The dust has settled after a momentous Bespoked Bristol show, which was a sign of things to come. The advantages of technology are certainly making itself present in even the custom framebuilding world, as evidenced by this XC hardtail by Sturdy Cycles.
As a frame builder, you couldn’t really ask for a better name than Tom Sturdy. Mr. Sturdy is not just a frame builder, he’s also been working at The Bicycle Academy for the past three years and their full-time Head Of Education for the past two years.
This is the case for many small-scale frame builders: working a full, or even part-time job, does not leave a lot of time for building. Yet somehow Tom does so and manages to also secure a Technical Excellence Award at the very recent 2019 Bespoked Bristol show.
With good reason: Tom successfully embraced the advantages of titanium 3D-printing. He works primarily in Ti and has developed a workflow for his customers that translates their physical geometry into data that defines an individual set of lugs for their frame.
This cross-country hardtail was not just built off-the-plan. The landscape through which Tom’s customer rides is tight and technical, with plenty of steep woodland climbs. The benefit of Tom’s process is a bike built specifically for the rider and their terrain.
Like all of Tom’s titanium frames, his road/race, all-road, XC hardtail and time trial builds, the ‘lugs’ were created using additive manufacturing, meaning they were 3D-printed from a bed of titanium powder before being welded to titanium tubing.
Today, it’s still an expensive process, so Tom makes it worthwhile: the frame weight can be radically reduced (this one comes in at just under 1.3kg and road frames can be closer to the 1kg mark). It also means other design features can be incorporated.
There is a purity to a raw titanium frame, and it’s easy to see why builders who specialize in the material pursue its perfection. Tom proves this by leaving the printed lugs raw to contrast with the polished tubes, and the single imprinted branding in the head tube.
3D-printing is opening up new realms for the custom frame builder. Some might call it a beast but it’s a pleasure to see how Sturdy Cycles have tamed it, using it to theirs and their customers advantage, and adding their individual style to it.
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