Shutting Down Farnsworth Bicycles

Posted: February 21, 2017 by Mark in Uncategorized

I am shutting down Farnsworth Bicycles.

It has been a great ride starting in 2011.  The first bike I built was beat to hell ridden in the mountains of Colorado, Utah, North Carolina, Oregon, Virginia, and other parts of this great country.


Over a short period, I achieved everything I wanted to in bicycle frame building.  It was great to see bikes come to life and riders enjoying bikes that I built.  I also enjoyed riding the bikes.  It was fun to race with friends who beat me in the races while still allowing me to feel like a winner when seeing them stand on the podium after riding my stuff.

None of the bikes were perfect.  Some had cosmetic defects and annoying issues with tire clearance when the chainstays sliders were all the way forward.   One had a slight problem with the seat post slipping until it was fixed with a bit of shim from an aluminum can.  A few had issues with powder coat that was not applied well. It has been an adventure and a joy.

Bikes performed pretty well in some harsh conditions with some crazy strong aggressive riders.  I built mostly with 38mm down tubes and feel that the bikes were quite strong.  Non of the bikes built after 2012 ever failed.  Two of my early bikes built with smaller 35mm down tubes and lighter tubing did fail but only after a lot of heavy use and never in a way that was scary.  I always felt safe on my simple bikes because I knew that steel performs better than most materials.

I look back with pride and feel excited about next steps in my life.  I am also looking forward to building more bikes but intend to do so only as a hobby builder.  Digging out of the debt that I am will be fun and more manageable as a software developer.  In some ways building great software is similar to building bikes.  In my heart, I am someone who likes to build things.

I am not sure how to handle the Farnsworth Bicycles that are out there in the world.  If you are riding one please know that I built it in the best way that I could.  Farnsworth Bicycles no longer exists and can’t really support the bikes or maintain liability insurance coverage. If you have concerns or problems with your bikes in the future, please contact me any time via Facebook.

This will be the last Farnsworth Bicycles post.

Please also follow my new WE BUILD endeavor dedicated to weekend bike building.


Shop photos

Posted: December 18, 2016 by Mark in Uncategorized

Just a dump of shop photos after a clean up and organising effort.

Dropout Choices

Posted: December 15, 2016 by Mark in Uncategorized

There are a lot of choices for frame dropouts and rear axle systems.

The three main types of dropouts I generally work with are 12mm through axle, 10mm traditional, and modular sliding style.



The 12mm through axle style works well for mountain bikes.  The advantage for mountain bikes is that you have a more robust axle with secure attachment so you don’t need to worry as much about the wheel shifting position in harsh conditions.  This style can be used on road bikes but frankly it is IMHO overkill, limits wheel choices and it takes longer to change a flat.


10mm Traditional

The 10mm traditional system works well for road bikes.  There really is no problem using it on mountain bikes as well (for years it was standard practice; rear wheel shifting in harsh terrain is a theoretical concern but rarely something that happened in the old days).  Today many mountain bike wheels are designed for the 12mm x 142mm or the newer 12mm x 148 boost specifications and as such off road riders may want to stick with the through axle style.



The modular sliding system can be used with inserts for 12mm or 10mm dropout inserts.  In addition the ability to slide the insert forward or backward makes this style ideal for single speed riding because it allows the user to quickly adjust for various gear ratios and chain wear.  This style can also be used for bicycles with gears giving riders the greatest flexibility.

There are a lot of additional styles of dropouts so don’t feel constrained by the three styles I have highlighted.

Adjusting Single Speed Sliding Dropouts

Posted: December 10, 2016 by Mark in Uncategorized

So yeah,  I am REALLY into single speed bikes… All bikes are cool but single speeds are MOAR cool.  Bikes with electric shifting systems are cool only when the batteries are dead.  Mechanical cable shifting is cool in ratio to the total number of gears (i.e. 1×11 is cooler than 3×10).

But alas, even cool stuff needs wrench love.  Single speed in particular require adjustments MUCH more often than gearing to handle chain wear and changing ratios.  Thankfully the adjustments are quick and easy.  It’s a good idea to adjust the bike about once a week or any time you clean it.

The bolts for the dropouts are big 6mm steel socket head or fancy Titanium star bolts as shown in the following phone.   I much prefer the steel bolts because steel is stronger and does not wear out as quickly.

When installing the bolts add some thread locking compound.   It’s good to use thread compound on all bolts.

With the bike in  a stand set the dropouts in the forward position before installing the rear  wheel. Once the wheel is installed you can use  the adjustment bolts to set chain tension and align the rear  wheel.   The chain should be checked for wear and then adjusted so it moves well without binding.   It’s okay if you have a small amount of play in the system. If play is excessive look at the state of the cogs and chain ring.

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With everything adjusted, use a torque wrench to lock  the dropouts in place with 29nm applied to the main bolts first and then 2nm applied to snug down the adjustment bolts and locking nuts.

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With some basic care your single speed will provide a lot  of AWESOME in return.

My noodle bar bike

Posted: December 9, 2016 by Mark in Uncategorized

Tonight I am racing my noodle bar bike.

My bike is pretty unusual…. Duh custom so I can build unusual stuff.

In any  case here is a photo from today.

It’s not a traditional road, gravel, cyclocross, track, or other style of bike but rather a blend of ideas that work well for my style of riding. The aggressive compact frame design is long and low for stability and clearance vs designs with  the traditional level top tube style.

The bike can  be setup for geared riding or single speed.  General I keep it setup as  a single speed but occasionally I put nine speed Dura Ace parts on for racing on  the road or riding in areas with big hills.

For racing tonight, I setup a 54 tooth chainring paired with a 14 tooth cog.  The event will be indoors on rollers so  I don’t need to worry about hills.

Pretty much all the parts on  my build are unusual.  The Dura Ace pedals I use have a plus Q factor axle that Shimano offers as  a special order part.  The special axle keeps my pedal platform spaced the same on my road and mountain bikes.  The black chainring is from Vuelta USA  and designed for single speed riding. The cog is also single speed specific from Endless Bikes.

My rear wheel is from Power Tap and includes a little computer that measures the power I apply.

The brakes I use are from TRP using a fully hydraulic system.  The breaking is super powerful with greater control vs any cable operated system. I also really like the levers.

Other parts on the bike are also interesting to bike geeks including my modification to my rims so  I can run Schrader valves in all my wheels rather than the more traditional Presta system.

Also the kick stand is  a neat design from

Bottom Bracket Styles

Posted: December 8, 2016 by Mark in Uncategorized

Custom bicycles are complicated.  Part of my responsibility as a builder is to help you understand the various options.

Building a bicycle starts with the bottom bracket (aka the BB).  The BB is the part of the frame where the crank mounts.

This has always been an area with lots of options.  A lot of the choice comes down to the style of crank set and bottom bracket you wish to use.  I generally keep the four main styles of bottom bracket shell handy for builds.  When needed I will source additional styles so you are not really limited in any way.


The four main styles are as follows:

  • PF30/73 – Mountain bikes with modern 30mm style cranks and press fit bottom brackets
  • PF30/68 – Road bikes with modern 30mm style cranks and press fit style bottom brackets
  • English/73 – Mountain bikes with older style cranks and threaded bottom brackets
  • English/68 – Road bikes with older style cranks and threaded bottom brackets

On my personal bikes I use PF30 because it really is a great setup allowing me to run run any of the modern crank or use older style cranks.  I also like that as a press fit the style there is really less to go wrong vs. threaded style.  A lot of people will argue about this but in my personal experience the press fit style has been more reliable.  Threaded style bottom brackets also work well but realize you will not have the option of running some of the newer cranks.

Farnsworth Shop!

Posted: December 8, 2016 by Mark in Uncategorized

My dream shop is done!

I am ready to build some great bikes!

There are a lot of options for each build.  So many styles of bikes that I dream of building.   The focus will be on quality work at a fair price.  If you have ever wanted a custom bike please contact me.  I hope to earn your business by delivering a bike that meets and exceeds your needs.

Please give me a call to get the process started on your next bicycle.

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