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Homemade Bikes: Paul Burford and the BTR Mark 1

Homemade Bikes: Paul Burford and the BTR Mark 1

Billy Thackray Billy Thackray

Homebrew bikes continue with a super slack 4130 downhill hardtail, the BTR Mark 1

Paul “Burf” Burford tells us all about his super slack downhill hardtail project and his plans to turn his passion into a career.

The BTR Mark1
Burf: I started racing DH when I was around 14 and have wanted to start my own frame company for as much of that time as I can remember. I was pretty all right at the old DH game, raced in expert for the Muddyfox team back when Stanny, Simmonds, Molloy and the Atherton’s were on it too. Reckon if I put the effort in I could have got onto the World Cup circuit but I guess I kinda realised I wasn’t going to be pro and make anything of it. So while my mates (Ash Loram, Alex Evans, James Mcknight and others) were all doing seasons in Morzine, I took my self to college and Uni to do engineering so I could learn how to make a sick ass bike.

Burf and the frame

I went to Oxford Brookes Uni to do Motorsport Eng. where I met up with the dudes at K9. Tam Hamilton was on his sandwich year being the CAD engineer there and we just became good mates from then on. We found out that we both wanted to start our own company. Time went on and I flunked out, Tam did his dissertation and then carried on working for K9. I was then basically on the Dole for 6 months till I found a job in a sheet metal place where I learnt to TIG. Then one random day Tam rung me up and said “Are we gonna start this company or what?” That was March 2010.

The fully adjustable jig
Feel the steel
BB junction ready for welding

Tam designed the frame and I started making tools (jig etc.) I managed to land a sweet job where the bosses don’t really pay much attention to what I do, so I did many a ‘homer’ in order to make the tools I needed.

I had repeatability in mind so I made a tube notcher and a fully adjustable Jig.

Buenos notches
Top notch, that’s art that is.
The tube notcher machine.

The tube notcher is an insane bit of work; I still don’t really know how I managed to make it work so well. Made out of offcuts and bits of scrap from work and made in my shed. It’s basically a belt sander and took forever to make it all line up so I could notch the tube accurately. I was pretty excited when I got it running.

I made the jig at work while the bosses were away at a show in America, and the rest of the work force was throwing Ninja death stars at a bit of wood for two weeks. Told you it was a sweet job!

Burf in action welding…not sure about the foot wear!

It took ages to find 4130 tubes in the right diameter and at the right cost. The tubes (6m) for the top and down tubes and the sheet metal ended up coming from Holland. We got the chainstays, headset cups (integrated 45), seatube (seatpost size) and bottom bracket from Ceeway (Framebuilding One Stop Shop). The sheet metal bits were laser cut into gussets and dropouts.

Seat stay welds
BB detail

A hell of a lot of Internet searching was done on what I needed to use as filler metal when welding 4130. You don’t need heat treatment if you use the right one, which saves a massive pain in the neck.

Welding the gussets
Seat stay, top tube and seat tube detail

Welding the frame was pretty hard. There are some crazy places you have to get into and you can’t slow down or you’ll blow a hole. I finally finished the frame on Saturday the 27th August this year.

Burf and the finished frame

Burf has reduced the Boxxers to 150mm travel and the head angle is now 60deg as it sits and around 62/63 in sag
Why a hardtail? I switched from DH bike to hardtail (DMR ExAlt) when I packed the racing in to concentrate on College/Uni. I figured it would teach me a hell of a lot about riding a bike and there was also no need for an 8in DH bike on the South Downs ( I live near Brighton) or in Oxford. Never gone back really. Only in the Alps do I pull the DH bike out from under the bed now.

So the frame is designed as a DH specific hardtail because I can’t buy one and I wanted one for years. 150 rear axle, 83 bottom bracket. Slack as you like head angle.

I couldn’t believe it when I first rode it. It feels just like a DH bike. In the corners it feels like you can squish it like you do on a full suss. It’s so stable and yet still feels light and flick-able.

It feels so good ripping some turns and drifting on a frame you made yourself. I’m basically just trying to break it now. What with it being the first frame I ever built I expected something to go on the first ride but it’s doing pretty good. Had a couple weekends riding and raced it at Porc the other week

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Still no cracks :)

It’s taken a long time from when we first decided to make a frame to when we could ride it. I’ve hardly ridden or seen anyone apart from work people and my girlfriend for over a year. Trying to figure out how to make the tools I needed has been the most fun. I had an Idea of what I wanted them to do and then started building, figured each bit out as I went and the feeling you get when it does its job is awesome.

As I said we are hoping to turn this into a company so at the moment I’m building another frame, making a website and doing lots more Internet searching.
We have a Facebook page: www.facebook.com/BTR.Fabrications

If you want to learn how to weld, get welding info, or you are a welder, go here: www.mig-welding.co.uk/forum/index.php

Paul Burford

Like what you see? then get in touch with Burf: btrbikes@gmail.com

If you’ve made your own homebrew bike then get in touch with Billy

  1. chaz

    animal looking, reminds me of the planet x jack flash frame, noice

  2. Tom_

    Looks really sweet … they should think about a decent Trail Hardtail, there’s a lot of potential for that: 65° Headangle, 75° Seatangle, short stays and long reach. Seattube large enough for uppydowny posts.

  3. churchie

    Another beaut… I’d buy one

  4. Paco

    Looks great! Good work.
    What’s the thinking behind attaching the seat stays to the top tube rather than the seat tube?

  5. Rodney

    I think some GT BMX frames were like that in the 1980’s.
    Most GT frames have been triple triangle and welded at the seat tube and top tube

  6. Joe

    Is building frames the new building pumptracks?


  7. Chunkychew

    Looks really nicely made.

    As with all of the guys that are taking the time and effort to design and make these bikes – these are exactly the sort of people (and hopefully one day, the companies that they own) that the government should be supporting and investing in. These are the sort of people, the designers, engineers and manufacturers that we as bike riders need, and more broadly the country needs to drive things forward.

  8. Morgan

    I. Want. One.

  9. dirt dodger

    this feature Dirt have created is mint, except it really makes you wish you had perhaps chosen another path with all the spare time spent boozin, partyin etc….still, you can’t live on regrets can ya. props to all those active in their own designs and good luck whether its for fun, or like this fella a future business.

  10. ronin

    burf, do you accept paypal?!! just need a 23″ tt on mine please and thank you!

  11. Jimmeh

    great looking bike, great words, great ideas and I can’t wait till these are available to all. Nice to have people with fresh ideas and incentives breaking through.

  12. Big Bird

    I was terribly jealous when I saw another homemade bike ahead of me in the que, but this one is certainly worthy. I love a good slack head angle, as you’ll hopefully see in the future, but 60 degrees, Wow! I guess that since it’s a hardtail and the back doesn’t sag, you’re pretty spot on at the 62-3. From the video, it certainly seems to work well. The whole hardtail DH bike thing is pretty unknown here in the U.S.. Good luck to you and your partner in the business world.

  13. Leon

    That is one of the sickest looking HT frames I have seen in ages , I love the slack head angle on a HT idea.
    The seat stays looks like art , so thin at the axles but flaring out to the seat tube , very nice

  14. ben

    precision. I would be very interested in a 16/17” st, hardcore hardtail, slack 160mm fork fit, tight back end longish top tube…. ready for christmas, tyvm!

  15. steely

    I REFUSE to belive that Tam Hamilton has a friend! nice to know there are still men in sheds making things the rest of us can only dream of.

  16. amajors

    sick! seen it in person and its Quality!

  17. Enrico Desoto

    B.B. is too low, He is hitting the pedals on the ground when the suspension is at about 40 percent.

  18. Findhan

    looking great man and fantastic craftmanship

  19. barter411

    I’ve always loved homemade bikes. Your tube notcher is really awesome. I would really like to see a close-up of how it works because the weld joints were the nicest I’ve ever seen.

  20. Burf@BTR

    Thanks a lot for the kind words guys, it means a lot!

    To those who are interested in buying one, contact btrbikes@gmail.com

    Thank you please

  21. Tom

    but how much money???

  22. audric

    you’re so right buddy!!! live your dreams, life is short!

  23. iron bike tyson

    “Buenos Notches” hahaha

  24. Streetride

    A amazing looking bike! I agree with @chaz it does look like the old scholl planet x jack flash.

  25. Rune

    hey, great work, i’m planning to have a go at frame building some time soon, I also would love to start a frame company, good to see others doing it too!

    you need to get a foot pedal for your tig, it’d solve this problem “Welding the frame was pretty hard. There are some crazy places you have to get into and you can’t slow down or you’ll blow a hole.”

    good luck

  26. Dylan Northam

    this is exactly what im looking for, been running a cove stiffee with domains at 150mm as the frame is not warantied for any longer. love the feeling of a hard tail but want to run bigger forks.Is it for sale yet and where can i buy one

  27. Michael Ouellette

    I see this as todays resume!


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