Bike Check: The Monotrace, a Handmade, Carbon, Full Suspension Concept Bike Brought to Life in France

Feb 17, 2021
by Alicia Leggett  


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.

Monotrace mountain bike


Rider Name // Anthony Poillot
Age: 37
Hometown: Beaune, France
Height: 6'6" / 198 cm
Bike Size: XXL
Instagram: @monotrace_cycles

bigquotesI had thought sometime to become a bike engineer, but there are not many opportunities, and much more candidates I guess. And I remember one day I read in the Pinkbike comments that engineers who want to work in the industry should send a good portfolio of their work, whether it’s building a bike or components of a bicycle, which shows how motivated to learn they are. I think it’s part of why I started this. But not only. This is a challenging project, and at some point, I needed a challenge like this to prove to myself I could do something great.Anthony Poillot

Monotrace mountain bike
Anthony acknowledges that there's no space for a bottle cage. He built the bike for himself and his needs, and he doesn't need a bottle cage. "I always ride with a backpack so I can bring a small workshop," he said.

Monotrace mountain bike
Geometry Details:
Model:'Numero 3,' the custom-sized bike Anthony built for his brother
Intended use: All-around trail bike
Wheel size: 29"
Travel: 120 mm rear / 130 mm front
Effective seat tube angle: 76.38 degrees
Head tube angle: 66.5 degrees
Reach: 475 mm
Wheelbase: 1217 mm
Effective top tube: 625 mm
Seat tube: 445 mm
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.

bigquotesAt the time, some of the early full monocoque carbon frames were showing up. For example, I remember when the first Ibis Mojo was released, it was fascinating to me. Just because I could see the amount of work needed just to design a frame like that. Now that we see so many of these carbon frames out there, no one would believe it took them something like 2000 hours just for the CAD. I can understand that just because I also spent so much time building complex 3D models. I am not that old, but I remember the time when the regenerate button wasn’t as fast as it is now! Computers were really slow, and you’d think twice before you modified anything.Anthony Poillot

Monotrace mountain bike
Monotrace mountain bike
The frame and molds all starts in CAD.

Monotrace mountain bike
Monotrace mountain bike
Once the design is complete, the carbon prepreg is positioned in the molds and cured in Anthony's homemade oven.

Monotrace mountain bike
Monotrace mountain bike
Not many people can say they've built their own carbon bikes from scratch.

Monotrace mountain bike
Monotrace mountain bike
The iridescent blue looks pretty nice under the light. Plus it has a threaded BB, of course.

Monotrace mountain bike
This frame has blue dye in the clear coat to make it "Candy Blue." The first frame was painted green and the second was clear-coated.

Monotrace mountain bike
Monotrace mountain bike
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.

Monotrace mountain bike



160 Comments

  • 204 0
 "Not many people can say they've built their own carbon bikes from scratch."
Not many if us are *brave* enough to do so, congratulations man it looks like an absolutely stunning labor of love! I'd be so curious to see how it rides
  • 36 1
 Never mind bravery (Not that it isn’t) how about the skills...
  • 3 1
 Hopefully, it rides like a bike.
  • 13 2
 Mike Levy - Grim Donut 2.0 - carbon.... hmmmm....
  • 7 1
 @justanotherusername: you are underestimating the quality of the you tube tutorial man... ; )
  • 4 3
 @trillot: Levy didn't build it.
  • 4 0
 I'd love to build my own bikes. However, I've seen how much work goes into it! I'll stick to buying them :-)
  • 1 0
 @tall-martin: That's what I said about making a robot/anime costume. I was going to make my own for like, 5000$+; with a 3D, printer, and stuff, then I'm like, "you could probably actually purchase any fricking GOAT costume for like 1000-2000$, what's the point!?"
  • 4 0
 @Kramz: something something journey not the destination something something.
  • 1 0
 This guy cooked his bike in his own oven.
  • 1 0
 @frix182: when I was in college I work with an making carbon parts for Ducati’s. We cured parts in multiple standard ovens he bought at the dump.
  • 1 0
 Labor of love ? Exactly
Really appreciate the words @Normdaofficer , thank you
  • 135 0
 That blue carbon is so pretty
  • 10 0
 Looks like a paint shop found on new Paganis or Bugattis. Absolutely stunning. Hats Off for the craftmanship
  • 59 0
 This is definitely the best looking DIY frame I've ever seen. What are those molds made of?
  • 20 0
 From Anthony's Instagram page: high temp epoxy gelcoat EG160 and epoxy mold putty EMP60 from @easycomposites
You need a clean pattern placed epoxy coated, coated with easylease release agent for best result

He did a really nice job!
  • 3 0
 @OceanPhil: Correct for front triangle
3d printed Polycarbonate + EMP60 for swingarm
  • 1 0
 @Monotrace-proto: you 3d print the exact same shape as the frame, and insert it into the liquid gelcoat to take the shape?
  • 1 0
 @Monotrace-proto: If you have .step files of your bike frame design or you mould tools. You can head over to www.plyable.com upload them and get prices/lead times for all sorts of different composite tools from many different materials.
  • 45 1
 2000 hours just for CADing? And I thought I am slow. That's 3 hours every evening for 2 years !!! I've been living life like this for the past several years and must admit it's sometime pretty exhausting :-). It weirdly becomes your second full time job which you can't stop thinking about neither in your ordinary fulltime job nor during your free-time activities. You learn to hide sketches between work notes or place them within your kids' drawings.
.
I like this bike very much.
  • 2 1
 Love it
  • 6 9
 2000 hours really doesnt make sense for a bike frame. Unless there is a HUGE amount of procrastination and mistakes involved in that process.
  • 7 1
 @radrider: Have you tried that? It's not that once you have done suspension layout in Linkage you are OK and can straightforwardly draw the frame in CAD. If professional designer like Ibis need 2000hours to CAD one model, then home engineer may need even more despite he's skilled CAD in other area. You always come to a halt point which must be solved and not passed over. During the process you change your mind and redraw some parts.
  • 5 8
 @fluider: I can't comprehend where 2000 hours would be spent on a bike frame, unless that encompasses the entire design process too. To render a frame in CAD or SW or whatever could not take more than 200 hours unless there is a serious lack of proficiency with the program or major changes during the process.
2000 hours is about the time required to become a very skilled 3D modeler. Or to render an entire car in hyper realism.
I've spent hundred of hours in linkage, and thousands rendering.
  • 12 0
 @radrider: probably 1800 hours working his paying job to afford the SW license to use for 200 hrs
  • 3 1
 @radrider: OK then. How much time did you spend to prepare this model of your bike: www.pinkbike.com/photo/14216458 ? From the Linkage part (if you used it) to the very last "Save" button in your CAD tool? Is that CAD ready to be sent over to production? Does it have moulds modelled as well?
.
Maybe, everyone is just accounting different kinds of work under the "CAD". For someone it's just modelling in CAD, for other one it's done only when moulds are done as well, or only after complete documentation if done. Someone spends half of the time in FEA verifications.
  • 1 1
 @alicialeggett Alicia, is Anthony reachable here at PinkBike? Do you think you could reach him to provide some more details about his project?
  • 2 0
 It took me about 200h (just guessing) to design my built in CAD. And I'm including the back and forth between Fusion 360 and linkage. 2000h seems really far off.
  • 2 1
 @fluider: that is 4 years ago, at the very beginning of learning to model when most of my time was spent learning the program(that was Blender). That was not a high end cad model but did have very high detail in the form. I would be surprised if I had put 200 hours into that including sketches and linkage testing.

Doing a CAD drawing for cutting out precision molds is different than making a pretty render of a frame. The more organic a shape the more work it is going to take to create in CAD.

But 2000 hours is 2000 hours, and a bike frame is a bike frame. Not sure what CAD was like 10 or 15 years ago though, I'm guessing really cumbersome.
  • 2 1
 @fluider: totally agree with you. It's completely different if you just need a image of a bike or a fully functional cad that you are sure the kinematik is fine, nothing is colliding, the stresses are low enough, the tolerances are good AND achievable (looking at many big brands out there).
And to model a mould that you trust is another big step. Better invest 100-200 h in cad and then invest all the money for nothing
  • 2 1
 @Bloodshot0: modelling tolerances is not difficult. The difficulty is in manufacturing the tolerances you design, and further designing within the confines of the manufacturing tolerances available.
  • 1 0
 @radrider: no modeling tolerances is easy but to come up with a design where you can guarantee the tolerances needed in a home shop is hard. More about design for manufacturing
  • 2 0
 @fluider: PM me if you need more details
  • 1 0
 @fluider: PM me if you need more details
  • 1 1
 That frame design is $28,000+ if he was working at minimum wage with no benefits. Yikes....
  • 3 0
 @dadunc205x: But I thought you Yanks liked Bootstraps n shit like that??
  • 1 0
 @radrider: don’t take this at face value,
I think I heard something like that, and remember it was in 2004,
Surface modeling on ProEngineer before Wildfire wasn’t what it is today on Creo or others
  • 32 7
 Obligatory "no water bottle" comment....
  • 3 3
 You beat me to it haha
  • 3 7
flag IluvRIDING (Feb 17, 2021 at 13:37) (Below Threshold)
 No bottle no interested, my friend.
  • 14 0
 Ima make a bike where the top tube is a water bottle, sandwich in the down tube, weed in the stem which is also a pipe
  • 6 1
 I'm not sure what you are looking at. I see a water bottle:
www.pinkbike.com/photo/20157337
  • 1 0
 @DizzyNinja: I would die laughing if I saw dudes sucking on their stems at the trailhead.
  • 1 0
 I think that front triangle (in front of the front irregular quadrilateral) could take a bottle if it had mounts
  • 1 0
 @IluvRIDING: that's convienent since he doesn't have one to sell you. the market has reached equillibrium!
  • 21 2
 Rear end looks like an orange but better
  • 41 0
 Ibis + Orange = this?
  • 9 0
 @KJP1230: underrated comment... total Ibis/Orange love child
  • 4 0
 @KJP1230: First thing I thought of as well. Orbis?
  • 4 0
 Abit of RM at the front too......Ibis the Orange Slayer?
  • 23 9
 I'm the same height and would feel super crammed on 475mm reach with a similar ESTA. Just goes to show how different our needs can be.
  • 5 3
 Was going to say the same thing. I was expecting to see 520+
  • 1 1
 Same here (okay about an inch shorter) and the 513mm reach on my YT feels pretty spot on.
  • 6 0
 The geo numbers could be for the "number 3" bike it says he built for his brother. The green frame that he's standing in front of looks different in he seat post area than the blue frame.
  • 3 1
 I’m 6’3 and got back ache on a long ride on my old bike at 475mm reach. New bike is 516mm and feels perfect.
Sizing is off, that’s not an XXL, it’s basically a large in modern sizing!
  • 6 0
 @paxel is correct, that's the geo chart for the blue bike that is featured, which was built for his brother, not the two XXLs he built for himself. I updated the geo box to clarify.
  • 13 0
 Wait, WHAT!!!..... THAT DOESN'T LOOK LIKE A TREK!!!!!! Lol Superb job he's done, that electric blue carbon looks amazing! I'd also love to see an independent review of how it rides in PB.
  • 7 1
 Ibis like?
  • 11 0
 I have no idea what it's like to be 6'5 or have any skills beyond ham-fisted wrench turning and sketching dodgy stick figures. So I think this is just plain awesome.

And I daresay, in my limited experience with the vast history of our sport and even though this bike is a new hand-built, that candy blue colourway could be "iconic". You know Yeti by Turquoise...you would know Monotrace by Candy Blue Carbon. Or, more fittingly/marketable, "Bonbon Bleu Carbone".
  • 8 0
 And this is why I don't want orange to change haha
  • 4 0
 For anyone wondering what it's like to hand build a carbon bike from, easy composites (a great resource for anyone wanting to get into fabrication with carbon fiber) did this awesome video of a custom downhill bike layup: www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWSePEV88tw
  • 7 1
 “Hey Bro, I like you so much I am going to take 10 days and laminate you up a custom bike! “
Awesome !
  • 1 0
 @Uriah lucky bro no ?
  • 7 0
 That Candy Blue colour.... it looks stunning!
  • 3 0
 Having just started doing small DIY CF projects over the last 6 months, I can really appreciate the effort you've put into this frame. So many details including the weave orientation on the top tube. Absolutely stunning! I hope to one day have a good shop setup and maybe take something like this on... I too am your height and am pretty particular about what I want in a bike. Cheers!
  • 2 0
 @derekr glad you like it, and keep going with your project !
  • 6 0
 It’s an Ibange! ....or an Oranbis?
  • 1 2
 the ugly orange prevails
  • 2 0
 What is possible if you overturn the assumption that a bottle is a requirement.....I dont know if every vestigial design characteristic of bottle requirements has been removed from a bike other than maybe something like a balfa BB7 or similar. What might be possible if we really take those bottle design trends out of our minds when designing.... This was not intended as sarcasm at all. I am genuinely curious if there are modern advantages that might come from this mindset....but also...I dont know if there are any significant changes....I just know I hit bottles with my knee, they fall out...and partly because of that, I use a pack always also.
  • 2 0
 My single pivot 2011 Bullet was actually bullet proof, but man brake jack was nasty! Beautiful sled though, I'm sure all those kinks have been ironed out with the high pivot. And Helm is so underrated, 160mm is a high performance creak free low maintenance work horse when you dial it in properly.
  • 5 0
 Really really cool. I wonder what the production costs are.
  • 1 1
 probably about $15-20 grand including labor
  • 1 2
 @imnotdanny: layup labor alone maybe. what about research & design work? creating the molds? testing?
  • 3 1
 Once you have mould, costs not that high?
5 -7 sq m of carbon & 2-3 liters resin, just need a bigger oven?
  • 1 0
 @imnotdanny: take 15$ and divide by 10, approx. That’s for all materials, molds included
Add 220hours of work + a box of 100 nitrile gloves. That’s free of charge for my bro
  • 2 1
 The Ibis influence is definitely noticeable in the lines of the front end, and that's not at all a bad thing! Combined with that color (blue is always a win, candy is pretty much always a win, so win-win!), awesome looking.

Only question is who decided its "size" is 2 eXtra Large, especially since there is only 1 size? Reach and wheelbase line up with a modern large, if it had to get categorized...
  • 2 0
 @just6979 nice if you see some similarities with these beautiful frames.
The shape of my frame is much more simple and really less refined.
I have a lot of respect for their work.

Glad you like the blue Candy, I like it too

As for the geo , numbers were corrected, that’s for the large size
  • 1 0
 Looks P decent! Only changes I would personally make are, remove the top tube front hump, and make the left chainstay, asymmetrical/more normal, as there's no chain on that side. Also, of course, a Motion France fork, to make it so French it hurts, and they're very nice. But we're really pulling hairs, it's pretty much perfect. These are pretty much just minute, self centered idealizations, for myself. Great bike, really can't pick out any glaring flaws.
  • 1 0
 Quelle reussite Anthony!
Je suis vraiment impressione par ce talent et cette perseverance et ce sans parler du design et de la geo du bike!
Chapeau bas monsieur
En esperant que le futur t'amenes a grandir ton atelier et a faire de nouveaux moules...qui sait??!!!
  • 1 0
 @audric merci beaucoup pour ces compliments, ça fait plaisir !
On ne sait jamais, mais pour le moment il n’est pas prévu que je refasse d’autre cadre..
  • 7 3
 Looks like he MonoTraced an Ibis...
  • 3 0
 Looks like a Heckler had its wicked way with one.
  • 5 0
 Looks like a kirk
  • 2 1
 Dammit! Beat me to it - that was my first thought!
  • 4 0
 orange and ibis had a love child.
  • 3 1
 That is awesome, if that forms part of a resume Mr Poillot may well find himself working in the bike, aero, motor sport world. etc etc, seriously impressive.
  • 2 0
 If by chance he needs to make a medium that needs testing in the pacific northwest, I'd give it a go. Would be hard work, but sacrifices can be made.
  • 1 1
 Looks like a wannabe Ibis that had to settle with a less sophisticated rear suspension design. In other news all carbon fiber bikes are laid up by hand so the claim of "handmade" is actually nothing special. I'd be more impressed by a machine laid up carbon fiber frame that uses minimal pieces of prepreg or does injection carbon fiber molding (carbon fiber doesn't have to be a fabric).
  • 4 1
 Early 2000s Marin anyone?
  • 3 1
 Props on the reasonable length seat tube for an XXL! In my mind even most large frames have a too long seat tube.
  • 4 0
 Looks like an Orange Wink
  • 3 0
 Looks like an oddly beautiful amalgamation between a Mojo and Fezzari
  • 2 0
 Here's a crazy idea: Morph that down tube protector into a bottle holding sub-structure shell that's bolted to the frame.
  • 1 1
 Actually I bet that would work. Especially with that kinky downtube, there could be a cover that is goes straight from the headtube to the BB that could fit a water bottle + a few other small items. It would look weird, but unique and (maybe) functional.
  • 1 0
 Just wanted to say, amazing work, beautiful design and really happy you got to create this for yourself. Wishing you all the luck in the future!
  • 1 0
 @dhjunkie thank you, appreciate
  • 2 0
 Looks like an Orange Bikes 327 mating with Ibis bikes Mojo. Little birds and the bees class going on here?
  • 2 0
 Very nice looking bike, if you pair the logo with gold, gold components would do a better job imho..
  • 1 0
 Carbonwasp 3dprints the mold with big printers. I am wondering what's the mold made of here. It does not look like milled aluminium.
  • 1 0
 Smashing darlin'g, simply smashing! Realllly well done, congrats on nailing it. Now, how does it ride? The geo numbers look pretty spot on.
  • 2 1
 I'm really loving that bookmatched carbon weave with the blue. The look is beautiful.
  • 2 1
 What is the mold made out of that it could be made in his garage shop!? not questioning, just curious!
  • 2 0
 @skeeple Gelcoat and epoxy reinforcement for front triangle
Polycarbonate and epoxy reinforcement for swingarm
  • 2 1
 Amazing bike. Love the blue carbon and would love to see a review on this bike.
  • 1 0
 BEHOLD! The love child of a GT Fury, Rocky Mountain Pipeline and Santa Cruz Jackall.
  • 2 1
 Look like a melted v10. I like it.
  • 2 1
 Those are really short reach and top tube measurements for an XXL frame.
  • 1 3
 Totally but I guess it works for him.
  • 2 1
 Arbr saker springs to mind
  • 1 1
 i love it...he's from beaune, smack dab in the middle of borgogne-the original wine country.
  • 1 0
 @flipoffthemonkeys hey, look at the last photo of the article, zoom in, and you should see something good in the shadow ;-)
  • 1 0
 @Monotrace-proto: i was there 20 years ago, such a beautiful place. i think we spent the night in nuit saint george. one of these days i might get back there...
  • 1 0
 Looks like he needs 50mm bars, maybe 80.
  • 1 0
 twist that shock body! Upside-down logo hurts my yeux!
  • 1 0
 Bottle cage under the down tube, Good job
  • 1 0
 I loved my cannondale rush carbon!
  • 1 0
 Loves megatower Makes single pivot bike
  • 1 1
 Why does the nds stay need to be elevated? Rear triangle looks like an old cannondale super v
  • 1 0
 So much for DH bike week.
  • 1 0
 Je ne suis pas fan du carbone mais là, c'est un chef d'œuvre ! ????
  • 1 0
 looks like an Ibis shagged an Orange.
  • 1 0
 Everybody likes the blue, but what about the green! ????
  • 1 0
 Great effort and work! Keep up with the great work!
  • 1 0
 Ibis meets Orange and had a baby boy
  • 1 1
 I'll be honest here. It looks like Ibis and Orange had a child with down syndrome.
  • 1 0
 Looks like Ibis and Orange had a baby back in ~2010
  • 1 0
 Ibis may have smth to say here.. ;P
  • 2 1
 cool bike
  • 2 1
 Beautiful!!!!!!!!
  • 1 1
 Read it as "Mow, Not Race"

#dadlife
  • 1 1
 It looks like a Haro Master from the early 90's. I love it.
  • 2 1
 I'd ride it
  • 1 1
 Blue carbon look amazing.
  • 1 1
 When not sure between Polygon and Ibis
  • 1 1
 Does not look like a session! That blue candy is eye candy.
  • 2 1
 Épatant, bravo
  • 1 1
 Downtube straight from a Chumba EVO. RIP Chumba...sort of
  • 1 1
 Beautiful raw and colored raw carbon. Very nicely done sir.
  • 1 1
 Nice ride. Hats off to all the hand made bike builders out there.
  • 1 0
 What a legend!
  • 1 0
 Looks like a Saker
  • 1 1
 what is the weight though
  • 1 0
 Looks like an mojodale
  • 1 0
 Polygon ibis
  • 1 1
 Mono-brow
  • 2 3
 This is not a DH bike...
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