short of the target. While they currently have a workshop, they require the funds to fill it with tools and machines. By selling their courses up front (plus other goodies – it all depends on how much you pledge), they can use the profits to get the enterprise off the ground. No money will change hands until the target has been reached, but the target is looking quite likely at the moment.

So what about the courses? Students will be taught how to build lugless steel frames by expert builder Brian Curtis over four-days, with a choice of one-on-one sessions (£1,000) and two-on-one (£500). It’ll provide them with all the tools and facilities they need to make their first bike, which will be then sent to Africa-based bike aid charity Re-cycle for people who rely on them for their everyday lives. While the bike they make on the course is destined for charity, the skills they learn will set them up to build frames for life.

Pledges range from £20 for a TBA t-shirt to £500/£1,000 for the courses themselves. Incredibly, the 50 places for the £500 course and four places for £1,000 have been snapped up already. A limited number of the two-on-one courses will be made available again this weekend. The pre-sold courses will take up the bulk of 2012, but more courses will be announced for 2013.

TBA founder Andrew Denham told BikeRadar they had been blown away by the response, and emphasised that while the course places were now limited, the smaller pledges were just as important to them in order to reach their target.

Should they reach it, they expect the workshop to open in February next year. Apart from being used for the courses, they plan on opening it up to graduates to work on their own projects at a rate based on time spent and materials used.

The idea to give the finished bikes to charity is key to the enterprise. They acknowledge that the first frame you build will, while functionally sound, be the worst one you'll ever produce, so why not give it away to someone who really needs it? They accept it's normal to want to keep hold of the fruits of your labour, but because you can come back at any time to work on your own frame, it shouldn't be as much of a hardship.

Denham said the idea started with a bike he was building for the Cobble Wobble, a hill sprint race he organises in Frome. As his interest in frame building increased, so did the foundations for the academy and it was whilst showcasing the idea at Bespoked Bristol, the handmade bike show held in Bristol earlier this year, that things started to speed up.

"We knew after being at the show there was a big interest, and there isn't really anything else like it in the UK," said Denham. "The kit to build frames is too expensive for most people so we're hoping the academy opens it up to more people."

To find out more about the academy, visit their website or view their video below.

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