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  1. #1
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    Homemade full suspension 29er

    Hello everyone,

    I recently got back into mountain biking after being out of the sport for a couple years. I purchased a used bike at the beginning of last summer and rode as much as possible. Sadly, the chainstay developed a crack at the end of last summer and it is no longer safe to ride. Common problem on Transition Bandits. Being a college student, studying mechanical engineering, makes it difficult to buy a new bike. So, I decided to design and build my own.

    This is my first time building a frame and any feedback or tips would be appreciated. After countless hours of researching current bikes the main specifications I decided on are, steel frame construction, single pivot rear suspension with linkage actuated shock, 140mm rear travel (Progressive leverage ratio), 29 wheels, and a modern frame geometry. I designed the bike to run a 160mm fork, but I will need to run my 140 mm fox 34 off my previous bike until I am able to purchase a new fork. The tubing for the fame is from a Nova cycles 29er tubing kit, Paragon Machine works head tube and a 4130 38mm strait gauge down tube. The geometry numbers (with 140mm fork) and the linkage model can be seen below.

    Headtube =110mm
    Reach = 480mm
    EFF Top Tube= 635mm
    BB Height= 335mm
    Chainstay Length= 445mm
    Effective seat tube angle = 76.5
    HA= 66
    Homemade full suspension 29er-linkage-image-new.jpg
    After working on the linkage kinematics in Linkage X3 design the frame was modeled in Solidworks. The rear triangle is still not finalized and is incomplete in the rendered images. The linkage is made to look like several wrenches put together, wanted to add something different.
    Homemade full suspension 29er-1.jpgHomemade full suspension 29er-wrench-linkage-3.jpg

    The next step was to figure out a simple way to make a frame jig. I ended up sketching the frame on a large sheet of MDF and then made several laser cut and 3D printed parts to hold the tubes. My initial idea for the jig can be seen in the render below.
    Homemade full suspension 29er-frame-jig.jpg

    Sketching geometry
    Homemade full suspension 29er-img_20180310_183035.jpg

    Laser cut wood tube holders
    Homemade full suspension 29er-img_20180315_201349.jpgHomemade full suspension 29er-img_20180316_205018.jpgHomemade full suspension 29er-img_20180317_201129.jpg

    Holders were then glued to MDF board
    Homemade full suspension 29er-img_20180317_201106.jpg

    3D printed head tube holder
    Homemade full suspension 29er-img_20180421_084737.jpgHomemade full suspension 29er-img_20180421_155043.jpg

    The next step was to make templates for mitering the tubes.The frame model was dissembled in Solidworks, saving each tube individually. This allowed for the tubes to be converted to sheet metal components and unrolled, creating a flat template. The templates were printed and transferred onto painters tape so they could be applied directly onto each frame tube.
    Homemade full suspension 29er-img_20180331_211826.jpgHomemade full suspension 29er-img_20180331_212305.jpgHomemade full suspension 29er-img_20180331_212902.jpgHomemade full suspension 29er-img_20180331_223518.jpgHomemade full suspension 29er-img_20180401_195659.jpg

    After spending hours mitering the tubes by hand it started to take shape. I took my time to get the best fit up possible.
    Homemade full suspension 29er-img_20180414_183116.jpg

    Checking fit. Needs more filing.
    Homemade full suspension 29er-img_20180414_191254.jpgHomemade full suspension 29er-img_20180422_165839.jpgHomemade full suspension 29er-img_20180422_165916.jpgHomemade full suspension 29er-img_20180422_165940.jpg

    Once satisfied with the miters I held the tubes into the jig using zip ties and started to tack the tubes together.
    Homemade full suspension 29er-img_20180427_154618.jpgHomemade full suspension 29er-img_20180427_190938.jpg

    I plan on tig welding the frame which scares me just thinking about it. Not having tig welded much over the last couple years I purchased some Weldmold 880 filler rod and have been trying to practice as much as possible. Wish me luck! Stay tuned for more updates.

  2. #2
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    Very cool and very creative!

    Did you put the rocker pivot in the middle of a butted tube? Is that a butted seat tube that you cut/welded?

    If the answer is yes to either/both of those, I'd start over with straightgauge if I were you.

    -Walt

  3. #3
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    Cool stuff!
    ------------------------------------------------------
    "Loud hubs save lives!"

  4. #4
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    Love it! Nice to see that along with getting an ME degree, you are actually designing and building something. Keep us posted!

  5. #5
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    Walt,

    Thanks for letting me know. I looked up the specs of the Nova seat tube is a 33.5mm, 0.9-0.5-0.95mm, with the BB butt 80mm up. The lower pivot is located around 50mm up the tube so it should be in the thick section. I left the seat tube long and was going to cut it off once the frame was welded, now realizing this was a mistake. What do you think about me taking out the top section of the seat tube removing the lower portion then reinstalling? I could even add a gusset around the welded section if needed. The red part in the image would be removed and the top piece would come down. The top tube is a butted so that will be replaced with some aircraft spruce strait gauge. Homemade full suspension 29er-inkedimg_20180427_190938_li.jpg

  6. #6
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    If you're putting the main pivot in .9mm (or .95mm) it's way too thin. That will fail. I generally use .058" or .065" (depending on the size of rider/purpose of frame) for the main pivot (you can duplicate this easily without a lathe by using a Paragon seat collar/plug at the bottom of the seat tube).

    So break your tacks and replace both the seat tube and the toptube.

    -Seat tube needs to be really beefy where the main pivot sits, then can be .035" straightgauge the rest of the way up. Forget a butted tube here, especially if you're going to cut/weld the middle of the tube.

    -Toptube needs to be pretty darn beefy for the minor pivot. For rocker pivots points I generally use .035" and sleeve with a small piece of the next 1/8" larger diameter x .058" tubing where the pivot will sit. You may be able to find a butted tube that will work here (look at Vari-Wall, old NOS True Temper Supertherm - both will still need to be sleeved) but given the position of the pivot, I'd guess you are better off just using straightgauge.

    You've got your construction technique down and a lot of thought has obviously gone into this - replace those tubes so it'll be safe to ride and last a while.


    Edited to add: "The lower pivot is located around 50mm up the tube so it should be in the thick section." - NEVER start mitering a tube before you *measure the butts*. There is a TON of variation in butts all the time, and you can totally screw yourself if you don't check them.

    -Walt

  7. #7
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    This project is awesome! Great work on your homebuilt jig, that seems like a really accessible and straightforward way to do things.

    I'm also liking what Walt has to say about tubing and pivot points. (Taking notes)
    Myth Cycles handbuilt bike frames
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  8. #8
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    Those tube blocks are rad, and using the painter's tape to mark your miters is really clever. That's a really ambitious 1st frame project, i'm impressed and look forward to see your progress.

    Quote Originally Posted by Erichimedes View Post

    I'm also liking what Walt has to say about tubing and pivot points. (Taking notes)
    Yeah me too! I'm surprised he didn't comment on the end-end weld on the seat tube; i'm no engineer of any sort, but i was under the impression that's a big no-no, especially on a FS frame where the seat tube can see some enormous loads. I'd probably land the seat tube on the DT (and maybe sleeve the DT there...?), but i don't have the chops to design something like that, so idk.
    "Things that are complex are not useful, Things that are useful are simple."
    Mikhail Kalashnikov

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by scottzg View Post
    Those tube blocks are rad, and using the painter's tape to mark your miters is really clever. That's a really ambitious 1st frame project, i'm impressed and look forward to see your progress.



    Yeah me too! I'm surprised he didn't comment on the end-end weld on the seat tube; i'm no engineer of any sort, but i was under the impression that's a big no-no, especially on a FS frame where the seat tube can see some enormous loads. I'd probably land the seat tube on the DT (and maybe sleeve the DT there...?), but i don't have the chops to design something like that, so idk.
    You can butt weld tubes together safely if you're good and you're using reasonably thick tubing (ie .035" or bigger). I do that all the time, though I'll usually use *something* (toptube, gusset, etc) to help tie the joint together if it's an FS bike.

    Sometimes the cut/weld solution is the only one that will work - there can be situations where there's simply not room for a bend (you have to fit the shock, rear tire, etc). It's a good technique to have in your toolbox as long as you're reasonable about how you use it.

    -Walt

  10. #10
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    I'm glad I made this thread, so much helpful info. Thanks for the help everyone.

    I have a piece of strait gauge 0.035" 4130 so the top tube will be replaced. I am still a little unsure about the seat tube. What if I replace the lower part of the seat tube with a thicker strait gauge and then use the upper section (above the red markings in the image above) for the top. If not what size strait gauge would be suitable for a 31.6mm dropper. I have never reamed a seat post so I am unfamiliar with how much material can be removed.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by jdyer8989 View Post
    I'm glad I made this thread, so much helpful info. Thanks for the help everyone.

    I have a piece of strait gauge 0.035" 4130 so the top tube will be replaced. I am still a little unsure about the seat tube. What if I replace the lower part of the seat tube with a thicker strait gauge and then use the upper section (above the red markings in the image above) for the top. If not what size strait gauge would be suitable for a 31.6mm dropper. I have never reamed a seat post so I am unfamiliar with how much material can be removed.
    Use .035x1.375 straightgauge with a top and bottom portion made from .065"x1.375. If you have a lathe, turn the thick section down to slip fit into the .035" portion and then weld together. If no lathe, just get the premade parts from Paragon:
    MS2066: Steel Seat Collar, 1-3/8" x 31.6 mm ID, 3-1/2" Long, 1/2" Step

    .065" wall is a nice slip fit for a 31.6 post. It will obviously require reaming after you weld it, but that would be the case regardless. If you expect a TON of distortion you can get away with using .058" wall but you run the risk of having the post slip due to insufficient surface area in contact. IMO better to do a little more reaming of the .065".

    Do not reuse the existing seat tube unless you can make sure that all welded joints (including the butt weld) are at least .035" wall.

    Hope that helps!

    -Walt

  12. #12
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    Got some more done on the bike. Ended up turning down some 1.375" x 0.065" wall tube and slip fitting it into some 0.035" wall for the seat post, thanks for the advice Walt.

    Homemade full suspension 29er-img_20180519_120204.jpg

    Homemade full suspension 29er-img_20180519_123738.jpg

    Like I mentioned before I'm a novice tig welder. I was a little nervous about welding the frame, but after welding up a small test piece and then trying to smash it with a hammer, vice, and a giant arbor press I feel a little better. I couldn't get the weld to break.

    Before
    Homemade full suspension 29er-img_20180415_192430.jpg

    After
    Homemade full suspension 29er-img_20180415_201348.jpg

    Welded seat tube. I should have added a slight chamfer to the tubing so the weld would be flush and look a little better, but to late now.

    Homemade full suspension 29er-img_20180519_184838.jpg

    Homemade full suspension 29er-img_20180519_184844.jpg

    I started on the jig for the rear triangle. Like the first jig it will be constructed from a MDF base with 3D printed parts. So far I made some blocks that will hold the rear dropouts.

    Homemade full suspension 29er-img_20180516_182431.jpg

    Homemade full suspension 29er-img_20180516_182858.jpg

    I will hopefully be able to weld the frame up soon. I still need to work the miters a little bit to get it fitting in the jig. I also made a new top tube out of 0.035" wall tubing and will be reinforcing around the linkage pivot after the pivot tube is welded in.

    Homemade full suspension 29er-img_20180519_192647.jpg

  13. #13
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    Looking good!

    Remember that smashing/bending/etc a welded joint isn't a great indicator of whether it will hold up in the long term. It's very easy to make a weld that is stronger than the tubes - but it's also very easy to make a load of stress risers that will mean the tube will crack down the road because you put a big blob or an undercut somewhere.

    It is certainly satisfying to take a test joint and try to break it, though!

    -Walt

  14. #14
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    So the front triangle is about 90% complete, only needs the suspension pivot tubes welded in and the shock mount. Just like I imagined the welds are not pretty and I expect they will not last forever. I'll keep an eye on the welds to make sure nothing major happens. If I make it through the summer I'll be happy.

    After welding I put the fame on the bridgeport and drilled the holes for the suspension pivots.

    Homemade full suspension 29er-dial-indicator.jpg

    Homemade full suspension 29er-drilling-hole.jpg

    Homemade full suspension 29er-img_20180527_121501.jpg

    Now onto the chainstay. It will be made from strait gauge 3/8" tubing for the seatstays, Nova cycles chainstays, and 1/2" square 4130 in between the two pivots. I decided on using 6002 bearings for the main pivot and 6900 bearings everywhere else.

    Homemade full suspension 29er-chainstay2.jpg

  15. #15
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    Love this thread, great stuff!

  16. #16
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    jdyer8989 some good work going on there, can i ask where you got the rear drop outs from? sorry if i've missed it if you've already mentioned it already.

  17. #17
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    I bought the dropouts from NOVA Cycles. I think you can find them from other suppliers as well.

    MODULAR 142-12 DROPOUT IN STEEL-SHIMANO SPEC :: MTB DROPOUTS :: STEEL DROPOUTS :: DROPOUTS :: Nova Cycles Supply Inc.

  18. #18
    650b me
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    Impressive approach for a first frame - good job! As a fellow Solidworks user, I found it really interesting how you used Solidworks to get your miters. Nice!

  19. #19
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    It remembers me a bike that I designed some years ago... It is a good suspension for an air shock.
    Homemade full suspension 29er-zionmps2_f.jpg
    Your proto looks so nice, congrats!

  20. #20
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    Thanks Matximbrat, it does look like a similar design. Hopefully my suspension feels good when its done.

    I need to finish this bike soon, I'm dying to ride. Some progress was made on the chainstay. I made the main pivot bearing holders from some thick 4130 tubing and a small piece of tube so I can tighten the bearing in the tube. A thin section of 1.25" tubing was welded inside to act as a bearing stop. The seatstay to linkage mounts were made by capping off some tubing and then drilling a hole through the center.

    Homemade full suspension 29er-img_20180606_072952.jpgHomemade full suspension 29er-img_20180610_114316.jpgHomemade full suspension 29er-img_20180610_114337.jpg

    I am now in the process of making several 3D printed jigs for the chainstay. I will first use two of the jigs to hold the bearing cups and the connecting tube. These should help when making the elliptical tubes that fit in between. The rest of the 3D printed parts will hold the various chainstay parts to the MDF base. I still need to work out a way to hold the seatstay pivot in it's proper location. I might just attach another piece of wood to the MDF and bolt the pivots to it.

    Homemade full suspension 29er-bearing-cup-jig.jpg

    Homemade full suspension 29er-chainstay-jig.jpg
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Homemade full suspension 29er-chainstay-jig.jpg  


  21. #21
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    Almost finished the rear triangle. I made some more more 3D printed jigs to hold everything in place and then cut and mitered the chainstays and seatstays by hand. Was not as bad as I thought it would be.

    Next on the list is to machine the linkage. The linkage in the photos is 3D printed and only being used as a mock up. After that I'll just need to put it together and take it for a ride.

    Homemade full suspension 29er-img_20180616_131037.jpg

    Homemade full suspension 29er-img_20180616_141832.jpg

    Homemade full suspension 29er-img_20180616_154119.jpg

    Homemade full suspension 29er-img_20180616_154134.jpg

    Homemade full suspension 29er-img_20180617_164033.jpg

    Homemade full suspension 29er-img_20180617_173143.jpg

    Homemade full suspension 29er-img_20180624_160850.jpg

    Homemade full suspension 29er-inkedimg_20180624_174648_li.jpg

    Homemade full suspension 29er-inkedimg_20180624_174656_li.jpg

  22. #22
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    Just wow! You're doing some amazing stuff here! Awesome job and super creative. Keep it up. Where abouts in Mass are you located? I'm in western Mass.

  23. #23
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    Thanks Pulsepro. I'm located in Worcester Mass.

    So the seat tube has some distortion and will need to be reamed. Does anyone have any recommendations for a inexpensive 31.6mm reamer?

  24. #24
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    That's pretty cool.

  25. #25
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    Killer build. Love that you're using 3d printed jigs. How do they hold up to the heat from tacking?

  26. #26
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    They actually held up better than I thought. I managed to slightly melt one but I that was my fault, it was very close to where I was welding and I continued anyways. They need to be at least two or three inches away from wherever is being tacked.

  27. #27
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    That rear swingarm looks awesome! Great work, I hope you get to ride soon.
    Myth Cycles handbuilt bike frames
    Durango, CO
    http://www.mythcycles.com

  28. #28
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    Thanks Erichimedes. I am almost done with machining the linkage. The rest of the bike is together and once the linkage is installed it will be rideable. So exciting!! It will need to be painted at some point, but that can wait since I have not rode all season and need to get on a bike.

    Homemade full suspension 29er-img_20180706_201707.jpg

    Homemade full suspension 29er-img_20180703_151115.jpg

    Homemade full suspension 29er-img_20180709_054352.jpg

  29. #29
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    Paint, schmaint! That can always wait for winter. Get out on it!

  30. #30
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    Finally took it out for the first ride! No issues other than having a very low bottom bracket which led to lots of pedal strikes. I designed the bike to run a 160mm fork and currently i'm running a 140mm fork off of my last bike so that was expected. I guess its time to start saving some money for a new fork.

    Thanks everyone for your advice and motivation throughout this project.


    Homemade full suspension 29er-img_20180715_132609_1.jpg

    Homemade full suspension 29er-img_20180715_132617_1.jpg

    Homemade full suspension 29er-img_20180715_132648_1.jpg

    Homemade full suspension 29er-img_20180715_132654.jpg

    Homemade full suspension 29er-img_20180715_134902.jpg

  31. #31
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    What a mega thread!
    Well done mate, you deserve a beer or ten.

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    Did you use this as part of a design project for a MECH-E design class? If so, it'd be great if you're willing to share your models and any documentation (or pptx) on the bike. It looks great, you should be proud and enjoy the bike while the summer lasts. Those NE winters can be long...



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  33. #33
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    Congratulations, that is quite an ambitious undertaking! Enjoy it!

  34. #34
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    Thanks everyone. Mapex101, I will be trying to get some school credit. I need to find a professor at my school to sponsor the project. If I do I will be sure to share my report.

  35. #35
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    Really cool project! I love how the ambitious can get it done in their first frame. The 3D printed jigs and laser cut frame jig are great ideas! I love seeing projects like this.

  36. #36
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    Hey everyone,

    I thought I would give a final update on the bike. Its still in one piece after putting it through the paces. I ended up swapping out the 140mm fox 34 with a 160mm Lyrik and it made the bike so much better.

    At the start of this build I had a goal of entering an enduro race once it was completed. I am glad to say I have accomplished this by entering my first ever enduro race. My results, lets just say the bike out preformed me. I had only finished the bike about a month before the race and did not have the time to tear it down for paint, that is why it is covered in rust. I received plenty of crazy looks at the event . After riding the rust bucket for the rest of the summer I finally found the time to tear the bike down for paint. Thanks again for the advice throughout the build.

    Homemade full suspension 29er-img_20180726_064413.jpg

    Homemade full suspension 29er-img_20180813_075218.jpg

    The frame was bad before paint,
    Homemade full suspension 29er-2.jpg

    Homemade full suspension 29er-3.jpg

    Homemade full suspension 29er-4.jpg

    Homemade full suspension 29er-5.jpg

    Homemade full suspension 29er-6.jpg

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by jdyer8989 View Post
    Finally took it out for the first ride! No issues other than having a very low bottom bracket which led to lots of pedal strikes. I designed the bike to run a 160mm fork and currently i'm running a 140mm fork off of my last bike so that was expected. I guess its time to start saving some money for a new fork.

    Thanks everyone for your advice and motivation throughout this project.


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    Meh! Build a fork!

    Kidding, of course. Impressive stuff. Did you have shop training before starting school? And is the shop your school shop?

    As a fellow ME, we rarely got so much hands-on work with building our designs. Some, but nothing like this.

    I should think this would be outstanding resume fodder, for any ME job, not just in the bike field, which may be where you're headed.

  38. #38
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    Looks great!

  39. #39
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    Niiiiice. Good job!
    Disclaimer: I run Regular Cycles (as of 2016). As a profiteer of the bicycle industry, I am not to be taken very seriously.

  40. #40
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    Huzzah, this is an inspiring thread.
    "We LOVE cows! They make trails for us.....

    And then we eat them."

    Thrill Bikers Unite!

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    TwiceHorn, I'll put designing and building a fork on my list of parts to make..haha! I actually do have some shop training from having gone to a technical high school. I also worked as an auto tech for a while before deciding to start my engineering degree. The hands on experience I gained from my past has helped considerably with this project as well as my engineering education.

    Trust me, I will defiantly take advantage of this project. I actually made a project portfolio website, with all my projects, and it is linked in my resume. I have been trying to find a ME position in the cycling industry, but so far no luck. Like you said, I think the project will help me with any ME jobs so i'm still happy i completed it.

  42. #42
    Ipso Facto
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  43. #43
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    PM me if youre looking for a ME position Im Mass. I work for a regional firm. We like creative people like you.

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    Great job. Impressive!

    Sent from my SM-G892A using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by jdyer8989 View Post
    TwiceHorn, I'll put designing and building a fork on my list of parts to make..haha! I actually do have some shop training from having gone to a technical high school. I also worked as an auto tech for a while before deciding to start my engineering degree. The hands on experience I gained from my past has helped considerably with this project as well as my engineering education.

    Trust me, I will defiantly take advantage of this project. I actually made a project portfolio website, with all my projects, and it is linked in my resume. I have been trying to find a ME position in the cycling industry, but so far no luck. Like you said, I think the project will help me with any ME jobs so i'm still happy i completed it.
    Fellow mech design engineer here. Very good work on your build and design. Give us a follow up how the job market went. I hope you found a job in the bike industry in the design and R&D field. Don't give up on that and settle for something your less passionate about because you won't be happy. Good engineers with hands on experience like this is not always so easy to find so you should be able to find what you want to do with that project in your cover letter and resume.

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    Awesome job! I hope to see more!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerm2006 View Post
    Fellow mech design engineer here. Very good work on your build and design. Give us a follow up how the job market went. I hope you found a job in the bike industry in the design and R&D field. Don't give up on that and settle for something your less passionate about because you won't be happy. Good engineers with hands on experience like this is not always so easy to find so you should be able to find what you want to do with that project in your cover letter and resume.
    Thanks, I will let you know how the job search went. So far haven't had much luck. I have have already been turned down by one of the major companies, I won't mention who . Hopefully I can find some way into the industry, I will keep trying.

    On a different note, I thought I would let everyone know I am staring to write a report, for credit toward my engineering degree, about mountain bike suspension design and the design of my bike. I will be happy to share the report once its completed if anyone is interested.

  48. #48
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    although the silver and red look good, I was hoping you would clear coat the rusty bike, that would be tops

    great job
    always mad and usually drunk......

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