You might not have heard of Antidote but they have been making hand-made carbon fibre frames since 2011 and have just updated their Carbonjack.
Pete caught up with the guys at Antidote about their new Carbonjack 150mm travel, 29″ wheeled beauty to see what goes into making a carbon fibre frame in Poland.
What was the impetus to updating the Carbonjack?
After 5 years, we decided to push the Carbonjack onto new wheels because of what we felt were the market’s needs.
How many people are involved in bringing the idea from concept to prototype?
We have 11 people working at the company. These people are making the designs, tech drawings and kinematics.
The nice thing, from our point of view is that we make mostly everything in-house, so we start with the idea, then do all the drawings and kinematics of suspensions (FDS which is on our Carbonjack and Noster Kinetics in Darkmatter)
We have our CNC machine so we cut the carbon fibre molds and cut every small piece of carbon and lay it in the molds in-house too.
Finally, we have a dedicated painting room where we paint frames. Interestingly, we are a specialist in custom painting frames. I guess 70% of our frames are custom painted for customers. You can choose that option on our website when you buy the frame set.
Has that process changed over the years?
From the very beginning, we were looking for solutions enabling us to seamlessly combine art and a sleek design with cutting edge technology. We’re talking about suspension systems and geometry, but also about top-tier materials.
We started working on our original frame in 2008. In 2011 we introduced our very first carbon fibre frame, Lifeline. When we’re talking about the tech and organisation itself, well, we started with just three people on board and passion for the project.
Now, eleven people are working every day to deliver the highest quality and performance to the bikers community. What’s more, we’re cutting molds and aluminium parts in house, ensuring one of the most robust quality control systems in the market. To keep up with our designers’ and engineers’ ideas we are constantly investing and improving our machine park – they want to create performance art, we want to enable.
Also, a little hint and wink to the readers, in 2020 we focus on R&D and we’re working on something really big and special. Stay tuned, it’s gonna be awesome
Where did the inspiration for the new bike come from?
We wanted to make a kind of “new design line” for our new Carbonjack and future projects. So in the coming years you will see more bikes with design similar to new Carbonjack.
What did the bike packing range borrow from existing bikes, if anything, or was it a ‘from the ground up’ design?
Our assumption was to keep some of Antidote unique features, and as we written above to have a new design.
An important unique feature for us is a FDS suspension in enduro/trail bikes and unique shock mount which is turned 90 degrees. We have been using using FDS suspension design since 2010 and we doesn’t copy this kind of suspension from German brands like some people post on social media.
What are your priorities when designing the bike?
The most important priorities was a balanced geometry which gives an optimal position on bike. That’s why we made our Golden Ratio Geomtery.
“Golden Ratio Geometry” is the best overall geometry that we have ever designed. We feel that because the proportions between the front and rear triangles are most effective for the type of riding the Carbonjack is designed for. Our special balance distribution between the „Front Center” to „Chainstay” means better rider mass distribution, it doesn’t matter whether you are climbing or descending. The new Carbonjack geometry gives the rider confidence to progress.
Second thing was kinematics similar to our previous Carbonjack. We wanted a bike that was active under braking, pedal efficient with no feedback, super small bump sensitivity, a low center of gravity and inline shock compression.
What did you know you did and didn’t want to do with this bike?
We had a clear goal to make a bike with balanced geometry (Golden Ratio Geomtery) and with low centre of gravity in combination with 175 mm cranks.
We didn’t want to have super long bike and it was not easy to design it with our suspension design.
How did you decide you wanted the carbon fibre and your chosen linkage?
We have made carbon frames in-house since 2011. During 2011, when almost all bike companies were outsourcing their manufacturing to Asia, we started to produce first carbon fibre frames in their hometown of Kraków, Poland. We also developed their own carbon technology and material which is a combination of carbon and Vectran fibers. This combination is mainly used to strengthen the downtube, making it so resilient that the additional protection becomes obsolete.
Since our first projects we have focused a lot on suspension design. We chose our FDS linkage which has been on our bikes since 2007. Of course it should be combined with 29” wheels but the main design is these same.
How did you choose your wheel size?
It was quite easy. Those days, when even DH bikes are 29ers, the wheel size for enduro bike was easy. We tested some 29ers before we start to design a new Carbonjack and finally we chose a 29er because of the improved rolling and better traction. And our thinking is that if a rider has a good skills he can ride even tough terrain and tight corners.
Was choosing wheel travel difficult?
The numbers of rear wheel travel are important but more important is a kinematics. FDS gives you the feeling like you have more travel than 150 mm which you have on the Carbonjack.
The rear wheel travel was also adapted to bike geometry and suspension.
We would like to keep really good uphill characteristics and keep the rear whee away from the saddle when you push a saddle all way down.
How many prototypes did you have before getting to the production bike?
We made a couple of prototypes including some 3D printing version which looks like a real bike.
Through this time we tried a couple carbon layouts to make best balance between weight and stiffness. We had many years of experience which helped a lot when we made our first carbon Lifeline in 2011. Also we did MES analisys which helped us removes mistakes when we made the molds.
How important are athletes to your testing process, and did they have any influence on the bike?
Nowadays we are using mostly our experience because we are all riders.
The best moment is when you finish a project and you can set on the bike which you make from scratch. When you feel that your idea is good and the bike rides really well.
Second think is when you hear from customers that they are happy and they tell us that compare the bike to big brands.
You can check out the Antidote Carbonjack on their website here.
Read all our other product development interviews on our Features page here.