Frameworks' Bonded Alloy Prototype Made by Faction Bike Studio

Feb 28, 2024
by Matt Beer  

In a recent Instagram post made by Faction Bike Studio, they’ve announced that they’ve built a prototype for Frameworks, Neko Mulally’s bike company. The prototype aluminum front triangle uses “tube and lug” construction for their downhill team to test.

The new front triangle design is built in two parts; round aluminum tubes are pressed and bonded into the CNC'd lugs, similar to the recently released aluminum frames from Atherton Bikes.

This construction method drastically increases the strength-to-weight ratio, saving 373g. Since there are no welded frame members, no zones are affected by heat and retain precise alignment, leading to faster prototyping turnarounds.

The project is supported by Faction Bike Studio, a bicycle engineering company based in Granby, Canada, which specializes in the prototype construction method. Loctite North American also lent a helping hand with recommendations on the bonding process and the adhesives themselves.

Neko says that this is still a prototype, but the frame uses all of the same pivot locations as the production version. When speaking to confidence in strength, Faction Bike Studio put the prototype through testing using forces recorded by the Frameworks team at the last two World Cups.

photo
The 2024 Frameworks Team (left to right): Asa Vermette, Neko Mulally, and Angel Suarez. The current production version of the Frameworks Downhill Bike uses traditional aluminum tubes and machined components (on the front triangle) that are welded by Frank The Welder.

Dario had the chance to swing a leg over the current Frameworks enduro bike at Whistler Crankworx this past summer, and has held onto it as his personal daily driver. Increasing the strength-to-weight ratio using the lug and tube construction would be highly beneficial to their enduro bike prototype almost more so than the DH frame, since you'll be climbing uphill on this one.

photo

Update: When asked further regarding whether or not Faction Bike Studio would be producing Frameworks' bikes, or their own for that matter, Adam Robbins, their product manager, explained that this was a prototype for a client, and wouldn't reveal exactly where it was made.

bigquotes

"We have no plans on creating any production frames. Neko had the idea of creating a bonded bike and we thought it was a great opportunity to support him and show off a portion of our prototyping services. Having our engineers work closely with Frameworks Racing allows us to implement world cup level data values into these prototype frames and also into future bikes you will probably end up riding. (Check out how we gathered these values here). All the lugs on the Frameworks bike were designed by our design team and were CNC'd from a billet. We won't share where as it's an aspect to our service that ensures top notch quality and a super quick turn around.
Adam Robbins, Product Manager - Faction Bike Studio


Author Info:
mattbeer avatar

Member since Mar 16, 2001
361 articles

113 Comments
  • 189 1
 Man I'm rooting for this dude.
  • 149 1
 Dude I’m rooting for this man.
  • 11 25
flag naptime FL (Feb 28, 2024 at 22:51) (Below Threshold)
 insert rooting, bromance joke here
  • 78 0
 Man I'm duding for this root.
  • 35 0
 Dude, I'm manning this root Razz
  • 16 0
 Dis a rooting tootin ho-down
  • 4 1
 @Grandma: This is the way
  • 9 1
 I’m this man for dude rooting.
  • 7 0
 I know who I am! I'm a dude rooting for the dude, disguised as another dude!
  • 5 0
 I'm man rooting this dude?
  • 10 0
 I guess this thread is about male bonding rather than aluminum bonding?
  • 3 0
 @CSharp: Why not both!? Male bonding whilst bonding aluminum(nium).
  • 3 0
 For this I'm rooting man dude.
  • 2 0
 I'm for this dude rooting man.
  • 1 0
 Man, dude, we're all rooting!
  • 106 0
 Bond. Neko Bond.
  • 2 1
 Look...it’s Goldfinger! No wait, it’s just Niko & that messy golden-hue Loctite epoxy...
  • 2 0
 @WRCDH: No, Goldfinger comes from Finland.
  • 1 0
 Nekobondage
  • 76 0
 Judging by how thoroughly my aluminium seatpost is electrochemically bonded to my commuter, loctiting everything seems superfluous
  • 58 1
 Is there a Frank The Bonder?
  • 14 0
 Frank the Glue Guy
  • 12 0
 @mi-bike: I know him! He's nothing to do with bikes though unless you count the ones he nicked to sell for more solvent.
  • 32 0
 “Frank The J-B Welder” is his new DBA.
  • 8 3
 Bob the bonder
  • 4 3
 Someone's been reading the Vital tech forums I see. Classy
  • 2 0
 Frankie sticky tubes...
  • 1 0
 Frank the Wadleton FTW
  • 1 0
 Brian Bebondy
  • 1 0
 Frank the Melder
  • 19 1
 Frank's pissed
  • 27 0
 Frank's coming unglued*
  • 16 5
 Looks 100 times less ugly than the regular frame. They look a little too crude for my taste, this new prototype has more flowing lines,more refined aesthetics. Loved the steel frame they got from Cotic,it was simple clean looking frame for a DH bike.
  • 10 1
 I bought a Trek 8000 in 1993 that had bonded aluminum construction. I loved that bike. Curse the thief that broke into my car and stole it.
  • 4 0
 I still have my bonded Trek 7000 frame (1989).
  • 124 0
 @commental: Me too, got it out of some mook's car.
  • 7 0
 As a (very) old Metal Melter, I think this might be a great thing for Neko to try, and, perhaps get that 'USP' that is so sought after in MTB circles.

As it is, he's got a great, but very conventional frame - this at least is different. Please note : I am in NO Way knocking Neko or his frames - I've followed his frame adventure from the start - he's done well.

Though I wish he'd do some 'making' himself. Making things, as in cutting / machining / welding, or, in this case, Bonding, Yourself, is one of the greatest joys!

The cost of the 'lugs', may well be offset against the cost of a skilled welder, and any post weld heat treatment and alignment. and machining.

Though, there's few things easier for geometry and construction changes than doing a different mitre angle and welding things together.

Bonding has been around for decades - well, hundreds of years, in many different forms.

Bikes like Suzuki's DR250 and 350 had a bonded swingarm - the 'arms' bonded to the front pivot section. As a precaution, Suzuki did have bolts in place as an added bit of security. Suzuki themselves said the bolts were not really 'that' necessary, but caution won out . I've seen some adventurous ( or unknowing, or risk taking ) individuals run the swingarms without the bolts. . Usually, when the swingarms were being used on 'Specials', like a Street Tracker.

This will be interesting - Go Neko!
  • 2 0
 He told me that if they go for this new bonded frame for the market that he, Logan, Anxo, etc. will likely be doing the bonding/assembly. They did all the assembly for the current run of DH bikes they sold as well.
  • 3 0
 Lot's of aerospace stuff has 'chicken rivets' that weren't necessary with bonded parts either, but someone decided they trusted it more with them.
  • 1 0
 It's cool, I like it too, but you make it sound like this is the first time it is done in cycling (or mountain biking, for that matter). It is not, of course.
Alan and Vitus (the French brand, not the current English Vitus) did it loooooong ago, and after that brands like SR Sakae, Giant (with their Cadex frames), Koga Miyata and others had bonded frames with aluminium lugs and aluminium and/or carbon tubes. Many of them still going strong, and I don't know of any of those brands having big problems with the technology.
  • 4 0
 I am anxious to hear more about this design and how it performs. I had a bonded alloy Panasonic road frame 30+ years ago and it rode really well. The design seemed to fall out of favor.
  • 3 0
 Guys and gals, this is a very old idea. Mass market bonded aluminum road bikes were a big thing in the 1980s. Google “Trek 1200” if you’re curious. I don’t know if they have the best reputation as *road bikes* let alone bikes you hurl down a track at World Cup speed.
  • 5 0
 Bianchi had a line of bonded aluminum bikes as well.

The big difference is 40+ years of material science developing new and better epoxies and bonding agents. I wouldn’t worry too much about longevity, removing the welding from the process allows you to buy tubes and billets that were heat treated and come with ASTM documentation. If you’re just cutting and shaping those materials you won’t mess with the factory temper.
  • 3 1
 You might want to tell the athertons and motorsport / aerospace industry it’s a bad idea too.
  • 1 0
 Greg Herbold did just fine on his Koga Miyata, though that one admitedly partly had carbon tubes instead of aluminium.
Still one of the coolest bikes ever, by the way.

www.theproscloset.com/cdn/shop/articles/Greg_Herbold_Miyata_Ridge_Runner.jpg?v=1692317934&width=2000
  • 3 0
 I’m giving my coworker a 1990 Trek 2300 for his girlfriend. Bonded carbon tubes and aluminum head tube and rear triangle. It seems to have held up well for a 34 year old bike.
  • 3 0
 This right here is nothing less than the future of mountain bike construction. CNC'd and bonded frames, made from AL 7075. The stiffness-to-weight ratio that can be achieved with this method of construction is so good that it will make carbon pretty much obsolete, at least for long-travel bikes.
  • 1 0
 Alum bonded to aluminum is the way. Carbon bonded to aluminum is not the greatest, the have very different rates of expansion and contraction from heat and cold which can lead to separation. Can't remember which road bike but the had aluminum dropouts bonded to carbon and they were separating from air transport temps. They switched to Ti because it's closer to Carbon when it comes to expansion and contraction. There's a reason Atherton uses Ti lugs and not alum. Bernards proto has me a little concerned but also its showing that it's possible to make it last at least a season.
  • 9 6
 Love this… but wonder how the folks who just got their first Frameworks frame delivered are going to feel that this is in the works immediately after delivery lol just a thought
  • 4 3
 Was thinking the same thing
  • 27 2
 Neko is chasing gains anywhere he can. This is a race team with a race bike in part funded by people who buy his frames and other co sponsors. It would be quite different if a brand like Santa Cruz or specialized did this (they do fyi they just aren’t open about it).

He’s making a bike to be competitive for himself and his team and isn’t necessarily focused on high volume sales so it works. Would be quite different if he needed to sell 10,000+ units.

I think it’s awesome how open he is about his development and the lengths he’s going to make the fastest bike he possibly can. There’s a lot of insight to gain from it.

But I do see your point, luckly the people who are sacking up to buy one of his frames are also the kinda people who won’t be so bothered by this imo.
  • 8 0
 Right now it's just a prototype, still gotta go through real world testing and then be financially viable for mass production as well...
  • 6 0
 Gonna be a while till this is available if they do go for it.

And you also need to see if it increase performance or is it to allow for easier changes to geometry and potentially a future of in-house assembly like the athertons do?

This production method could open the door to more in-house small brands while at reasonable prices - it’s cool to see.
  • 6 0
 @bitterbiker: Name checks out.

Not everyone lives a life full of regret. I'd like to think those folks bought the frame because they wanted one and with no concern of what Neko might do next.
  • 4 1
 Those CNC lugs would raise the price of the bike significantly on a production level.
  • 4 0
 The could sell the lugs, glue and a hacksaw as a kit to convert the old bike.
  • 3 0
 @Aem221: I’m not so sure about that.

Once you have things proved out you a 5 axis with some automation could keep these lugs running almost 24 hrs a day entirely absent of human input, 5Dev have lots of machines capable of this.

Making a welded frame at this qty is hugely labour intensive in comparison and labour is super expensive.

Is the pole frame more expensive than the welded frameworks?
  • 4 0
 @justanotherusername: Yeah but those parts specifically are pretty complicated at least in that design. You would have to pay a machine shop enough to want to run those small quantity easily messed up parts that take up a lot of time on a machine or buy your own machines and pay a programmer to write programs and an operator to run them all day. Welders get paid less than CNC Programmers and operators even.

source: Im a process engineer at a CNC machine shop lol
  • 4 0
 @Aem221: I part own a machine shop and don’t agree at all.

Yea fairly difficult parts but for production once they are dialled that becomes irrelevant (tolerances won’t be mental) and as I said above a 5 axis machine with automation (5Dev have what appears to be a whole factory full of such machines) removes any need for operator babying.

Programming isn’t the dark art it used to be, plenty of people out there would probably love the job of programmer / operator working on this kind of project.

Look up frameworks - the guy solo makes frames from cnc lugs and carbon tubes, parametric modelling means he can change the model and barely alter cam, does them all with 4 axis too, he’s a super smart guy.

CNC is becoming cheap compared to labour - I can buy a multi pallet 5 axis machine for the same monthly cost as a machine operator (not programmer) per month - like I say look at Pole, the whole things machined and the price is in the ballpark of welded boutique frames.
  • 3 0
 possibly a more affordable version of the Atherton (all ally as to Ti carbon)
If I was rich there's something I would invest in.......
  • 11 0
 Atherton has been teasing the all aluminum s series bikes for a little bit
  • 1 0
 @BovineAssassin: Nice, I wasn't in to the construction technique at first then, I saw one in the real (Dan & Racheals bikes at Dyfi BP) & they're atually Really good looking, kinda beautifull almost!
  • 3 0
 No honey, it's not what you think it is. I just went down to the Faction Bike Studio for a quick tube and lug. It was nothing, really.
  • 1 0
 I was trying to extract a broken suspension pivot axle out of an insert in my old carbon framed Santa Cruz.
The insert might have been 14 or 16mm OD diameter.
I broke all screw extractors trying to get that out of there.. I mean two feet on the bike, cheater bar on the tool!
It never budged..
If they can get metal to bond to carbon like that (thank you Formula One) then I bet those massive frame tubes will be just fine.

Wonder if they’re going after geo options with custom lugs like Atherton?
  • 2 0
 The bike is nice but so is the timeless beauty of the Whistler skatepark. So many good days ,so many years ago, and it still looks identical. I wonder if this frame will still look fun in 2054?
  • 5 0
 That looks so sick
  • 4 0
 Holy shit that frame is gorgeous !
  • 2 0
 They really are the same height. They can share one bike if need be. Good luck this season FW & FTW FTW!
  • 1 0
 Loving this journey, its captivating.

I cant wait for these new frame types to be like my dads old Hetchins and Trike on the lugs.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hetchins
  • 2 0
 those lugs look real pretty, hopefully the same machine house can machine new rockers that are a little easier on the eyes
  • 1 0
 why not cnc the whole frame to control frame thickness and strength throughout the entire frame... oh yeah, being done... well.
  • 1 0
 So am I the only person that thought building a bike would require something more precise than that cheap tape measure that everyone’s dad bought them when they were 10?
  • 2 0
 Also, what cool frames are hiding back there?!
  • 3 1
 Why not have a 90 degree seat angle?
  • 4 1
 because bikes are too long allready
  • 1 0
 Wait for the next increase in wheel size, seat angles might get close to 90.
  • 1 3
 @naptime: must suck to be a midget
  • 1 0
 @y9pema: eh? I'm 6ft in me boots. So the math on a 90' seat tube an how long the reach needs to be an the calculate the wheel base....
Just did it it came out at 4.67meters
  • 2 1
 A wheely great bonding experience for the team, its the glue that keeps it all together through the season!
  • 2 1
 I hope it won't start creaking too soon. I'm enjoying listening to the creaks of my fork too much
  • 3 0
 I have a bonded frame from 1989, it hasn't started creaking yet.
  • 3 0
 Fork's aren't bonded (only pressed) for whatever stupid reason, so that's why we get to enjoy those lovely creaks
  • 1 0
 what´s the name of the guy sticking the frames? Cannot be Frank the welder Smile
  • 1 0
 What if Frank uses Loctite 3805 epoxy weld?
  • 2 3
 Looks Like a...........................................................................................................................................
  • 5 0
 Bicycle
  • 1 1
 Atherton just gone the same way
  • 1 0
 I like it, I like it a lot!
  • 1 1
 Nice I wonder if they pursue this and go the atherton route and offer more sizes
  • 1 0
 I'm really curious about this, I thought that faction was a bike engineering consultant company. I wonder if this is just research and prototyping, or of they have a mind for future production. I would also like to know if they made the lugs in-house, and how. Is it printing, casting, forging or just machined from billet. Would be nice to hear from faction, or perhaps @mattbeer knows?
  • 2 0
 @uponcripplecreek: the article states CNC construction for the lugs. Must be sustractive as they don't point anything about additive manufacturing
  • 1 0
 @uponcripplecreek: Lots of insights if you search for "Behind the Curtain: Framework Bicycles."
YES it framework road bikes which is not Neko's mtb company. and different in that they use nickel plating of the lugs and glass beads in the adhesive to negate corrosion for their carbon tubes .
  • 1 0
 @uponcripplecreek: They said that they helped Neko out with FEA, because usually they can't share anything about the work they do for clients, but they also wanted to show off their capabilities. I'm assuming they are showing off some of their R&D capabilities off here too.

Lugs are machined from billet aluminium.
  • 1 0
 @uponcripplecreek: I imagine 5 dev will have played their part in making the lugs as they are supplying the cnc work for the current frameworks bikes.

Once programming is dialled and using the correct, not all that expensive machine this could be a really good way for Frameworks to grow their business, no need for huge inventory, different geometry and sizes more easily possible, no need for heat treat, possibility do do all in-house with much less investement.

Interesting to see where this goes.
  • 2 0
 Clean! Looks good!
  • 1 0
 What colour of loctite are they using to bond it together?
  • 1 1
 Seems like just having the Atherton make the frame to Neko's specifications might make sense.
  • 1 0
 Vs Neko having his own bike company?
  • 1 0
 @justanotherusername: The frame manufacturing is all sublet anyways.
  • 1 0
 Bondlally 007 vs Frank the Welder
  • 1 0
 Next will be 3d printed aluminum lugs with a secondary operation.
  • 1 0
 Lugs ?
Pivot prototype department ( sub contracted )
  • 1 0
 These look like a cooler version of the Ellesworth Bikes.
  • 1 0
 I hear a bamboo prototype is next on the cards.
  • 3 2
 not enuf welds
  • 1 2
 Also missing cool looking gussets.
  • 1 0
 That thang look clean!!
  • 1 0
 Raw aluminum FTW
  • 2 3
 Loctite North America? are they just using that blue gunk?
  • 1 0
 Hopefully not. That's just medium strength lol
  • 8 0
 Loctite is not just thread locker.
  • 3 0
 Duck tape for the win.







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