Bamboobee launches 5-hour bamboo framebuilding kit on Kickstarter

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif.?(BRAIN) —?Bamboobee is launching its second kit allowing anyone to build their own bamboo-tubed bike frame. This kit cuts the estimated time for the framebuild to about 5 hours instead of the three days required by the company’s first kit. ?The company is promoting its kit on Kickstarter and has already raised more than $15,000 of its $18,000 goal, with 21 days of the campaign left.

Component brand 3T launches its first bike — and creates a new category

ARTIMINO, Italy?(BRAIN) — The historic Italian component brand 3T — which was bought last year by its president and CEO, René?Wiertz, and Cervélo co-founder Gerard Vroomen — is introducing its first bike, which may be the industry’s first aero gravel road bikes, called the Exploro. The company said it spent a year developing the bike, including tests at the San Diego Low Speed Wind Tunnel

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.

  • Dutch robots have made a rideable 3D-printed stainless steel bike
  • Mojo/Nicolai’s GeoMetron plots a future for mountain bike design
  • Best enduro bike: buyer’s guide and recommendations 

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

By admin on March 11, 2016 | Bike News
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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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Wishbone Recycled recalls balance bikes

WASHINGTON (BRAIN) — Wishbone Design Studio is recalling about 400 balance bikes in the U.S. because the handlebar can pinch fingers at the frame

Six of the best mountain bike air shocks

A new shock can significantly alter the way your full suspension bike rides and the amount of control and confidence it delivers. Choosing the right shock for your bike, your riding style and your level of technical knowhow isn’t easy though. The fact that shocks are evolving so fast that the benchmarks are getting rewritten every few months doesn’t help either.

The first thing to check is whether the shock actually fits your bike. The extra damping chamber on piggyback shocks or larger volume air sleeves, or protruding adjusters, can definitely cause problems, particularly on smaller framed bikes. The top of the shock or even the eyelet knuckle can also contact the frame or linkage too. Even if the shock physically fits you need to make sure the valve and adjusters can be reached easily without the frame or the shock itself getting in the way.

Related: Mountain bike suspension forks – a buyer’s guide


You also need to work out what you need from a new shock, which means thinking about what’s lacking from your current damper. Sometimes it’s a simple aim such as saving weight or adding a straightforward adjustment like lockout or an intermediate ‘pedal’ damping setting you don’t currently have.

Perhaps you want the smoother initial movement and increased traction of a more sensitive shock or the more consistent heavy use performance of a higher oil volume piggyback shock.

Related: Trail Tech: what type of rear shock is right for you?

Best MTB shocks

Fox Racing Shox Float DPS EVOL Factory

  • Price: £380 /  US$450 / AU$679 (Sold by Sola Sport)
  • Weight: 298g
  • External adjustment: three-way adjustable open setting, low speed compression, lockout, rebound
  • Sizes: 190×50, 200×50, 200×57, 215×64mm

RockShox Monarch Plus DebonAir RC3

  • Price: £400 / US$TBC / AU$740 (Sold by Monza Imports)
  • Weight: 390g
  • External adjustment: Low speed compression, lockout, rebound.
  • Sizes: 190×50, 195×46*, 195×51*, 200×51, 200×57, 210×60**, 216×57*, 216×63*mm *Specialized mount, **Trek mount

BOS Kirk

  • Price: £599 / US$ TBC / AU$999 (Sold by NSDynamics)
  • Weight: 382g
  • External adjustment: Low and high speed compression, rebound, ‘pedal optimizer’ lever
  • Sizes: 200×51, 216×57, 222×63mm

DT Swiss X313

  • Price: £320 / US$539 / €399 / AU$ N/A
  • Weight: 212g
  • External adjustment: Low speed compression, lockout, rebound
  • Sizes: 165×37.5, 190×50, 200×50, 200×55mm

Cane Creek DBInline

  • Price: £385 / US$550 / AU$649 (Sold by DirtWorks)
  • Weight: 351g
  • External adjustment: Low and high speed compression, low and high speed rebound, ‘Climb Switch’
  • Sizes: 165×37.5, 184×44, 190×50, 200×50, 200×55, 200×57, 215×63mm

X-Fusion O2 RCX

  • Price: £340 / US$430 / AU$566 (Sold by DIY-MTB)
  • Weight: 275g
  • External adjustment: Low speed compression, lockout, rebound
  • Sizes: 165×38, 184×44, 190×51, 200×51, 200×57mm

Overall verdict

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How long can you go? Jon Woodhouse’s extreme geometry hardtail – video

Mountain bike geometry has evolved a fair bit in recent years. On the whole, trail bikes of today are considerably longer in the wheelbase and slacker at the head angle than they were just a few years back. Certain companies are pushing the boundaries more than others in this respect but slowly and surely we’re all starting to reap the benefits of this pursuit to create better handling bikes.

Related: Recent progressions in mountain bike geometry

To find the limits first you must reach them(!) and that’s why Jon Woodhouse, Editor of What Mountain Bike magazine,  took it upon himself to experiment outside of the boundaries depicted by the geometry sheets of current manufacturers. Jon commissioned frame builder BTR fabrications, based in Somerset, UK, to produce a one-off hardtail with geometry you simply cannot get anywhere else.


Jon combined all the current trends of geometry to produce a bike with a 63.5-degree head angle and a 656mm top tube length – that’s the size of a large forward geometry Mondraker frame. To counter those radical dimensions, the BTR’s seat tube angle is set at an equally extreme 75.5 degrees. The chainstays of the frame are long enough to squeeze in the 650b rear wheels with enough clearance for mud but that’s it, in fact the back end was set as short as it’s practical to do so. Similarly, the bottom bracket of the frame is slammed way below the axles.The BTR was then fitted with Mondraker own brand On-Off’s 10mm stem, allowing for steering geometry that can’t be achieved with conventional parts. The wheelbase is, well… just look at it!

Watch the video below as Jon puts his bizarre looking creation to the test and reports his findings. 

Video: The extreme geometry hardtail 

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Cube Stereo 140 Super HPC TM 27.5

Cube’s Stereo has been in the running for What Mountain Bike magazine’s Trail Bike of the Year honours every year since it was one of the first firms to introduce a 650b-wheeled chassis in 2013. This latest, shorter travel, lighter and better tuned chassis is the most responsive and potentially radical yet – if the frame and ride feel fit you.

  • Highs: Futureproofed carbon frame; quality enduro-ready kit; direct sell value with local shop support; Pike fork and progressively retuned rear suspension
  • Lows: Too short to let its full potential breathe; wooden tyres and tight compression tune mean chattery ride

Cube has a reputation for standout value without cutting corners and the HPC TM doesn’t disappoint. The full carbon frame gets internal dropper post and control cable routing plus Shimano XTR Di2 electric compatibility. Despite the frame quality it’s still rocking an exceptional – especially for this price – SRAM and Race Face-based kit package.

While most Stereo 140s get lighter 140mm travel 32mm legged forks, the TM (Trail Motion) version gets a 150mm travel fork. Even with a proper enduro-ready build that includes Stealth routed Reverb dropper post, E13 chainguide instead of a front derailleur and 2.35in treads, the Stereo is a kilo or so lighter than many of its peers.


The SRAM and Race Face-based kit list offers near-unbeatable value

The mix of low (12.14kg) complete bike weight, semi-slick rear tyre, frame stiffness and suspension that’s firm off the top equate to an explosive response to any power input. The 150mm Pike fork means it’s attentive and accurate when following any flick or nudge of the 750mm bars and 50mm stem cockpit.

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