Picture of Make Your Own Drillium! (Drilled bike components)
Today we are going to learn how to make Drillium! For those that are curious, drillium (and millium) are words developed to describe bike components that have been modified by means of drilling holes in them or machining them to decrease weight and add personality.

I'm not going to give a history of how drillium came about( frankly because I wasn't there to witness it), but it is my understanding that what was originally a way for the elite to save a few grams at the expense of durability became in itself a form of artistic expression. People could take components and customize the to their liking, possibly saving a couple (nearly inconsequential) grams in the process. Today we rarely see drilled/milled components being produced, but some manufacturers do make 'skeletonized' components (*cough* campy *cough*).


Drilling holes in critical bike components can lead to FAILURE OF THE COMPONENTS. I do not suggest doing this to your brake calipers (at first), stem, or handlebars or any other part of your bike for that matter. SERIOUS INJURY OR DEATH CAN RESULT FROM COMPONENTS FAILING.
Seriously, if you're standing mashing the pedals, which is when parts are under the most stress, and the chainring lets go, you very well might faceplant into the handlebars and stem and crotch-plant on the toptube(ouch!). Or worse, lose control and veer into traffic. Please be careful if you choose to ride on drilled components!

That being said, it sure looks pretty when its done right!

and I've been commuting/riding mine for 3 months now with no issues.
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Guys is orbea better or giant same gear ?
Advar2 years ago
Steampunky, me like:D
vicesat2 years ago
And what about the seatpost? cut, drill or something?
jongscx2 years ago
If you were really worried about strength, you could run a quick Finite Element analysis on the modeled parts and see where areas of least stress were... >.<

Or just wing it. :-D
love the idea of the lasercutting pieces as drill template, inspired me to do some stuff
rjnerd2 years ago
One other thing about the bacon break, the drippings are usable as cutting oil. (which will also extend the life of your drills).
distanceman89 (author)  rjnerd2 years ago
That's a great idea... the smell would be fantastic as it flashed off!
Actually lard oils (with a pinch of some sulphur compound, and a chlorinating agent, in a closely guarded secret formula) was the old time tool and die maker's trick for working tough steels. For aluminum, things related to kerosene were the ticket, before they developed some aluminum specific formulas.

I "grew up" in the age of drillium, but tended to break the over lightened stuff. For your next trick, you can mill groves in your seat post. I assume it was campy, but one popular post back in the day, had what amounted to internal grooving. People would externally grove in the internal bosses, producing a tube that sorta looked like corrugated tin roofing when looked at end on.

The age of drillium ended when someone noticed that all those holes increased the aerodynamic drag. Thats when brake cables started getting hidden under the bar tape instead of in big loops, tubing stopped being round, people started road racing on disk wheels (previously reserved for track pursuit bikes) the team pursuit bikes got the small front wheel, etc.. The UCI eventually got grumpy about it, and banned a lot of it.
distanceman89 (author)  rjnerd2 years ago
That's a whole wealth of info! I'll have to remember those cutting fluid bases, could be handy in a pinch!

I never knew that about the aerodynamics, but it makes perfect sense now that I think about it, it was very little weight I saved and quite a bit of turbulence I made instead.

I actually turned, grooved and drilled my own seatpost not even a month ago! My bike had a chromed steel seatpost that was stupid heavy, and a really weird size (23.something mm) so i got some aluminum tubing and made my own. Wound up being 1/4 of the weight since I cut it to my length. I had no idea about the internal grooving on some posts though, that's really neato! I'll have to keep my eye open at swap meets for one.

I don't have any good pictures of the lathe/milling process/setup or Id've posted that as well. Maybe I'll use some fakology and get some after the fact...
rimar20002 years ago
Do not weaken the steel doing that? There should be not pleased that the gear breaks when you're pedaling.
distanceman89 (author)  rimar20002 years ago
It does weaken it, there were a few cases of parts breaking during races and a few people getting hurt in the days when this was more popular. With older lower-end or touring components, i figure they were probably overdesigned to begin with so i can get away with it. There were also a couple things I did on purpose to help lessen the chances of breakage, I actually just went into step 6 and pointed them out in the picture, since I wasn't too clear earlier.

But yes, it makes riding a bit more dangerous, but that makes it more fun too! I'm also better at making sure i shift into a lower gear for hills, instead of always standing up and pedaling.
vicesat2 years ago
You should say the weight before and after the drills, every individual piece and the total.

Good work and keep drilling
distanceman89 (author)  vicesat2 years ago
Just added it, I meant to when I set out but completely forgot by the end. Thanks for reminding me!
rjnerd2 years ago
One other tip, instead of a center punch, get yourself a set of transfer punches. They are a set of round rods, the same diameter as your drill set. In one end they have a center punch like tip, centered. pick the one the size of your guide hole, and use it to make your mark. They make the pip dead center in the guide hole, something not guaranteed with just a center punch.. If you have ever found yourself "oval drilling" something to get the last bolt hole to line up, this is how you avoid the problem in the first place.

They aren't that expensive (under $20 for a set) but you have to get them from an industrial supply joint. (they used to be a standard early project for metal lathe apprentices - you would turn them to close diameter, heat treat them, then use the toolpost grinder to get them to finish diameter, with a sharp, hard point.. You do the turn, treat, grind sequence because heat treating can warp your part. You have to use the grinder, because your heat treating left it as hard or harder than as your lathe bit)
distanceman89 (author)  rjnerd2 years ago
Those sound very helpful, I'll have to get myself some!
Put that in the laser cutter contest.
Cool! You said you weighed the chainrings before drilling, how much did you remove?
distanceman89 (author)  stringstretcher2 years ago
Wound up being about 60g off of a total weight of 250g for just the chainrings. 30g of that was off of the chainguard, and I don't have the numbers in front of me but it was something like 10 off the small ring and 20 off the larger one. I'll recheck and add it in to the 'ible!
onrust2 years ago
Great post. I like your style........especially the drill press on the carpet! Thank god I have tile now
distanceman89 (author)  onrust2 years ago
Haha thanks, I just put a rubber mat under it after this project in the hopes of keeping metal bits out of the carpet... Luckily I tend not to walk over there!
Tip, to those that haven't bought their drill press yet. Spring the extra $30-50 and get the floor model, instead of the bench top model. (the only difference between them is the length of the pipe). You will need the space on your bench a couple of weeks after you get it, and will spend the next year, hunched over and squatting down every time you have to drill something as it will never move off the floor and back to the bench,. A year later, and your back will tell you to trade up.
How many teeth are there? That's gotta be a lot of arrays.
distanceman89 (author)  Ironsloth19932 years ago
The big ring has 52 teeth, and the smaller one has 40. It wasn't too bad actually, i just drew the initial hole and used a polar array to evenly space 52 of em out. Or drew one section and spaced out 6 copies.
That is really cool looking.
distanceman89 (author)  troopersmachine2 years ago
Thank you!
caitlinsdad2 years ago
Hmm, if you drilled the holes just right, would it make the bike whistle as the wind cuts through it or if you spin fast enough?