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I’m struggling to understand what is new about this approach. Wasn’t braiding used in the 1980s for carbon frames? The Munich Composites web site says that automation reduces errors. Is this why braiding is not commonly used now? I thought braided fiber was abandoned mainly for weight reasons. Can a braided frame using the new advanced braiding techniques be stronger/lighter than other options?
Braided carbon is still used for bikes at Giant, Time, BMC and others. Individual strands of carbon fiber are braided into loose seemless tubes to be formed into forks for instance. In this case though, I believe it is the radial braiding over a shaped mandrel that is different (similar to what is seen here making an automotive part).
I am just guessing though. Hopefully Jacob can check in to shed more light on the process and answer your other questions.
Braided carbon is indeed used only at Time and BMC. Time was the first to use it, and still do. BMC only came a few years ago, with a fully automated process, unlike time wich use a handcrafted process after the braiding workshop. The firts use of braided carbon in bicycle was done by TBT company, wich manufactured the first look bikes. Nowadays, not only forks are manufactured this way, frame also are.
About Jacob’s bike : The mandrel seems to be mettalic but how does Jacob get it off the tubes ?
I like the lugged frame look and this kind of approach (machine made) may eventually open up the market for composite frames to all sorts. I sort of like the idea of a carbon fibre Pashley Princess (not for me), or a cargo bike which is lightweight when empty.
I don’t know the underlying economics of carbon fibre, is it just a case of technology developing and prices continuing to fall, or are we getting to the stage where the inputs are a significant part of the cost?
Visually, conceptually, mechanically; this makes more sense as a Cyclocross bike. I like the style though.
It’s an interesting discussion here. I am pleased to answer some questions. James is totally right with his answers to Quentins questions. Its a radial braiding with several layers over a silicon mandrel which can be totally removed after the infiltration process. The most interesting thing was to create some 3D tube shapes and not only straight tubes. Now back to Quentins last question: I asked myself the same question in the beginning of my project. One of the most important reasons was the automated process which offers the braiding technique against the monocoque construction technique you normally have on carbon frames. You have nearly full control during the process. No surprises when you open the molds like on a hand crafted monocoque frames. In China for example: They produce 10 frames in the monocoque technique, 4 of them have failures and are brand new waist, the rest of them are shipped to Europe, 3 of the 6 don’t reach the european standards and will be destroyed. The last 3 frames go in sale. Thats one of the reasons I think it’s worth to produce this frame in tube-to-tube in combination with the mandrel and the braiding technology.
That brings me to fred’s last question: I hope I get it right Your basically right in your two points. Carbon fiber is getting cheaper (whereas oil is rising up) and it’s trendy to use it. For the automotive sector it’s still too expensive due to the big surfaces they want to built, but they will do it in the future. Many people I talked to estimate an end of the trend by 2030-40. By the way, many carbon frame companies in China are closing because of rising of the human income. Taiwan is still big in business. Lots of companies need to do something in carbon because the customers cry for it! BMC cycles did it the right way I think, in terms of the production line etc. Thats a way which could work for european carbon producers.
James: You asked me about the lugs. They were planed in titanium in the beginning but they would have been far too expensive for the prototype. I made them in a (secret :)) hand laminating process. In the end it was the more clever solution for the project and we will refine the process. I hope I was able to anwer some questions.
Yes. Thank you for taking the time to answer.
What exactly is this “challenging”? There are still plenty of manufacturers using lugs of some material or another with carbon tubes, Calfee and Seven jump to mind. The reason why you don’t see a lot of braided tubing is the awful strength to weight ratio. When you do see it, it’s a very thin cosmetic braid over a thicker unidirectional layer. The combination of a relatively weak material with arbitrary tube bends is just asking for trouble.
Having myself designed AND built a titanium mountain bike (it was manufactured at a former helicopter factory in Poland) – I would like to make a few comments about the overall design of the carbon frame by Jacob Haim if I may.
First I would change the rear seat stays which remind everyone of the GT frames from the late 80′s and 90′s – a design that was later abandoned – so no reason to come back to it for either cosmetic or engineering reasons as it only looks like it’s a copycat design right from the get go.
Second, while I like the top tube design I would redesign the down tube to be straight – at first glance it looks like this bike hit a brick wall at 30MPH and buckled the dt.
I love the red braid – but there is no reason to name the bike race braid – while it might sound cool in German – it sounds redundant after seeing the bike.
BMC sounds cool as a name – but most people have no idea it stands for a very generic Bicycle Manufacturing Co.
Hi Ted, thank you for your input. The design as it is at the moment came into being in cooperation with engineers who already make bikes. Probably like you did. Except of the manufacturing process some people will and some won’t like the design.
Some important reasons are the base of my design. The seat stays you have mentioned are a part of the adjustable frame size feature which allows us to provide a frame sizes from 50 – 60 in one frame. It’s the same with the down tube. I think it gives the bike a characteristically mark. Yeah, its the first prototype, so the input is quite good for redesigning etc. Your are right in some points i guess but with the RaceBRAID I tried to challenge new ways in the road bicycle segment. (In design and the development) The development has not ended yet… The BMC name is great, such an easy solution.
Being a former member of the US Cycling Team I had a racing background so I knew how the bike should look like and wanted certain performance parameters so I drew a prototype and had a local design company build a prototype – they then drew the blueprints and I flew to Poland to build a jig to produce the frames (which were full-suspension titanium frames).
Jacob, in your design most if not all the people will associate your design to the GT bikes from 20 years ago – that particular design is called Hellenic Stays – here is one review by an engineer – Hellenic stays were introduced by (and named for) the British frame builder Fred Helens in 1923, and have been used off-and-on since by frame builders who wish to make their frames visually distinctive. They are of no practical value, and often cause un-necessary complication in brake-cable routing, luggage-rack attachment and installation of frame pumps. The are also slightly heavier than normal frame construction.
Keep in mind the market that you want to reach as most of the guys that buy top end bikes want them to be traditional looking for the most part and they usually buy whatever the pros are racing.
My former coach who used to be the Shimano importer for Germany now lives in Spain and produces his own carbon fiber bikes – perhaps both of you guys should talk. He can give you a lot of insight as to what the customer expects being a national coach and then later a director sportif for Batavus race team from Holland.
Jacob – here is the link to my friend’s company in Spain – feel free to contact him anytime. – Ted
You know, I think everyone has missed the point. It is beautiful
and what’s also missed … this is basicly a tech. demonstator for the process and the ability to use irregularly shaped cores with the ability to be reused.
afaik to this moment, cores for more complex tube geometries are casted or machined and need to be removed with a dissolvent (water, aceton, … )
Fabrication of complex shapes has moved past cores all together. It’s much easier to put a pre-preg braid over an inflatable bladder, then expand it inside of a negative clam shell mold. It’s very similar to the way that complex metal tube shapes are hydroformed.
No one missed the point – because the frame borrows a lot from past designs (rear stays) and not sure how many people would want a dt with a hump in it – this is still a prototype – never raced (obviously) or ridden to any degree in different conditions (cold/hot weather). Take-off all the trendy equipment and it does not really stand out as a beautiful design – although again the red waive is the standout feature.
Ted, no offence intended but it is indeed you that has missed the point. As ‘botchjob’ has stated, this is a demonstrator, which is the core of any industrial design graduate project. In that sense, I think it’s a great job – it proves a concept and validates ideas far better than some of the tosh I have seen of late by actual bike companies.
Then as someone who has designed, and seen put to full production, a range of contemporary mountain bike designs, I applaud the efforts I see here. Being someone who raced a bike does not critically validate your personal call on what does/does not make a design work, or indeed be a marketable product; in some ways I actually see it as a detriment to such projects as you bring to the table a folder of preconceived notions. The market’s huge and there are plenty of people out there that would happily buy a bike such as this for all the reasons you seem to be so critical about. Not everyone with the money to buy such a bike wants to ride pro replica and even there, many would also stable this bike next to the others they have hanging on their racks.
Furthermore, I fail to see why you are harping on about the seat stays. As Jacob pointed out, they have a purpose, hence have every reason to be that way. As it is, a shorter stay such as this will indeed provide for a stiffer rear end, if that is an intentional feature, so are doubly functional. I can also see a structural benefit to the flared main tubes, in fact, I think it’s quite a smart concept… and it looks good!
Overall, this bike is interesting, looks fast, aggressive even, and has enough tech to keep many with the money happy. In an industry dominated by white, middle age, and largely conservative men, projects like this and others I have seen of late bring a glimmer of hope that there still is room for dynamic, interesting and progressive design that does not, as you so put it, look like a pro bike from the peleton.
It’s about time this industry stops following its own tail. it’s bad enough that pretty much most bikes these days looks the same bar the graphics without trying to impose those same tail following values on new dynamic projects such as this.
Your apparent disdain for white men doesn’t change the fact that the basic bicycle frame design reached an optimal solution over a hundred years ago. That’s not some kind of overly conservative preconcieved notion. It’s basic physics. Moving the stays down the seat tube will make the frame either heavier or weaker. Putting a decorative bend in the middle of the down tube will make the frame either heavier or weaker. Making the tubes out of braided, instead of unidirectional, carbon will make the frame either heavier or weaker.
You’re right that people will be lining up to buy this just to look at it. But to people with any kind of engineering background, who see the very idea of the bicycle as an elegant solution to a mechanical problem, most attempts to do something different are almost always doing it worse.
Gerard, I don’t personally agree with you because all the pro teams use the feedback of the racers to refine their frames. Trek and Cannondale etc. sponsor pro teams and use the riders feedback for development. If you never raced, or even designed a bike frame then your comments have no merit – it’s just your opinion – no offense taken.
Art, I could not agree with you more and that’s the quandry of bicycle design. A road based, or HT mtb, frame did indeed hit its pinnacle with the double diamond design. It’s pure simplicity, strength and light weight. It’s also exceptionally elegant when executed well. Full suspension frames are another matter though….
The problem is people, or should I say, marketing departments, want more than that as it’s easier to convince many that something other than this is better and this is where the troubles begin and designers have to come up with the ‘new’. And there begins an argument about how the current capitalist market is headed for disaster…!
In regards to your comments re. the design. You may be right, you may not be. We are all sitting from afar passing comment but the reality is, there’s always more at work than is evident in a few pics. For example, I agree with you that an outward curve in the DT is odd but I am not sure if it is there or is an optical illusion caused by the graphics and the ‘hump’. Also, while you may be right re. the braid, the truth of carbon is, when engineered well, you can make it do and be almost anything. The assumption that it’s heavier than uni-d might be right… then again may not be. Without talking to the engineers at to how they’ve done this makes all this guess work.
And Ted, I suggest you re-read what I wrote, you have missed a few things…
Good follow-up Gerard – very well said!
“the truth of carbon is, when engineered well, you can make it do and be almost anything.”
But engineering is not some mystical voodoo process full of unknowables that are not blindingly apparent to anyone who’s spent more than a decade studying it. You don’t make carbon do and be almost anything by laying it up arbitrarily and wishing really hard. You optimize it by lining the fibers up with tensile loads. That’s why a braided lay-up is great for something under torsional load (like a drive shaft), but is absolutely known to be sub-optimal for something that’s mostly in bending (like a bike frame).
dear engineers … searching for the mechanical optimum isn’t always the goal…
didn’t he make clear, the seat stays are where they are because he want’s to keep production costs low ?
if i was in his position and this solution would add 20grams and in the same moment reduce my production costs by 100 bucks per unit … i would be totally in. especially if sales department demanded do keep it low this time … ! (or if i am designing for small scale productions and tooling costs need to be kept low, or, or )
tl:dr – there is no damn “optimal” solution as such, just the approximation of needs by very different sides (design, marketing, construction, customer, addsomemoar)
Even us engineers know a thing or two about price elasticity. Once you get above $2k for the frame (and I seriously doubt this will come in any lower), money almost isn’t an option. Buyers in that market aren’t going to accept a highly visible cost-cutting feature that brings the weight up to that of a frame costing significantly less, because when they park it in front of the coffee shop the other Freds are going to gather around and ask what’s up with the seat stays. And nobody wants to find themselves mumbling some response about how it saved the builder a couple bucks on tooling.
At the higher end of the bike market, it’s a lot easier to do things right and convince they buyer it’s worth it than to do things half way and try to get your buyer to care about value. Zipp’s ill fated Flashpoint experiment makes the perfect example. They made the mistake of saying that a less than optimal, and slightly heavier, carbon layup allowed them to cut the price in half without compromising strength or aerodynamics. I have never actually seen a pair on the road, while the 404 is almost coming to be seen as a training wheel.
You know, one thing I have learned over the years is that there are people that *do* and people that *don’t*. Those that don’t love nothing more than to sit back and comment on those that do.
I have been riding in the ‘this is what I do’ sense since I was 14, so that makes it close to 30 years. I have spent over a decade in and around the industry and the past 4 of those years were spent running, designing and project managing for a MTB company. It never ceases to amaze me how the internet increasingly brings out people that just want to argue endlessly about stuff, and it seems cyclists are prime suspects in this.
Maybe it’s because cyclists are a little self obsessed (nature of the activity) or maybe it’s just a reflection of society on the whole these days. Either way it becomes tedious and drull and spoils what could be interesting discourse across the internet. If one thinks they can do, or know better, then go do it and put everyone in their place, otherwise just smile and wave…
Gerard, the last comment by Art is spot-on. This is definitely a frame that will sell to ‘Freds’ and no one wants to be on a $5,000 + bike (based on the groupo) and answer to “really? you think the rear stays make the bike look like the GT frame that you just sold on eBay for $100 – no I don’t think it does – it a design feature to save the manufacturer money”.
Who wants to say that? When the bike sits next to Colnago’s and Pinarello’s at the coffee shop.
Jacob Haim's RaceBRAID Bike Features a Frame Woven From Carbon Fibers | Inhabitat - Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building
Art- you say “…frame design reached an optimal solution…”
When you say optimal, I say optimized for what? If you optimize for one parameter, do you not necessarily sacrifice another? If you consider only price, strength, and weight, you will probably come up with a different solution than if you also consider various aspects of aesthetics, ride quality, ease- speed- or efficiency- of manufacture, impact on the waste stream (both pre- and post- manufacture), or who knows what other factors.
Before getting too caught up in whether Jacob’s project was successful, perhaps you should ask what his priorities were.
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