Sunday, June 20, 2010

The BikeNüt road bike

Occasionally a fellow cyclist will stop next to me at a red traffic light and ask me a question or two about my bike. It’s only natural, since there are no logos or decals on the frame. A couple of times in the past, after pondering about the naked carbon frame, a look of recognition appeared in their eyes: “BikeNüt, isn’t it?” They cared nothing for the brand but zeroed in on the attitude that was apparent from the way the bike was assembled, the care for the best and lightest equipment and accessories, and even the determination to pull all the stops to make it the best with what was available. It was clear to them that it was more than a bike, it was a manifesto.
Every bicycle that comes out of the shop represents the end result of a series of considerations, rather than a quick purchase off the racks. This series begins with an interest in the way bikes are designed and work, follows with an understanding of the objectives and design of the essential components, continues with constant research to keep up with the available technology, and even requires a certain amount of discipline, to remain focused on the goal and not be distracted by the ads and stream of new gear that appear on bicycle magazines.
That was what my bike said to those two fellow cyclists. But now, we’ve ratcheted up the attitude: we have our own BikeNüt bike. Feel free to ask around, it’s rather unusual for a bike shop to produce their own carbon-fiber frame.

The new BikeNüt monocoque frame comes out of the same manufacturing facility in Asia that produces bicycles for Specialized, Bianchi, Storck, and BH, among others. They know what they’re doing, but we have our own requirements. First among them is the quality of construction, such as top-notch materials and manufacturing technology: leaving aside the techno speak, if you insert a finger inside the tubes, you’ll feel their inner smoothness, without any stray fibers, witness to a careful layering and curing process.
Then there is the frame stiffness: every pedal turn counts and we don’t want to disperse any energy when the frame twists under a sudden load. But, with stiffness, we also want comfort. By now designers know how to build a stiff bike, beef up the bottom bracket, make the down tube massive, and design a head tube that will simply not bend. Often, however, the result is that every minuscule asperity on the road rattles the rider’s bones. We don’t like that. The seat stays in our frame are slender and graceful. In contrast with every other part of the frame, they are also compliant and absorb the shock of the bumps and crevices that populate our marvelous roads.

We wanted the frame to be stiff, but we wanted it also to be light. It is. Despite the size of the frame tubes, it is as light as all of the other extremely light race frames the peloton rides these days, such as the Team RaboBank Giant TRC Advanced SL we also carry in our shop.

To increase the lightness further without harm to the frame’s stiffness, the standard for the bottom bracket is the BB30, which allows a growing number of cranksets to be installed (as in the case of the SRAM Force pictured above) and a better fit between rider and bike.
The size of the head tube is 1 1/2 “.

This is all about the standard specs for this bike. All of the rest can be customized. This is not another iteration of “you can have it any color you want it as long as it is black.” You can literally have it any color or any finish you want it. Or, if your body dimensions require it to take advantage of every watt of power it can produce, you can even modify the frame’s geometry. Want a longer top tube? It can be done. Need another fork? Of course. Any other requirements? I’m sure we can meet them.

Do we really need another bike? Aren’t there enough manufacturers? Is this just the result of vanity? Yes, no, and definitely not. Most of the available bikes on the market, because of their size and goals can only offer a limited amount of options. If you manufacture bikes on an industrial scale, you can’t make everybody happy all of the time. It takes industrial manufacturers about three years to produce a new bike that takes advantage of the latest technology and responds to the changes in the market and new requirements by riders.
On the other hand, we don’t have such limitations: as far as we are concerned, the age of industrial standardization is over. We can pretty much tailor every new bike to a particular customer. In addition to that, we can offer a new bike at a surprising value. You won’t believe it.

 Just come by to the shop, and you’ll find out just how good a value. Just a finishing touch: you won't see the new frame, finished with a clear coat to show the integrity of the carbon-fiber weave, plastered with decals. But we couldn't resist showing off our new logo.

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