The fact that the Robot Bike Co launch was held at a super high-tech engineering company headquarters in the Gloucester countryside gave us a clue that this was no ordinary bike, or company.
Robot Bike Co
Most new bike companies start life in small, dark workshops or industrial units, powered by a passion for bikes, engineering and usually lots of tea and biscuits. (See feature on Starling Bikes….Link) Robot Bike Co is a little bit different though, because whilst it was started by a group of friends (Ben Farmer, Ed Haythornthwaite, Andy Hawkins and Ben Robarts-Arnold ) with a shared love for bikes and engineering, they managed to assemble a dream team of multi-million pound companies, (Altair, HiETA Technologies, Renishaw) all leaders in their fields to help develop and bring to market something different in the R160.
The concept is simple, but the execution is anything but. They want to create the best possible mountain bike, bespoke for the customer, regardless of cost, and without compromise. Using a rider’s anthropometry (body measurements in plain English) Robot Bike Co will create what should be the perfect bike for that rider, with every tube length and frame measurement being totally custom and unique. The process could not be simpler either, simply go to the website, enter your critical measurements into their handy spreadsheet and it will return with what Robot Bike Co believe are your ideal numbers for a hard charging 160mm travel enduro bike. Oh…. and we almost forgot. You will also have to pay £4395 (frame, not whole bike) and then wait 4 weeks for your custom creation to be delivered.
So, what do you get for just shy of four and a half grand then?
The R160 frame is totally unique in its appearance and the way it is manufactured. You also get the latest creation from legendary suspension wizard, Dave Weagle in the form of the new DW6 suspension layout, which is basically a 4-bar design with an extra linkage above and behind the bottom bracket. Apparently Dave Weagle has had this up his sleeve for some time but was waiting for the right project to debut it on. When Robot bike Co came along, he not only agreed to develop the idea for the new bike, but believed in it so much that he became a share holder as well.
The frame is made up of lugs which are effectively the junctions between the raw carbon tubes that make up the shape of the frame. The interesting part is the way these lugs are manufactured, using cutting edge technology, and sure to get the nerds out there sweating into their laptops. They use a process called ‘Titanium Additive Manufacturing’ which is apparently somewhat different to 3D printing, but to the layperson like me, seems to basically be 3D printing in titanium!
All of the lugs are created in this way out of a super light and strong titanium powder material, giving the bike its slightly industrial look without the industrial weight penalty. The carbon tubes are then bonded (engineer talk for glued) into the lugs with a large amount of overlap creating a seriously strong structure, that easily passed all of the stress tests applied to it. Robot Bike Co are so confident that they offer a lifetime guarantee on the frame.
The frame is designed to be widely compatible with what most people already ride, helping to keep the cost down for buyers who may swap parts over to the new bike to save cash. It has a 12x142mm rear axle and threaded bottom bracket, with 160mm of rear travel. The full bikes at the launch were available for short rides around the carpark, and lots of bouncing up and down was done by all the media who were present. Whilst numbers were not specifically given it appeared to be bang on trend with a slack head angle, 27.5 wheels and a long top tube.
Obviously with a bike like this, the proof is in the riding, and given the science, effort, engineering and of course passion behind it we really can’t wait! Would you drop over £4k on a custom frame or is this total madness? Let us know over on Facebook! Or head over to www.robotbike.co for more information.