Somerset frame building school bring in an all-star teaching line-up

Award-winning frame builders join The Bicycle Academy

Robin Mather and (Super) Ted James have signed up to become workshop teachers at The Bicycle Academy’s bike building school.

Mather has over 20 years experience in frame building and was builder of the 2012 Best in Show at the UK Hand Made Bicycle Show, Bespoked. James won the show’s 2013 Peer Award.

Possibly the UK’s first crowd-funded bicycle business, Somerset-based The Bicycle Academy was founded by Andrew Denham.

“The quality of their workmanship and range of techniques used means we can move up another gear and offer students an even richer experience.”

Commenting on his new role, Mather said he has always felt it important for practising craftsmen to pass on and share their skills, to encourage the development of new ideas and improve standards. He says his career has benefitted from what he describes as a “culture of openness” in the bicycle building industry.

"The opportunity to work with TBA is really exciting. I have been very impressed with how much it has achieved in a relatively short time and honoured that they want me to be a part of it. I strongly support Andrew’s approach, in providing students with a framework for meaningful practice and feel that this is more likely to produce a long term interest in the craft.”

(Super) Ted James joined The Bicycle Academy after deciding to move out of London and head west: "I will now finally be joining the team and teaching frame building courses.

“Andrew and I have been discussing ideas for additional courses where I can share some of the different things I do on a daily basis. We have also been working on some similar projects involving frame building tools – something else that we will all be developing together.”

Both Mather and James will continue with their own projects, while their hands on involvement with TBA will mean it can offer tuition covering a broad range of frame building techniques, using the layered teaching style on which its founder has built its reputation.

In early January, details for a new frame building role at the bicycle school’s premises in Frome were posted online, resulting in a surge of interest and a temporary TBA website crash. Denham said: "We had a lot of interest, of an impressive level, from across the world. I suppose it really affirmed what we were doing and just how far we have come in 18 months.

“I’ve looked up to Ted and Robin for a number of years so to be working with them is a dream come true. Their work speaks for itself but it’s the passion they have for what they do that makes them the perfect fit here."

According to Denham, well-established bike builders and manufacturers are watching the young school with a keen eye.

“We receive regular ‘how are you doing that?’ enquiries from some of the top professionals and manufacturing companies, keen to understand how our novice students are excelling at advanced frame building techniques within such a short time.”

To date the Academy has taught more than 250 students from across the world.

PIC Credit Adam Gasson

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