Why I build an irregular bike — Part #1

Kees Plattel
4 min readMay 3, 2016

Because I wanted to. Just that, drove me into an insane, crazy, research driven experiment. Let’s start at the beginning; December 31st 2014, the last evening of that year, spending time with the persons that matters most. Discussing stuff that matters to us, for me; the fact that I felt I turned my back to crafts, and spend to much time behind a keyboard creating work.

Not in the exercise way, but more in a mental way. Patterns arose, taking up valuable space in my head, only to eat away important memories and basic skills that I acquired earlier in my life. Basic maths, basic construction skills, the manual labor and works, that makes a man a man, the skill allowed us to build houses, bridges, cars and so many other wonderful things.

I challenged myself by ordering materials, in order to build something that was drifting along on the vast ocean of space on harddrives in my computer. Those materials were ordered on the 1st of January 2015. This marks the unofficial starting point, because, unlike the US where everything ends up on your doorstep in less then an hour if wanted, I went to an industrial shop and dealt with the manufacturing time. So, on the 15th of January, I received a hefty package of aluminium stock.

The stock was laying around for a week or so, while I was mustering up the courage to buy the other essential piece required for me to actually start working on it; drill press. My brother had a lot of discount vouchers, so we turned that into a shared buy. Perfect!

I also didn’t think I would be this happy with the basic IKEA toolkit. I got a small measuring tape, marker, and angle square and decided I had to sacrifice a big space to start building this. Meanwhile, I was living by myself in this gigantic 1 bedroom apartment…

I turned over the dinner table, and that would be my working space for the following months. Oh yeah, I built the bike in my living room, while all the time breathing tiny particles of aluminium dust. Not really healthy, but could be worse?

Halfway March I was done with math, calculations and measuring, I had to start putting things together, so I put the drill press on the table and drilled oh so many holes. I don’t even… But yeah, after careful measuring I managed to creep in some mistakes, ordered more pieces and started looking into bolts, nuts and the likes, because this beauty is completely welt free construction!

Mind you, I was still following an open source design, I still took some liberties in the way it is built, improving on it, I think. But that’s only a statement I can make after riding it, so that’ll have to wait.

A week later, I received the shipment of nuts & bolts. It’s crazy how parts fitted together like butter now, and this felt like a great success. Meanwhile, I didn’t stop thinking about seating, frame color, lights, gears, drive chain, etcetera. With the frame coming to a finish, I bought sanding paper and cleaned a lot of edges.

By now… it was starting to look like something. I’m finishing up the second part of this series of three about my bike soon.

— This documents my building proces of my XYZ Spaceframe, open source plans are available for download there.

Read Part II here.

Kees Plattel