Welding Aluminum Bicycle Frames

Welding Aluminum Bicycle Frames


We’re with Mike Woods in the prototype
shop at Santa Cruz bicycles, and Mike is going to step us through the process
they use here to build a new bicycle frame. Mike, what do we have here? This is a scale size drawing of a V-10 we’re working on right now. The important part is that
it has the location of the head tube, and all the most important geometry aspects
of the bike, including the pivot points of the suspension, and the bottom bracket
location, and the seat tube angle. Since it’s a one-to-one scale, we can lay this
on a flat table, and build the bike directly over the drawing. So what’s the
next step from here Mike? We use a layout on the table to show us where to cut the
tube, and we use a fixture on the mill table to hold the tube at an angle, and in
the right place. Now we can deburr it, put it in the
fixture, and tack the head tube to it. We have a modular fixture system that holds
all the components in place. So this bar right here is spacing the head tube on its proper centerline. The bottom bracket goes in its spot, and all the rest of the components, like the down tube and the monocoque go after. First I’m going to
tack the down tube to the head tube, tack it first here, then underneath here. Then
we’re going to tack the bottom bracket here, then again on the bottom side here. Next I’ll m going to tack the monocoque on,
first here, then here, then here and here, and then I’m going to tack the seat tube
in place. So now that I have everything tacked in
place, I’m going to start welding the rest of the frame, and my first weld will be
right here. So here’s a completely welded frame. Mike, this is absolutely beautiful – you do fantastic work! Thanks! When I go to
complete welding it, I’ll probably skip around to try to hold down some of the
distortion, but it always distorts some, so we put it in the oven, heat it up, and
quench it – then when it get s soft we can align it, and when it’s all done and the
frame is properly aligned, we put in the oven again and heat treat it, and then
after that it’s ready to ride. Cool! Well thank you so much for showing us around
at Santa Cruz bicycles. You’re welcome! you