IMG_0449
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In Pursuit Of Simplicity

Words Mike Ferrentino
Date Nov 23, 2022
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Tim Lane has done some serious time in the bike industry; he was a suspension tech in the UK prior to getting hired as an engineer at GT when they were still the pride of Santa Ana, he designed bikes for Felt, he came out with an innovative lightweight integrated bib-short/baggy that had the misfortune of showing up on the market the year before Specialized went crazy with SWAT gear. He has an inquisitive mind, a problem solver’s take on life, and can articulate his ideas well enough to sway even diehard skeptics. He’s a smart guy. Which makes me wonder why on earth he’d want to start a new bike brand from the ground up, out of his garage, from little more than an idea for a bike, a Kickstarter campaign and a mountain of hope.

Everyone knows the old trope: How do you make a million dollars in the bike industry? Start with two million dollars. Or as Tim said over lunch when I took delivery of this fine silver beast last week; “I’m finding out that starting a business means you work really hard AND spend a lot of money, instead of getting paid to work.”

But then there’s this bike. This isn’t my first meeting with Tim, or with the Digit Datum. A little over a year ago I got to spend a few hours riding his prototype mule, sweating my brains out on a tour of some of Santa Cruz County’s finest blown out steeps. That ride convinced me that maybe Tim was onto something. But what is that something?

In the case of the Digit Datum, that something is a 140mm rear travel, 160mm front travel, mulleted trail bike aimed squarely at the heart of the Santa Cruz Bronson/Pivot Switchblade/Ibis Ripmo part of the market. In fact, the prototype I rode last year utilized a Bronson rear triangle while Tim sorted out his proof of concept. The goal of the Datum is to replicate the kinematics and widely capable ride characteristics of modern short-dual-link suspensions, but do so with half as many pivots and bearings. The result, in this case, is the Datum. A 6.4 pound aluminum frame (including shock), with a lower link that pivots concentrically on the bottom bracket axle, and a bespoke shock integrated into the top tube of the frame acting as a strut, thus negating the need for an upper linkage and bearings.

So, this is a first look at a production Digit Datum. Datum, in this case, is a reference point. It’s the first bike in what Tim hopes will become a line of bikes. If you were to look at the human hand, there’s the index finger, then the datum, then ring, then pinky. At the Philly Bike Expo a couple weeks ago, Tim showed off the prototype Digit Ring, a slightly shorter travel 29er. We can assume the eventual xc bike will be the Pinky, and the park bike the Index, maybe?

Anyway, back to the bike. In a market where designs are becoming increasingly complex, and where carbon fiber is achieving a primacy that has become almost commonplace, opting to do as much or more with less, so to speak, is a bold (but subtle at the same time) move. Instead of marketing additive features – frame storage, flip chips, modular adjustable things, idler wheels, more links, more bearings, really big red and blue knobs – the Datum is aiming to deliver the ride quality that modern riders crave, in a commendably lightweight, simple package, made out of aluminum, made in the USA, no less.

The Elephant In The Room

Okay, so let’s just get straight to it: People are going to freak out that this bike comes with a shock that isn’t made by RockShox or Fox or DVO or Push or EXT or (insert name of your favourite brand of suspension maker here). How can a dude working in his own garage build something as complex as a shock? And, for that matter, how can we expect that this shock made by some dude in a garage will handle all the OBVIOUSLY MASSIVE STRUCTURAL FORCES that will be fed through it as a load bearing part of the frame without just going kablooey in a messy way?

According to Tim, building a shock isn’t really any more complex than building landing gear struts (one of the other past careers in the life of Tim Lane involved designing landing gear parts for Airbus), just a bit different, and most of the valve and shim and hardware parts needed to build a shock are readily available if you’ve got your tolerances down pat. In addition to Tim's years as a suspension tech, he’s designed a ton of bikes to work around the shocks built by others, and he knows his way around design and manufacturing and is acutely aware of the many ways that vendor/machinist minefields can crop up. And this, in particular, is one of the reasons I want to get some proper hours on the bike and see how everything holds up.

Before we get too into the weeds on this, here are some interesting factlets about the shock/strut as it is on the Datum:

- It can be removed with a bottom bracket tool and a strap wrench, and a couple teeny allen wrenches. The strut pulls out through the head tube, so you have to drop the fork as well, but having done it once now, it is nowhere near as daunting as it looks, and I’d lay money it’s easier to deal with than pulling the shock on a new Scott.

- The shock contains roughly six times as much oil as most inline shocks, and about four times the air volume. Service intervals and internal wear should hopefully be greatly reduced in comparison to some of the usual suspects.

- This is an integral part of the frame, there are beveled catch points on the shock body that correspond to frame and mounting nut flanges that serve to capture and align the strut and securely anchor it in place.

- Bushings inside the shock are 75mm apart, guiding a 30mm stanchion/shaft through its travel. Any eccentric load forces go through here. The internal damper shaft (say for instance the things that get bent/broken regularly by certain long yoke suspension designs) isn’t subject to any lateral loads at all.

Gah, I feel like we are already getting into the weeds. I’m gonna write up a separate piece about the shock itself, including some full assembly/disassembly pics, and hopefully can contain some of the dialog about proprietary shocks there. That way, I can focus on the ride characteristics of the bike without constantly having to re-enter the shock conversation.

As it sits right now, a couple short rides in, The Datum works. Works very well, in fact. Pedaling dynamics are awesome. Combining the smaller, lighter rear wheel with a nicely configured amount of anti-squat right around the sag point results in snappy acceleration and seated pedaling manners that would put some shorter travel bikes to shame. In terms of easy pedaling hoverbikes, I’d rate the pedaling up there with the Ibis Ripmo. It also manages a nice plush responsiveness to high frequency trail chatter while ramping up enough in bigger stuff that I haven’t felt the need to add in any extra compression damping or hope for more progression. Yet.

IMG_0437

You can't buy this bike. You can buy the frame,.and shock. But the rest is up to you. Unless you hit Tim up in about a month, asking if he's got any used test bikes for sale...

The Other Stuff

Digits are being sold frame only at the moment, so that makes this part of the test a whole lot easier. This bike has a Manitou Mezzer Pro fork, an XO AXS drivetrain, OneUp bars and seatpost, Spinergy wheels, and some kind of SRAM brakes, Codes I think. And I don’t really care about any of it, since people who end up buying Digits are going to build them up their own way. The only thing I will say about the components on this test bike for now are that a, batteries still suck, and b, it’s taking a few rides to get the Mezzer and its IRT thingie to feel as plush and consistent through the travel as the rear suspension. Thanks, Andrew, for digging into these forks, by the way. That has helped a ton.

As for the rest of the ride, size large; 65-degree head angle, 75-degree seat angle, 480mm reach, 344mm bb height, 1239mm wheelbase numbers. Uninterrupted seat tube so loooong droppers can rejoice. Custom butted 6061 aluminum welded up somewhere in SoCal. Double row Enduro bearings on the BB pivot, double row bearings for the BB itself as well, and double bearings in the swingarm pivot. No flip chips, no adjustable headset, surprisingly quiet internal cable routing (I am assuming it doesn’t have any internal guides given the weight and the frame material). Good lateral stiffness, overall a playful demeanor, clean lines. This is a made in the USA frame and shock that sells for 3500 USD.

I love a good underdog story. And Tim is absolutely that. He’s going against all that is currently fashionable and trendy, and following his own muse in an attempt to build a trail bike that does all the things we want our trail bikes to do with fewer parts, less weight, and hopefully impressive reliability. He is literally putting his money where his mouth is, as far as his convictions on design and manufacturing are concerned. I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes, and hoping it goes well.

Tags: Tim Lane, Digit, Datum
Posted in: Features, Bikes - Trail

Trending on NSMB

Comments

smoochy
Max Nodwell
1 week, 6 days ago
+15 Joseph Crabtree Tim Lane Dogl0rd Mammal Pete Roggeman SomeBikeGuy PowellRiviera BarryW Lynx . Bern bishopsmike Kos Tremeer023 Muesliman ohio

Proprietary be damned, it looks awesome. The leap from “it’s not an off-the-shelf shock” to “huge oil and air volumes” looks like a good trade off to me, and the design philosophy and aesthetics are the first to make my eye wander away from hardtails in years.

I’m signed up for the newsletter looking forward to the shorter travel 2x29 wheel version whenever it arises. Nice job Tim.

Reply

tim-lane
Tim Lane
1 week, 6 days ago
+5 Simon Apostol BarryW bearbikerider Muesliman ohio

Thanks Max.

Reply

mammal
Mammal
1 week, 6 days ago
+3 Tim Lane Simon Apostol BarryW

I agree. I saw this on the Pinkbike article, and wasn't nearly as interested then as I am after reading about the shock architecture.  Admittedly, I'm not the target market based solely on finances. I really hope it catches on though, and more models are introduced (a 155 bike would be sweet).

Reply

brad-sedola
Brad Sedola
1 week, 6 days ago
+8 Mike Ferrentino Mammal Pete Roggeman SomeBikeGuy Tim Lane BarryW Andy Eunson ohio

Shock as a structural member of the frame? It's never going to work, says the guy who's been riding a Maverick Durance since 2011. This thing looks awesome.

Reply

tim-lane
Tim Lane
1 week, 6 days ago
+1 BarryW

🤣😂😆

Reply

andy-eunson
Andy Eunson
1 week, 5 days ago
0

People often say such things about shocks. But what about forks? There are a lot of back and forth forces on forks. Maybe the flex there is less concentrated than for a "fixed in place" shock. Don’t know. Same said about trunnions too. Lots of things are worse in principle but fine in practice.

Reply

velocipedestrian
Velocipedestrian
1 week, 6 days ago
+7 kcy4130 Cr4w finbarr Todd Hellinga Mammal Andy Eunson bishopsmike

I suspect I'm not alone in loving the look and story of this bike, while being very reluctant to put up the cash on such a proprietary system.

Reply

tim-lane
Tim Lane
1 week, 6 days ago
+8 Bikeryder85 Mike Ferrentino Mammal Todd Hellinga Pete Roggeman Velocipedestrian Adrian Bostock Jeremy Hiebert

I can confirm that you are not alone in being reluctant to put up the cash on such a system. Just as you also wouldn’t be alone if you did put up the cash.

It’s been interesting to see how people navigate this. I shipped a frame with an extra shock yesterday. My guess is the the same happened when Sintesi, Amp, Maverick, etc were new, maybe that explains why there are parts can still be found for them (?).

Reply

velocipedestrian
Velocipedestrian
1 week, 5 days ago
+2 bishopsmike Tremeer023

I'm glad people are putting their money up, I very much want you to succeed.

I'm just at the bottom of the world, low on funds, and leery of things I won't necessarily be able to keep running long term.

Reply

lkubica
lkubica
1 week, 5 days ago
+3 Tim Lane tashi Andy Eunson

Proprietary system is not a problem at all if it is made with serviceability in mind. It it uses standard parts like bushings, seals etc. then any proper mechanic can work on it in 100 years from now. Monotube dampers are generally simple to work on. What is more, a design which is easy to service and tune is much better in the longer run then something like Fox twin tube which requires vacuum to bleed and needs a constant service. For me a good proprietary shock I can work and tune at home (and with cheap, available parts) is a selling point. What is not clear to me is the real benefits of this design, it simply should ride better then an average bike. Buying something simply because it's different is rarely a good idea.

Reply

Lynx
Lynx .
1 week, 5 days ago
+3 Tim Lane SomeBikeGuy Velocipedestrian

While I don't have the $$$ for any frame in this price range, if I did, I'd have no problems laying down this sort of cash instead of probably $500-800 more for something from Yeti, Santa Cruz or the like. With the experience I've had through this life around rally/race cars, suspension/struts and bikes, I don't see this as anything risky in the least, I think that it will in fact be a very reliable design, but will wait to se the tear down and how simple, or complex it is - once you can do your own regular seal service and maybe need to send it away every 3-4 years for internal/damper service, then I'm good.

I'm hoping and wishing Tim loads of success and that people will support an innovative small company, I'm especially looking forward to the short travel 29er, 120mm max, bit slacker STA and bit steeper HTA, same Reach, decent Stack around 630mm.

Something Mike didn't mention, it's only a $200 upcharge to pick a custom anodizing colour of your choice over the stock black ano, I think that's a VERY cool and killer deal.

Reply

cooperquinn
Cooper Quinn
1 week ago
0

"life around rally cars" 

Go on....

Reply

tim-lane
Tim Lane
1 week ago
0

I wrenched on bikes for Colin McRae and Nicky Grist way back when. I don't think Colin was the first to say "less brakes, more gas", but he said that's the secret to going fast, and applied it to riding too.

@Lynx, did you used to be on Nasioc ?

Reply

hongeorge
hongeorge
1 week, 1 day ago
+1 Velocipedestrian

Not alone at all, I'm really drawn to this, and the design makes a lot of sense, which does offset the reluctance.

Bigger issue is that I'm not in the US, so it's harder to commit. Will be interested to see Mike's  promised  article on tearing down the shock.  If it looks like I can muddle through the service myself, I'll be seriously tempted.

Reply

tim-lane
Tim Lane
1 week, 1 day ago
+1 hongeorge

I’m not yet selling outside of USA and Canada*.

When I have sufficient supply, I’ll be establishing service centers outside of North America, and opening up international sales. Hopefully I'll be able to start this in 2023.

*a few people have arranged their own import/export, they carry responsibility for any costs in the event that they need US support.

Reply

hongeorge
hongeorge
1 week, 1 day ago
0

Good to hear... I'll be keeping eyes open for that. Good luck with the bike until then

Reply

T0m
T0m
1 week, 6 days ago
+7 Mike Ferrentino Dogl0rd Mammal Pete Roggeman Velocipedestrian Tim Lane ohio

The key questions for this whole endeavor will be durability, service, and parts. It’s risky as hell to introduce a proprietary shock but the design is enticing. Will it be user serviceable, and parts easy to source? Hopefully reliability and service intervals on this huge damper will exceed that of our usual suspects. I’m definitely intrigued. Gonna be an uphill battle to convince the market to skip Ripmo/Bronson/Jeffsy for aluminum and a proprietary shock/strut at similar cost but I wish Tim and co. all the luck in the world. That bike is a looker IMO.

Reply

mikeferrentino
Mike Ferrentino
1 week, 6 days ago
+9 Allen Lloyd Dogl0rd T0m Pete Roggeman Tim Lane BarryW Lynx . SomeBikeGuy ohio

I probably didn't hammer the weight of this frame/shock enough in the article, but we are in a strange place in the industry these days. Carbon fiber has become SO crucial to most brands. Yet here we have an aluminum frame and shock that offers comparable kinematic performance to the multi-link carbon fiber wonderbikes, and manages to come in at the same or lower weight. A few years ago, the skeptics who were all afraid of carbon fiber bikes would have been rallying around this. Now, they'll probably be the same people who wonder if an alloy bike this light will be strong enough to thrash hard.

Reply

rigidjunkie
Allen Lloyd
1 week, 6 days ago
+4 Mike Ferrentino Mammal doodersonmcbroseph Tim Lane

There are still some of us out here riding carbon bikes, but saying they will never do it again.  I do enough truck bed shuttles that have caused pedal pins to gauge my frame to say never again.

Reply

tim-lane
Tim Lane
1 week, 6 days ago
+12 Mammal Hbar T0m Velocipedestrian Simon Apostol BarryW bearbikerider Lynx . Niels van Kampenhout SomeBikeGuy bishopsmike ohio

Durability and service parts have been a priority for me. I’ve written some about this here: http://digitbikes.com/integer

The Datum frame (with shock) is over 2lbs lighter than some of the carbon frames mentioned above, while squeezing more oil and air than most DH shocks. It can carry 3lbs more water, if you want to put the weight back on😁.

Reply

FlipFantasia
Todd Hellinga
1 week, 6 days ago
+7 Mike Ferrentino Andy Eunson Tim Lane Pete Roggeman tashi BarryW SomeBikeGuy

stoked to see this and hear more about it in the future, in an industry that's overall pretty underwhelming, this frame has been one of the few unique things that's caught my attention.

Reply

SomeBikeGuy
SomeBikeGuy
1 week, 6 days ago
+6 Tim Lane BarryW LWK Velocipedestrian Lynx . ohio

Aesthetically, this bike looks great. The geo numbers seem to make sense for a bike w/ 140mm of travel, so that's cool. As for the shock, let's look at the whole thing reasonably. Are current options from Fox, RS, and others really so good as to make "something better" impossible? No. Some current options from established manufacturers range can be good, a lot are mediocre, some are complete garbage. So long as this thing works and the parts are readily available, seems like a win to me. And if it's easy to service as well, what's left to complain about? Really? Nothing.

Also, just look at the bike. LOOK AT IT. It's so pretty.

Reply

tashi
tashi
1 week, 6 days ago
+5 Tim Lane BarryW Velocipedestrian Mammal Lynx .

I'm a cynical old mountain biker who loves things serviceable, stock and simple and hate proprietary parts and I LOVE this bike.

I think having the shock integrated into the structure in an interesting concept with some serious advantages, and if it's being made mostly from off the shelf parts than I think that could really mitigate or eliminate the serviceability/support compromise required.  If I could afford this price point I'd be all over it and I'm really curious if this can inspire a growth of similar designs.  

If nothing else kudos for making something that's actually interesting, this is the first really interesting new bike I've seen in a while!

Reply

burnbern
Bern
1 week, 5 days ago
+5 Tim Lane bishopsmike Lynx . Kos Todd Hellinga

There have been lots of boutique bikes over the last 25 years that have grabbed my attention. But this one feels like it was designed just for me...

Reply

xy9ine
Perry Schebel
1 week, 6 days ago
+4 Tim Lane Pete Roggeman BarryW bishopsmike

pretty neat. love the minimalist aesthetic. that it's 3lbs (!) lighter than my (same travel) meta tr is impressive.

Reply

Jotegir
Lu Kz
1 week, 6 days ago
+4 mnihiser Pete Roggeman BarryW cornedbeef

This bike is a solid middle finger to... Someone, I guess. 

Never realized that about the name til now.

Reply

rusm
rusm
1 week, 6 days ago
+3 Tim Lane tashi BarryW

Pretty sure Tim has said that the shock is user serviceable with off the shelf parts. Like you can go to a hardware store or maybe an auto parts store and get whatever you need to service it. Also he'll probably be along soon to answer questions.

Reply

mikesee
mikesee
1 week, 6 days ago
+3 Mike Ferrentino BarryW Tim Lane

Love that you took the time (and sounds like will continue to) to debunk some of the obvious tropes that keep getting life breathed into them elsewhere.

Sizing: I'm not tall.  Decidedly average, in fact.  I remember you -- Mike -- being a bit less tall than I.

How in the eff are you making 480mm of reach work?!

Reply

mikeferrentino
Mike Ferrentino
1 week, 6 days ago
+4 Velocipedestrian Andy Eunson Joseph Crabtree bishopsmike

Somewhere between 5'9" and 5'10", relatively short inseam, long torso and long arms. I've always sized up on bikes because of that, but the past few years of increasingly longer bikes have me rethinking this approach. However, when I do size down, even on newskool bikes, I feel sorta cramped on them.

I was taken aback by the reach numbers of a lot of bikes lately, but then when I realized that they were on bikes with 76-77 or steeper degree seat angles, and that these super steep seat angles necessitate long reaches to keep the relative top tube length, ummm, relative, things sort of started to make sense. Definitely been going through a learning curve of trying to emphatically get my weight forward when cornering, trying to deprogram 30 years of rear-bias survival reflexes due to steep and sketchy bikes and at the same time learn to trust modern tires and forks.

Reply

tashi
tashi
1 week, 6 days ago
+2 BarryW Mike Ferrentino

It's a wild learning curve eh?  

I've been working on it all year this year and am constantly surprised that I'm not washing out and stopping dead and endoing when I'm putting all this pressure on the front end, particularly on rough and slippery stuff.  Would have been endoing everywhere on my 90's bikes if I tried to ride like this.

Reply

cooperquinn
Cooper Quinn
1 week, 5 days ago
+2 PowellRiviera T0m

Turns out ETT and reach aren't the same.

Reply

xy9ine
Perry Schebel
1 week, 5 days ago
+7 Velocipedestrian Adrian Bostock T0m Mammal Andrew Major Andy Eunson Spencer Nelson

And just wait till rear centers catch up, and we can corner aggressively from a neutral, centered position.

Reply

edgibson22
edgibson22
1 week, 6 days ago
+3 Tim Lane BarryW bishopsmike

I ride a 2017 banshee and am probably going to upgrade frame next year. Wish I could afford this and wish you well. Great looking frame.

Reply

Bikes
Bikes
1 week, 6 days ago
+2 Tim Lane BarryW

Love it.  More simplicity please.  Would be awesome if spring compatible.

I also love the opposite Structure Cycleworks SCW1, so go figure

Reply

Frorider
Frorider
1 week, 6 days ago
+2 Mammal Tim Lane

For those wondering: ‘SHOCK/STRUT: Digit INTEGER Strut (External adjustments: air pressure, LSR and LSC damping. Internal adjustments: positive air volume, negative air volume, shim adjustment of LSC, HSC, LSR, HSR)’

Reply

tim-lane
Tim Lane
1 week, 6 days ago
0

Also: digitbikes.com/integer

Reply

Hbar
Hbar
1 week, 6 days ago
0

I may have missed them, but are there more pics/drawings of the lower link on your site?  I'm interested in how the concentric pivot goes together. 

The rear triangle and lower pivot gives me pleasant memories of my old Bronson v1. I enjoyed that bike.

Reply

Hbar
Hbar
1 week, 6 days ago
+2 Tim Lane Andy Eunson

Reply

a.funks
a.funks
1 week, 6 days ago
+2 Tim Lane BarryW

I like everything about this! When I started my own business in 2008 making very different products to the rest of my sector I had so many naysayers, not least of which were those saying our products would have no secondhand value. Here we are 14 years on, still a very small business but one with a big reputation for making the best of the best - and those first products occasionally turn up on the used market for about what they cost new!

This long stroke shock in the top tube is such a neat solution for so many engineering reasons - I bet the peak loads on the frame are so much lower than with more complex suspension designs (I won’t mention the ever cracking Commencal Supreme…)

Reply

kos
Kos
1 week, 4 days ago
+2 Mike Ferrentino Lynx .

I would order this tomorrow, willingly -- nay cheerfully -- accepting the fact that I might be a bit of a beta tester (other bikes in the garage if teething problems arise).

But.....the mullet is a no-go for me. I know there is a shorter travel version coming soon, but I'm covered there, and itching to buy a new longer-travel rig.

Reply

mikeferrentino
Mike Ferrentino
1 week, 2 days ago
+1 Kos

I was telling Tim the same thing last year, but now that I am a few rides into this test bike I'm beginning to revise my mullet-averse stance. It has benefits. Primarily acceleration and playfulness. Although I am still pretty much in favor of 29" at both ends, I wouldn't kick this bike out of the stable for being a mullet. But still, yeah. I'd really like to try this same travel configuration with big hoops at either end...

Reply

kos
Kos
1 week, 2 days ago
0

I hear you. I'm as much "29er wheel blessed" as mullet averse.

And can't abide the thought of owning a bike for which I don't own a spare wheel, even though I haven't had rear wheel issues on a road trip in over a decade.

And now I'm cursed in that regard!

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FlipFantasia
Todd Hellinga
1 week, 1 day ago
0

and personally I'd prefer full 27.5! haha

Reply

tim-lane
Tim Lane
1 week, 1 day ago
0

That's possible*. I think that to maintain the bb-height and angles you'd need to run a 27.5" front wheel in a 170/180mm travel 29er fork, or a 190/200mm travel 27.5" fork.

*I've not actually tried it.

Reply

MTB_THETOWN
MTB_THETOWN
1 week, 4 days ago
+2 Mike Ferrentino kcy4130

I just want them to make the Digit Thumb a fat bike

Reply

mhaager2
Moritz Haager
1 week, 6 days ago
+1 BarryW

As a short rider, I love what looks like the very low stand over, and I aluminum construction, but by far the most intriguing part of this bike to me is the shock. The description reminds me a bit of the Cornut (I think that was the name) designs of yesteryear with its focus on low leverage rates.  I have zero engineering credentials , but that design always made sense to me. Can anyone explain why low leverage shock designs like this have not caught on, I.e. what the disadvantages are? I’m very interested in the follow up article with the tear down.  I think the obvious disadvantage here is that initial shocks set up, especially adding or removing spacers, is going to be a major PITA. I wonder if it would be possible to do a cutout to allow access to the shock to make these adjustments without having to remove it. 

I don’t totally understand where all the weight saving is coming from though. I get there are fewer pivots and bearings, but then the shock sounds larger and thus presumably heavier than standard shocks which you would think negates the former weight savings

Reply

mrkdwrds
mrkdwrds
1 week, 6 days ago
0

One consideration with low leverage rates is that they would amplify the perception of stiction in the shock. I wonder how much that effect would be offset by the shock enjoying an easier life thanks to the lower leverage ratio, perhaps keeping internals in better shape for longer.

Reply

tim-lane
Tim Lane
1 week, 6 days ago
+2 BarryW bishopsmike

Theoretically low leverage might amplify the perception of stiction in the shock. But in reality, even for forks with a 1:1 ratio, and two legs worth of seals - it’s not a problem.

Reply

BarryW
BarryW
1 week, 5 days ago
+2 Tim Lane Ondřej Váňa

It's so interesting to me that so many riders don't get that while rear shocks fail all the time due to cross-loading and that makes them nervous about your design Tim. But completely forget about the FORK on the bikes they ride. 

I think this is pure brilliance Tim. Hope to own one someday. 

Make it a Pinion gearbox and solve all the issues. (Said as someone that has riden and really liked a Zerode Taniwa).

Reply

velocipedestrian
Velocipedestrian
1 week, 6 days ago
+1 Andy Eunson

Curnutt. Foes used them for years.

Other than parts availability, I assume the key downside is weight. A bigger shock is heavier, and uses more space in the front triangle. (not this one obviously)

Reply

shoreboy
Shoreboy
1 week, 6 days ago
0

This thing is definitely giving off some Balfa Belair vibes from the past.

Reply

Dogl0rd
Dogl0rd
1 week, 6 days ago
0

He just needs some good marketing from one of the YouTube pros showing it can take a thrashing

Reply

tim-lane
Tim Lane
1 week, 6 days ago
+1 Dogl0rd

I do, and I will as bikes become available (once I’ve caught up on customer orders).

There’s some shreddy ride footage here youtu.be/ZCl3uSvNNAY and on the youtube channel.

Reply

xy9ine
Perry Schebel
1 week, 6 days ago
0

this reminds me - curious what happened with resistance bikes. had an impressive proto mule - and even a reasonably fleshed out website - but disappeared soon after. https://www.resistance-bikes.com/homepage

Reply

mammal
Mammal
1 week, 5 days ago
0

Oh ya! That DH bike was very cool.

Reply

lamar454
Peter Appleton
1 week, 6 days ago
0

Clean with elements of the Balfa Bel Air

Reply

flattire2
Brian Tuulos
1 week ago
0

Do you really want a frame that can only use ONE shock?

A well looked after bike can last 5-10 years.  Now that geometry and wheelsize are figured out, this frame could be relevant for ten years.  Will this one shock be supported years from now?

Reply

kcy4130
kcy4130
1 week, 6 days ago
-1 T0m

This design looks like it has the potential to be pretty economical to produce (especially mass produce overseas), fewer welds fewer parts. Hard to be sure though without knowing what machining on the shock interface is required post heat treat.

I hope it works out for him, I really do. Proprietary stuff is a hard sell at the best of times. Part of me wonders if he'd have more success if he just had the strut as a stand alone linear bearing with the rod end driving a normal off the shelf shock. Like yeti, except it'd be one rod on two inline bushings, sealed and greaseable. With the shock inline in a cutout in top tube. Or below the top tube/strut and parallel to it. It'd make the frame a bit more complex and spoil the clean lines/good looks somewhat, but it'd be a standard shock. Yeti is still in business, sorta proves that customers will accept sliders. But we're are a lot less accepting of a proprietary shock. Trust fork is the only recent example of a proprietary spring/damper from a new company that I can think of, but kinematics seemed to be the real issues with those. Trek's supercaliper and reactiv (spelling?) stuff doesn't count, cause trek is huge and established, definitely still going to be in business in 5 years.

The number of proprietary parts (that'd he'd have to stock for replacements) would be greatly reduced. And customers would be getting a fox or rockshox, a known entity, easier to be confident I can get it setup to my liking. There are several technical advantages to how he's done it though, not to mention it looks better.

Edit: And yeah, it looks so good! Cool to hear it rides well too.

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ackshunW
ackshunW
1 week, 6 days ago
+2 Mammal Tim Lane

I hear you on that! (Linear bearing, separate shock), but:

Looking at this design, I see part of the appeal is that the Digit strut has more travel than your average off-the shelf shock. In other words, a lower leverage ratio probably around 2:1. Which allows for less air pressure, more control over damping and all that good stuff.

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tim-lane
Tim Lane
1 week, 6 days ago
+4 Mammal BarryW Lynx . SomeBikeGuy

In their first year Maverick made their own shock, branded M.Bits. Later Fox made it.

I have the connections to make that work in future, the lead times where too onerous to consider this when I started out. Here’s more in that subject.

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Vikb
Vik Banerjee
1 week, 6 days ago
-2 Andrew Major Allen Lloyd Joseph Crabtree BarryW Bern ohio

I applaud the design + innovation, but my potential customer brain shut off as soon as I got to computing proprietary shock. It's essentially a bike nobody is asking for. 

If I had a pile of $$ I wanted to use to start a bike company I'd shoot for:

  • MUSA/MCAN
  • metal
  • simple/efficient design with all off the shelf parts
  • modern geo and some tweaking options like flip chips
  • easy to maintain/service
  • light enough not to be objectionable
  • no weird/fancy features
  • long model upgrades/new design cycles
  • lots of sizing options
  • lots of colour options
  • several build kit options
  • make some specific one click bikes that are very value oriented
  • up charge for choosing options
  • make buying parts/spares easy
  • provide useful tech docs for download

Basically GG in their metal phase. They fought for that hill. Raised their flag on it and then left it to focus on carbon. Although on the surface the bikes aren't going to look super innovative/techy making all this ^^ happen in a cost effective way with domestic manufacturing has lots of interesting challenges, but it also provides something beneficial that the market wants...a domestically manufactured bike frame that doesn't cost $$$$ and that's easy to keep running a long time. Providing options that cost more let the folks that have money to burn tweak their bikes and allow the company areas to make more profit.

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mammal
Mammal
1 week, 6 days ago
+12 Hbar doodersonmcbroseph Pete Roggeman PowellRiviera Simon Apostol BarryW Bern bishopsmike tashi Lynx . Tim Lane ohio

It's definitely a bike you're not asking for, but it's a stretch to say nobody is.

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Vikb
Vik Banerjee
1 week, 6 days ago
-2 BarryW Bern

If any NSMB member buys one post it up. I'll be keen to see it. If not one frame shows up [given we have some niche machines in the forums on NSMB] than I'd say that counts as "nobody" even though I won't argue that means zero people on the planet.

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jwellford
jwellford
1 week, 5 days ago
+11 BarryW Mammal Tim Lane Mike Ferrentino Niels van Kampenhout doodersonmcbroseph Bern bishopsmike Lynx . Brad Sedola ohio

I did, in the first Kickstarter round. Only six days on it before it snowed but I’m very impressed. Can’t wait for spring!

https://photos.app.goo.gl/zkoxNPevcfp29UUv8

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bishopsmike
bishopsmike
1 week, 4 days ago
+2 jwellford Tim Lane

Oh God that looks sweet!

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tashi
tashi
1 week, 4 days ago
+3 Lynx . Tim Lane LWK

NSMB is a small digitally biased slice of a geographically skewed demographic with a particular riding style and terrain. 

I personally wouldn’t make much connection between a lack of uptake here and potential for success in the market.

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tim-lane
Tim Lane
1 week, 4 days ago
+3 bishopsmike BarryW Metacomet

Also, there are only a handful of Digits in the wild so far. Two bikes being here on this thread is quite remarkable (I’m an NSMB member, that’s my bike in the article).

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ohio
ohio
6 days, 23 hours ago
+2 Tim Lane Velocipedestrian

If and when Tim gets to an enduro model, I would jump on this at the travel and geometry (rear center, front center, head angle) of a Specialized Enduro... maybe of a Spec SJ Evo. So it's not yet my model, but as a platform, I love it. The weight, the simplicity, the aesthetics, and the aluminum are all enough for me to take a flyer on the proprietary shock for equal money to a carbon frameset.

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tim-lane
Tim Lane
1 week, 6 days ago
+14 Pete Roggeman Velocipedestrian PowellRiviera Simon Apostol BarryW Cooper Quinn SomeBikeGuy Bern jwellford bishopsmike Joseph Crabtree Brad Sedola Metacomet Lynx .

The significant point we’re differing on Vik is “no weird/fancy features”. Weird/fancy features are only worthwhile if they bring benefits, I wouldn’t have bothered if they didn’t. 

If I had a pile of $$ I wanted to use to start a bike company I too would offer complete bikes. I didn’t start with a pile of $$, and the supply chain has been impossibly challenging recently.

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