Who is Paul Brodie, and what does he do in his shop?

January 12th, 2012

Paul Brodie kindly sent us this article regarding one of his current projects at Flashback Fabrications. Enjoy :D

Who is Paul Brodie, and what does he do in his shop? This is a good question. On Velocipede Salon I read recently that I’m a “framebuilder who made some pretty good frames in the 80′s and early 90′s.” Not much has been heard from me (bicycle wise..) for about a decade, so maybe I’m a “has-been”, a washout…

Here’s the truth: back in those days I had a dozen employees at the high point, and I was frantically running around trying to manage (in no particular order..) employees, payroll, lawsuits, lawyers, magazines, ads, distributors, WCB, PST, GST, fire code regulations, landlords, shop leases, accountants, book-keepers, new products, trade shows, race team, frame production, R&D, brochures, Test of Metal race, warranties, marketing, customers, sales reps, tubing orders, and more. I wore too many hats, and don’t think I did any of the above particularly well. I spent little time on the shop floor actually “making things”…

This last decade has been spent (mostly alone..) in my shop making LOTS out of metal. I have made from scratch, four 1919 Excelsior Boardtrack racers, engines and all. I have learned many things about metals and fabrication. My skills have improved as I discovered new techniques and tried new things.

So, what’s going on in my shop right now? This is the bike I’m building from scratch. An 1888 Whippet full suspension bike… the drawing comes from Bicycles and Tricycles, a great book by Archibald Sharp, first published in 1896 >

right now I’m working off this photo of the frame linkage; this 1888 Whippet is in a museum 3000 miles away and lives in the basement under a sheet of plastic>

I machine a short tube in the lathe, and then file a curved outer surface so it looks like a casting..

Here I’ve setup a little bending fixture in my vise. The rod is 4140 machined at a 2 degree taper, heated red hot, and bent to a right angle >

because I tapered it Big to Small, the end of the now bent and tapered rod is still perfectly faced, and sits perfectly on the tube’s spotfaces for TIG welding..

after TIG welding, it reminds me of cattle for some reason…

here it sits over the frame tube, positioned for TIG tacking using spacers and masking tape…

right after fillet brazing.. still quite hot >

after cooling slowly, the flux is soaked off with hot water >

a little bit of polishing… no problem.

hope you enjoyed the tour,



  1. Graham John Wallace wrote,

    You have to admit that Linley and Biggs were seriously ahead of their time when they produced this Whippet bicycle in the 1870′s and 80′s.

    Notice the S curved sloping toptube. (could this be an early example of hydro-forming?)

    The 29er front wheel and 650b rear wheel manages to tick both current wheel trend boxes. Whilst the slack geometry has obviously been set up for downhilling.

    The curved seat tube for a short wheelbase combines with good mud clearances Just like the new On-One Scandal 29er.

    I would even suggest that modern suspension designers could learn a thing or two from this bike. As it clearly shows that there can be more ingenuity involved designing bicycle suspension systems than simply copying those of motorbikes.

    Comment on 12 January 2012 @ 23:32

  2. diditte wrote,

    Paul Brodie amazes when he is in his element.

    Comment on 13 January 2012 @ 02:59

  3. powxxl wrote,

    I was also intrigued by by the resemblance to the structural layout of the Ibis Bow-Ti, with its seatstays running diagonally from headtube to the dropouts and the vertical tube similar to the compression member of the same bike.
    John Castellano has definitely done his homework.
    The bow/Ti design is more in line with the bicycle appropriate approach to bike engineering, rather than grafting the motorcycle technology onto a bike.
    I hope to see an update on how this project is getting along, thanks for sharing!

    Comment on 26 January 2012 @ 07:31

  4. Graham John Wallace wrote,

    I must admit that I had never noticed the similarities between the Ti-Bow and the Whippet. It may be even be possible to make a pivot-less version of the Whippet using springy titanium tubes?

    Despite the similarities the suspension systems are in fact very different. With the Ti-Bow being a variation of John Castellano’s “sweet spot” design (high central pivot point under the riders centre of gravity). And the Whippet is similar to James Watt’s linear motion linkage system, which is also used on some car suspensions.

    Comment on 26 January 2012 @ 22:52

  5. Paul Brodie – Building the Whippet Part II | Retrobike wrote,

    [...] on from his previous article Paul Brodie kindly sent us a second article further detailing the rebuild of the 1888 Whippet at [...]

    Pingback on 21 February 2012 @ 15:13

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