What’s with Bikes and Effing Triangles?

Words Dave Tolnai
Date Oct 5, 2015

My computer is on the fritz today. Hopefully not completely gone…but we will see. Because of that state of affairs, the efforts today are once again sub-par. I resorted to grabbing the first two e-mails that rolled in over the weekend that didn’t totally suck.


Dear Uncle Dave:

So here’s a question that’s been kinda perplexing me lately. We’re seeing so many innovative and different full suspension frame designs lately. Why do all of them still stick with the tradition of having a triangular front section? I believe on the road bike side the UCI mandates triangle frames, but why don’t we see more different frame designs like the old Klein Mantras or Trek Y foils (ok maybe I’m dating myself here). It seems completely pointless to have a big open wasted space in the middle of your frame with a shock going through it. Furthermore, I know it’s not “enduro” to use a water bottle, but why have that space in the middle of your frame if you can’t fit a water bottle in there? Is it just an aesthetics reason that manufacturers cling to their traditional designs? Anyway it seems that thinking outside the triangle here could possibly make a stiffer frame, and maybe better clearance/room for an actual water bottle.

Diagram supplied – a first for Uncle Dave.

Pythagoras Sucks


Dear Pythons:

You are the first person to write in with a diagram. That’s amazing, and for that reason alone, you get your question answered.

Unfortunately, you’ve made a few mistakes. First off, you used Trek Y Bikes as an example of good design.

Next, your paint skills are subpar. The red is difficult to read and your fonts are too small.

Lastly, you’ve zoomed in too far on your diagram. If you look more closely, you’ll notice that the Yeti that you’re using as an example doesn’t have a front “triangle”. It’s more of a ‘trapezium.’ And the lightning bolt is a far more awesome effect than your piddly little arrows.

Diagram by Uncle Dave.

Diagram by Uncle Dave.

What you’re talking about is the difference between a truss and a beam. A traditional double diamond frame forms what is essentially a fixed joint truss. This is a very efficient structure, evidenced by the ability of a bunch of spindly two-by-fours to hold up the roof of a house when arranged properly. The alternative is a (generally) much heavier solid beam to hold up the same amount of weight.

“But what about all of the advantages of carbon fiber?” you say. Regardless of the material, a straight line is still the most efficient way to carry a load. The easiest way to support stresses place on a frame via 4 points (stem, fork, seatpost, cranks) is going to be by drawing 4 straight lines connecting those points (more or less). Adding the stress of the rear shock at some point is a bit of a monkey wrench, but doesn’t change the fact that you’re still really just connecting four points to one another.

Sorry,
Uncle Dave


Dear Uncle Dave:

Bike Packing/Ultra Racing is getting lots of mtn bike mag media attention lately with the Tour DeVide, Iditabike and Arizona Trail Races, Rocky Mtn Sherpa and the rest of the whole Plus Bike and Fat Bike thing. Not to mention, that REI is carrying Revelate seat bags and handlebar harnesses (WalMart will be the next).

So is Bike Packing/Ultra Racing the next big mass participation trend like Enduro TM , an online spectator event so that old dudes can get their vicarious thrills Spot TM stalking active racers’ GPS locators (similar to young dudes getting their vicarious thrills watching the Red Bull Rampage), or is it just another way of purchasing another adventurous life style/identity (just buy the stuff and you are that thing, even if you never go outside and do it, such as the guys that own race cars, but never compete, still call themselves car racers)?

Anyway, would enjoy reading your sage advice or hearing your Rick Mercer quality rant on the topic.

Thanks
Living OutSide Tenuously


Dear Lout:

Over the last few months I’ve received precisely 3 questions about “bike packing”. I thought that perhaps a trend was developing, but no, it’s just you repeatedly asking me the same question with slightly different phrasing. I’ll probably regret this, but I’m answering your question in the hopes that you will stop bothering me, or at the very least move on to something else.

I will admit that I’ve never been very good at judging the interests of the masses. People get very excited about things that I can’t understand. The popularity of CFL football, Tim Horton’s, and the band Magic!* are all proof that I have poor judgement in this regard.

Still. You’re talking about a tremendously boring subset of a sport that nobody really cares about. I think it’s safe to say that none of your thoughts/wishes/fears will ever come to pass. Besides, didn’t they try this already a few years ago? Team adventure racing? White people running around in the woods and jumping in whitewater rafts and stuff? Nobody cares. People in a forced competition doing boring shit alone in the woods for long periods of time is not interesting.

Sorry,
Uncle Dave

*For much of last year, I assumed these turd creators were nothing more than a Cancon abomination. But no. They’re not. People outside of Canada listen to this god awful band. This seems impossible. This brings shame to our country. “Canadian reggae fusion band.” They think of themselves as a “modern-day Police.” Good bloody lord.


aeffect_pedals_grips

Pythons you win! We don’t have a Y bike for you, but we do have some Aeffect pedals and Love Handle Grips from RaceFace.


If you have a question about shapes or fringe sports within sub-genres, maybe give them a month or two. Anything else? Fire it to askuncledave@nsmb.com 

Comments

wig
0
Wig  - Oct. 8, 2015, 9:45 p.m.

Stop! I don't need the next thing. I currently (supposedly) have a bike problem with the current things.

Reply

Captain-Snappy
0
Merwinn  - Oct. 6, 2015, 2:44 p.m.

"old Klein Mantras or Trek Y foils (ok maybe I’m dating myself here)"

Gee, ya think?

Reply

qduffy
0
qduffy  - Oct. 6, 2015, 1:07 p.m.

I think people keep asking about trends because they're deathly afraid of missing them. I missed my opportunity to become a paper millionaire in the first dot com explosion and I'll be damned if I'm going to miss my chance to get in on the ground floor of the nascent bikepacking movement…or whatever's next.

Reply

craw
0
Cr4w  - Oct. 6, 2015, 2:17 p.m.

The notion of missing a trend is so odd. If you see something that makes sense, looks fun, or might work for you, then do it. If not then leave it alone.

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bs
0
BS  - Oct. 6, 2015, 9:31 a.m.

I guess I worded the triangle question badly. Wasn't questioning the strength aspect of triangles. More that with frame designs like the SB6 there's a ton of just open space in the middle of the frame and then it's like the designers said "Gee lets tacks a water bottle on the bottom bracket then." Seems like there's a better way. (And sorry for the paint skills. Didn't know it was going to be published. BTW photo was stolen from nsmb's review).

Why can't the designers:
A: Use non-triangular designs to fit the water bottle in or not have such open space
B: Make a giant "SWAT" compartment in the open space a la Specialized
C: Place the shock differently so it doesn't make the space in the middle of the frame unusable

Reply

slimshady76
0
Luix  - Oct. 6, 2015, 9:44 a.m.

Re. "C": The desired suspension characteristics dictate where the front shock mount gets glued/bonded/welded. From there on, the engineers pass the fixed points' locations to the industrial design team, and they are free to stick as many tubes/reinforcements/open spaces they want. Take a look at this interview with Ibis' Roxy Lo to get a better picture. She also addresses the whole triangle concept there.

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Dirk
0
Dirk  - Oct. 6, 2015, 11:25 a.m.

The diagram was awesome. Even if I made fun of it.

My more awesome diagram hasn't shown up yet. I'm hoping it makes an appearance soon.

All of the questions you ask are possible. They just tend to lead to a less efficient structure or poor suspension design.

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - Oct. 6, 2015, 12:27 p.m.

Dave's more awesome diagram added. I missed it in the barrage of emails and attachments I regularly get from Uncle Dave. He's so chatty.

Reply

bs
0
BS  - Oct. 6, 2015, 12:38 p.m.

Side note. The word Trapezium in certain places means a quad with no parallel sides in 'Merica and Canadia, and the exact opposite (what we think of as a Trapezoid) everywhere else.

Reply

craw
0
Cr4w  - Oct. 6, 2015, 1:14 p.m.

I too loved the diagram. The Lahar is probably the most outside the box bike I've seen.

Reply

craw
0
Cr4w  - Oct. 6, 2015, 9:17 a.m.

I'd never even heard of Magic! before today. That's just great.

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reformed-roadie
0
reformed roadie  - Oct. 6, 2015, 7:48 a.m.

The guy has a Yeti SB6 and he's worried about triangles? Just go ride the damn thing and enjoy it.

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - Oct. 6, 2015, 12:28 p.m.

Does he? I think he was only using that as an example. The image came from our review of the bike.

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bs
0
BS  - Oct. 6, 2015, 3:11 p.m.

For the record, no I ride a stumpjumper… My question was more about the design sticking to triangle limiting the utility of space and whether other designs could be stronger. I carry a water bottle and tools/tube in my front triangle and never need a pack except super long rides. Having the shock bisect the front triangle makes it useless for either of these.

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taprider
0
taprider  - Oct. 6, 2015, 8:11 p.m.

ooooh! a bikepacker frame bag

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peterdaam
0
Peter  - Oct. 7, 2015, 12:19 p.m.

@briansavery:disqus, I hear you about the clearance issues for water bottles and 'gear'. I really think the manufacturers try to make their bikes look good. Not many go for the utilitarian look which would suite a smaller marker of bikepackers. I'm curious about your frame bag though, what make or who made it?

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bs
0
BS  - Oct. 7, 2015, 12:52 p.m.

Custom made by a friend who lives in Bellingham.

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jonathan-harris
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Jonathan Harris  - Oct. 6, 2015, 7:43 a.m.

On the triangle thing… I'm just going to post a link to a frame that my friend is about to launch. A friend who for the past 15 years has been designing parts on F1 cars, for instance the whole rear suspension assembly of a McLaren and knows his carbon fiber.

Not many triangles there. I think the point that Dave did miss was that bikes that we tend to rave over the looks of have quite traditional lines with two triangles. If you want to sell lots of bikes they need to look good and we tend to gravitate to bikes with quite traditional lines.

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brizzy
0
Brizzy  - Oct. 6, 2015, 8:40 a.m.

The bike is still made of triangles, he just filled in what would be the hollow areas with extra carbon fiber. The same front "triangle" could be made to look exactly like a Spec Enduro, and would probably be a lot lighter. You can make a bike like this without obvious geometric shapes, but for the same stiffness it will be heavier than a normal hollow truss design. The carbon filling in the middle of the triangles contributes little to no strength.

Reply

jonathan-harris
0
Jonathan Harris  - Oct. 6, 2015, 8:45 a.m.

I may have to get Rob to weigh in on this directly….

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0
Perry Schebel  - Oct. 6, 2015, 10:39 a.m.

it does seem to have a bit of gratuitous carbon square footage going on (and a distinct lack of water bottler placement option), but sure is pretty, regardless. going to get him to send you a test mule?

Reply

Dirk
0
Dirk  - Oct. 6, 2015, 11:21 a.m.

Agreed. This would be the shock placement monkey wrench I spoke of. This bike is a great example of where carbon shines. By being able to put material exactly where you need it, you're able to create an optimized yet less efficient structure, without a huge weight penalty.

Reply

jorge-ramirez
0
Jorge Ramirez  - Oct. 6, 2015, 12:02 p.m.

demn that's a really nice looking bike! it follows the same 2 triangle principle, but made without triangles which i think it's awesome! perhaps the only bad thing is the rear suspension design.. i hate single pivot suspension systems 😮 trek abp with full floater works really nice, perhaps he should try something like that

Reply

hbelly13
0
Raymond Epstein  - Oct. 6, 2015, 6:45 a.m.

I will light a match rather than curse any particular Canadian darkness. Let's raise a toast to the fact that the freeride trend from the end of the last century finally forced manufacturers to build bikes and components that put durability as a priority over weight. This have been a huge plus for any rider that weighs more than 150 lbs and/or rides aggressively. Let's also drink to the fact that for every Magic!, Crash Test Dummies and Sum 41 there are bands like Huevos Rancheros, Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet and tons more that don't suck. The masses are asses, hence why my examples are way below mainstream radar. One final quote from two centuries ago easily explains Magic! and other assorted rubbish, "Everything popular is wrong." -Oscar Wilde.

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slimshady76
0
Luix  - Oct. 6, 2015, 5:34 a.m.

I'd dare to ask why is everyone looking for the next trend in MTB, both online and on the field. And once that's answered, why does everybody think the next main trend in MTB is here to ruin their lives, kill their cats, send those provocative selfies they hold in their smartphones to their spouses, format clean their computers, pinch flat all their tires, rust their derailleur cables, throw air in their brakes and pour sugar in their gas tanks….

Seriously guys, just go out and ride the hell out of you. Stop defining yourself from what you lack and start building out from what you have. And if that doesn't work, try with a Freudian/Lacanian therapist.

We have a saying down here: "No tengo todo lo que quiero, pero quiero todo lo que tengo" ("I don't have everything I want, but I want everything I have"). TL/DR: Use it or loose it.

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craw
0
Cr4w  - Oct. 6, 2015, 9:32 a.m.

While I mostly agree, I'm pretty sure Alanis Morissette is not the worst thing we've spawned on the world, nor is she anorexic. In fact after she repented for her pop wins of the 80s she rocked pretty hard.

We also gave the world Devin Townsend/Strapping Young Lad which pretty much rewrote how heavy, technical and hilarious metal can be. Not to mention Matthew Good, Skinny Puppy and Rush.

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slimshady76
0
Luix  - Oct. 6, 2015, 9:39 a.m.

Right, I should have written "patron" instead of "mother". And I also enjoyed Brian Adams when I was younger ;-).

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0
Perry Schebel  - Oct. 6, 2015, 10:44 a.m.

plus doa, nomeansno, and voivod!

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glen-bernard
0
Glen Bernard  - Oct. 6, 2015, 4:10 p.m.

Justin Beiber thanks a lot Canada

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pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Oct. 6, 2015, 11:59 a.m.

"What's the next thing?" "Fuck the next thing!" over and over…

You nailed it, Luis.

Reply

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