Anthony Poillot is 37-year-old French hand tool designer who decided to build himself a bike.
In 2013, Anthony bought a Santa Cruz Tallboy LTc, which he describes as one of the first do-it-all full suspension 29ers available in XL sizing. At the time, he didn’t see many high-end trail bikes in his area, and he became captivated by the bike: the strength (which he observed from watching numerous strength test videos), the carbon production process (which he read about as much as he could), and the fact that it was available in a size large enough to fit his six-and-a-half-foot tall stature.
Anthony has worked in product development for hand tools since 2007 using CAD to design three-dimensional objects. When his new bike inspired him to learn about carbon bike production, he started modeling bikes and toying with the idea of one day becoming a bike engineer.
Once the idea was planted, it just took a nudge before Anthony decided to act on it. He read in the Pinkbike comments section that any engineer who wanted to work in the bike industry would need to present a good portfolio to show what they can do, so he decided to create a real-life example of his work.
Laying out the carbon prepreg in the mold is no small feat. It takes five consecutive days for Anthony to position the front triangle and another five for the swingarm.
Anthony was drawn to working with carbon partly for its strength-to-weight ratio and partly because he felt he could create exactly the bike he wanted with the equipment he already had, whereas building a metal bike would have been more complicated in his garage workshop.
Still, the process of building a bike from scratch is obviously complex, and he took a class on working with composites to make sure he could get answers to all his questions. He also found mentors in the handmade bike world who gave him advice. “Sometimes I felt I could be annoying with my questions, but these guys, they always took on their time to answer my questions, and I am really grateful that they shared their knowledge with me,” he said.
The frame and molds all starts in CAD.
Once the design is complete, the carbon prepreg is positioned in the molds and cured in Anthony's homemade oven.
Not many people can say they've built their own carbon bikes from scratch.
The iridescent blue looks pretty nice under the light. Plus it has a threaded BB, of course.
Anthony has built three frames now. The first two were for his personal use, while this third one is for his brother.
Anthony made these frames because they are what he wants to ride. The 120 mm / 130 mm trail bike suits him well. "It’s a versatile mountain bike that you would use every day," he says. "It climbs well and descend fast enough, and it’s comfortable."
The name Monotrace means 'singletrack' in French, a nod to the intention of making an all-around trail bike. He's clear that he made these bikes as a passion project and doesn't intend to sell them because of how difficult it would be to scale up production.
While he does want to build more bikes in the future, he would rather work for a bike company than start his own brand. He thinks of the Monotrace as his portfolio and job application for a position as a mechanical engineer or frame designer. Considering what he built in his garage, he could probably do a lot with the resources available at an established bike company.
Still, "Never say never," he says when asked if he would ever sell the Monotrace. He enjoys making bikes and wants to see where this project can go.