Atherton Bikes – Next Level Thinking?

ARTICLE 1.3.007 Bicycles and their accessories shall be of a type that is sold for use by anyone practising cycling as a sport.

So the Athertons have a launched a bike brand, sort of. Robot Bikes Co has emerged butterfly-like from its chrysalis and has unveiled itself with Atherton winningness on the head badge. But is this just a cash in on their brand whilst Rachel is still at the height of her career as Gee’s star is on the fading side of his? Or could it something else, or both?

I have previously mused on the UCI article 1.3.007 and how it requires all bikes raced to be available for purchase by anyone. I am of the mind that this, in fact, stifles bike development. This requirement for a race bike, means that compromises must be made if the bike raced is for mass public consumption.

That is a ferocious follow to post ratio.

If you built a bike that was a pure race only machine, it would probably have quite a high cost of entry regarding the skills required to pilot it. Race teams are primo marketing for a bike company. So the ability for the man on the street to buy the same bike as the racers they follow is a big draw. It is also one of the things that makes bike racing unique compared to automotive racing. But does it make for better racing? Yes and no.

If teams were able to race custom built machines never intended for public consumption, like F1 or WRC. Then the teams with the deepest pockets would win. But it means that top tier racers are always fighting with bike fit and suspension kinematics. There is only so much you can do to make a frame fit with anglesets and custom linkages, this is only exacerbated when your over 6 foot.

So how do the Athertons and Robot, I mean, Atherton bikes come into this train of thought? This could be next level thinking to work within the UCI rules and still ride the perfect tailored race bike.

Looks like a session.

Robot Bike Co’s USP was their method of manufacture and their offer of custom geometry. By using sintering additive manufacture (3D printing in metal), they were able to make each bike to order, exactly to your bodies measurements. They were a tailored suit in a world of off the peg frames.

So acquired, re-branded and re-launched as Atherton Bikes means Rach, Gee and not forgetting Dan, now have the ability to have the perfect fitting bike, with the exact geometry they need. The kinematics or reach not working out? Then a new front triangle or linkage can be fabricated between races, it can be that quick.

Selling direct to consumer, they can then offer the “Gee Bike” or the “Mere Mortal” editions of their frames. If each bike is a custom piece, then they can constantly evolve and adjust the design betweeen races. Just like F1, which is funny as two of the founders of Robot work in F1.

Stealthy.

So are the Atherton’s cashing in on their brand? Well maybe, but who can blame them, Peaties been selling unicorn jizz in his retirement afterall. But is this a next level strategy crossing over from motorsport into DH? Maybe, just maybe.

3D Printing in MTB

I recently presented at an MTB business and education event.

The evening event which was snappily titled “Engineering, Manufacturing and Commercial Opportunities in the Cycling Industry” was hosted at Robert Gordon University where I work. Featuring speakers from key partners that support mountain bike businesses in Scotland.

(Apologies for the audio, the video was a last minute idea)

With Danny Cowe from The Mountain Bike Centre for Scotland showcasing their work in supporting MTB businesses, From start ups, to established firms. Elevator, the entrepreneur support body were there to talk about their accelerator programs for getting new businesses established

I was one of the three speakers from RGU talking about how the university could help support the development of new cycling products.

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Chris O’Neal, the head of Gray’s School of Art, kicked the evening off with an introduction to the opportunities the cycling industries present. I introduced additive manufacture (3D Printing) and how it can and has been used in both prototyping and end user manufacture, with case studies focussing on frame manufacture.

Ben Durack, the studio manager of MAKE Aberdeen, rounded off the RGU contingent with a presentation about the MAKE studio. He also outlined a democratised model for product development and iterative design that MAKE can help facilitate.

The evening ended with a Speed Pitching session where people introduced themselves  and their needs as a business or product developer. This allowed the room to get a sense of who everyone was before the obligatory networking and mingling.

It was something a little bit different for myself, whilst I teach workshops all day as part of my work, the opportunity to do that about MTB in front of a a crowd of engineers and product designers was a little intimidating. Variety being the spice of life and all that.

I met some great people and hopefully Gray’s and RGU will be able to build some partnerships with some innovative Scottish MTB companies off of the back of the event.

Elsewhere

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