• Posted Dec 7, 2016

If building your own bike frame is on your bucket list, it’s time to turn that fantasy into reality.

You bet, there’s room for one more bike in your garage or basement!

Jeffrey Bock, a local frame builder with 30 years of experience and a huge regional following, is now accepting students for a new class.

Jeff operates a small shop between Slater and Ames where he builds custom frames and restores classic bikes. It didn’t take any prompting to sweep up testimonies about the value of building a frame under the Jeff’s stewardship.

“I would highly recommend Jeff Bock's frame building class to anyone who was thinking about undertaking a project like this,” says Ed Veak, co-owner of Beaverdale Bicycles. “The class taught me how to build a bike frame and how to appreciate the ‘art’ of frame building.

“Jeff’s class will enlighten you to the elegance of the steel bike frame. You will never look at a bike again without also seeing the lines and joints, plus knowing the craftsmanship that goes into the design and execution of building a beautiful bike. Since completing Jeff’s class, I have attended four North American Handmade Bicycle Show. Jeff's frames put most of the exhibitors to shame.”

“Do a little research,” Ed added, “and you will find Jeff’s classes are reasonably priced considering you don't have to travel out of state, use vacation time, or spend money on travel, food, and lodging. We are so lucky to have Jeff living in the Des Moines area. This class is worth every penny and hour invested.”

“Jeff’s classes are spread out over eight or 10 weeks, allowing you to digest and practice what you've learned before moving onto the next section. This beats the intense three- to five-day workshops most frame-building classes offer. And remember, you get to come out of the class with your very own, one-of-a-kind, handmade frame that you built with your own blood, sweat, and tears.

“The experience has not only left me with a greater knowledge and respect for the craft of frame building but my wife, Jen, got a perfect-fitting touring frame. I also gained some great new friends along the way.”

Sam Au, now a junior at Iowa State, enrolled in Jeff’s class while a student at Roosevelt High School.

“I went into Jeff’s frame-building class without any formal experience with bike frames and practically no time working with metals,” Same recalls. “Jeff was an incredibly patient teacher. He gave me the freedom to get a feel for the tools and materials on my own, while providing helpful advice along the way. I gained a deep appreciation for the art of hand-built frames.

“If you enroll in this class, you have a beautiful bicycle that you can hop on and ride on your favorite route.”

Let’s drop a few more names: Other class graduates include Forrest Ridgway, Rob “Specialized Rob” Versteegh, Bill Rumme, Joe Ayers, Jim Lanning, Gordon Borthwick, Michael Fatka, and Steve Rhodes (Skunk River Cycles service manager).

Steve Falck, Larry Johnston, and Carl completed bikes earlier this spring; each is available for testimonials. Or, check out their bikes.

Here are Jeff’s details about the next class.

Shop location

Classes are held in my shop in Napier in Story County. This country-crossroads community is north of Slater and south of Ames. It’s about a 45-minute drive from Des Moines.

Class size

Four students is ideal

Class meeting and homework from Jeff

“Student schedules and availability will determine when the classes will meet. Because of my previous Des Moines teaching duties, I’ve always run the classes on Sunday afternoons for 8 to 10 weeks consecutively. But I’ve recently retired from the school system. So, all-new options have opened up. Schedules that come to mind: Weekly on Saturday or Sunday or twice weekly, depending on your schedules and preferences. This allows time, if you were so inclined, to do your homework.”

Yes, homework, which could include prepping, filing, and finishing. It is entirely possible to complete a frame and fork in the allotted class time doing little if any homework if you will be content with basic production level finish-work as opposed to artisan level.

If you are still reading:

• When would you like to start the class series?

• What day or days of the week would suit you best?

Frame Options

You should plan on building a lugged steel frame. Unless you have considerable brazing experience, I’m going to rule out any design that requires extensive fillet brazing. Frame styles that are within the scope of this class include:

• Classic road

• Randonneur

• Touring

• Cyclocross

• Commuter/town

The frame you build should fit a wheel/tire size of 700C, 650B or 26-inch up to (if we really press it) 44mm (1.75 inches) in width.

You can opt to build with:

• Traditional tube dimensions (1-inch top tube, 1-1/8 down tube, 1-1/4 head tube with a 1-inch threaded steerer)

• Oversize with traditional 1-inch threaded steerer (1-1/8 top tube, 1-1/4 down tube)

• Modern oversize (1-1/8 top tube, 1-1/4 down tube, 36mm head tube and a threadless 1-1/8 inch steerer)

I usually make a recommendation based on the individual rider and his/her intended purposes for the bike. Functionally and aesthetically, there are pros and cons to each. If you don’t have a strong preference and/or don’t know — we should get together soon and discuss the options.

Sorry, you can’t wait until classes start to decide; I’ll need to order materials.

Bottom line

The $2,875 fee includes all the instruction and needed materials to build a complete frame and fork with a single-color paint job. Multi-color paint, graphics and some other options are available at additional fee.

More details

If you ‘re interested, please contact Jeff Bock at or 515-232-9593








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