There is a strong argument that Michael Prell is the most prolific designer in mountain biking right now. Cube have always run on the principle of a small organisation, punching above their weight to put out one of the widest ranges of any manufacturer out there. Up until now he has been single-handedly responsible for the geometry and suspension of Cube's mountain bike range. By his own count, Cube brought 14 new bikes to Eurobike in 2015 - ranging from XC racing snakes, to their new downhill weapon, the Two15. All of them laid out by him. We sat down with Michael to look at the design evolution from speccing catalogue frames to producing EWS-winning full-suspension bikes, the proliferation of new standards and what he sees as the future of the mountain bike.



Michael Prell of Cube bikes



How long have you been with Cube?

I have been with Cube since the start, I think 2013 was my twentieth year. So that's 22 years now, so a pretty long time!


What is your background?

I started studying engineering, but I didn't finish. The rest of my background... I used to have a bike shop, so my background has always been biking. I used to do some downhill races, some cross-country. But I was never able to qualify for finals at a World Cup, so not that good. I am mostly into the full-suspension thing.


Would you say it was easier to make a bike when you guys started?

Yeah. At that time you simply ordered a bike in the catalogue - so you said, "I want this frame, in that colour, that geometry, with Shimano Deore DX components". At that time there were no suspension forks, so simply rigid forks, simple tyres This was the first delivery of bikes we had.


Did you have to learn as you go then?

I would say that for sure, especially at the beginning, you had to learn how to deal with the Chinese guys. Actually, at that time, it was Taiwanese guys. Simply to deal with quality claims and things like that. Also, how to build a bike, how to get the perfect mix for that bike and its planned use. This was a learning process and we are still learning each year. When you look at the development of our design within the last ten years, I think there has obviously been a step and since we do our own frames - something we have been doing for quite a long time now. In the beginning, what we did was define the geometry of a bike and then ask the Chinese guys to make a tube in a certain shape. Then we started to do all of the engineering here in Waldershof - all the geometry, kinematics, tube shapes, FEM calculations, all done here. Then our Chinese guys make sample frames. They have to pass their tests in China, then we would get the frames and test them according to our standards in our testing laboratory. These standards are way higher than those requested the mandatory standards to sell bikes worldwide, like ISO. It is easier to get those standards, but our tests are heavier and harder.



Michael Prell of Cube bikes



So you have more experience of people riding your bikes hard?

Yeah. We're not quite ready with it, but we are doing some testing with data recording all-mountain bikes. We did some tests working with a guy doing his doctoral thesis at a university who made testing machines for us and did some data collection with different bikes. This means we have some forces we now know for our calculations for our frames. We are now doing this for each type of bike, so cross-country racing obviously needs a different strength to a downhill bike. This is now done here in-house and according to these forces we measured, we made our testing standards. We now improve them and change them according to each new bit of information we get.


The difference between a bike 20 years ago and now is huge. If you had to pick the biggest thing you have learnt over that period, what would it be?

I think the biggest thing that came in this period was the suspension. Over the years, what I learned most is, for me, is kinematics and geometry, I now need more time to fix the right geometry and kinematics. If the geometry is wrong, the suspension can be as good as possible, but the rider doesn't feel comfortable on the bike. I think the first thing that must be right is the geometry, then the kinematics on a full-suspension bike.


Is that something you had to learn with each iteration, or did your engineering background help?

I think the mechanical engineering background didn't help. I think when you are considering the kinematics there a few factors you have to keep in mind, your own experience, then you have to think how the shock works and the shocks are always changing, especially when you look at the new Fox shocks, they are completely different to the old ones. This means you have to modify the kinematics again, experience and then the rider profile. When you look at an enduro race bike like our team riders are using, then this needs different kinematics, different geometry compared to a 140mm 650B bike, which is more used by normal riders, not racers.


How would you quantify the difference between a normal bike and a race bike?

When we talk about enduro bikes or downhill bikes, these are race bikes. These bikes always have to compete against the clock, so these bikes have to be fast. That means, looking at the kinematics, you need a design that gives you support from the ground, so you can feel what is going on, but, in my opinion, the support should be as little as possible. Only as much as you need for jumping, for berms, things like that. If you have more support it's more fun to ride the bike, but then the bike is slower.

So if an average rider came to buy a Cube bike you would recommend they go for the 140mm bikes, rather than the 160mm bike as it's going to be a easier bike to live with?

It depends on the rider. We hope that our dealers have enough test bikes to ride them and decide whether they want the faster, more racey bike, or the more fun bike to ride. The differences are not that big, I think a race bike cannot be 30mm longer in horizontal top tube length, compared to a fun bike. The difference in geometry and kinematics are not that big, but an experienced rider can feel it.



Michael Prell of Cube bikes



At the moment Cube bikes are at neither extremes of geometry, not short, but not as long as some bikes out there either.

Currently, there is a tendency to have the top tube, and, therefore, the reach values, longer and longer. When you look at the rider standing on the bike the body tries to find a 90-degree angle between your arms and the upper body. When the frame is too short your body always tries to keep this angle, so you move your ass more behind the saddle, when you get too long, the body still tries to do that, so you have much more weight on the front tyre. This helps in getting the front tyre around the corner, but then you don't have enough grip on the rear tyre. So you have to find the right balance in between. Going by the feedback from our team riders and the feedback from the different press guys who have ridden our newer bikes say that it is good, I hope that we have the right balance, but probably you will see next year that we have to change the position a little bit, but I think the position we have now with our geometry has a good balance.


How do you see the rate of progress with bike developments? Is it continuing, plateauing or even speeding up?

The progression of bikes is dependent on different things. So in the last three or four years, we had big changes, especially in the wheel sizes. That meant the complete bike made maybe two steps forwards, also, the suspension always has a big influence on that too. Within the last five years, I would say, the performance of the bikes, including the geometry, has improved a lot. Currently, the normal customer maybe wouldn't see it, but there are big steps in the development of the bikes.


In the comments see a lot of people angry with new wheelsizes, axles standards and so forth. From your point of view, is this good progress?

Yeah. So, talking about wheelsizes, it took a longer time to get the bigger 29" wheels to the market, especially in Europe. Many of the improvements for bikes were coming from the US, the 29er came from the US and here in Europe, we needed a long time to accept it. Now I think it is pretty well established for certain uses of bikes, cross-country and tour riding, but not for harder riding. The same goes for 650B or 27.5" wheels, they are also a big step compared to the 26" wheels. 26" wheels offered you a bike that was very, very easy to handle even in the hardest technical terrain. 650B is a little bit less, but they are way faster, they give you more speed, more control, more traction. So I think the group of people that say, "27.5 is not necessary," is pretty small. I have only checked on the Germans forums and there, there are a lot of fans of 26", which is ok, but sometimes the customers are a little bit too conservative in checking what is good for the future. In the beginning, there were discussions about suspension forks on bikes, lots of people said they were more weight, that they didn't need them for the hill-climbing they did. We also had the same thing with disc brakes, many people said there was a creaking noise, the braking power was too strong, they might get you injured. I think it is this way many of the improvements that have come in the bike business, and that are coming. I think it is this way because the normal customer is not involved in the progress, but in the end, I think most of them accept and welcome the improvement, so it's good.


At the moment, for instance, Boost is a sore topic in the comments.

Boost is an awesome improvement, especially for the bigger wheels. But what is also good for the bigger wheels is also good for the smaller wheels. I think Boost brings the bike more to the front again because the wheels get stiffer, so we have fewer problems, especially with 29er bikes. Normally when you ride really hard on a 29er the wheels are not strong enough, with the big radius compared to 27.5". Now, with the Boost standard, I think you can build stronger wheels and it will be possible to have 29er bikes for harder riding. So, yeah...


One of the things we see seems to be a feeling that one of the major areas of contention with these changes is the pace, they are coming too fast right now. For instance, if someone just invested in a 650B bike with modern geometry, they are now being told that their axles and cranks are out of date.

For us as a company, or me as a designer, I think it is necessary we stay on top of this. We have quite a good position in the market now and to keep this position we have to try and stay in this top position. We have to always work on all products to keep them looking as nice as possible and the function has to be as good as possible. They have to improve year-on-year. When there are improvements possible, we have to do them. When it's Boost we have to do Boost, in two years it's probably 28", it might be that we have to make 28" bikes. It's not that we have to do it to be in the group going down the river, but simply to keep our position and improve our products. For sure there are some improvements that will disappear again, but we have to try all new things simply to check whether they are an improvement for our bikes or not. So, in the end, what we have brought out up to now has always been an improvement.



Michael Prell of Cube bikes



Some people seem to feel that this is simply a ploy to make them buy a new bike next year.

Yeah, for the customer it is really difficult. Bikes are getting more expensive, due to exchange rates, due to improvements in the products. So normally a more sporty rider would buy a new bike every three or four years, hopefully, they do! But, when massive changes come, like when 27.5" came and 26" started disappearing, I think this can be a problem for a lot of customers because they don't have bikes that are up to date anymore. Probably they don't have the money to buy the new stuff, but I think it is the same with every product. When you are in engineering and you need a new computer because with FEM a new computer runs in a tenth of the time of the old computer, I think then it is necessary to buy it, even if it is double or triple the price of the one before. But I think if you have a twenty-year-old mountain bike, you can still use it to do the sport. You can have fun with it, and you can ride the same trails. But with new bikes, I think it is more fun. So I think the customer has to decide whether they want the fun they are used to or the bigger, newer, better fun with the new bikes.


What would you like to see as the next big step for mountain bikes?

I think, within the last few years if you look at the cockpit of the bike there are so many shifters and levers on the handlebar, and, in my opinion, they are way too much. I hope that in the next few years the cockpit will get less crowded. The other thing could be the new suspension, with electronic adjustment, I think this could also be one of the biggest steps.


So you're saying that with a triple chainset you would get better pedalling in the small gears and better descending in the big gears?

Yes, definitely. Look at a downhill bike. I don't know if this is the main point, but I think it is one of the reasons why Neko Mullaly and Aaron Gwin could compete better without a chain than with a chain. It might be that they were more motivated at that point, but it might also be that the drivetrain had no influence on the suspension. I think the suspension would have worked better.


A few people have cited the derailleur as a big problem as the biggest thing wrong with the modern mountain bike.

I think the mountain bike is more or less derived from road bikes, so gear shifting is more or less derived from road bikes but at the moment, for a mountain bike, especially a full-suspension bike, it would be good to have less mass at the rear, because the suspension works better without the weight. Plus, there are fewer problems without a derailleur. But then you have to go to a gearbox and, currently, with the gearboxes that I checked on the market, they are not really ready for the perfect bike. So currently, I would say that a drivetrain using a chain, sprockets and a front and rear derailleur, is more practicable compared to a gearbox. If there was a gearbox system with less friction, that offered shifting performance under hard pedalling, I think this could be the next big step in mountain biking.


Are you excited about electronic suspension, or will it just make your life more difficult?

Electronic suspension will give you the possibility of building a bike that, due to the suspension, works like a cross country bike in the uphill sections, works like an all-mountain bike in flat sections and works like a downhill bike when it's descending. This could be the possibility to create the most versatile bike. So it could be possible to have a really lightweight 180mm bike that goes up the hill like an XC race bike and goes down like a DH bike because you don't have to compromise. Now you always have to try and keep the right balance between pedalling influences going uphill, but then they are not the best influences going downhill. With the electronic suspension you could have it closed like a hardtail going up the hill, then when there is a knock to the suspension it opens automatically. Then you have the performance of a downhill bike. This could be one of the biggest steps in the near future.


So what does the perfect bike in fifteen years time look like in your head?

When I see how this bike could look... I think this bike is a very clean bike, so when you look at a bike that has electronic suspension and a gearbox system it is possible to build a bike with way fewer visible cables. I think it will be reduced, to a front wheel, a rear wheel, and suspension front and rear, a frame, the necessary things like saddle and handlebar, but no shifter levers, no lockout lever for the suspension and probably also the seat post would be operated electronically. So then you would have all the cables hidden in the frame. This would be a really clean and light-looking bike.


MENTIONS: @cubebikesofficial




112 Comments

  • 60 2
 every time you read "kinematics" take a shot
  • 3 23
flag nicofleming (May 24, 2016 at 4:43) (Below Threshold)
 Wow thats great chat from you
  • 3 4
 What if Ellsworth adapts to Cube‘s name. What would the world be like?
  • 2 0
 9 counts of kinematics
  • 3 0
 @TrinityTest: Under the table
  • 2 1
 it's barely 6 am, maybe later, after work
  • 46 2
 1 guy so many bikes to design. That explains alot
  • 3 0
 thought exactly the same
  • 2 0
 Maybe that's why most of Cubes ride like cubes... or crowbars...
  • 27 2
 I hope this comment section serves as a reminder to Cube that you should stop concerning yourself with "future" standards and simply make reliable bikes. I assure you, after reading the comments I would never buy one of your bikes based 4-5 individuals saying your bikes break and you have terrible customer service. I trust people here more than I do apologetic interviews of how bikes with bigger wheels are more fun.
  • 14 4
 I have to agree. And for boost, why not just go 150mm? Why don't all mtn bikes now just use 150/157mm? The industry would have a lot more happy customers if they pulled their heads out of their asses and collaberated on a set of "standards" for more cross compadibility. For instance (i hate to beat the dead horse but this makes a good point), the 15mm axle is just crap. Before that, if you had 2 or 3 bikes, and had a front wheel issue, you could just swap out out in a pinch, from DH to All Mtn or even if you had to a XC swap. I like how Fox addressed this with their forks, but now your pigeon holed in fork selection. All bikes now should just run 20mm front and 150/157mm rear.
  • 2 0
 I think one issue is that you hardly hear happy customers, but someone that's irritated is more likely to speak up. I plan on buying a YT next. And I will see how everything will go once I have a bike where I have to rely on customer service for every issue I may have...
  • 25 1
 he said 28" bikes, Uh huh, huh huh
  • 60 0
 That's just ridiculous, why would anyone buy a 28" bike with 28.5" just around the corner?
  • 27 0
 @metaam: noo 28.5" is to massive 28.27" is the sweet spot
  • 13 1
 @aresiusbe: someone should introduce a Fibonacci and Pi wheel size options Big Grin
  • 23 0
 Are you guys still dealing in inches? #imperialaintdead
  • 3 1
 I'm not sure at all if he meant that as a hypothetical example or as a future reality. If the latter, that really makes me want to wait some other 5-6 years before buying a new bike when stupidities of new formats will stop or at least stabilize a little.
  • 1 0
 @EnduroManiac: I am afraid these "innovations" will never stop, in 5-6 years they will find something new..
But I am also confused with the 28 inch bikes? 29er wheels are also 28 inch / 700 rims.
  • 1 0
 @aresiusbe: AFAIK Wheel sizes aren't really the size of the rims, but an approximation of the outer diameter of the whole wheel with (on a mtb) a large-volume tire. 28" wheels with a large volume tire = 29er. See this also (its in german, maybe google translator works.. or maybe there is an english site too Razz )

www.wikipedalia.com/index.php?title=Reifengr%C3%B6%C3%9Fen

And if I misunderstood something, please somebody correct me
  • 2 1
 Now, me personally, I have stopped having orgasms every time some idiot in the industry shows up and starts talking about sizes or somethin. I think it will never get up again.
  • 3 0
 So maybe the guy was talking about 27.5 +/- wheel size! Since the introduction of 650b+ we hear the guys from Canyon and some other brands saying 650b+ micht be too large (and 650b too small....)
  • 2 0
 Well you know, 27" is so much faster than 26" so 28" is obviously that much faster than 27....
  • 1 0
 @headshot: So if I understand, 29" could be faster than 28"? Oh wait, this is available to the market already. It deosn't make any sense. So give me some 28" wheels!
  • 23 7
 What I am reading into what he is saying about new standards is: I have no other choice but to say they are all good. I must design every new thing into new bike whether it is good or not. I have to stand on top.

Who is Cube to dictate the terms... Simon says:
  • 7 15
flag nicofleming (May 24, 2016 at 4:57) (Below Threshold)
 Man, if everyone shared your opinion about innovation and technological development we would have never visited the moon. Look at the bigger picture man
  • 34 2
 I can look at the bigger picture and I can zoom into it. If NASA operated on same principles as indstry with 650B and Boost, we'd barely shoot a satellite up there. Profiteering on meaningless modifications of existing features, or going half way at a time, all that affecting the whole design and market in a potentially negative way, making people think the only way is to buy a complete bike every 2 years is not what I am after. It generates lots of trash and cuts you off cash as the time comes to sell the bike.

So if I was to look at a greater picture you must tell me how much should I have to zoom out to become completely callous. I'll be dead in max 60 years. In max 20 I won't be able to ride my bike due to my shtty knees. So why should I care? Can't step rain from falling?

I am not gettingbas excited about it as it loos like, this website is entertaining to
me. My only source of screen based entertainment. So I am here to say 650 Bullshyte and Boostshyte.

There is a man who innovates 650B wheels and tyres: Kirk Pacenti. And thete is a man called Colin Bailey who introduced Maxxis Minion DHF tyre
  • 3 0
 @WAKIdesigns: aaaaamen!
  • 12 2
 @nicofleming: did we visit the moon?
  • 3 2
 @WAKIdesigns: WAKi is the man. can't agree more!
  • 29 0
 I will say it the same way my wife would have said if she found out I was buying penis enlargement pills: For that price and that much hype I want to see change, yhm! Give me change! If I can't feel it, if I can't measure it - don't even bother showing it to me! Results, not promises! Ehm Eeehm!
  • 4 0
 @WAKIdesigns: YES waki! Best metaphor for the wheel size debate I've ever read!
Salute
  • 3 0
 @WAKIdesigns: A second AMEN on the "Profiteering on meaningless modifications of existing features". Read my post above on what used to be wheel set cross compadibility. I am having a very hard time believing that the big companies are not "Profiteering on meaningless modifications of existing features" while offering no real world adavantages to durability and performance. That is why i no longer support any of them and make what i want to ride. Our bikes last a good long time too and hardly need any maintenance. After 2 1/2 years, the pivot and linkage bearing run smooth, (no hosing down the bike though. Wipe down with rags). Can't say the same for bikes i used in the past.
  • 1 0
 @Peregrinebikes: look at the RS Sid ad at the top of the main page today - small changes can make a huge difference. Yea right. As if the new Sid offered any advantage on XC race to a non-pro rider, as compared to the fork from 2009. It's an XC fork run on 15% SAG or less, run with bar mounted lockout switch... It is hard enough to say SID gives you something a cheaper REBA doesn't.
  • 4 0
 " So I think the customer has to decide whether they want the fun they are used to or the bigger, newer, better fun with the new bikes." REALLY????Come on man....
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: Damn I am wrong again. I guess I am just going to have to buy a new bike year after year to progress and have the same amount of fun.
  • 1 0
 @LuccsPB: Just have to say i love your response, perfect.
  • 3 0
 @WAKIdesigns: sorry fo hear about the penis issue.
  • 17 4
 Nice to know whats going on inside of Cube. But he made some really disputable statements. I guess this and their huge warranty issues are only two reasons why Cube has such a bad reputation...
  • 29 5
 I thought their super outdated geos were the main reason.
  • 27 1
 I'm curious as to why people are calling Cube's geometry out-dated - there is very little difference between their numbers and, say, Specialized,
  • 7 0
 @mattwragg: It is perhaps the slightly more conservative look rather than the numbers itself.

I have a Fritzz, but much prefer the design of the Strive for example.
  • 29 1
 @mattwragg: It's my fault, when I had a Kona everyone hated them, now I have a Stereo and everyone hates Cube
  • 22 0
 This caught my eye. "It's not that we have to do it to be in the group going down the river, but simply to keep our position and improve our products."

Isn't making changes simply to keep your position, exactly being in the group going down the river?!?
  • 5 0
 Show me a Spesh bike that looks like a gate!
  • 3 0
 @brigand: The Enduro looks a lot like a farm gate.
  • 13 2
 Great article. Great looking bikes but their problems with warranty issues and not taking care of their customers makes me sick! Sell sell sell...
  • 5 3
 Mybe I just got lucky, but I never had issues when making warranty claims to CUBE.
  • 2 0
 @santoman: Wish I could say the same...
  • 1 0
 @Satsumafied: Sorry to read that...
  • 12 3
 If Cube's testing is so rigorous, why do so many of them break?
  • 5 1
 Welds break, carbon cracks...ive seen a ton of broken treks, they all fail eventually.
  • 8 0
 in my experience spannering at a cube dealer they don't. 1 frame warranty in 3 years (bad helicoil in a seatstay).
thats it, zero other problems other than components now and again which can't be attributed to the frame makers.

did deal with a very well known boutique brand briefly that had a 100% failure rate in the carbon bikes we sold though.
and a certain french brand wasn't far behind them.
  • 4 0
 @b45her:
My mates had 1 carbon hardtail . 2 fritz and carbon stereo in less than 3 years all failed . And there cs was S**t, every time he thinks this time it will be okay. He is a idiot. And they all look and ride like poo to me anyway . 2 short and to tall .can't drop the seat low enough can't lean the bike over. They all eat there tiny undersized bearings and axles. There just not built to last , poor design IMHO
  • 2 0
 @b45her: A guy I know spanners at a LBS and when I was looking at a new bike he warned me off Cube as he said so many go back under warranty, and a friend of mine had 2 GTC replacements and a broken Stereo before demanding his money back. Another friend had a Fritzz that snapped just outside warranty. I appreciate you can only talk about your experience, but this is mine.
  • 1 1
 @metaam: Go back under warranty??? the only thing that goes back during a warranty claim is some photos and the frame numbers. odd that his shop sends the whole bike back eh!
  • 1 0
 @b45her: Sorry if I haven't quoted him verbatim, basically what he told me was they had more problems with Cube than any other bikes they sold. I'm only relaying my experience, sorry if you disagree.
  • 12 10
 The bike industry is a fucking joke they make small changes that do nothing but phase out current standards and they force you to buy the new stuff at ridiculous prices making you upgrade constantly..... top of the line all mountain bike is like 12000... top of the line dirt bike is 9000 there something wrong here....
  • 12 5
 That's how all industries progress, through small iterations. Small steps, it's perfectly normal and it makes a lot of sense! Look at camera industry, phone industry, car industry...even 'revolutionary' products are a product of this process. No one is making you upgrade, chances are you can happily ride your current bike for the next 10 years, just like there are 20 year old cars on the roads.
  • 8 2
 @Milko3D: That's called planned obsolence
  • 13 2
 How do they force you to buy new stuff and upgrade? Constantly? Do they come to your house and kidnap your family till you upgrade?

The only thing that 'forces' us to upgrade is the upgrade bug that is part of human nature. He said you can ride a 20 year old bike and still enjoy the sport. I'm pretty sure most trails people ride today are mostly unchanged (natural ones) in 20 years so why are you forced to upgrade? Because you want to. Nothing is phased out. Hell you can still buy square taper bottom brackets so if you want to stick with what you got your safe.

I thought he was genuine and honest. A rare trait amongst the other people who ARE trying to convince you that last year's thing is no good anymore.
  • 6 1
 @Milko3D: I do agree with you to some extend. But a major difference to some (not all) of the industries you mentioned is that a mountainbike is a very modular product and consumers also view it as such. You can build a complete bike, but you can also replace individual components. If you buy a titanium frame, you expect it to last a while. When it is time to replace the forks (because they're worn or broken), it can be a disappointment finding out that only the lower end brands offer a fork with a straight 1 1/8" steerer for 26" wheels. A car is modular as well but most drivers aren't their own mechanics. When it needs to be fixed, they just take it to the garage and don't bother with incompatibility issues. When you take the example of cameras, I can imagine that if big players like Canon and Nikon would change the lens mounts for their full frame SLR cameras and would phase their current interfaces out, quite a few people would be disappointed. Sure you can happily keep using what you have, but it gets annoying if you need to replace or add gear and it turns out to be outdated.

For the rest I agree. If some standard inherited from a scene where bikes were ridden differently is holding you back from making a considerably better product, this standard has to change. But it still hurts if you don't get to enjoy the benefits of the new standards but do get to find out that your high end 135x12mm rear hub has become incompatible with anything on the market.
  • 4 0
 @freerabbit: That is indeed a real problem, we all know about that printer that stops printing after a certain number of cycles, and you only need to remove the pre-programmed limit to fix it. The light bulbs and so on...

However, have you tried developing something? Anything? Could be an engineering piece, an artwork a piece of clothing? It's never perfect the first time.

Even human evolution works in iterations, yet we never want to change, how weird is that?
  • 3 1
 @vinay: Good point! That happens way more often than we like indeed, and in all industries. Especially when something new comes out people get excited and jump on the band wagon only to get disappointed soon after when the company drops support for that product.

Personally, I'd rather replace the whole bike every X years with a new, advanced shredding machine than hoping that my 1st gen suspension frame would one day fit a cutting edge dual-crown fork. Ridiculous example, I know, but you get the point.

Anyway, we seem to be on the same page, I don't have an alternative to the current system, and I can't blame people who can afford the iterations for wanting to move the tech forward while I'm trying to spread my costs over a number of years.

Hm, a better analogy comes to mind now - computers, back in the day at least.
You get a nice motherboard, upgrade components - swap CPUs, video cards etc, for as long as you can.
Then when it's worth updating you're moving to a new platform/motherboard.
Everything is faster and more reliable out of the box, and then repeat, 2xCPUs, SLI GPUs, tons of ram...

Creates piles of waste somewhere...that I'd say is THE most negative aspect.
  • 1 0
 @Milko3D: Replacing the whole system (bike) is one strategy, mine is stay comfortably behind the battlefront and see what sticks. I'm a bit further behind now that the whole progression accelerated, so much so that obsolesce is almost catching up on me Wink .

I'm fine riding what I have now, but the looming prospect of ever breaking the front fork lowers with IS mounts implies I can no longer mount a perfectly fine IS rear brake caliper to a new fork with PM tabs. You can with a front caliper (using an adaptor you can run 180mm) but there is no solution if you were already running a rear caliper there. That's what sucks most I guess, you have to replace perfectly fine components if something else breaks. After all it were the most high end disc brakes (Shimano XTR, Hope...) which were last to abandon IS.

I think the lower and mid segment (which includes Cube) thrives on selling completes and frames a few year old aren't considered particularly valuable anymore. But see, that new Stanton Switchback seems like pretty much the perfect frame. I could invest in it and I could easily see myself riding it for the the rest of my life (which is going to be a while, hopefully). It should for that kind of money and I believe it is perfectly capable. The main thing holding back is the uncertainty that, when attached components wear over time, I won't be able to source equivalent compatible replacements. And that sucks, also for a company like Stanton. I'd like to see a company like that thrive and I hate seeing perfectly fine components become obsolete.

I recall back when Manitou came with the onepointfive standard for the steerer tube (1.5" straight steerer for 6" and longer travel single crown forks) there was a lot of resistance. Even to the point that even Marzocchi said onepointfive was ridiculous and released their Z150 forks with 150mm travel and a conventional straight 1 1/8" steerer. Onepointfive was eventually replaced with tapered steerers so I wonder whether early adopters can still get hold of a compatible stem. Same with rapid rise, oversized centerlock (for Saint hubs). Yes some "older" tech (like square taper bb) is still readily available because it simply works just fine and/or is still common in other areas of the cycling industry. But that doesn't mean that whatever came after that is still so readily available (like ISIS bb).
Back then the industry actually made some effort to explain the transition. But since then they learned the consumers would adopt it anyway and new standards are now passing more rapidly. Imagine what would happen if a single company would drop the SDS interface for their drill-hammers in exchange for something new. No one would buy it, even if there were a slight increase in performance.
  • 6 0
 I just bought a 2016 RockShox Sid in 26" 1-1/8" for my old Ti frame I rebuilt. Just because the companies aren't marketing old standards does not mean they don't exist.
  • 2 0
 @north-shore-bike-shop: Yeah thinking of it you're absolutely right. I've put too much emphasis on standards that did become obsolete whereas in many cases you'll still be fine. I think a lot of what I mentioned previously still stands, but from now on I'll look on the bright side of it.
  • 1 0
 You got that right!
  • 2 0
 I don't know if their bikes break more often than other's brands. But their website is insecure (Heartbleed bug is still not fixed) , and needs maintenance. This may be an indication how other issues are not addressed. filippo.io/Heartbleed/#Cube.Eu
  • 2 0
 Not in any way convinced on the Engineering side of the discussion but I can get completely behind:

"I hope that in the next few years the cockpit will get less crowded."

It's not something you see brought up very often but is one of my pet hates with longer travel bikes along with shinky cable routing!
  • 4 3
 Great explanation of the industrial point of view on improvements. This makes it easier for me to understand the debate and the ongoing process of development related to the release dates of new products. His explanations do make sense to me. Thumbs up
  • 1 0
 Electronics sound great but is that the way forward...

We must be not far off for a di2 system with data gathering to select your gear based on traction/speed and crank power?
  • 3 0
 I think it's actually been mentioned that CVTs kinda do this automatically, & have less drag than a Pinion style transmission as well. Supposedly, that's why Honda went that route first, until the UCI wouldn't allow it in competition(oh good, thanks UCI for crushing another advancement.)
  • 2 0
 @groghunter: I really think that Pinion can reduce the weight on their setup. They are burly boxes. The gears can probably be made half as wide and still give you very very long life while cutting drag. We are not on them yet, but will be very intrested to see how much drag they have after break in. Soon though.
  • 1 0
 @Peregrinebikes: Yea, I saw the video you posted recently, good stuff. Do more of those.
  • 1 0
 Too Bad that my customers who have done a deposit on there 2016 Two15 can´t ride it that season cause of Frame-Problems!
Cube is an awesome brand. You get a lot of equipment for a price!
  • 5 1
 sehr German!!!!
  • 2 0
 How about dropper seat posts integrated into the frame, that would be cool in the not to distant future!
  • 3 0
 I'm pretty sure this is already being developed. That is, I can't imagine companies like Specialized and Cannondale who already have experience with the design of suspension products (and seatposts) not already working on integrating them into their frames. It won't be telescopic though. In the case of Cannondale it will use a flexible pivot. Specialized instead will use a four bar linkage where the saddle will be attached to the floating member. This to make sure dropper forces won't have any effect on pedaling and braking.

That said, I always thought that some kind of linkage would be a good idea. It seems odd to me now that we're seeing bikes with their saddle low and horizontal instead of tilted back, just because that will be the proper orientation when the saddle is high. So actually the saddle orientation is now being compromised when low, just to have it comfy when the saddle is up high. Agreed the other compromise (having the saddle tilted back when high) could be painfully uncomfortable though this is just what a linkage could fix. And frame designers have room to accommodate for that. It is going to be ugly though, having another linkage up there.
  • 3 2
 No it wouldn't be cool Wink Try to fit different riders to same frame Wink
  • 7 1
 I'd be happy to see dropper posts and suspension settings linked. Seat up/suspension locked out, seat down/suspension open, there goes one lever from your handlebars
  • 2 0
 @Drover: this actually would be quite clever
  • 3 1
 @Jokesterwild: try to draw it. Try to figure out how to do it and you'll quickly find it makes no sense. How will you fasten the botyom of the piston? How would you limit the max extension per rider per rach frame? How would you solve keys so it doesn't rotate? Standardization of mounting? Or you like to be tied to one design? Reverbs outer tube weighs 80g. Is it that much weight to cut down considering how much sht you have to go through to put it into seat tube with damn limited access? With the risk that when sht goes wrong you must buy a new frame? Nope.
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: Once all is digital, all is possible.
  • 2 0
 @WAKIdesigns: You're looking at a conventional telescopic seatpost, are you? In that case I'd say it would be a bit like a (conventional) suspension fork. You'll get bushings in the frame, the functional bit is in the upper (moving) part of the post like you have with the fork stanchion. So you'll get a push rod going down into the seattube. Obviously you can't mount it to the bb, so you'll need to have a hole in the seattube through which you shove something to attach the push rod to or clamp it with. Indeed this doesn't solve everything you mentioned but that doesn't mean it can't be sorted. It is just hard enough to explain without using drawings, let alone that you understand what I'm talking about Wink . I can only use analogies. One way to avoid rotation is to use more of a Cannondale-like design using an angular interface (like the square one Cannondale uses for their front suspension).

But there are even more possibilities if you move away from the idea that the seat should only move in a linear motion. After all that is more a result of current limitation rather than something we are after. A linkage offers more possibilities currently not on offer.

@Drover Even though I wouldn't care for that particularly I don't think takes more than a simple software tweak to those e-lect and Veyron offerings by Magura. They use the ANT+ wireless standard and I'm not sure how open it is. But there are several companies working with ANT+ (mostly for heart rate monitors and related devices) so it should be possible to operate components from other companies as well using the same interface, provided they make their stuff compatible.
  • 1 0
 Allready been done, can't remember who though? Was it that German company that speced different wheels for different frame sizes, including different front an rear, who's name I also can't remember???
Sorry
  • 1 0
 @nojzilla: Syntace - LiteVille
@Vinay: off course it can be done. But it would be heavier than a regular dropper. Then what's the point of such inconvenience? Where is that inconvenience? Setting height and taking that thing out for service or transporting in the car/ putting into travel case for flying somewhere. I give you even better solution if you want to endorse such idea. Do an upside down version where outer surface of the seat tube is the stanchion. Bushings sit outside, the only thing in the frame is mounting for the piston.
  • 1 0
 @vinay: I might sit a little when the post is dropped an inch or two to conserve energy on straight sections, but most of the time it's dropped to get it out of the way. Saddle comfort when dropped is very low on my list of concerns.
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: If it is heavier, less convenient and all that then it probably shouldn't be done. I can't judge that yet. If someone would suggest the concept of a lefty fork before it was already realized, I wouldn't really be able to tell that it was going to be lighter than a conventional fork with comparable stiffness. Not sure about your concept. You can't really mount seat- and toptubes to that. So to get a sufficiently strong and stiff frame you'll have to add material elsewhere. Could still turn out good, I just can't tell at this point. It is not for me regardless. My frames don't accept dropper posts. The DMR takes a 26.8mm seatpost, the Cannondale Prophet takes a 27.2mm seatpost. Still I don't mind. I raise the saddle a bit for my ride to and from the trails and keep it low when I'm there. If I'm too tired to stand up riding my bike, I consider myself too tired to ride my bike. I'd better stop for a sip of water and need to work on my strength and endurance for my next ride. Sitting down is efficient if you have to get somewhere (up a long fireroad for instance) with minimum effort, but it also takes the life out of a ride. For my short rides it is nonsense to preserve energy like that.
  • 1 0
 @vinay: Droppers are working wonders in racing and on trails with frequent ups and downs. They are pretty much useless for people who ride up for 30-90mins and then descend all the way down. I can do without a dropper sure, but on my trails I'd rather have an HT with one rather than FS without it. Leave fitness out of it. It's a really bad habit to rationalize lack of something with thinking that you don't deserve it anyways cuz you should train more. Nobody deserves anything, there is no greater underlying justice, we all know that.

Lefty is a super cool thing to have on a third bike Wink
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: That's one way of looking at it. I just feel it is much more fun riding standing than sat down, so it is worth working on that. But I usually climb for a few minutes at most, should be able to do that. But it has nothing to do with "deserving" anything. It is just that most of my rides I only care about fun, not efficiency. So if standing up is fun and sitting is efficient, I'll stand up Smile .
  • 1 0
 @vinay: I do stand up alot as well but when it comes to racing or riding with fast people, you just won't go around sitting down. Coasting is fine when I ride alone, but when I ride with fast guys I need to pedal between sections. I use my dropper almost as often as rear shifter.
  • 5 1
 jesus those eyebrows
  • 6 3
 So he's the one responsible for their monstrosities!!!!
  • 3 3
 "There is a strong argument that Michael Prell is the most prolific designer in mountain biking right now." Other than being the head guy at a bike firm what break thru designs does he have to his name?
  • 13 0
 Prolific just means productive, not necessarily innovative.
  • 1 1
 I am still waiting for the proof that 27 is so much faster than 26... Can someone please do some stats on WC DH max speeds on the same tracks during the 26" era and the new improved 27" era? Thanks in advance...
  • 1 1
 Okay, no takers. Did a bit of Fort William research. The stats prove nothing at all. The track clearly got shorter or faster from 2013 to 2014 (26"era still) because the winning times were both in the 4:36 compared to 2011 and 2012 where the winners took 4:4:43 and 4:48 respectively. In 2015 when all were on 650 bar maybe Kona, the winning time was 4:47. Max speeds have never been more than 60 odd km/h.

On what does Mr Cube base his belief in the speed of 650, or is it more of a religious experience for him and therefore proof not required?
  • 1 0
 @headshot: im not arguing because I have no figures, but man its hard to compare course times year over year for a sport like mtbing, where even if a course is the exact same length, soil conditions/rock placement/exposed roots/rider fitness/competition level can vary so much.

youd need to take a sample of probably 5ish years (at least) before you could make any reasonable conclusion based on wheel size.

but even then, i feel like the difference might be in the tenths of seconds.

we must wait to see the effect of wheel size in DH.
  • 1 0
 @jaycubzz: That is a 5 year sample I have taken on the same track (obviously it changes year on year) and the point I am making is the stats don't establish anything at all. Max speeds stay the same across the period and winning times are the fastest during the 26er era. There are so many other factors at play, and a so-called faster wheel size is probably the least important of the lot...
  • 2 0
 @headshot: haha wow sorry man, I guess I had a bit of a seizure when reading, i missed the rest of the years in there.

carry on
  • 4 1
 Really great insight!
  • 2 1
 i would like just a lightweight dropper that goes down with out me sitting on it
  • 10 0
 A lever actuated seatpost clamp.
  • 5 3
 keep the f++++ electronics away!
  • 2 1
 You can take your 28" bike and jump on your head ! Can't wait for 28 + .....
  • 3 2
 Very good article, however there are some typing/spelling errors.
  • 8 0
 very interdasting
  • 1 0
 @siongwynn: sorry for writing a comment 3 months ago that could help the author before releasing the article to everyone. Sorry. Not.
  • 1 0
 More like from the middle to bottom ????
  • 1 0
 Is cube a german production based company like a canyon?
  • 1 0
 Nope, they have stores/retailers.

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