You might be thinking your university days are over, but I have a feeling that if anyone can get you back on campus, it’s the University of Iowa with their hand built bicycle program!
While other students are sitting in class learning about imaginary numbers and supply and demand graphs, you could be understanding frame design, materials, tube finishing, welding, brazing, lug installation and AutoCAD. The hand built bicycle program is run by Steve McGuire (Professor of Metal Arts and 3D Design) and combines both engineering and arts students. Each student is provided with an industry mentor to help them along the way.
Willy Tan’s Bike From The Hand Built Bicycle Program
Willy went through the University of Iowa program a few years ago and constructed this touring bike for his sister. He sneakily convinced Professor McGuire that he should take the frame building course, despite being an accounting student. With a tick of approval, Willy started designing and building this extra-small touring bike to perfectly meet his sister’s needs.
The frame uses a mixture of True Temper and Reynolds 531 steel tubing connected with lugs that have been reshaped for the occasion. You wouldn’t know the wheels are 26-inch by looking at the bike – they’re perfectly matched to the XXS frame size. The key advantage to the smaller wheels is that they offer less toe overlap when steering.
Neat braze-ons and fittings have been installed across the bike to accommodate the gear cables, classic bidon cages, racks and stainless fenders. Brass tubes under the bottom bracket shell prevent the frame from rusting as the gear cables slowly wear through the paint. The rear brake cable even sneaks through the top tube for that ultra-clean aesthetic.
The silver parts in combination with the front and rear Nitto racks give this bike a very classic look. Campagnolo 8-speed shifters and derailleurs have been fitted, along with Sugino cranks that measure just 152mm instead of the usual 165/170mm. The idea is that the cranks are more in proportion with his sister’s leg lengths.
Narrow Continental Gatorskin tyres measuring 28mm have been selected, indicating that this touring bike will be used predominately for road use. A Brooks saddle and matching bar tape, along with a brass bell have been fitted to finish off the build.