This past September, Milan became a bustling bicycle hotspot (but isn’t it always?). Milano Bike City was a collection of events, workshops, and bike rides dedicated to bicycles as a way to increase sustainable tourism. Bice Bicycles (aka me, aka Dario Colombo) ran one of the workshops offered during this bicycle festival.

Otto Tubi e una Bici [8 Tubes and a Bike] covered how to create a bike frame from start to finish. The workshop was in collaboration with my favorite bike shop in Milan, La Stazione delle Biciclette.

I was also a “guest lecturer” at the Accademia Nazionale di Mountain Bike, which offers cycling specific technical and professional preparatory courses and workshops in different cities around Italy. The advanced workshop on the design and construction of bike frames was held in Milan from 19th to the 21st of October.

In both workshops we covered the importance of the relationship between the frame and cyclist, and not just in reference to measurements. What welding materials and techniques you will need to use to weld. I demonstrated how to miter the tubes and fit them properly into the jig, and how to spot weld and weld a frame. We also went over painting techniques, types of paint and their characteristics. Attendees also got to try their hand at welding.

The people that attended were a wild mix of people from super bike fanatics, to those that were interested in the profession. Some came simply because they were curious about the workshop, and some people weren’t even cyclists.

I was a teacher in my past life but I realized that, although a bicycle at first glance is a simple object, it is actually incredibly complicated and complex when you get down to the details. Explaining all the nuances of how to make a bike frame in a simple and easy to understand manner is quite difficult. It was interesting to see people’s reactions as they began to realize how deep the mathematical and theoretical well runs deep, and how painstaking it is to build a good bicycle.

I lost them for a moment when I casually referenced Young’s modulus while explaining how to choose the proper tubing. People gave me blank stares, and I realized that maybe I’d gotten too technical. So I took a few steps back and simplified to ensure that everyone could understand the characteristics of elasticity.

At the Milano Bike City workshop, it also took me half an hour to prepare the tig welding machine. People kept asking me questions and, being Italian, I had to answered all questions not only with words but also with hand gestures. So the whole thing took forever because I kept putting things down and gesticulating and then I have to start setting up all over again. At a certain point, one of the organizers of Milan Bike City, Marco Mazzei (he owns a Bice too), jokingly told me to stop talking otherwise we’d never get to welding.

Once we got to welding, there was a guy that tried his hand for the first time and I don’t know if it was beginners luck or not, but it was an amazing weld. Unfortunately, I lost his contact so I won’t be able to offer him a job any time soon. Buddy, if you’re reading this, contact me.

I also realized that I am a selective neat freak. Everything else can be in chaos, but my machines have to be spotless enough to eat off.