Be Like Bevel: Paul Brodie’s Shaft-Drive Cruiser

Be Like Bevel: Paul Brodie's Shaft-Drive Cruiser

With the North American Handmade Bicycle Show launching today and with it the cavalcade of beautiful bicycles about to hit the airwaves, today’s feature bike is probably the least expected machine to grace the pages of Cycle EXIF.

But for the readers of this site, one of the most highly anticipated events of this weekend is seeing what Paul Brodie brings to the show. For the last few years, he’s graced us with a step-by-step insight into his fabrication processes.

This year, he’s constructed what could be the best shaft-drive bike the world has ever seen. Forget what you know about the sub-par energy transmission of shaft-drive vs chain-drive systems and enjoy what Paul relishes about NAHBS: a damn good challenge.

Over the next couple of days, Paul will take us through the reconstruction of this machine, and if you’re lucky enough to be at the show in Salt Lake City this weekend, you can see the final product in person. The rest of us can stay tuned. Over to Paul:

Every story has a beginning. This one began in one of my Framebuilding 101 classes when student Rob Benson, also working at Ride On Again Bikes, mentioned they had 2 or 3 shaft drive bicycles that had come in on their re-cycling program.

I had no idea what they looked like, but I wanted one. Months went by, and then Rob phoned and said he had finally found one. I picked it up, and then it sat it my storage shed for a few years.

Officially the bike was donated to me by Don Selby, (owner of Ride On Again Bikes), Rob Benson, (store manager of Ride On Again Bikes) and Vancouver Bicycle Recycling.

Thank you!

Be Like Bevel: Paul Brodie's Shaft-Drive Cruiser

Fast forward to NAHBS 2017. UFV was sending me back to NAHBS for the 6th consecutive time. Mike Freda suggested I do something with the shaft drive, and I agreed. I had been out of my shop for four months while I did a big renovation on my little house, so I was very motivated to get back to making stuff. I started in late November. I wanted to build a shaft drive cruiser with Hope disc brakes.

The first step was to design a steel bottom bracket. The stock BB was a massive aluminum casting that the front triangle bolted to. I wanted to build a cruiser that had very clean lines, curved tubes and was classy.

Here I have fabricated the flange that will hold the shaft drive onto the bottom bracket. The angle from the wheel center line is seven degrees. One of the shaft drive bearings needed to be replaced. That’s when I found out the bearings were made in Russia.

Be Like Bevel: Paul Brodie's Shaft-Drive Cruiser

I have filled in the gaps with steel plate, and fillet brazed it all together. Now the drive side threads are being cut in the lathe with a single point carbide threading tool.

Be Like Bevel: Paul Brodie's Shaft-Drive Cruiser

The bottom bracket is fillet brazed into the frame.

Be Like Bevel: Paul Brodie's Shaft-Drive Cruiser

The head tube would be bi-laminate construction. A cromoly tube, held in the chuck on my rotary table, has been ‘nibbled’ into the desired shape. You can see the remains of the fine red felt pen line. The tube is rotated so the carbide 1/4″ end mill is always cutting the tube at a 90-degree angle.

Be Like Bevel: Paul Brodie's Shaft-Drive Cruiser

A little belt-sanding and the faux lug is ready to be brazed onto the head tube.

Be Like Bevel: Paul Brodie's Shaft-Drive Cruiser

The left dropout was designed to match the size of the shaft drive on the right side. The Incepi fixture was used to position the post mounts. Worked great!

Be Like Bevel: Paul Brodie's Shaft-Drive Cruiser

A 4130 tube is being shaped for the handle bar fabrication.

Be Like Bevel: Paul Brodie's Shaft-Drive Cruiser

Now fillet brazed to another 4130 tube that will clamp around the steerer tube. I really enjoyed the whole process of seeing my cruiser slowly take shape.

Be Like Bevel: Paul Brodie's Shaft-Drive Cruiser

Come back tomorrow for the next steps. If you like this sort of thing, you’ll love Paul’s autobiography, Paul Brodie — The Man Behind Brodie Bikes. To purchase the book, ask for it at your local bookshop (ISBN-10: 0995065802, ISBN-13: 978-0995065802), or head to Amazon.com, and if you’re in Canada, you’ll have to go through Amazon.ca.

PS: Just over a month ago, it was his anniversary just over a month ago, which makes it fifty years that Paul’s been making things out of metal.