X02 – Fishing Rod 26″ Hardtail “The Noodle”

The scrappy nature of this frame will have to be excused! I made this frame while I was working at a fishing rod company for a multitude of reasons:

– I was very bored at work
– I wanted a Mountain Bike
– To learn about different geometry, focusing on suspension and handling
– To draw the focus to how much scrap and waste we produced!

This build honestly began because I found some Avid BB7 calipers in my spare parts box that I had bought in error years ago. So yes, I built a frame around some dated calipers. I chose to go 26″ as I am not a tall rider and I hoped that 26″ kit would be fairly cheap and easy to get hold of, it was.

So, a vague brief is formed and I looked around for some inspiration and started making some tubes in my free time after work. The front triangle is made from off-cuts from the initial production process. This means the material selection is a little wild. From memory there is some graphene in the headtube, M46 in the downtube and mostly T800 level, there is also a healthy amount of glass as there was always lots of this going spare so I didn’t feel too guilty to use it for my crazy projects.

The rear triangle is entirely made from fishing rod butts. The tips get spectacularly small so weren’t suitable. Most of the butts were in the scrap bin as they had cosmetic defects, some had structural defects but I used the salvageable sections. I made a rough template and tacked them together bye eye. Keep in mind I did all of this in the short time after work while the foreman hung around!

Rear triangle in my very hasty jig!

I made some sliding dropouts at home with a plate on the drive side so I can split the triangle and put a belt on if I ever feel really funky. With the frame tacked together I added some polyester based body filler and filleted the joints, I have learnt much since then and wont use that again, but it was what I had and it functioned. I then proceeded to spend the next two weeks laying up the joints, fitting it into my lunch breaks and after work when someone was staying around longer so it was open! Again, material choice was odd but it was great to experiment with a selection and learn about how to cut and move the carbon into the different areas of a frame.

The oven which the rods were cured in didn’t have a vacuum line plumbed so I bagged my lay up and left it overnight for a drop test. I came back the next day to a near perfect bag, so I gave it one last vacuum and slipped it in with a batch of rods. I have a few images of these steps but they have documents from work in the background so I won’t be able to show them unfortunately.

Quick Test assembly

I fitted some forks and wheels to the frame to have a look and get a feel of the sizing. I noticed how noodly it was at this point so I had to say goodbye to the nice weave on the toptube and downtube unfortunately. I laid up some extra layers of uni and hastily wrapped them in tape to try and stiffen it all up. I still think it is far too flexy but I think it is more due to the rear, maybe I will add some gusset type things to them however I quite like leaving my builds as they are to look back on what I have learnt.

I got myself a pair of Rockshox Recon Silver forks incredibly cheap and I serviced them with new seals and removed a spacer for some more travel. I also got a set of wheels with Hope Hubs and Mavic rims, with tyres! They are a little dry rotted but it was a good deal and got the bike rolling. If they die I will change them, its just a fun bike after all! I had hoped to put some Shimano Deore cranks on them but COVID was making bike components go crazy and I couldn’t find a single pair new or used for under £100! So I picked up some cheap eBay cranks which seem perfectly functional. For some finishing touches I made the cable guides from fishing rod rings, the things that guide the line along the rod, it has a ceramic insert and is made of titanium.

I use this bike every week to ride into town and entertainingly the flexiness makes for a very comfortable ride. I was wary to really hammer it for a while but I now just throw it around and jump off anything I can, I haven’t managed to find a single sign of failure or overloading on any part of the frame. I took it to a local pump track and it holds up pretty nicely, although the rear brake rubs as it flexes. If this bike breaks then it won’t be the end of the world and it would be wonderful to learn where and why it fails. It just doesn’t want to.

All in all I spent about two months of after work time and £200 on parts for a great little learning experience and a wonderful way to use some scrap that was destined for the bin. I no longer work at the fishing rod company but I do still have some fabric which is ready to expire so I should make something else soon, if I find the time.

I hope you enjoyed the quick write up on my sketchiest frame to date, it’s not something I am overly proud to show as it is a bit of a state but people seemed interested in it when I have mentioned it.



The Noodle on its travels

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