Friday, July 11, 2008

Where Do We Go Now?

This is a bit of a rhetorical question, I suppose.

These frames couldn't be more different, couldn't be more the same. Victims of parallel evolution. The first one is made by a small company in Texas, features seatstay brakes, comes in 20.5/20.75/21, weighs five pounds:


The second one here is made by (or at least for) a small company in Scotland, features seatstay brakes (the frame pictured is a prototype), built-in seatpost clamp, comes in 20.5/20.8/21/21.2, weighs 4.9 pounds (although the production model may weigh less than that) I was entertained by them being "so happy with how it handles" since it's just another 74.5/71/13.75" frame. Um, so, like nearly every other frame on the market?:


Like Axl says, where do we go now?

Weight has been the main selling factor for frames for years, all that's been driven into our collective heads is "lighter is better, lighter is better." Well, how much lighter can we go? Toptubes can only be dropped so low, tubing can only be butted so much, dropouts can only be made so small and so thin. (Have you seen the dropouts on the Eddie Cleveland frame?) And drilling holes is—or at least should be—out of the question.

So, what's next? Will most frames be like skateboard decks, differing only in colors and graphics? Will removable mounts and guides become the norm? Will weight always be the deciding factor? Are companies using butted seatstays yet?

Just some stuff to think about.

P.S. Sorry so late today. Damn Fridays.

EDIT: Please do not take this as a plea to go back to 1998. I'm not interested in a return to eight-pound frames and triple walls. However, it was cool when you could recognize a frame from a block away—whether it was because of something as major as the Kink Revision B's multiple piercings or something as minor as the classic Standard gusset. Oh well, at least we still have Sunday.

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

just to be like those Come Up goofballs:
"FIrst!"

gsport george said...

Unfortunately the majority of bicycle design is done by slow evolutionary steps and trial and error. BITD we learnt to stress our frames by riding street and ramps and trails harder and harder, far faster than bike companies could (or wanted to) develop the bikes. Rider owned companies over reacted and we rode tanks (that still broke, but it took longer) and now we are chasing the dragon of weight saving.... It seems likely that this WILL go too far and take time to reign back but there probably isnt a way round it. Until someone wants to strap a million strain gauges onto a bike and have riders frontflip it down steps and tailwhip it backwards over the moon it is a nightmare to try to calculate what is strong "enough" so trial and error is about all we have left to us... My feeling is that around 5lbs is a sensible lower limit for a frame. I reckon it CAN be strong "enough" at that level (and at least to my mind is light "enough"), getting much lower than that is going to need more than just incremental shaving of existing designs...

Russ said...

Thanks, George. I agree with that assessment.

But dammit, I wanted you in the Resurrection post!

Anonymous said...

rev b's were awesome.
43/16 @ 13.5"
the luggage rack aka pierced top tube?!?!
8 lb's of urban assault vehicle!

Anonymous said...

Well let's not forget that integrated headsets, Spanish bottom brackets, and removable brake mounts have all come about pretty recently. There is probably still some room left for innovation...I'm not clever enough to think of what it is though.

Stephen said...

removable dropouts.

you heard it here first.

Drew K said...

Removable brake mounts are stupid imo. 5 pounds is a solid weight for a frame, I'll run nothing that weighs less. And Liquor bikes kick ass! Texas Bitches!

robbiemorale'smoustache said...

we'll all be riding the new fit "paradise city" frame in 2009. it shows up with the fit rider of your choice with a costume kit and they do the riding for your credit. i've already got some lines at the trails for justin inman to do for me. while he does the riding, i'll be drinking a margarita made in the included blender. no worries about angles or weights, just about running out of ice, or if my flip flops blow out.

Anonymous said...

5lb is fine

just wish companies made more effort with how it looks, like barcode rear ends and standard gussets etc, something a bit differnet you know

shea said...

haven't you already made this post?

Anonymous said...

A far more interesting and relevant post would be: Why the fuck are Odyssey's hubs so pish?

Smitty said...

The realization came to me when dropouts all became micro-sized a couple of years ago: BMX frames are evolving to sameness, like skateboard decks did at the end of the 80's and into the 90's. This is just a theory: Yes, there is a current, overly exhuberant lightweight craze, but the milling and drilling that is going into some of today's frames is really just a stab at product differentiation. Not all that different from when Thruster and Profile welded an extra tube into the front triangle BITD.

http://bmxmuseum.com/bikes/thruster/image26

http://bmxmuseum.com/bikes/profile/8661

Yes, that extra tube was goofy, but so what? It lent the bike some distinction. I don't remember anybody at the track getting teased about having an extra tube in their Profile frame - but then again, there was no such thing as anonymous posting to a message board then, either. Makes it easier.

Here's a proposal for the kids in the room (I'm pretty sure most of the adults can get behind it): any frame that weighs 5.X lbs can be considered light enough, and anything a company does to make their frame different from everybody else's, short of drilling out frame tubes, can be appreciated - not ridiculed.

Oh, and I liked the post from Robbo's stache...

Anonymous said...

Both of the 2 Liquor frames look different, are different weights, different geometries, and colors. Yes this one might be similar to other frames out there, but the fact that its a Liquor exempts it from every other brand in existence.

Russ said...

I like the Liquor guys. Well, I like Jed, who's the only Liquor guy I've met. I'd ride one of the OG ones.

Anonymous said...

what makes people think it's a good idea to start a BMX company right now?

Anonymous said...

BSD are a great bike company, and have been going for years (a big feat for a BMX company from scotland). I aint gunna get into the frame, but check them out anyway. BSD Forever!

Anonymous said...

fixed rear wheels on a removable bolt on dropout. never have to worry about a loose chain or crooked wheel again..

Russ said...

My Spooky downhill bike had removable dropouts. Someone could definitely do a frame made to accept one specific gear ratio (say, 28/10 or 25/9) with the tiniest possible slots.

Anonymous said...

Russ what do you think of the superstar new deal v2?

Russ said...

Don't know much about them—not sure if I've ever even seen a Superstar in real life. That said, I'm not a huge fan of that bolt-through-the-toptube internal seatpost clamp idea.

Anonymous said...

I just got one yesterday and thought to my self ' i wonder what that gut thinks of them' ha!

G.S.GUCCILIFE said...

Im waiting for frames with crimpled tubes.....

Jeff said...

I love Sunday. If their frames can stand up to Mike Hoder I feel pretty safe on one since I don't do anything close to 3's down 28 sets. They also feel rad, I like the geo on them a lot.

I'm not stoked on the new colours though, if I get one of the New Wave frames I'm getting it painted charcoal grey like my OG.

Anonymous said...

xx.25/xx.75 = 25:9/28:10 specific rear end (4t difference so both are same length)

cov said...

Companies should join together and buy the same frames from taiwan(because most frames are pretty much the same) in bigger orders, then just paint/sticker em differently. if a few companies came together they could buy a shitload, save money, then sell em cheaper.

Anonymous said...

yeah. i like the bolt on dropout idea, it would make annoying rear wheel alignment a thing of the past. less time fuckin around and more time riding.. sounds good to me.

Anonymous said...

i miss individualistic frames as much as anyone, but, with few exceptions, they all were designed by caprice.

someone would have to possess an extremely unique style of riding in order that they could legitimately claim that most modern frames failed to suit their needs.

they're all light, they don't break with excessive frequency, there is a variety of geometries available, and there exist legitimate warrantees.

they can't all be kink fiends.

Jeff said...

UK bike Co's new frame looks... Interesting. Tiny short seat tube, seat post clamp in the top tube and 3.5 pounds of steel. Here's a link with more info. http://www.bmx-forum.com/showthread.php?t=115485

Smitty said...

A lifetime guarantee on a 3.5 lb frame? How's that work? If you lose your life on this frame, we'll get you a new one?

daz. said...

I think the next lot of 'innovation' that we'll see in bmx frames is going to come through material science - there's going to be more effort being put into the actual methods of manufacture and in things like heat treatment.

Anonymous said...

I think theres a fine line to be found in going too light and it will be crossed in 2009 by someone. What else is there to gain in going lighter than making you a total weak pussy. I miss the days when everyones forearms compared to Troy Mcmurray and bmx riders were just as tough as their bikes. 2009= year of the pussy

bobby p said...

if 2009 is the year of the pussy, im pretty sure that 70% of all bmxers are starting out the year about 6 months too early.

Russ said...

I don't care how you heat-treat steel and how unbreakable it is, when it gets to a certain thinness, it's going to dent no matter what. Which will weaken the frame.

Sure, you could move to aluminum alloys or titanium, I suppose, but then frames will get awfully expensive. How light do you want to go, and how much are you willing to spend to get there?

Anonymous said...

why shouldn't bike frames become more like skate decks? the functional geometry has been pretty much nailed now

I'm pretty sure a 3.5lbs frame will flex like fuck though

Anonymous said...

"I was entertained by them being "so happy with how it handles" since it's just another 74.5/71/13.75" frame. Um, so, like nearly every other frame on the market?"

In fairness to BSD, even frames with the same geometry can ride differently, just due to the distribution of weight in the frame from how it's been made (Like a frame with butted tubing in the rear triangle would have a slightly front heavier feel if it was all straight gauge tubing elsewhere), so it's legit that they might be 'happy with how it rides'? It's also ironic that you mention Sunday, seeing as all their frames (so far) have featured stock BMX geometry. I was really hoping with the Ian Schwartz signature frame they might've mixed it up a bit, but it appears that that's only going to happen to a minor extent with the 'Funday' frame.

Anonymous said...

unless the human body for some odd reason changes, geometry won't stray much from what it has evolved to at this point. and, companies differentiate their frames now with different braces and such, not any different than ridiculous gusseting and piercing. except everyone hates on companies because making "unique" braces for the sake of making "unique" braces is considered "gay as fuck."

skaters don't think companies are "gay as fuck" because the same deck comes with different graphics. bmx companies are in a no win situation because the majority of BMXers young and old are generally "gay as fuck."

Russ said...

I can get with unique braces that appear somewhat functional. I kind of dug the "NJ" in Van's frame and the anchor in Stricker's.

Some of them just seem forced and useless, though, like that globe on the Mankind (although I liked the Brewers logo), and the dollar sign on the Ends.

Anonymous said...

the dollar sign on the ends represents everything that is good about bmx.

you represent everything feminine and moany.

also his blog is the shit

Russ said...

Enns's blog most certainly is the shit. I'll agree with that.

Anonymous said...

yep, much more than the basic geometry can change the feel of a frame especially bottom bracket height, diameter of tubes used and even surprisingly the height of the toptube.

Anonymous said...

bottom bracket height and top tube height (standover) aren't considered part of the basic geometry? Diameter of the tubes, I'm guessing you are alluding "stiffness" differences. That is pretty insignificant and more of a head game, like a half a degree in the head tube, get the fuck out of hear, tolerances aren't that tight in the first place.

Anonymous said...

"get the fuck out of hear??"

"tolerances aren't that tight in the first place" - you'd be surprised

half a degree angle on a headtube makes a lot of difference, have you tried it?

Anonymous said...

also BB height is a consideration to some people, do you even ride??

Anonymous said...

again - stiffness a head game?? what the hell are you on about, have you ridden a flexy frame??

Anonymous said...

DUDE FACE IT YOU JUST HATE ON HOLES. HOLES WERE IN BMX IN THE EARLIEST DAYS, USED ON RACE CARS, PLANES ECT. YOU JUST HATE HOLES CAUSE GIRLS WONT GIVE YOU ANY? HOLE FRAMES ARE THE FUTURE AS THERE IS NO OTHER WAY TO SAVE WEIGHT AFTER ALL OTHER TRICKS ARE USED UP.HOLES ARE STRONG. HITMANS FRAME FOR EXAMPLE IS KILLER SHIT, YOU JUST HATE HOLES BRO

Noel said...

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http://thecomeupbmx.net/