In January, Production Privee broke the news on the team change that nobody saw coming. As a company that primarily specialized in steel hardtails, it came as a great surprise to see them unveil a CNC'd aluminum downhill bike for Alex Marin and the Brigade downhill team
Although Production Privee's name is the one primarily attached to the bike, it was actually created in partnership with Forestal Bikes
. Forestal is another Andorran brand and they own a production facility in the small principality. The two brands announced they would be working closely together in March 2020
with the aim of creating "bikes that break the mold". We saw the first fruits of their endeavours with Pavel Alekhin's custom titanium dirt jump bike
unveiled in December last year.
From what we can tell, Forestal will continue working on its upcoming eMTB
, while Production Privee will make handmade and unique frames from the same factory. This downhill bike is primarily an R&D exercise for the brand and the first step on a path that should eventually allow them to, "design, engineer and manufacture [a bike] in quite short notice". Although Cedric Gracia is involved with the Forestal Group for testing purposes, it's the Brigade Team that will be taking the lead on this project.The Construction
This downhill bike has been a surprisingly quick project to pull together for Production Privee. In-house manufacturing apparently meant that after the design team scribbled for a month, the engineering and machining stage of the project took just three months and then the bike was ready. Production Privee admit that a large part of this project is R&D for future projects and say that the advantages of using CNC production are " the freedom of shaping, thickness management... the ability to modify design, geometry, structural, kinematics parameters quiet fast."
This isn't the first time we've seen a CNC'd downhill bike. Most recently, Isak Leivsson was testing a 200mm version of Pole's Machine
that could well have been the longest World Cup downhill bike ever. There is a key difference between Isak's Pole and the Production Privee's bike though. While both bikes are milled from aluminium in 2 separate sections, the Pole bike is glued whereas the Production Privee is welded.
There are quite a few machined-in flourishes, including these swirls on the downtube. and an integrated seat clamp
At the moment, Production Privee is keeping any geometry or other numbers close to its chest although they will tell us that each bike will be tailored to the needs of its rider. Suspension
The suspension system is based on Forestal's Twin Levity system
. This is a linkage driven single pivot that has been adapted from the Forestal Syrion eMTB, although Production Privee have played around with the leverage ratios and travel to suit it to downhill. Apparently the brand would have been willing to go back to the drawing board if the Brigade riders weren't happy about the performance, but the first reviews from Alex and the rest of the team have been enthusiastic, so it's the system the team will be sticking with. What's next for Production Privee & Forestal?
From what Damien Nosella, founder of Production Privee, will tell us, this bike is more of an R&D project than a serious commercial proposal, although the brand has said a production version could be available by 2022.. He said, "using alloy is part of deeper R&D program we’re carrying. As we are starting our production facility with the targets of setting up new manufacturing processes, being able to CNC and weld alloy are a small part of what we need to achieve... It’s more a milestone needed to be achieved leading to new stuff that we will implement during the year." Damien has also told us that he hasn't yet fully turned his back on steel and that only parts of any future chassis will use CNC'd aluminium.
Reading between the lines, we're expecting Production Privee to combine new school and old school production techniques in a similar fashion to Actofive's very impressive P-Train
that was released in May last year
. There's no timeline on any future projects yet but what better place to test a new direction than in the furnace of World Cup downhill? We'll be watching the Brigade team very closely to see how their new frame gets on.