Artefact X NMW: Metal Bike Renaissance

This year (2024) I am working on a new bike project: Artefact. It is the culmination of everything I have learned in the last 2-3 years of building and designing bikes. I am “launching” it at Philly Bike Expo (Mid March). I am building these bikes with Nick out of the NMW shop!

I don’t know exactly where this project will lead, nor its commercial viability, but I felt that the bike industry, bike designs, components, and framebuilding needs some new perspectives: a metal bike renaissance

I have a lot of projects cooking: rim brake road bikes, EC37 headsets, custom dropouts, DM brakes, CNC yokes, custom tubes, etc… and I’ll use this thread to provide updates. Mostly photos, since words are hard for me :rofl:

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Custom EC37 Headtubes


Randoms




Chainstay Disaster

I spent an entire day trying to miter chainstays the traditional way. I admit I have been spoiled by 3D-printed yokes. Doing it in titanium did not help. RIP one pair if chainstays.

90deg head on the bridgeport:




Nick welding a giant stay to a tiny dropout:



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I will see you there

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Awesome! What ever happened with your tapered 1 1/4" carbon forks?

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Still working on it, projects like that take time and a lot of $$$. I am heading to Taiwan next month, part of the reason is to scope out carbon forks!

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Please make the clearance huge and keep the anything mounts absent!

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Finished the build!




Thoughts:

The frame build had some hiccups: First time building a titanium frame, traditional stays, quick release, rim brake, etc… A big thanks to @Neuhaus_Metalworks for welding up the frame. Welding Titanium is way out of my league right now.

EC37:




So far so good with the custom headtubes. I think for the next revision I am going to bump the wall thickness to 40mm. Since I am making hte headsets too, I can modify the design to make sure it all matches up!

Chainstays:


The CS to dropout weld/miter was the most stressful part of the design. There is not enough wiggle room on the Paragon 1.125 QR dropout. I don’t like how the1.5 DR

I think there needs to be a 1.25 QR dropout design, but I need more traction on this project to introduce a new hanger into the world.

I had to reach out to some friends in China and Taiwan to obtain a 22.2 and 25.4 tapered (to 16mm) chainstay to land it on the dropout. Even then, the space was tight! Luckily Nick was able to skill fully navigate the welds


Paint [TBD]

Paint is still the pain point of custom framebuilding. We are going to try a cerakote + raw finish. Ironically, when you factor in the cost of paint, a titanium frame is cheaper than a painted steel frame. I have a few mockups, but I don’t want to spoil the PBE bike!

Future stuff:

Building the bike was difficult, but the bigger challenge was to create a beautiful, marketable, engineered bike that was efficient to manufacture.

There are things that I still want to improve:

  • slightly shorter chainstays (410CS)
  • bigger, custom dropouts. Likely 1.25in diameter
  • In-house finishing
  • new direct mount rim brake standard

Will this bike be enough to bring back the pure road bike? Or will it flop? At least I tried!

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What’s the tyre clearance again? I feel like pure road in metal bike is all but dead but all-road / road plus / gravel certainly aint.

This is the most compelling argument yet! Love the head tube shape.

I just want thru axle rim brake road. I will never understand why road took such a hard stance on disk and thru axle being exclusively tied together.

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Clearance: 700x32 max

That is certainly the gamble. All-road/gravel is hot, but it is a saturated market. Road bikes have evolved into niche race bikes which are fun to ride, but are expensive, hard to maintain, and not easy to fit. That leaves an opening for a very simple, sub $3000 road bike complete. Obviously, not going to get to that price point with a custom titanium frame, but this is a proof of concept to pursue a botique production frame in steel.

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Nice. Honestly 70x32 sounds about right for a comfort road bike. It’s just a hard sell when everyone is being told they need either carbon fiber or disc brakes or fatter tyres (or all of the above). I’m trying to think what options are out there on the wide tyre (+30mm) rim brake road market right now.

Also the Surly Pacer was avaliable until 2018 (rim brake, 700 x 32) but discontinued in place of the Midnight Special (disc brake, fat 650b). Never rode a Pacer but always liked the look of them.

In low trail/650b rim brake there are many more options such as the Brother Mr Wooden, Velo Orange Rando and any number of offerings from Crust but you’re defo getting away from pure road there.

Anyway, if the above bikes are selling well then I could see a market for a domesically produced comfort road bike. Especially at the pricepoint you’ve mentioned. I guess it all comes down to the marketing. Interested to see how you go!

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Looks awesome! Copywriter here with an annoying spellcheck for you: renaissance

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I wanted to highlight some of the graphic design work my friend AJ did. It was a very fun process because we speak the same language (art), but our mediums are different. I work in 3D and numbers, she works with colors and shapes. She has the skills and knowledge I simply don’t possess!

Design Goals:

I wanted the aesthetic vibes to be timeless, moody, dark, and sophisticated. There were also technical limitations:

  • the headtube badge had to be laser-cuttable
  • the typography had to be legible on a tube
  • the graphics needed to have surface area so vinyl masks could withstand sandblasting and paint

This is as far as I got on my own, not bad, not good either:

AJ’s Drafts:




Finished Product

It’s cool to see how she works and the tools and language she uses to describe the designs. I learned a bunch, which was the biggest prize.

The market for fancy titanium and steel bikes is 40+ years old. With that in mind, I threw it all out the window and picked a bold, youthful aesthetic. After all, the future is in younger people.




The real magic is how effortlessly the colors, designs, and motifs can be combined, even by a complete noob, to look professional:




In real life:

I am still playing around with the placement of the downtube logos. I wanted the giant downtube logo, but for Philly Bike Expo, I needed the branding to be legible!


This was my first time using Fusion360 renders to test out paint schemes:



Conclusions

It was awesome working with AJ. She is a professional graphic designer for a cycling clothing company, and it shows! I’m stoked that we were able to come up with something unique. The brand now shows the boldness and energy that I need to make it successful!

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I’m into it. Head tube logo looks like some kinda ancient rune/carving. Could be a neat idea to get that milled/engraved rather than using a badge. You see it a lot on Ti frames but even on painted steel it looks pretty sharp if done right. Also means the logo will survive a few paint jobs.

https://www.instagram.com/p/C3PwdMVMU8I/?hl=en&img_index=1

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Very very nice. Looks great.

@Daniel_Y Can I buy a shirt at PBE?

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Yes! If I get around to it by then :rofl:

I am also giving a talk on Sunday about bike manufacturing in Taiwan!

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I will be at the show Saturday and spending St Pats day out and about in Philly.
Hope to go to Paddy pub.

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Would be nice to have that recorded and made available for who is interested but cannot be in Philly

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