Industry design veterans team up on new mountain bike brand

PRESCOTT, Ariz. (BRAIN) — Jay Clark and Herman Neudert are industry design veterans and longtime mountain bike riding buddies who lost touch with each other over the decades. But soon after meeting up again for the first time in years (”Thanks, LinkedIn,” said Clark), the pair decided they had some ideas for a new mountain bike brand that they needed to act upon.

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Specialized Burra Burra review

Next to Specialized’s Morgan Hill HQ, California, is Henry W. Coe State Park, the preferred test site for the company’s Adventure Gear Division, and location of Burra Burra Peak, from which these bags take their name. The Specialized Burra Burra range consists of several bags, all constructed from durable externally polyurethane-coated nylon.

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If you want to dabble in bikepacking with stays in a B&B maybe, a seat pack (not pictured) is the place to begin. Available in 10 or 20-litre volumes, we tried the 444g 10 (£110 / $130), which comes with a clever tubular aluminium stabiliser. With clamps for two seatpost diameters, the 103g arm is angle adjustable for the pack to slide over it and fix with seatpost and saddle rail straps for stability.

Frame packs are ideal for packing your heaviest items and must fit snugly within your frame

For camping, the Handlebar Harness (£35 / $90) and Drypack come in to their own for sleeping bags, clothes or tents. The weatherproof Drypack comes in 13 and 23-litres, the former is best suited to drop bars, whereas our larger model (£23 / $45 / AU$60) is ideal for flat-bar bikes. Both ends of the 158g water-resistant Cordura 100D ripstop nylon bag have central poppers and roll closures, with a central 35cm waterproof zip permitting on-the-fly access. The robust 372g Handlebar Harness fits via two aluminium clamps beside the stem that attach to a wide U-shaped tubular support. On a drop bar bike it lowers the load to allow room for hands and accessories on the tops. Compression straps hold the load in place while two more can be used to give the harness more support.


Frame packs are ideal for packing your heaviest items and must fit snugly within your frame — this one comes in three, five, or eight litres. Our five-litre 269g example (£80 / $100 / AU$160) has twin waterproof-zipped small item pockets and an impressively-cowled zipped main compartment. Its six-point Velcro and rubber strap attachment is solid, and although the base could be stiffer, a daisy chain beneath provides further attachment options.

The 142g 0.75-litre top-tube pack (£35 / $50) is easily accessible on the move and attaches via Velcro straps, but requires some steerer tube height for the front strap. Its padded main compartment has an internal mesh pocket to separate smaller items, plus an external zipped pocket for valuables.

Prices and availability

  • Burra Burra Drypack 13: £N/A / $40 / AU$50
  • Burra Burra Drypack 23: £23 / $45 / AU$60
  • Burra Burra Framepack 3: £N/A / $90 / AU$150
  • Burra Burra Framepack 5: £80 / $100 / AU$160
  • Burra Burra Framepack 8: £N/A / $110 / AU$180
  • Burra Burra Stabilizer Seatpack 10: £110 / $130 / AU$N/A
  • Burra Burra Stabilizer Seatpack 20: £120 / $140 / AU$N/A
  • Burra Burra Stuffpack: £N/A / $40 / AU$N/A
  • Burra Burra Handlebar Harness: £35 / $90 / AU$N/A
  • Burra Burra top-tube pack: £35 / $50 / AU$N/A

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Robot Bike Co R160: the future of bike design?

If you’ve ever dreamt of having a mountain bike that’s totally designed around you, then Robot Bike Co’s new R160 could well be the answer.

Rolling on 27.5 wheels and sporting 160mm of rear wheel travel the bike may look relatively conventional, but that’s where the similarity with anything else currently on the market ends. By using a combination of additive manufacturing – that’s 3D printing to you and I – and clever software technology, each and every bike is tailored to the exact dimensions of the rider, allowing a fit that’s fine tuned like never before. It could well point to the future of bike design, certainly at the high end of the market.

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Fit as you like

The four people behind Robot Bike Co are a trio of engineers plus time-served mountain bike journalist Ed Haythornthwaite. While the idea about using additive manufacturing and carbon tubing to create a bike had been floating about between them for a long time, it was the restrictions of current high end bikes that was the deciding factor in kicking the project off. As Ed says when speaking about bikes currently on the market: “They’re supposedly no compromise bikes, but they’re compromising on one of the most important elements – fit.”


Instead of a fixed mould and set sizes, the R160 is instead made by bonding carbon tubes to 3D printed titanium lugs. As bicycle construction techniques go, lugged tubing is one of the oldest, but taking this technique and throwing the latest technology at it has huge implications. Computer generated designs can be created from titanium powder that’s sintered into a solid form by a high power laser in layers just 60 microns thick, allowing an unprecedented design freedom.

The most important element is that they’ve been freed from the constraints of conventional carbon fibre bicycle manufacturing, where costly moulds limit the sizes on offer and preclude any flexibility beyond the layup of the carbon weave. The additive manufacturing process means that the shape of the lugs and hence the geometry of each R160 can be altered with very little difficulty on a bike-by-bike basis. It’s all to ensure that no matter what shape the rider is, they’re getting a bike that’ll feel and fit exactly how Robot Bike Co intended. 

Custom as standard

Suspension specialist

While everyone at Robot Bike Co is a specialist in their own field, when it came to the suspension platform, they realised they needed to get someone else involved. A quick email to designer Dave Weagle later and he was on board with the project. What he came up with, called the DW6 system, is a rather complicated design that has the goal of being able to isolate pedalling and braking forces as well as keeping tight control over the suspension leverage curve and axle path. To that end, the heart of the system is two small links that are mounted above and below the BB shell, giving a virtual pivot point slightly in front of the lower shock mount. It’s designed to work well with chainrings around 30-32t, though Robot say it’s possible to alter the layout of the design to work with larger chainrings, should you wish to run one. The pivot on the chainstay means that the system should stay active under braking, much like a conventional Horst-link style design, while the rocker-driven shock allows progression to be controlled. Having the shock vertically packaged and mounted to the BB avoids the need for anything to be mounted directly to the down or top tube, keeping things simple and the weight lower.
Talking of weight, at a claimed 7lbs/3.2kg for the frame and shock, it’s certainly not the lightest machine in this class out there. For example, a Mondraker Dune Carbon frame tips the scales at around a pound lighter. Even so, a complete bike build should come in at around 29lbs. Robot reckon that they could go around 200g lighter on the frame weight, but that they’d much rather make it able to last a lifetime and accordingly, it’s got a lifetime guarantee. Indeed, when testing the tube-to-lug bonding, the five-times safety limit of 6kN of force before failure was exceeded by a large margin – in fact the test machine broke before the bond did at 26kN.
You’d better be sitting down when it comes to the price tag. At £4,395 for the frame, this is not a cheap bike, but the level of technology involved means it was never going to be. Robot don’t plan to do complete bikes – they feel anyone wanting something so personalised is unlikely to want a set menu approach to finishing kit – but they can build you something up if you desire. In a day and age when it’s perfectly possible to spend similarly serious money on a mountain bike prised from a mould in the Far East, having a totally custom bike made especially for you is a rather special thing. Compared to conventional custom bikes, which can often take months from design to delivery, their unique process means they estimate a turnaround time of just four weeks, depending on demand. 

On the shoulders of engineering giants

Altair is an engineering design company that specialises in software and services. A particularly impressive and important software package allowed the basic design of elements of the bicycle to be highly refined by inputting the forces they’ll be subjected to and then calculating exactly where and how much material will be needed to provide suitable strength and stiffness. For example, the chainstay yoke went from being a fairly conventional looking item with a cross brace to an amazingly delicate and almost organic form. It’s a prime example that shows that this soft of software combined with the additive manufacturing process can free designers up to create components in ways that simply haven’t been possible before.
HiETA are also additive manufacturing specialists based nearby to Altair and when Robot Bike Co approached them for advice on setting up a business, they quickly became involved, with two of the Robot crew joining the company. For HiETA, it’s a chance to show the power of additive layer manufacturing and to demonstrate that this is a technology that’s ready to be commercially exploited right now, rather than a niche and specialist process only used in applications where cost isn’t an issue.

Are Robots the future?

There’s no doubt that the R160 is an extremely niche proposition. It’s a premium product at a premium price, but it does offer something never seen before; namely the completely new approach to fit and sizing. It’s obvious that the technologies used to create this bike are only going to more advanced, less expensive better understood and therefore exploited in even newer ways. Will this replace the way entry-level bikes are made? Almost certainly not, but at the high end, it could point to a future where the idea of buying off the shelf is an unthinkable as this sort of mass customisation is now.
We can’t wait to get out on the bike and see how it rides in the real world, something we hope to be able to do soon. Regardless of performance, the R160 could be one of the most influential machines ever made, simply because it points to a future where what was previously unachievable becomes commonplace
If this has intrigued you enough, then the website is now up and running and ready to take orders. Do let us know what you think in the comments below…

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Domahidy Designs rebadges as Viral Bikes

DENVER (BRAIN) — Domahidy Designs has renamed itself Viral Bikes, after founder Steve Domahidy said he realized the original name for his young company was … Just. Not.

BMC bike painted by Taylor Phinney to be raffled for Parkinson’s charity

Bike to be featured on the cover of VeloNews' Buyers Guide. BOULDER, Colo. (BRAIN) —?BMC Switzerland and VeloNews are running a sweepstakes that will award a Taylor Phinney hand-painted BMC Teammachine SLR01 frame, to raise awareness of the Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson’s

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Trek Procaliber 9.7 SL

Trek’s unique IsoSpeed road bike and cyclocross comfort tech has been translated to full-on mountain bike use with the Procaliber cross-country machine. We’ve previously spent a little time on the top-line 9.9 and mid-range 9.8 models, but recently got in the humbler 9.7 version to give it a thorough interrogation as to whether IsoSpeed is a winner on the trail.

Loose joints

The IsoSpeed coupling replaces the normal fixed joint between top tube and seat tube with a pivot. Add a flattened lower seat tube section, and the top of the seat tube is able to move independently of the rest of the frame if the bike hits a bump.

Trek Procaliber 9.8 SL – first ride


‘Boost’ rear hub spacing (148×12mm) for extra tracking stiffness, neat cable/hose management and two bottle cages complete a slick and contemporary frame. The smallest size (15.5in) runs on 650b wheels while the other four use 29in wheels to keep size and shape proportional.

The IsoSpeed coupling allows the seat tube to move independently of the rest of the frame

Seated smoothing

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