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Flax frames and a few links from readers

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A reader, Pierre, sent me some interesting pictures that he took recently at the Paris composite trade fair. The 3 main tubes of the frame shown here are made from 80% flax and 20% carbon composite. If that sounds familiar, it is because former Belgian world champion Johan Museeuw has been marketing frames that use flax/carbon composite main tubes for quite some time now. Museeuw has several flax frames available with varying flax to carbon ratios, 80 to 20 being the highest. Museeuw claims that the main advantage of a flax composite frame “is its excellent shock-absorbing quality, which makes for an enhanced riding comfort and, accordingly, for improved performances”. While previous Museeuw frames hid the flax beneath a layer of Carbon or under paint, the latest one, the MF5, has the dark brown flax fibers on the outer layer of the main tubes. If you haven’t seen these bikes, take a look here. I have never ridden one and can’t speak to the ride quality, but I think the visual result of the exposed flax is very nice.

Back to the frames shown here from the Paris show. Pierre pointed out that the frame and tube at the show were rejects, but that they were interesting to see without any finishing, paint, or varnish. He mentioned that he “could see the surface texture had linear small grooves similar to those you’d see the surface of wood.” Though these pictures do not represent the current Museeuw flax bikes, I thought it was quite interesting to see the layers in the cut tube shot. Thanks for the great pics Pierre.

While I am posting, I want to pass along a few other links that some of you have shared with me. Lately, I have been receiving a ton of email tips from readers. I appreciate them all, but my time to devote to the blog is limited so occasionally they get lost in the shuffle. If I mentioned that I would post something and never did, you might want to resend it. I wish I had the time to post everything that I would like to, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day.

Anyway, here are a few recent links from readers:

Jason sent me this Gizmodo link to a very odd contraption.

Bubba pointed out this concept bike with light tubes built into the frame. It also has a little storage area, kind of like a glove compartment.

Fabrizio, who you may remember from his Luna Lander design, has a new bike that he just released. The O-Mega has a long wheelbase (kind of like a cargo bike) to improve stability. It appears that a second passenger seat is optional.

Finally, someone (sorry I can’t remember who) sent me a link to this Little Fish framebuilding page. There is a lot of framebuilding info on the web (some of it probably pretty questionable), but I like this site because it documents Suzy’s process of building a few lugged steel frames in a simple, straightforward manner. Make sure you check out her tutorial while you are there.

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  1. lunalander April 8, 2008 at 2:59 pm -  Reply

    O-Mega frames with a longer chainstay (+20 cm) improves performance.
    “Out of saddle” staying on the saddle.
    Of course when needed you can use it as a cargo bike.
    “longer is faster”


  2. AW April 10, 2008 at 1:14 am -  Reply

    Has anyone read the article accompanying the O-Mega? He seems to be saying that the bike is more efficient, faster, more manoeuvrable and more stable as a result of the long wheelbase.

    Firstly, a vehicle can’t be both more manoeuvrable and more stable, as manoeuvrability is a function of instability. This bike is only more stable.

    Secondly, his vector diagrams are all wrong. You can’t get free speed by changing the force borne by each wheel of the bike, as the total forces remain the same. Key thing missing are rolling resistance vectors at each wheel. Or at least at the front wheel. Vector T at the rear wheel would actually be the rolling resistance vector, not the ‘traction’ vector, which I think is supposed to be the forward force vector. But any increase in the actual forward force vector at the rear wheel will be offset by increased rolling resistance vector at the front wheel.

    If the O-Mega theory worked, I wouldn’t need a longer wheelbase. Taking the load off my rear rack and putting it on my front basket would make my bike faster. Isn’t going to happen.

    Finally, what is the point of having shin-pads on pedals?

  3. Anonymous April 11, 2008 at 3:23 pm -  Reply

    Hi friends,
    I’m not an expert in vector diaghrams.
    But the good way to verify the O-Mega frame theory is to add a Xtracycle kit and riding the long bicycle without loads.
    Great experience!


    PS: Chainstay and wheelbase: small difference

    FROM SHELDON BROWN glossary:
    Chain stays
    “The (usually tapered) tubes that run from the bottom bracket to the rear fork ends”.
    Wheel Base
    “The distance from the center of the front wheel to the center of the rear wheel”.

  4. Anonymous April 12, 2008 at 4:39 pm -  Reply

    Hi to all,
    A good link for the “wrong diagram”
    The my simple draws don’t consider the value of the force, that in fact have an equal summa(is right “AW”) but a different distribution.
    For a complete theoric discussion a great lot of vector and force may be draw and consider…..!
    But, in general, a drive wheel and a steer wheel is not the same:-you change before the tyres of the drive wheels or the steer wheels of your car?- I think the tyres of drive wheels, exactly as me.
    Why, if the “rolling resistance” is the same?
    Sure, i in the draw simplify more the problem but i think that the concept that i want explaine isn’t wrong.
    About the “manoeuvrability” is possible that is too good in a uni-cycle that in a bi-cycle?
    A uni-cycle have more degree of freedom and minor stability but not for this have more “manoeuvrability”, in the sense of drive, obviously (really have more possibilities to change the directions in random mode that required more controls… that is possible says “manoeuvrability”…)
    Effectively a bicycle with a short chainstay is more similar at a uni-cycle with another wheel only for the minimum control of direction.
    I think that’s right.
    There isn’t discussion.
    But in another point of view i think a motorcycle driver when do a curve….. he immediatly move his center of gravity in front of the vehicle….also in a toboga!
    And don’t exist a motorcycle with a chainstay short as a bicycle….
    (is possible that in the bicycle the short chainstay there is for maximize the less of weight?).
    For me the example of motorcycle driver is the real idea of “manoeuvrability” of a veihcle: is the minor energy (minor control!) for obtain the fastest change of directions.
    The increase of the value of the chainstay (thanks “Hawks”) is really very small( from 50 to 250 mm)for obtain the better efficiency(about the traction, the stability and the “manoeuvrability”) conditions.
    I hope that my simple explication is clear.( sorry for my bad english…)
    Thanks for your interest, comments and considerations.
    At the next!
    (…that is possible is too strong and heretical…..)

    P.I. Francesco Cozzo

  5. Cedric October 25, 2009 at 3:37 pm -  Reply

    I've used short chain stay bikes for a couple of years and it has been JOY!
    You get a more reassuring position downhill and great traction uphill (more weight on back wheel).
    That's exactly what GaryFisher is trying to do with his Genesis geometry. Also, I've started riding track bikes on the street and I can only say good things about them, they are definatly the fastest things on the road!

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