From a short career spent designing buildings, I know the design process can instill a feeling dread. The sheer number of choices one faces, and decisions that have to be made, can be overwhelming. I set out to design a semi-upright randonneur with BIG comfortable wheels. I have the Shimano disk brakes and Alfine drive train on my Mongoose to play with, and might one day swap the hub for a Rholloff. Despite the big wheels, I was aiming for stand-over clearance not in excess of 800mm, that is, the length of my own inside leg .
Exhibit 1: the somewhat Art Nouveau style bike (left), by former NAHMBS winner Naked Bicycles and Design, commissioned by Shimano to make the best use of their Alfine equipment. With 700c wheels and slack angles, it does fit my brief. Exhibit 2: the Civia Loring, another such bike, with ample cargo capacity, even if it does have small wheels. 1 + 2 = give up, it’s been done. Or does it?
Each of those bikes (how should I say this?) is, um, Appalachian in character. There’s no way around this: they are for men who marry their cousins. They is f___ing hillbilly bikes, and I would not be seen riding either!!! My vision is of a bike with a horizontal top tube, yet still with generous stand over, achieved without resorting to bent tubes, because men in suits, in cities, in the 1940s, did not ride bikes with bent tubes. They rode cool manly bikes, like the one I’ve designed.
The Behooving Moving Quotidian: Australia’s "for-life" about town bike. Inspiration for the triple yoke forks.
Indeed, I have ended my long weekend on a high, having struck on the idea of superimposing the two bikes I was working on 4 days ago. The result is a design providing fabulous rigidity in the core zone, yet vertical compliance out near the axles. Since I ride an upright bike daily, my coccyx can attest to the jolts that seat stays shoot to a rider’s buttocks when all their weight rests on their seat. This design alleviates that, with mixtie bars instead of seat stays, that point to the head tube. Another problem with big, long wheel-base bikes, is the vastness of the front triangle. I’ve noticed my Velorbis starts twisting and swimming when I give it a short burst of power. A frame divided into no fewer than 5 small triangles in elevation, and having the width of a mixtie when viewed in plan, will overcome the big bike swim—if I may name such a stroke. As for my target height for the top tube, I’ve come in well below 800mm, despite the big tires. My fascination with chopper style forks centers on the anchorage points these provide at the front, something standard forks don’t accommodate nearly as well. I also worry about fork crowns snapping or bending from the kinds of abuses I plan to inflict.
The unpainted critical regionalist "Australian" aesthetic has still not changed since I posted these shots a week ago.
All I need now is for CB King to weave some magic with cast lugs and top shelf stainless tubing, and we might be looking at a NAHMBS best in show entry!