I mentioned German architect Rafael Hoffleit’s custom carbon frames in an earlier post. His r-009 road bike caught my attention before, so I was very excited to see his new time trial bike, the r-011. The bike has an “integrated hydration and steering system, which allows the use of standard cable shifter systems totally hidden inside the stem and frame.” The “Fluid” hydration system is open at the top and can be refilled while riding. It is also easy removable for cleaning or for UCI races where the extended headtube fairing is not allowed. Like the r-008 and r-009 frames, the r-011 has double chamber tubes for lateral stiffness. Also like other rafael frames, the r-011 contains no metal at all – even the bearing housing is carbon. Rafael points out that his special mold system allows flexibility in tailoring the bike to the intended use. The frame can be created with a higher front end, which allows triathletes to sit comfortably without the use of spacers under the armrests, or it can be configured with a deeper straight stem/ top tube position for flat out time trialing.
Though Mr. Hoffleit is primarily an architect who creates these bikes as a side project, these are far from just concept bikes. All of the bikes he builds are working race machines… in fact, on his website you can see custom painted r-011s that were recently raced in the 2009 Challenge Barcelona and the 2009 Ironman Frankfort. Hoffleit told me that he built his first bike (a recumbent) at age 9, so the bicycles he creates are the result of a lifelong passion. The majority of bikes that he has designed so far are aerodynamic race models due to his interest in the sports of cycling and triathlon, but he plans to build additional bikes soon, including a folding bike and a recumbent. Check the concepts section of the Rafael site to see what else he has in the works. If the racing bikes are any indication, I’ll be looking forward to seeing the other types of bikes that he comes up with in the future.
While I am posting, I will mention another interesting road bike out of Germany. Ron at Cozy Beehive posted about this homemade electronic shifting bike a while ago. In addition to the e-shifting system, the frame and wheels are home built as well. Check out Ron’s follow-up post to learn more about the bike.