The original goal of the project was to apply some of the theory that I’d found out in the research I’d been doing and try to build a sub 2kg frame that left no concessions in performance to a top end frame other than weight. The plan was for this review to read the same as the hype from any leading manufacturer when they release a new frame
“x% lighter, y% stiffer and z% more comfortable than last years model”
It’s certainly lighter than the single speed frame and was built much more carefully to precise tolerances. However, as I built it by hand rather than using a CNC router I erred on the side of caution (better 0.5mm-1mm too thick rather than too thin when it’s only 2.5mm thick in the first place) This took the overall frame weight up to 2.2kg which didn’t meet my original goal/prediction but isn’t far off. If I was playing the game of the bike manufacturers and reporting a 53cm frame with no paint and no fittings then it would be well under 2kg.
With a decent set of components, the overall build came out at 8.2kg including pedals and bottle cages which is still respectable.
My original calculations showed that the frame should be 25-30% stiffer than the single speed frame. I’m sure this is wrong. The frame feels significantly stiffer. People always ask what a wooden frame feels like and I tell them “it’s the most comfortable ride compared with carbon or metal frames. It absorbs the high frequency road vibration and gives a very smooth ride”. I’m starting to doubt this as well. The new frame is seriously stiff and gives a much harsher ride than the single speed frame. I’d like to get it tested but if feels stiffer than any road frame I’ve ridden before (admittedly at double the weight of a carbon frame) and makes the lightweight steel frame that I’ve been riding for the past nine months feel like spagetti.
Again, the increased stiffness transmits lumps and bumps from the road back to the rider much more readily than the last frame giving a much harder ride. This is obviously at the benfit of a more direct feel with the road. I had thought that the offset seat stays might increase the comfort due to the less direct force path to the seat, however, I think the increased tube sizes have conteracted this.
Early impressions are that it is responsive and quick. It is noticably noisier than the previous frame (presumably also due to increased stiffness) and the cables rattle slightly in the brass internal cable guides when you hit a rough patch of road. If I was put on it without know it was wood, I don’t think I would suspect that it was anything but a carbon frame, which I guess is a good thing as I’m using carbon frames as the industry benchmark.
Overall I’m very pleased with the result but have learnt a lot more in the process and there’s certainly more ground to be made in developing the next generation of wooden frames.