When we got the invite to see the official launch of Robot Bike Co we had a feeling we were going to see something innovative and exciting, but not to this extent
So, what’s Robot Bike Co then? Our invite suggested a new bike brand, built in the UK, a full suspension frame with a new DW linkage and some 3D printing! We couldn’t miss that so I headed over to Renishaw in Gloucester for the great unveiling of the new brand.
Walking into the Renishaw Global HQ it was re-assuring to see the RobotBikeCo branding, I really could have turned around thinking I was in the wrong place. This wasn’t your regular cycle trade launch, something different was clearly going on here.
But I’ll cut to the chase. Robot Bike Co is a new UK bike brand who have produced a full suspension frame using additive manufacturing (3D printing) and frankly; it’s rad.
So who are Robot Bike Co? Well essentially they are Ed Haythornthwaite. You’ve almost definitely heard of Ed, we have certainly known him for some time. Ed’s been in the industry for a long time working in shops, on the World Cup DH circuit and as many will know him by; the technical editor at Dirt Magazine. Ed met his partners when at Bath Uni and they each went on to have different careers before coming back to what was just a pipe dream back at Uni. What was this dream? In a nutshell; to make the best mountain bike frames possible.
To break it down into simple construction, the new R160 is built using two main materials. First is the additive manufactured Titanium joints of the bike followed by Carbon tubing. Joining forces with some global engineering companies Robot Bike Co have had some serious muscle behind them to create their finished product with some top knowledge and expertise which is out of reach for most starters in business.
Out of the magic machine comes 2500 layers of titanium dust hit by a precision Lazer to create the components.
We have seen carbon tubing bonded to lugs before in cycling, but it wasn’t until additive manufacturing came about that the lugs have been able to be produced allowing the tubing to slot inside bonding both sides of the material.
Each component is then meticulously worked over by machines to make sure the tolerances are spot on before machining out the bearing surfaces. There is no room for error here, every part will have been created perfectly.
Over to the linkage. Robot had many thoughts about creating their own suspension design, but decided to spare no room for error and head to arguably the most successful man in the cycle trade when it comes to suspension design, Mr Dave Weagle. Dave has created suspension linkages way ahead of their time and has proven himself time and time again with the DW link suspension system, made famous by the Iron Horse Sunday which to date, could be the best DH bike ever built of its time.
The new linkage is named the DW6. The main difference from the widely used DW link is the extra pivot point on the seat stay. We haven’t had a ride with this yet, but on paper its suggested that this could be the next big thing for suspension design.
The finished product once bonded together shows no magic, nothing hidden. My favourite highlight of the bike is just this, its honest engineering.
So what’s so different about this frame? why is this manufacturing process so good? The main point this boils down to is sizing. Ed believes that sizing is one of the foremost important aspects to your own bike. With many brands only offering just a few size options (because of carbon mould costings) can you really get a bike which fits you perfectly? Ed doesn’t think so, so born is the idea of completely custom bikes from Robot Bike Co.
There is no small, medium or large option here. No base model to create your choice from, this is a fully custom fit bike.
Using some impressive software based on the Robot website, Robot are able to a sieve through a whopping 225720 geometry alterations in just 20 seconds to build your bike, specific for you. This software is all it takes to have to create the fit ready to roll into manufacturing.
The basic gist of the geometry is not Gemmetro crazy, but on trend. 65.5 degree head angle, 439mm seat stays and a 10mm drop on the BB below axle height.
Furthermore, you can visit the factory in Wye Valley to take a bike out on a test track and dial your geo and sizing in even further with Ed himself. This isn’t a brand sitting in the background, you can call them up, meet them, view the factory and see it all coming together. You don’t need to gain advice from someone who has learned the lingo, these are the actual men creating the product.
The 3D printing process allows for the product to be refined down to it’s bare minimum without compromising on strength. Refinement which just cant be created to the same degree with tubing from CNC machining.
Lets talk cost, this isn’t cheap, or, relatively speaking, is it? Where can you buy a full custom sized, full suspension frame using materials like carbon and titanium. The answer is you can’t, so what do you compare it to? As an example look at a Trek Session Carbon frame, it retails at £4500 but comes in four sizes and has a limited warranty. Did I mention that Robot Bike frames come with a life warranty. Yep. LIFE!
The Robot Bike Co R160 frame has a price tag of £4395.
Refined through and through. Every nook and cranny has been optimised for strength and reduced weight. Frame weight is just under 7Lbs with shock, Robot have made sure that this bike built to last, but with a competitive weight. Full builds are not available just yet, but they will be soon.
Notice how thin the IS brake mount it, daring or precision engineering? We hope it to be the later but time will tell. IS is almost an older standard for bikes now, but Robot didn’t want to have any threads in the frame which could be stripped, something which can easily ruin a frame. The only thread is the BB, in a nice standard size.
Each frame will be shipped with the Park Tool internal cable routing kit, making life that little bit easier.
DW6 is here.
Ed, standing proud with the first lovingly crafted bike of the Robot Bike Co. Their next project (tbc) will be a 120mm(ish) 29er frame but long term Robot aim to produce a fleet of bikes and have a dream to put together a DH bike to take on the World Cup circuit.
If you are after a no compromise bike, this is the one for you. There isn’t anything else on the market which offers the complete package that Robot Bike Co do. Dig deep into your pockets, but rest reassured you will end up with quite possibly the best mountain bike ever made, for you.
Used to be quick. PhD, and Chartered Engineer with a taste for carbon and titanium. Ben has spent years as an aerospace engineer, materials scientist and inventor and is now putting all that to good use engineering our frames.
Dedicated to improving leisure through science. A lover of dirt, acceleration, wheels, people, dogs and music.
Inspiration for our company name, bike loving mechanical engineer with a sensible chip making sure all the tricky bits and pieces come together as they should.
Industrial designer, spent a career in F1 and aerospace developing additive manufacturing technologies. Now its time to apply those skills to something I love.
Frame builder, World Cup Downhill mechanic, Technical Editor at Dirt Magazine, Racer…Ed lives and breathes bikes and has done pretty much since the day he was born.
Product designer/CAD wizard/bike nut/problem solver, and with an impressive background in the aerospace industry Rob is a more than welcome first addition to the team.