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At this point, the use of carbon fiber is pretty common place in the bike industry. You can the use of carbon in almost every component in one way or another, and it seems to only be getting more prevalent.

But when it comes to the handmade segment, building in carbon is still far less common than say tig welding or brazing steel tubing. While there are number of pros making some drool worthy custom carbon rigs, it’s still an intimidating process for most amateurs.

Which is probably why Reza wants to know, “are there any workshops available on connecting carbon fiber tubes or structures together, or connecting carbon to metal?”

As it turns out, this is sort of a complicated question whose answer will vary depending on your location. The short answer, is no, there are no bicycling focused carbon workshops available to the public – that we could find. We’re hoping that this post unearths classes that we’re unaware of, and if so, feel free to post below. UPDATE: The comments delivered – apparently Dave Bohm of the Bohemian Frame Building School offers “the first and only carbon composite bicycle framebuilding workshop,” which is a 7 day course that will result in your very own handbuilt carbon frame.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t courses out there that deal with carbon fiber at least partially. One such course is available at Hero Bike’s workshop in Greensboro, AL. The course blends carbon and bamboo to build your own custom bike. It’s not exactly traditional carbon construction, but you would learn how to join tubes with carbon wraps.

We reached out to companies that repair carbon frames thinking that they may have classes or know where to find them, but didn’t have much luck. Calfee Design said that they were discussing options for DIY classes in the future, but didn’t have any plans currently.

There are also a number of classes that we found online that would be perfect – though they were all coursework for local universities. We’re assuming that you wouldn’t have access to these classes without enrolling in the school, though there’s a possibility of finding courses through a local technical college that may be open to the public.

Depending on your needs, you might want to check out the CARBONNect system from Rock West Composites. Certainly not a traditional joining method for carbon, but the riveted system allowed Sam Garfield, James Lyons, and Rylan Hayes to build an award winning cargo bike at NAHBS 2017.

Finally, you may want to look into local maker/hacker spaces. Again this will greatly depend on your location, but we found at least one such instance of a maker space in Boulder that had a class on building with carbon.

If all else fails, the internet is a pretty great place to find tutorials on all things, including carbon. A quick “how to build your own carbon bike” brought up a few results with people that had built their own carbon bikes. This is probably going to be your best bet, since building your own carbon bike is inherently dangerous which is probably why there aren’t a lot of classes available for liability reasons. If you want to try, we’d suggest starting small with something other than a complete frame or fork, and build at your own risk.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. I took a class from Dave Boehm of Bohemian Bicycles in Tucson, Arizona in September 2015. Two students, 7 days, and I left with a carbon fiber frame (and Enve fork) that I built up as a fine road bike. I rode it today, as a matter of fact. Dave is a creative, patient teacher who structured the class very well. A visit to his website gives details on the class; I highly recommend it to anyone interested in learning about the materials and the process.

  2. Dave Bohm knows his deal, his skills are excellent. I have not yet taken his course, but it is a long term goal. My own skills are self taught, which is a euphemism meaning “to scour the internet for expired patents and general advice from both expert and amateur trades people, combined with practicing upon many, many failed carbon parts”. Either way you’re going to invest some time and money.

    If you are reading this comments section looking for some useful search terms to start with, here are some: “exothermic runaway”, “vapor pressure”, “Darcy’s Law”, “carbon fiber breakage handling”, “relative vs absolute air pressure”, “pinhole spontaneous nucleation”, “carbon fiber weft warp weave hoop”… those alone will make for hours of reading material.

  3. One off carbon frames, whether by an amateur or a professional, seem like a scary thing to me. Brazing or welding metal frames uses the same skills on every joint and it’s relatively easy to know if you did it correctly. In contrast carbon frames have a huge number of variables (which is the whole point to composites: you can optimize the layup) and repeatable process control is hard. Then add in the idea of customizing each frame and you are asking for reliability problems. The big manufacturers can make a bunch of frames and use destructive tests to optimize the design and make the process repeatable. You can’t optimize the design with only one build, and may not even be able to get a safe design the first time even if you don’t have process problems (which can be hard to spot from the outside).

  4. I feel like with carbon you’ve gotta be building enough to destructively test at least a couple or else you’re taking on a lot of risk riding your creation.

What do you think?