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A Bicycle Framebuilding Crash Course

Words & Photography by Brad Quartuccio

"Get comfortable. You’ll be spending a lot of time practicing.”

Roughly an hour after walking into the shop on the first day of class I had a welding torch in my hand, sloppily sticking thick pieces of metal together. I knew that building a frame within a normal work week wasn’t going to be easy, and this confirmed it loud and clear.

It’s been a goal of mine for some time to enroll in a framebuilding course and ride something crafted by my own hands. When I first learned that Mike Flanigan of Alternative Needs Transportation was offering weeklong one-on-one classes I knew it was the choice for me. I first met Mike nearly ten years ago, and besides being one of the guys I always find myself chatting with at shows, is the real deal when it comes to framebuilding and modern-day, New England bike history. He got his start with the craft as a painter at the now legendary Fat City Cycles, was one of the founding worker/owners at Independent Fabrication, and for the past decade has been working solo under the Alternative Needs Transportation (ANT) banner. Even though he eschews the label of master framebuilder, by any measure Mike has the credentials. He’s been around for much of the modern day handbuilt bicycle resurgence, and has had his hand in companies that to this day have defined what many associate with East Coast bike geometry and construction style. The chance to learn even the basics of a craft one-on-one from someone with such a resume isn’t something to be passed up or taken lightly.