Sweetpea Journey #4: Lie Back and Think of England

If you didn’t know, I’m getting a custom-made bike from Sweetpea Bicycles. Natalie Ramsland builds these bikes specifically for women, one of just two women frame builders in the United States (the other is Luna Cycles). Many people I know are interested in hearing about the process, so I hope to be blogging about it each step of the way. Read the series here. Now for the fourth installment. Away we go…

This is the part of the process when I lie back and think of England. While I have been blithely going about my daily life Natalie has been rockin’ and rollin’ at Sweetpea World Headquarters. And sending me photos.

Last week she built the front fork of my bike. Originally she was going to use a carbon fork, but turns out that’s not really a great idea for a 650B wheel size.

Here’s how the magic happened (narrated by me, a person with no knowledge of either frame building or welding):

She took just a teeny bit of fork…

upside down fork crown

Added a dropout and sneezed on it…

droput ready for brazing

Welded it on…

brazed dropout

Got it to submit to her will using a medieval torture instrument…

Fork in a fixture

And voila! All forked up! She didn’t even have to go back to the drawing board once.

Fork drawing and pieces

The finished fork! Hurray Natalie!

Still life with fork and potted blueberry

An important part of the process was the quality control inspection, done of course by Sweetpea’s office manager Greta…

Greta inspects the work

You’ll be happy to know it passed with flying colors. Greta worked so hard she needed to snooze the rest of the afternoon.

After a restorative weekend break, Natalie started working on the frame of my bike.

Materials gathered? Check!

Frame materials

Jig set up for all my lady-like angles? Check!

Jig set up for your bike with biggest protractor ever

Insert tubing, CHECK!

mitered frame in the jig

We’ve got seat tube to bottom bracket CONTACT!

first joint brazed - seat tube to bottom bracket

It’s starting to look like a bike!

head tube miters

While Natalie has been working so hard, I’ve been reconnecting with my teen angst. Seeing these photos made me realize that I’m soon going to have a bike frame, all ready to go get powder coated. And when it gets shipped off to Colorado, I’m going to need to tell them what color to paint it. And what finish to use. ACK!

Next: A final color choice? A completed frame? I have no idea.

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