Bike Check: Kilian Reil's Custom Trail Bike - Steel Frame, Gearbox & Coil Shock

Sep 17, 2020
by James Smurthwaite  
Photos Kilian Reil

Kilian Reil has spent most of the European Bike Challenge photographing other builders' bikes, but now it's his turn to step in front of the lens and show off his own creation. Kilian hasn't built his own bike, but he's worked in partnership with Project 12 Cycleworks, a small Dutch builder, to create a steel-framed, gearbox full suspension bike that, as you'd expect, has components from European brands from head to tail.



Project 12 was started by Michiel Burgerhout who, after more than 10 years as an architect, decided to follow his passion and move into frame fabrication. He builds road, mountain and gravel bikes and uses a combination of water-cut parts, CNC, and silver and brass solder to bring his creations to life with a focus on bikes that are as nice to look at as they are to ride.

Burgerhout offers pretty much infinite customisation with the frame he is commissioned to build, his only restriction on this frame is that the seat tube angle must sit between 75 and 77 degrees. Reil specified the wheelsize, geometry, and travel of the frame and loosely based it on a Santa Cruz Tallboy, as he was looking for a bike that was comfortable on long tours and multi-day events like the Swiss Epic. The build took Michiel a month and a half to complete and is the 31st bike his brand has produced. The full geometry sheet can be found below:


While a steel frame may not be the first material you would think of for a long-distance ride, Kilian has drawn on his experience touring through Siberia and Central Asia when speccing his dream build. Despite the many miles he is expecting to rack up on this bike, reliability and sturdiness were more important than gram pinching. The result is a 132mm travel frame with aluminum wheels, a coil shock and a Pinion gearbox but also a Berk carbon saddle, Beast carbon bars and Tune hubs.


Spec

Frame: Project 12 Pinion Vertigo custom frame (132mm travel) (Netherlands)
Shifting: Pinion C1.12 gearbox (Germany)
Fork: Intend Hero (130mm travel) (Germany)
Shock: EXT Storia Lok V3 (Italy)
Pedals: Pembree R1V (UK)
Rims: Rad15 Ozone 30 (Nederlands)
Spokes: Sapim Spokes (Belgium)
Hubs: Tune Singlespeeder Boost rear, Tune King Kong boost (Germany)
Tires: Continental Trail King Tires (Germany)
Handlebar: Beast Handlebar 25mm rise and MTB Stem (Germany)
Grips: Tune Grips and plugs. (Germany)
Brakes: Trickstuff Diretissima Brakes, Pads and Discs (Germany)
Dropper: Vecnum Nivo 182 (Germany)
Saddle: Berk Lupina (Slovenia)




The intricate shock mounting and linkage is a work of art

A Pinion gearbox offers 12 speeds with a 600% range.

You do have to work with a twist shifter, but a single cog on the rear wheel dramatically reduces the unsprung weight.

Pembree's environmentally friendly pedals are designed for durability and an all-round mountain pedal is coming soon.

Each Cycleworks 12 frame is individually numbered

Kilian's paintwork is also custom, we like these downtube details that can only really be seen from above.

You'll see Trickstuff brakes on most of the European Bike Challenge bikes and with good reason. They're German-made and claimed to be more powerful than any other brake on the market.

The pink brake adapter is a neat flourish.

Germany's Tune is renowned for lightweight components.

There's no need for a seat clamp thanks to the flexy steel frame.


Kilian couldn't resist this Berk saddle that he describes as "superbly comfortable although hard like a board".

Two days after its completion, Kilian rode the bike at the Swiss Epic and has plans of introducing it into mountain ranges in Central Asia and Mongolia when COVID dies down

For more info on Kilian's bike and the European Bike Challenge follow the European Bike Project, here. A North American partner page has also been set up, here.


124 Comments

  • 40 0
 I really like that frame. its modern but also reminds my of my 30 year old batavus i got from my dad somehow. That is a good thing. very good. Yea i really like that thing.
  • 11 1
 Can we do an American Bike Challenge with a waiver to be able to use all southeast Asian parts... or time travel back to 1998?
  • 3 0
 @scary1: You could probably build a 80% North American Bike if you wanted to. Check out "North American Bike Project" on Instagram to learn more.
  • 2 0
 Dank je wel man!
  • 1 0
 @scary1: You would end up with a really blingy single speed with no tires lol
  • 27 2
 "when COVID dies down"... good one...
  • 27 11
 "Pembree's environmentally friendly pedals are designed for e-mtbs primarily but an enduro version is coming soon."

Translation: "these pedals are heavy AF so they're called 'e-bike specific', but a lighter version, which we will call 'enduro specific' because we think you're all idiots, is on the way"
  • 55 10
 I have read this comment multiple times and have drafted a number of replies. However, I am just going to say thank you for your opinion, everyone is entitled to them. I design everything at PEMBREE so these comments are pointed directly at me, not a big company, me. PEMBREE is start-up in the UK trying to grow a brand and develop world class products that do not impact the environment. If you don't like what we do then that is fine. There are many people that do. All the best Phil Law
  • 18 0
 god i love pinkbike
  • 23 1
 @Pembreeuk: Hey Phil. Don't think anyone has a problem with your pedal designs - in fact they looks really nice. But marketing them as "e-bike specific" is going to draw a lot of negative comments, both here and elsewhere... do yourself a favour and drop that line!
  • 11 0
 @Pembreeuk: can you let us know what makes them specific for ebikes?
  • 5 0
 @ddd: ebike specific pedals can be weaker than Enduro pedals as you don't pedal as hard on an ebike?

Seriously though not sure what the difference between flats for different disciplines (on dirt) would be......
  • 11 0
 @Pembreeuk: Never heard of your company before but after seeing this article I went to your website. Thank you for considering your impacts and at least trying. More than what most of us do. I hope you and your company do well and maybe influence others in the industry.
  • 4 0
 @Pembreeuk: why are the pedals for ebikes vs the enduro pedals you are working on? This what everyone else can't understand including me. Please explain.
  • 3 0
 @monsieurgage: Thank you so much. We are trying to do things differently.
  • 7 1
 @onemind123: The R1V can and is being used for all riding. They were designed to last significantly longer than others in the market. The new D2A is a thinner and lighter pedal making it more suitable riders who are looking for more of a "performance/racing" pedal.
  • 7 0
 @Pembreeuk: don't spend too much time responding to us savages on the pinkbike comment section. We are bitter about the amount of bs marketing that happens - as long as you don't have pedals with a new standard we should be able to get along.
  • 4 1
 @Pembreeuk: There you go. That sounds/feels more honest than any sort of "made for e-bikes" bullshit. Even saying "a great fit for e-bikes since they're bomber and you can just keep pedaling and not worry so much about hitting things!" is miles better than "designed for e-bikes".
  • 1 0
 I'm not sure he or anyone even knew they were your pedals. The article credits the build to Kilian Reil, Project 12 Cycleworks, Michiel Burgerhout...and then talks about Pembree pedals.
  • 12 0
 @just6979: I am going to say this only once.... without trashing Pinkbike. The caption on the pedal above was written in error and is being changed. The R1V is just a bloody great pedal that will last for years. Our new pedal the D2A is a thinner, lighter pedal and it still carbon neutral. Cheers Phil
  • 1 19
flag lognar (Sep 17, 2020 at 13:36) (Below Threshold)
 @Pembreeuk: butthurt much? “Ooo this guy doesnt like my marketing of e-mtb pedals gosh he sure is mean to me”
  • 4 0
 @lognar: Why don't you read Pembree's R1V webpage and see for yourself: pembree.com/r1v/?v=7516fd43adaa ? There is no mention of e-mtb on the page. As Phil has stated numerous times, Pembree is not marketing the R1V as a e-bike pedal. They are marketing it as a durable pedal. The caption was the author's words; it was not written by Pembree.
  • 3 0
 @map14: I don't get why Pinkbike (@jamessmurthwaite) makes this shit up and causes all this mess for a cool company most of us haven't heard of before. Why not just NOT start the e-bike shitstorm when you don't really have to?
  • 1 0
 @vinay: pibkbike and Accurate information do not go together. They do have pretty pictures, rad friday fail videos, and by far the most entertaining group of personalities in the comment sections.
  • 14 1
 "While a steel frame may not be the first material you would think of for a long-distance ride"

Why? Touring bikes, the benchmark for long-distance rides, probably were the last category to move to materials other than steel.

What material are you assuming we would think of before steel? And what kind of riding would you assume we _would_ think of steel for?
  • 11 0
 This could very easily be my dream bike. What a beauty, and looks downright functional. Thanks for sharing this, it's superb.
  • 7 0
 There are tons of great bikes available today that ride really well but I just love custom steel stuff and on looks alone I could stare at that for hours, after riding it of course. I'd have it as a keeper.
  • 3 0
 Agreed, nothing beats steel tubing, so much more attractive. I love my Stanton Full Suss, it's a think of beauty.
  • 2 0
 Half steel Stanton @Davec85:
  • 3 0
 @HardtailZero: I'd go 70% in terms of material volume used Smile
  • 5 0
 "Despite the many miles he is expecting to rack up on this bike, reliability and sturdiness were more important than gram pinching"

"despite the many miles"? I would think he wants it to be reliable and sturdy _because_ of the many miles planned. Who f*cking cares about grams if your shit breaks in the literal middle of nowhere? Well, I suppose if it breaks, it's less weight to carry out, hahaha
  • 2 0
 exactly my thoughts
  • 4 0
 Never heard of this brand before but if I ever get a full suspension bike, they should be somewhere on my shortlist. I doubt they (or anyone) can beat Curtis on pricepoint (for a custom geometry frame) but that Vertigo sure has more custom options. And if Ruben from RAAW has put some thought in the suspension design, it sure should be at least half decent.

projectxii.nl/en
  • 6 0
 This is my favorite so far of the European bike challenge bikes. Super classy frame and build. I want to see well lite pictures of the entire bike!
  • 2 0
 The final photo shoot will take place soon :-)
  • 4 1
 Frame is beautiful - love the skinny steel look, especially combined with that beery shock.

"Pembree pedals are designed for e-mtbs primarily but an enduro version is coming soon"... lolz
  • 5 0
 Anyone has a clue what could possibly make a pedal e-mtb specific? (Clueless jokes are welcome too.)
  • 3 0
 @vinay: can hit you in the calves with extra 750W!?


maybe bigger/Stronger axle? thuogh the pedal input itself won't be higher than on a normal bike as the cheatertorque is added "later"
  • 2 0
 @vinay: yeah, marketing bullshit. It's heavy, so they called it "e-bike" and try to sell it as such. Instead of iterating internally and just releasing the lighter "enduro" version as _the_ pedal.

It's super stupid to assume e-bikers don't care about weight, because every extra gram means the battery charge will last that much shorter. If a big selling point of e-bikes is to be able to go further in less time, then lightness should still be a factor so you can actually go significantly further on a charge.
  • 6 0
 *puts tinfoil hat on*

I can't help but wonder whether the whole 'weight isn't important' thing is just being pushed by companies to make e-bikes seem more reasonable. Granted, I've never had a sub 30lb full suss/proper weight weenie bike, but I've never made a bike lighter and not thought it felt better/more fun (shitty skinny tyres aside).

*takes tinfoil hat off*
  • 1 0
 @Ozziefish: Weight isn't that important, to a point. A 32+ pound size large all-mountain bike is just fine for the average weekend warrior that fits on a large and will be nice and tough so they can run a season and not worry about breaking shit. Of course, the XC sometimes-racer that rides more precisely on mellower terrain on a size XS is going to be looking to come in well below 28 pounds, partly just because the bike is going to be a larger percentage of their weight, and partly because raw durability of the bike is less of an issue. But neither is going to want a 40 pound monster, no matter how well it pedals nor how burly it is.

BUT lighter is almost always better, especially if weight is removed from unsprung and/or rotating weight. That's just a fact for all wheeled things.
  • 1 0
 @vinay: my guess is that they're heavy AF because when you're already hauling around 15kg of battery and beer gut who cares about 300g of pedal?
  • 1 0
 @PhillipJ: 15kg of battery doesn't need to be supported by the pedals...
  • 1 0
 @just6979: Unless you're hopping or doing more advanced trials moves. e-bike trials is the next big thing.
  • 1 0
 @vinay: the pedals still aren't going to care if the bike is heavier, only if the rider is heavier
  • 1 0
 @just6979: If you lift the bike by the pedals (dragging feet back and up) then there is a slight increase. That said, it is a dynamic move so you're just going to apply the amount of force and speed that you have. If the bike is heavier, you're just going to end up less high. But on the other hand, for the same height you are going to apply more force.
  • 2 0
 Thanks for all the awesome replies! Not what I had expected from the PB crowd ???? (where's the "looks like a Session??)

If you want more up to date info on what I am working on check my Instagram: www.instagram.com/project12.cycleworks/?hl=nl

I tend to be a bit slow in updating the website...
  • 3 2
 I’m super bias and I hate that suspension design, but I think if it looked a tad different I would more than seriously consider this bike. Steel, coil (but only 130mm travel), and even a gearbox? I don’t think there’s even another bike company that ticks all these boxes
  • 1 0
 Seems like there are several rear travel options between 95mm and 153.
  • 1 0
 @vinay: projectxii.nl/en/vertigo-2

Its 100% custom, each bike seems to be build custom to a person. If you want 60degree head angle, you can have it!
  • 1 0
 @Spiral23: The geometry drawing says you can get HA between 62 and 72deg and I think that'd be fine for most of us. If I'd get one now, it would be
26" wheel specific
63deg HA with a 140mm travel fork
95mm rear travel
425mm chainstay
470mm reach
400mm seattube or less
75deg seat tube angle
It is close to what my hardtail has (custom geometry too) so it sure must be a blast to ride!
  • 1 0
 @just6979: what would want differently?
  • 1 0
 @vinay: i like small rear travel and bigger ish fork,... If i have chance to tru whatever ill actually like something like 160mm front and 100-120 ish in rear. Im supper happy with 64 HTA on my hardtail, so i think ill stay with that. But ill try to make it work for mullet setup. Really like the idea of bigger wheel up front and smaller in back
  • 1 0
 @Spiral23: Actually the DMR Bolt Long could take a 160mm travel fork with 115mm of rear travel. End of the day, it is all about geometry. The amount of travel matters much less. I love how my hardtail rides with 63deg HA and 120mm fork travel. The numbers I jotted up there would, when comparing sagged geometry, make the fully slightly longer and slacker but that's good. It should be more capable, if I'd get something with rear suspension. I just went with 140mm travel because I still have a suitable fork.
  • 1 0
 @Spiral23: I am now finalising the design for a short travel bike with a modern geo and a longer fork. Sort of a long travel softtail idea. Gets 77mm of travel with a 170x30 Sidluxe shock (but with a different shock can be up to 100mm). I will be building one for myself paired to a 120mm Sid at 66° for the Dutch trails, but bigger forks might also be an option.
  • 2 0
 @suravida: I'm riding Dutch trails on a hardtail with a 120mm travel fork, 63 deg head angle. Doesn't hurt one bit Smile . Sounds like a fun bike you're working on there!
  • 2 0
 Looks good, if I ever get a hand built frame it will be a Curtis as they’re just down the road from me and I’ve drooled over one for years. But I’m liking these European built bikes.

More please
  • 1 0
 I've got a curtis am7 love it to bits. Rides beautifully. P
  • 1 0
 @psldix: I want the AM9 with a few custom tweaks. But I’m very jealous of you.
  • 1 0
 Awesome bike.

I have the same seat (just the non padded version) on my road bike and it's the most comfortable seat I have ever used. But you need to be careful when using it for MTB - if you have any steep descents and you are behind the seat it becomes very dangerous (thin wings that can slice you open). It's the only thing that's keeping me from using it on my MTB.
  • 2 0
 Sometimes Pink bike headiles tout a " custom bike" only to find out it's a stock bike with a few changes.
This is a one off custom bike. And it's beautiful!
I wouldn't change a thing.
  • 2 0
 Gear box, no rear derailleur to break off... Except for the one located next to the crank arms... It almost seems a single speed "derailleur" would be more out of the way. Regardless. Holy crap! What a spectacular bike!
  • 1 0
 That is an absolutely beautiful bike design. The workmanship is impeccable also . I’d love to own this bike . The suspension design reminds me of my old Konas. Which I still ride .
Will this gearbox design bike be available for a build for all customers?
  • 2 0
 Absolutely! I am currently working on the design of the next version. My instagram is more up to date than my website: www.instagram.com/project12.cycleworks/?hl=nl
  • 5 0
 Love it!
  • 4 0
 super nice. but it's posted up next to the Grim Donut. Tough break kiddo.
  • 3 0
 Wow. Its a master piece. :-0
  • 1 0
 Merci!
  • 3 1
 Steel is real great to see this small boutique brand from the Netherlands making the news.
  • 3 0
 Why are gearbox bikes not more popular? They make so much sense.
  • 9 0
 They are basically internal geared hubs, just with the gears in the bottom bracket instead of in the rear hub. The main drawback with internal geared hubs, as well as gear boxes is the drag it creates while pedaling.

I once tried 2 city bikes at a bike shop, exactly the same bike, only one with derailleur and one with internal geared hub, and the 2nd one felt like pedaling against the wind after trying the derailleured version first. It is really a noticable difference and quite annoying after you test it.
Because if this inefficiency you will never see one on road or XC bikes.

That said, the gearbox and internally geard hubs do have their benefits and their places where they make sense. For example on city bikes that are locked in the streets every day of the year in all weather (it's sealed so safe against water) and for bike touring as they are much more reliable. I can imagine having one for bikepark bikes and non-racing downhill bikes as well, as they dont have a derailleur sticking out and you don't pedal uphill / long distances with those.
  • 2 3
 @Mattin: which city bikes did you try? it´s like drinking shit beer and saying " i dont like beer it tastes like crap " ... the most internal gear hubs have a shit efficiency but rohloff and pinion are outstanding and pretty close or sometimes better then a derailleur bike.

so please dont post half knowledge if you not really into it. sorry
  • 2 0
 Because you can't just buy a frame and the gearbox from distributors, for one. There is additional drag, weight, and inability to shift under power, which is going to dissuade a lot of people, so manufacturers don't bother. And if you are gonna add weight, especially for city bikes, may as well go with pedal assist these days.
  • 2 0
 @phops: its not as easy as buying an derailleur but it is possible Wink

shifiting under full load - no, shifting under little load - yes, practicing to shift while in the deadspot - doable

the problem with motors and gearboxes is, that they all have different mountings, there is no DIN - so the manufacturers have to build a frame around it. also it is easier to stick what you know...
  • 3 0
 @Zany2410: People have studied various internal gearboxes vs derailleurs, and used singlespeed drivetrains with and without chain tensioners as controls. One study concludes "At most, a Pinion gearbox or Shimano Alfine 11 hub will cost you five minutes per 100km (2.1% slower) when compared to a Rohloff or derailleur drivetrain", and the Rohloff was found to be roughly equivalent to using a derailleur bike with a bad chain line.

So yes - before labeling all gearboxed bikes as excessively draggy, people should look at their own chain cleanliness, derailleur pulley lubrication, and chainline, because they might be at Alfine 11 levels of resistance!
  • 1 0
 @twozerosix: exactly right. the only thing is that this test was made with an motor and not with an human. maybe the test would show the same result. but humans arent consitantly pedaling at the exact same watt. also we´re not working like an motor and putting power in the pedals 360 degrees. if you ever saw a powermeter picture where we have the most power, ppl wouldnt say that you are stronger with clipless. just a few ppl have the techniq to get power of pulling the pedal (in racing over a long distance)
  • 1 0
 @Zany2410: that is true and even debatable if “pulling up” is worthwhile
  • 1 0
 @Zany2410: If it's not to reduce the drag, then why is Shimano working on a gearbox that works with a chain, derailleur and cassette on the inside, instead of the pulley system a normal gearbox / internal geared hub works with?
  • 3 0
 This looks like a proper "ticks all the boxes " thing.
  • 3 0
 I guess Project 12 doesn't plan on building more than 999 bikes.
  • 6 0
 The lovely thing about numbers is that you can just add another digit.
  • 4 0
 @Rig: tell that to y2k
  • 5 0
 I am just gonna rename it to project13 once I've built nr 999 ;-)
  • 1 0
 @suravida: Legit.
  • 3 0
 the details with the pink highlights are dope
  • 3 0
 Send me a link, I want to buy it.
  • 1 0
 Project12.cc
  • 3 0
 Modified single pivot with a flexstay design?
  • 2 0
 love the frame but that lower shock mount fails all the best practices for designing a loaded member
  • 2 0
 The shock mounts and dropouts are so over the top... but so d*mn sexy. WOW 10/10
  • 1 0
 Man, those black parts and dark blue frame really pop with the black background and dim lighting. I can barely see what I have to assume is a high quality bike.
  • 3 1
 #eurotrashd

Want. Drool emoji.
  • 1 0
 Those colors are on point! That highlighting of the cutouts, the perfectly matched blue of the brand name, fucking money!
  • 1 0
 Logo I guess, not brand name, whatever is on the downtube
  • 1 1
 Does anyone know why electronic shifting hasn't been used on gearbox bikes? Seems like a good way to get rid of the twist shift.
  • 1 2
 Pinion is expensive enough. sure there will be a hand full of nerds wanting that stuff. but the gripshift has also benefits. its just practice. if you would always ride gripshift since you´re a kid, trigger shifter will be the same other way round Wink

edit: pinion is also a tad havier then deraillure. you need a motor and a battery to shift... even more technic and money.
pinion is also all about long lasting. so the last thing you want on that is a motor...
  • 1 0
 @Zany2410: I rode gripshift as a kid and hated it... I did recently try the one friend who uses them’s bike and I still don’t get on with them.
  • 2 0
 @korev: its not for everyone, its like beer ;P
  • 1 0
 @Zany2410: Thanks
  • 3 0
 That bike is cool AF!
  • 1 0
 Be on that in a second if only just had a bottom bracket....just a bottom bracket.
  • 2 1
 Nice, I like the self made products. Congrats!
And the total weight?
  • 2 0
 Steel frame, coil shock, gearbox... I would be surprised if it's below 15 kg.
  • 4 0
 @samimerilohi: It weighed in at 16kgs if I remember correctly. Frame with all hardware but no shock or Pinion was 3.8 I believe. But I am working on the next version and plan to drop some weight on the Pinion mount and main pivot.
  • 2 0
 @suravida: Michiel: 2nd paragraph in write up mentions use of silver and brass solder?
Did you by any chance keep track of how much the filler rod contributes to the framesets final weight ??
  • 3 0
 @GT-CORRADO: I use around 7 rods of brass and 4 silver, which comes in at around 200 grams. I will file some of it off then since I am no Curtis, so probably less than 200gr.
  • 4 0
 @suravida: Michiel: Thank you, that's MUCH lower than I would have guessedSmile And pretty much negates the argument for tig welding, as the large fillet from brazing makes for a stronger joint because of the larger radii.
  • 1 0
 @samimerilohi: with the right components and the new version of the frame, i think its possible
  • 1 0
 Had the chance to ride this bike and must say that it didn't feel heavy despite the steel frame, gearbox and coil spring. In fact I thought it was rather nimble.
  • 1 0
 @TEBP: That´s why Joe from Starling says, frameweight doesnt matter as much! sure i dont want to ride a plus 17kg enduro tank, but its not to bad beeing arround 15kg.

i got an PP shan No5 with 15.5kg and a carbon simplon with 12.5 kg. both 160mm front. the biggest difference is geo, suspension design and pedal efficiency. sure you notice the 3kg weight difference if you accelerate but while riding down the trail i cant notic a big difference. i kinda prefer the weight while jumping somehow...
  • 2 2
 Are they not listening to anyone?! We wanted more ALUMINUM bikes, not steel. Wink
  • 1 0
 Sarcasm never goes over well here
  • 2 0
 @hamncheez: I knew that from the start!
  • 1 0
 have a look at gamux runi , there you have your beer can bike Razz
  • 2 0
 Steel is the future
  • 2 0
 i want one
  • 1 0
 I bet a steel frame with a coil shock at 130ish travel rides just lovely.
  • 1 0
 This is better.
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