Alex and the middle stages of his first cycletruck. Photo from Duncan Cycles.
Alex Wetmore is not a household name for most of the cycling world. But in certain circles–like the iBob and Framebuilders listservs and Bicycle Quarterly’s readership–Alex’s name rings out as a skilled framebuilder with impressively deep technical savvy. He’s documented his work as a hobbyist frame/fork/rack builder, his technical trials with the inner workings of bikes and components, his adventures with “rough stuff cycling,” and more on his blog and as a contributor to Bicycle Quarterly. Alex and I talked about his roots in cycling, his attraction to the technical sides of bikes, his love of remote rough-road riding, and more.
It takes a brave soul to disassemble a Rohloff hub.
It’s hard to say what it is about cycling that attracts D.I.Y. tinkerers. Part of it is certainly the relatively low-consequences of bike mechanics. Sure there are certain key components of a bike that require more skill to install or adjust than others, but a botched crankset installation likely won’t kill you. Another aspect is probably the sheer number of things to change on a bike. In the hands of a dedicated mechanic (amateur or otherwise), a bike frame becomes a blank foundation on which to attach a nearly infinite number of fork, wheel, tire, handlebar, drivetrain, fender, rack, saddle, and electronics combinations. Bring welding skills into the picture and the fabrication and modification possibilities are almost limitless.
Thanks to my Internet addiction, I’ve come across a lot of great examples of DIY bike crafts. Here are a few good ones I’ve seen of late: