BikeCAD vs traditional AutoCAD- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    BikeCAD vs traditional AutoCAD

    I have a degree in, and am a designer by trade (power plant piping specifically) so I am very familiar with CAD software. I have full access to basically every Autodesk software at work, free of charge (obviously).

    I was curious if BikeCAD offers anything beneficial that I would be missing out on if I were to just design my frames in 3D AutoCAD and dimension/plot them like normal.

    I know you can check compliance with racing organizations and such with BikeCAD, but I am really not interested in that kind of stuff (though it is neat!).

  2. #2
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    I haven't used it, nor have I built any frames, but as a CAD user I'm curious. The website says it is free so why not give it a try? I'm guessing there is a charge for the Pro version but the free one should give you some idea.

    Just guessing but I would imagine it gives you a good starting point on a bike frame whereas AutoCAD you would be starting from scratch unless you can find someone to share a file. I would check to see if it has dwg export capabilities.

    Good luck!
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by chazpat View Post
    I haven't used it, nor have I built any frames, but as a CAD user I'm curious. The website says it is free so why not give it a try? I'm guessing there is a charge for the Pro version but the free one should give you some idea.

    Just guessing but I would imagine it gives you a good starting point on a bike frame whereas AutoCAD you would be starting from scratch unless you can find someone to share a file. I would check to see if it has dwg export capabilities.

    Good luck!
    The BikeCAD software is ~$350, for the PRO. It's my understanding that you have to purchase that if you want actually extract the data to build the frame. The free version basically lets you tinker with geo but you can't actually pull tube lengths or anything.

    Quite honestly, starting from scratch would be perfect for someone like me. I love designing from the ground up.

    I am just not seasoned enough to say "eh, I don't need it"... I could definitely be missing something.

  4. #4
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    I use RattleCAD which is a free package. I have played with BikeCAD free version and I'm sure the full Pro version is great.

    I have also spent many hours messing around in a couple different CAD programs designing tools/fixtures all with little success. I end up going back to paper and pencil drawings.

    For me, it is more a question of how I want to spend my time. As an example, I can design a standard frameset in RattleCAD in half an hour and have miter templates, measurements for rear triangle, tube lengths and angles etc. I would rather get to the garage and start cutting tubes than sit in front of a screen.

  5. #5
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    I sort out all of my geometry and general floorplan in Bike Cad. It's awesome for that. Fitting bikes with the program is the way to go.

    I use SolidWorks to solve more complex issues in 3d space. It's good for that.

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  6. #6
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    I second PVD, Bike CAD for simple hardtails and roadys.
    I use inventor for machined parts and a dually I am designing
    As it is easy to separate each 'part' for individual manufacturing, for example to get the pivot points machined up.
    Whereas with 'standard' bikes I just use Bike CAD to show dimensions and give a good idea how it looks. It can only take like 2 min to make a proper fabrication drawing of a custom 'standard' bike.

  7. #7
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    I think that it really depends on how knowledgeable you are about bike design. Bikecad really wont let you get too far out of bounds in that what you design may ride like crap but it will likely be buildable. With autocad you are the safety net.

    Also, you can get draftsight for free and it can do 99% of what most users will need. The commands are even the same as autocad!
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  8. #8
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    We use SolidWorks for everything at work and I've got a copy of Bike CAD as well. Like others have pointed out it's great for getting contact points in place. It is frustrating that you can't adjust things in isolation though. For instance if you change the angle of your top tube your head tube length changes. Tire clearance is another thing that's hard to gauge in Bike CAD, though I'm not sure if going through the trouble to model and entire bike is worthwhile. Seems there's no best single software out there for every application.

  9. #9
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    Solidworks can make some very nice models, give you (kinda) close guesses on finished weight, and do FEM if you're into that. It's a PITA to generate surface boundaries to make the miters, takes a ton more time to draw stuff, and I find myself kicking surfaces out into Rhino to generate miter templates with some python scripting I built up.
    But you can do that for _anything_, not just bike frames, which is why Solidworks is cool; it's a generic solution to most problems.

    I think that folks above are right; if you are just going to pick your tubeset and miter it up, just use bikecad. Solidworks is overkill unless you are doing something that requires analysis and complex fabrication.

  10. #10
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    I use AutoCAD to model all of my bike designs. Yes, Solidworks would be better for this, but if you don't have access to the program and you are already proficient in AutoCAD, then use what will be most efficient.

    I will be looking to get a copy of Solidworks some day as I would like to learn the program, but for now it just makes sense to use AutoCAD.

  11. #11
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    I do mine with a pencil and draw in 1:10, then full size. Can't beat it. You are far more intimate with your process too.

    Eric
    If I don't make an attempt, how will I know if it will work?

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Malcolm View Post
    I do mine with a pencil and draw in 1:10, then full size. Can't beat it. You are far more intimate with your process too.

    Eric
    I agree. Full size drawing. Physically taking the measurements/angles from the drawing to the mill is simple and perfect.
    If I was building a dually though, I would need to join the 21st century.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbmx View Post
    I agree. Full size drawing. Physically taking the measurements/angles from the drawing to the mill is simple and perfect.
    If I was building a dually though, I would need to join the 21st century.
    I did my first couple frames by simply drawing, last one i did by printing the full-scale drawing from bikeCAD. I liked it more that way, especially if you're using a surface plate and not a jig. With the jig a drawing isn't really necessary.
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  14. #14
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    I've been a mechanical CAD designer for a very long time. I've used Autodesk Inventor to make some really cool and very complex bike frame designs over the years. I would say the best part about using parametric modeling software is the ability to make custom geometry and have dimensions automatically adjust to match your design. As an example; you could have a multi pivot suspension frame design and using 1 dimension for frame size; have all of the other tube sizes adjust to match with it using mathematical formula's or even complex excel spreadsheets. I would suspect all of the big bike manufacturers use this type of setup to design there bikes.
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  15. #15
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    bikecad is pretty nice for designing bikes. I suppose if I was doing more than just the geometry, I would want to go into solidworks. I can't imagine using a 2d cad program. I have tried to talk Brent into doing the same thing for forks that he does for stays, but he doesn't seem to be interested. I think the fork views that he provides are misleading.

  16. #16
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    If you know autocad, you would have no problem setting up a constrained drawing that would act pretty much the same as a bikeCAD drawing. BikeCAD just has that all built in. If you are building for customers it is also nice to have a pro-looking drawing, to be able to mock up colorways and quickly swap out wheelsizes or things like that.

  17. #17
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    Use what you know.

  18. #18
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    I start out in Linkage so I can observe suspension curves, then transpose the geometry and suspension points into Inventor. Then, as Phattruth has pointed out, a single change to say, the wheelbase, can update every single other geometry and the tube dimensions automatically. It works wonderfully when then time and effort has been put into associating the dimensions.

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