Reclaim Designs Scales Down Carbon Frames for Kids

Feb 6, 2023 at 19:04
by Matt Beer  

Everyone has dreams of designing their own bike, but few have the drive and skillset to do so. Chris Clarke of Vancouver, B.C., has been riding mountain bikes for over thirty years and has nearly the same amount of time under his belt fabricating with composites and metals. When he came up empty-handed on his search for a high-end MTB, Chris saw the opportunity to piece together a custom bike, not for himself, but a 20”-wheeled bike for his son.

The first project began by cutting up the carbon tubes on an older 26” Giant frame that he saved from going to a landfill. He had all of the complex shapes right in front of him: dropouts, BB junction, pivot points, head and seat tubes. All he had to do was remove sections of the main tubing and shrink them down to size for a four year-old.

By using the removed sections of tubing as a mold, Chris made smaller diameter tubes to insert and join the gaps he had just cut. The chainstays were shortened by 100mm for the tiny 20” wheels and repositioned the upper link to be housed into the seat tube junction. This reconstruction came in at 2.5 kg. including the shock

Since scaling down the old Giant frame, Chris has turned a 2016 Santa Cruz Nomad into a 20” wheeled bike, and chopped up an alloy hardtail frame to run on 16” wheels with a suspension fork and disk brakes.

Chris’ passion projects won’t stop here though. Down the road, as his kids grow, he plans to build a 26” carbon frame from scratch. Even though Chris has painted these bikes to an artisan-finished level, he doesn't have plans to actually sell them - Reclaim is simply a name to explain his passion projects.

bigquotesI decided to start experimenting to see if it was possible to build a custom carbon fiber frame by using an old scrapped carbon fiber adult frame. I wasn’t sure if it was going to work, but after a lot of thought and way too many hours to count it turned out it was indeed possible. After building a few more frames using pre-existing scrapped frames, my next goal was to build a carbon fiber full suspension frame from scratch, which brings me to my current build where I have been busy building molds to construct carbon fiber tubes that will all be joined in a jig to make the frame for our next 26” wheel bike. Chris Clarke

Photo Tristan Deggan
Chris and his son tackling Crinkum Crankum on Mt. Fromme in North Vancouver. Photo: Tristan Deggan


  • 195 3
 My kid outgrew this bike while I was typing this comment.
  • 9 0
 Same. Her 24” bike from the fall might not last 12 months…
  • 4 0
 Stu will buy these for his kids
  • 58 0
 Will this affect the warranty?
  • 7 0
 @wobblegoblin only if it's a giant!
  • 1 0
 "No questions asked"
  • 43 1
 Omg, the ankle biter is only 4 and check out his pro body posture in the final pic...he is ready!
  • 3 0
 Nope he'll never make it; using his middle finger to brake.

  • 1 0
 @Tambo: must be a strength thing, I see a disproportional amount of
Kids doing this.
  • 1 0
 @JosMaple: thing is though, if you open the middle finger (to brake), your grip on the handlebar is so much weaker. You might be able to get a stronger pull on the brake since the 3rd and first finger add tension to the middle one, but when you're not braking.....

Maybe just needs his brake levers in a better place?
  • 1 0
 @JosMaple: there is something to it. my 9 yo does that too, I'm trying to get this out of his system before it becomes a habit.
  • 1 0
 @Tambo: body mechanics change around 10. Their pointer fingers aren't as long as.oirs so it's hard to reach the lever with it. They use the finger with the longest reach. As long as they're 1 finger braking that habit.will change and they'll be pointer finger brakers as soon as they can reach that lever. It looks like a short throw to us, but that is a massive stretch for that little hand on a full sized lever.
  • 1 0
 @therealnobody: dunno man. My 5y/o is still full-hand braking (cable vee brakes)...index fingers reach just fine
  • 28 0
 Rad Dad Redemption
  • 20 1
 Dude, this is pretty rad!!! Everyone’s biggest complaint is how carbon cannot be re/up cycled. Guy goes out and does it, saves himself a bunch of money to make his kid a bad ass bike, and saves the earth a bit in doing so! Absolutely 10/10, I don’t care what any of the negative comments have to say.
  • 3 0
 Absolutely this!

I’ve known Chris a while now and contrary to what others might think, he routinely involves his kids in the process (check his IG). Designing and building these incredible machines is part father/son bonding, and part learning to try new things and all the good that comes from trial and error.

He’s a a front-runner for dad of the year in my books!
  • 15 0
 Resourceful dad!
I bet his son learns a ton from him, he gets to ride rad bikes as well. Win/Win.
Have fun out there guys!
  • 13 0
 This just reminded me how lazy I am. This guy rebuilt an entire bike to perfection and I can’t replace my sons fork seals, which I bought over a year ago.
  • 5 0
 I wish he would sell them. It's a great idea to recycle broken / old bikes. Likely a bit cost prohibitive though.
They look amazing.
  • 3 0
 If you brought your own old dis-used frame and parts... wonder what the cost would be to just do the modification?
  • 1 0
 @islandforlife: Parts aren't the problem. What value do you assign your time?
  • 1 0
 $100/hr minimum.
  • 2 0
 @Dethphist: what about insurance/liability? As soon as money is involved things get a lot more complicated!
  • 4 0
 Maybe the manufacturers should be paying attention. They'd get green cred and be able to resell a warranty frame if they did this. A full line-up of kids bikes from recycled frames... what's not to like?
  • 3 1
 Consumer: no warranty. Manufacturer: lawsuits.
  • 4 0
 I was about to complain about the carbon for kids, pollution and so on. But then, I saw it is upcycling from a old frame. So I'm more confident about the humanity. Congrats Kris for this clever project.
  • 2 0
 yeah, as a PB'er I also was getting ready to enable CapsLock and start bitching... but this is pretty RAD
  • 6 0
 Why on earth would any carbon frame go to a landfill?
  • 12 1
 given the repairability of carbon, it's a shame the standard warranty process for broken frames involves a hacksaw & a dumpster. so many repairable high end frames going into landfill. obviously there's potential liability exposure issues at hand (thus, the hacksaw), but there's gotta be a better solution.
  • 42 0
 Especially as it can be disposed of directly in the sea
  • 16 0
 @browner: tie it to an old car battery so it sinks.
  • 4 1
 @xy9ine: Buddy cracked his Nukeproof mega frame. Nuke proof sent him the newer updated version. Shop let him keep the cracked frame. Had it repaired for $400. Sold the new frame for thousands.
  • 2 0
 @islandforlife: that's cool. should be the rule, rather than the exception. i've had a frame repaired @ roberts composites (n.van); amazing what they can do.
  • 1 0
 @xy9ine: Yep! His was repaired at the same place... better than new!
  • 6 4
 @xy9ine: it's easy to repair a broken carbon frame. Push a screwdriver through the crack, insert nozzle, squirt in expanding foam, remove excess, take photo, upload to market place. XL nukeproof for sale hardly ridden, pride and joy just don't have the time to ride it is all. Buy aluminium bike, also fill with expanding foam to block off the headset routing.
  • 3 0
 @browner: expanding foam, what can't it do? a great 100% flat-proof alternative to tire inserts too.
  • 3 0
 @xy9ine: yes. the fix is our litigous nature and permisive legal system.....

now that I type that....we are f*cked
  • 3 0
 @islandforlife: Santa Cruz let me keep a frame from a customer that warranteed it for stupid reasons(running too big a rear tire and it hit the seat stay on compression). I built a bike for a friend of a friend out of it. that was 5 years ago and I know he still is flogging it. lol.
  • 1 0
 @xy9ine: same here fixed my dh frame at Robert's and looked like new, even the color match was on point you cant even tell.
  • 7 2
 This is carbon frame modification at a whole 'nother level. Love it. Dangerholm, move over.
  • 17 0
 Until they have his quads Dangerholm isn't going anywhere
  • 2 0
 Kids really benefit from shorter cranks. It's hard to keep the bike moving when you're doing the proportional equivalent of climbing mountains with every pedal stroke. They also tend not to have the thumb length or stretch to manage trigger shifters well, especially when paired with a clutch derailleur. Grip-shift, or even a big friction shifter they can palm, works better. These relatively chunky bars and long-reach brake levers are another sticking point. Super narrow grips and some careful adjustment can make them workable, but I don't see it in the photos.
  • 3 0
 I met Chris and his son on the trails a while back and can say they’re both rad shredders.
  • 1 0
 Can vouch, Chris absolutely shreds hard and his son is an awesome rider as well.
  • 1 0
 Great idea to use the old cut tubes as the mold to piece them back together. I'd be really interested to see what you used for a jig. Cheers
  • 2 0
 check out his instagram account. there's always updates on the process he goes through.
  • 1 0
 Hmm you have an old outdated geo on your carbon fiber frame. Cut it up add some reach , slack that head tube . New bike ! Recycling indeed !
  • 1 0
 @jacks0n0: Nice! I have been thinking of something similar for metal frames - get some oval headtube adaptors made to mount a headset (and can play with it) and cut/reweld the headtube. For steel - no worries. For Al... might not always be possible.
  • 1 0
 @jacks0n0: rad bike! What did you start off with?
  • 2 0
 @tall-martin: Thanks. That one was a Giant Anthem in size medium from about 10 years ago. Now it's a modern large that works well with a 130mm fork
  • 1 0
 @jacks0n0: Pic of bike looks sweet . Would make a good article for a forum for people with similar ideas .
  • 2 0
 What kid wouldnt want a mini santa cruz
  • 1 0
 This is kinda how Cyclocarbon started. R,R,R. In this case, re-use. I approve.
  • 2 0
 I ruined my down tube and had it repaired. Carbon is awesome.
  • 1 0
 All joking aside, THIS IS F*CKING AWESOME!!! More of this energy in the bike world!!?
  • 1 0
 Well, I haven't tried this yet... But I only have experience in shortening cranks for both of my kids...
  • 1 0
 You guys talk about buying bikes at a pace that's probably faster than kids grow.
  • 5 4
 Not sure I want to purchase a $10K custom carbon bike for my grom!
  • 2 0
 Glad they exist and the dad is showing initiative and what can be done with bascially scraps
  • 2 0
 Specialized has entered the chat
  • 1 0
 Well you can if you want...
  • 2 0
 Happy Kid!
  • 3 3
 Yo, I bought a 29er cos the industry said I should.. it sucks.. can you make it 26........¿
  • 1 0
 Santa Cruz Yodad
  • 1 0
 Thats pretty smart move
  • 1 1
 tell me you're a dentist's kid without telling me...
  • 1 0
 @preach because he has all his teeth? #preach
Below threshold threads are hidden

You must login to Pinkbike.
Don't have an account? Sign up

Join Pinkbike  Login
Copyright © 2000 - 2023. All rights reserved.
dv42 0.027286
Mobile Version of Website