Photo Story: Atherton Bikes from the Beginning

Jun 28, 2020
by gillhatathertonracing  
A behind the scenes look at the challenges, the triumphs and the frustrations. From “far-fetched idea” to first customer sale - the first 17 months in quotes and pictures.





bigquotesWe’d talked about launching our own bike brand since we were kids but when we laid out everything that we’d be walking away from as racers it was truly terrifying. We launched on Dan’s birthday from the Athy Racing HQ. We kept everything secret until the last minute so getting it all out there was insane.Gee Atherton


bigquotesAdditive manufacturing made it possible for us to implement significant frame improvements between races but it also allowed us to bring those learnings into production weeks rather than years after those races.Ed Haythornthwaite


bigquotesOur frames are constructed using titanium lugs joined to proprietary carbon tubing. The process is entirely digital and requires very little tooling so the lugs tailored in CAD can be built to order and individually customized.Ben Farmer, Atherton Bikes CEO


bigquotesWithin a couple of months Atherton Bikes went from being this cool but far-fetched idea to a really scary reality as more pieces slotted into place. That’s typical of how we work together as a family – Athy comes up with huge plans then I’ll work through the details and Rach brings the fire!Gee Atherton


bigquotesI’m part of this because I believe in the technology and I believe in the people. I was pretty brutal those first months, I pissed them off, but it’s hard to get a new product to market in a form that people are actually going to want to buy. We didn’t have a big influx of funding but I believe that struggle made the company stronger.Piers Linney, Chairman


bigquotesWe got a great team in place, now all we had to do was build a World Cup bike in a couple of months. At the same time we were building a 150mm trail bike that we’d all be stoked to ride. We gave both models equal weighting, key learnings from the trail bike later being incorporated into the team’s race bikes.Dan Brown, Chief Marketing Officer


bigquotesGoing into a World Cup you’re looking for 10ths of seconds and we were starting from the ground up, we tested 1000s of variables, our trackside checklist was 100 items long. It took every bit of our combined experience and every part of the engineer’s knowledge.Gee


bigquotesAway from racing London Bike Show was a huge boost, people were genuinely fascinated by the process and excited by what we were doing, hanging out, coming back again later to talk more...Dan Atherton

During Ft William UCI MTB World Cup DH Round 2

bigquotesRach’s first win at Fort William was a definite high point. It's hard to convey the enormity of late nights and long days on a challenging budget, the fun test sessions, the endless Whatsapps, workflow clashes, clashes of opinion (a lot!) and the sheer drive to create better bikes… a World Cup win in front of a home crowd made it all worthwhile.Dan Brown

The first round of the 2019 UCI MTB World Cup Maribor.

bigquotesGetting a race bike dialled to win is Such a long process, winning a World Cup on a 4 month old prototype was an improbable dream. The bike I rode in Maribor was awesome but it wasn’t perfect, I’d gone too long with it, the stiffness wasn’t right, I was learning and making changes every day.Rachel Atherton


bigquotesEven at Fort William, I took off the more linear suspension hardware that the crew had worked so hard to 3D print and bond in 5 days for me, and went back to the original set up for my race run. It felt amazing to win for the team but they all said that the hard work was just starting…Rachel


bigquotesOne of the biggest challenges in that first season was to optimise the stiffness characteristics of the frame. A level of flex in certain areas of the frame can give positive performance in certain track conditions, but too much flex can give a negative performance and make the frame feel unpredictable.Rob Gow, Head Designer


bigquotesThe application of Additive Manufacturing allowed the team to make a series of small, iterative steps working in between the World Cup rounds. Detailed feedback from the riders would be matched with lab testing so that all design modifications were informed by both.Rob Gow


bigquotesAt the same time the riders were doing a lot of work with Dave Weagle to tune in the suspension kinematic. The DW6 suspension system allows us to completely change the suspension design from the back end with the front end remaining constant so there is a really quick turnaround.Rob Gow


bigquotesWritten down like this it seems like all forward progress but that’s not how it was! Taking steps back was always worth it. Halfway through the season we shared our reservations about stiffness with key media guys, it really drove home that none of us were willing to launch a product that wasn’t 110% dialled, so we kept working.Rachel Atherton


bigquotesEFBE in Germany are recognised as world leaders in bicycle frame testing. We took Gee and Charlie’s frames there mid-season and tested them as far as the equipment would go, exceeding some specific load cases we had in mind. The tests confirmed that the frames were as good as the day that they came off the bonding jig – despite hard use at three World Cups.Ben Farmer


During the UCI MTB World Cup Les Gets. France.

bigquotesWe actually got through our first season ever without breaking a frame, but of course I broke myself at Les Gets! Suddenly I felt totally useless. It was hard to step back from testing and let the others get on with it, but that is the beauty of Atherton bikes, everyone rides and understands how the bike should feel - this is boss man Dan Brown in action.Rachel


bigquotesIt was amazing to see Mille step up to take the Junior win at Val di Sole. To support new talent is definitely one of the founding principles of Atherton Bikes, it’s almost more emotional seeing other riders racing the bikes!Rachel


bigquotesVal di Sole was a pivotal moment for Charlie too, moving up to 11th in Finals but he felt like he was struggling to make some of the turns so for Round 7 at Lenzerheide (in 5 days time!) he asked if he could try a shorter front end.Dan Brown


bigquotesMonday morning rider briefing – Monday afternoon CAD data to Renishaw where build data was loaded on to the multi-laser RenAM 500Q machine. It takes the AM machine about 16 hours to make a lug set for one bike, melting each of the Ti6Al4V slices in 60 micrometre layers so by Tuesday lunchtime the lugs were out of the machine.Dan Brown


bigquotesWednesday, the lugs are heat treated, removed from the build plate then bearing seats were machined, threads cut and inspected.Dan Brown


bigquotesThursday morning Ed assembled the frame. Ideally we'd leave it in the jig for the adhesive to cure but not this time! We accelerated the curing with heater mats but we weren’t able to factor in cooling time, I flew to Zurich with the frame still warm! The race team mechanics were straight on to assembly and by Friday 10.15 am Charlie joined Group A practise, qualifying 24th and moving up to 21st in Finals.

For me, achieving this turnaround is one of the best illustrations of both the versatility of Additive Manufacturing and the workings of the Atherton Bike team.
Dan Brown


bigquotesAway from the racetrack we were facing the huge challenge of moving to full production. Luckily several of the team have a background in manufacturing from aerospace and F1 so it wasn’t hard for us to adapt our experience…a bike is actually a relatively simple product!Ed Haythornthwaite




bigquotesWe took the bikes back to EFBE for the final pre-market certification testing so now we have two great bikes production ready which we’re marketing now as our #firstfifty. Making the first build slots available to those who’ve followed our story and signed up to the newsletter feels more legit than putting out some huge launch and risking not being able to keep up with demand – we are in this for the long haul.Dan


bigquotesWe delivered our first bikes to customers a few weeks ago. Covid-19 has definitely slowed down our supply chain but everyone is in the same boat. Our silver lining is that the postponement of the race season has given us an unprecedented opportunity to focus on developing Atherton Bikes. We’ve spent the last three months building frames and bikes solo from multiple locations; we're pretty much back in the factory now with social distancing in place and a real fire for the next stage in our company's growth.Gee

We still have some availability for our #firstfifty build slots. More about the bikes here: http://tiny.cc/athertonbikes, for detailed information including spec and prices sign up to our mailing list.

Images: Sven Martin, Moonhead Media and team phones!


150 Comments

  • 76 5
 The bikes, the R&D, the hype, the marketing - I get it, and it looks great.
What I don't get, is the business plan?

I'm not trying to be over cynical, but where's the "money-in" part? It just looks like all money-out
  • 10 83
flag faul (Jun 28, 2020 at 5:00) (Below Threshold)
 Their income is from winning prizes. Or slaves trade.
  • 11 1
 Future bike sales ?
  • 24 4
 I think their business plan will include:
1. Greater %profit margin (10% is very large for traditional publicly traded bike companies. Chapter2 (direct sale road frames only) has been24%)

2. Shorter time to get return on investment . Manufacturing runs are booked 2years ahead. And moulds may take years to “payoff/pay for themselves “
R&d done today can be sold tomorrow (fashionable hta can be released today , not in 2 years time.

3 Less capital required as dont have to pay for thousands of bikes that you haven’t sold yet

4 new competing 3d printers are meant to greatly reduce price this year.
  • 11 1
 I do get a hobby vibe from this, and that's not a bad thing. If they can afford to do it and end up with something that other people want to buy too, great.
  • 18 7
 Umm it’s likely it exist and they just didn’t talk it here. It’s a PB article, the bikes are more important to topic then business plan. You guys need to chill cause ... bikes?
  • 5 0
 I’m assuming they’re trying to build a successful bike company?
  • 11 1
 win races, sell bikes.
  • 4 0
 Their business plan will either sell a lot of bikes and stay profitable or not. That is to be seen. I like the concept and the bikes do look sick.
  • 3 10
flag Kramz (Jun 28, 2020 at 15:41) (Below Threshold)
 Dude, I worked at a grocery store for six years, and the entire time they were telling us, "the store's not profitable". HOLY FAIL f*ck. How is a damn grocery store not profitable!? People must think I'm retarded. GOOD FINANCIAL SYSTEM.
  • 7 0
 @Kramz: Did you ever take any business or economics classes? lot more to it than "buy for 1.00$, sell for $1.50 - make .50 profit"
  • 14 0
 Step 1. Collect underpants
Step 2. ???
Step 3. Profit
  • 1 0
 > Sell a frame for £3,700

'But where's the MONEY??'
  • 1 0
 I'm assuming Piers Linney put some money in.
  • 1 0
 16 hours to print lugs for a single bike that still need to be machine finished afterwards does not sound very scalable.
  • 1 0
 Their business plan is to get more people to buy custom geometry frames. They'll do this by bringing the price down (price goes down, demand goes up) by using 3D printing in the manufacturing process.
  • 1 0
 @dthomp325: I have a customer that makes 3d printed lamps. They started with two 3d printers.
They now have 200 printers. So 3d printing is scalable, you just need more printers. And you don't need 10 times as many people to run 10 times as many machines.
  • 1 0
 @acali: sure you can get more printers, but at 16 hours per-bike you are looking at a max of around 300 bikes per year on a machine capable of precision ti parts that likely costs $500k, and that's just to print the lugs before any machining and frame assembly.
  • 55 0
 Biggest shock here was that Dan actually smiled in a photograph.
  • 16 0
 The annual birthday smile
  • 19 0
 @Dropthedebt: could of been just wind
  • 2 0
 @Dropthedebt: the enotional effort exhausted him for a whole year. He has to back into the woods, moodily digging and sending huge jumps
  • 1 0
 @mattg95: ahhhh... That's the life for me. Beer
  • 33 7
 Did they just rebrand robot bike co, or is this something completely different?
  • 5 2
 Im no expert on the matter but I think you're right with Robot. Re-imagining of Robot. A few new investors, and I think DW is on board as more than just a suspension designer this time.
  • 23 0
 The guys at Robot are their best mates and also if I remember right have been Atherton racing mechanics in the past so it’s more an amalgamation if you like. It’s good to see.
  • 13 6
 I think given the amount of work that's gone into the creation of these bikes as evident in the article, to say they just rebranded is a huge misunderstanding. There may have been a lot carried over but it's not like they just changed the name and kept going with an existing product, they've clearly used it as the baseline and done a heck of a lot of work building upon it from there on in to create what is likely to be a far superior product than the original.
  • 14 0
 Looking at public records on the interwebs it looks like a buyout of a struggling startup. Then again Athertons doing your research and development testing plus racing qualifies for something completely different. For now it is a pretty exclusive club of users, I wander what goes on behind the scenes. I would love to see what the failure modes of these frames are, too bad display of frame failures is a gigantic taboo in the bike industry with everyone overreacting about every single crack posted anywhere.
  • 9 0
 @Thema: obviously these are still too new for the ultimate failure rate test; pinkbike's buy/sell pages. I was committed to buying a Yeti one day until I saw how many warranty replacement parts, front and rear triangles are being sold, quite telling... The same for a few other big names like Santa Cruz!
  • 8 1
 @Thema: I think Santa Cruz put some rig testing up on their YouTube years ago when they first started doing carbon as a way of proving it was stronger than the alloy versions. Worth a look just to listen to Joe Graney f&blind his way through the interview’s
  • 8 11
 Yes that’s exactly what they did. It’sa rebranding of robot bikes
  • 5 0
 @landscapeben: Its much easier to build on an existing design, product, manufacturing method, supply chain etc etc than start from scratch - not to mention a hell of a lot quicker - Nobody is doubting the product will be superior to the original but to make out the 'heck of a lot of work they have done' is more than Robot will have to get to the stage where the Athertons took over would be bullshit.

Its the development of an already existing business and product, not the creation of a new one, add another year or so on minimum if they had started from scratch and all of the headaches and costs that go along the way.
  • 2 1
 @justanotherusername: I did not say anywhere that the work the Atherton brand has done is "more" than Robot, I didn't even insinuate it, you're simply reading in something that isn't there. What I said was that a simple statement saying that the Atherton's have JUST rebranded Robot, is wholly missing the point and ignoring all the work the Atherton's have put in. The only comparison I made is the one to which you've agreed, that the end product will be better following the Atherton's work.
  • 5 5
 @landscapeben: You wrote it. The written word is most often taken as a sum of its parts and not every word to its literal meaning. The 'heck of a lot of work' bit pushed me to assume that you were somehow saying they had a larger role to play in the existence of the product than Robot, which would be absolute bullshit, if you had to compare the work the two parties have done, they basically have just rebranded it, Robot came up with the method of manufacture, initial design, aesthetics, DW the suspension. Athertons stuck a sticker on, rode it, changed some angles and asked DW to play with suspension.

Sorry for taking what you said to imply something it didn't, im a bad boy.
  • 3 1
 @packfill you live under a rock everyone's known this for 2 years now.
  • 8 3
 @mhoshal: I’ve actually been out riding my bike. Thanks for holding down the internet for me.
  • 1 0
 @packfill: you sure comment on stuff on here a lot for never being on here lol.
  • 3 0
 @justanotherusername: that's your assumption. I was always taught "Assume makes an ass out of you and me" and assumptions rather than reading what someone's actually said seems to be the start of every internet trolls career.

Now careful you don't read that and assume I'm calling you an internet troll!
  • 23 1
 I actually love the way these bikes look and the technology behind them.

Also, whether you love or hate the Athertons, you can’t deny they are the most successful racing family ever. They probably know a thing or two about geo and developing a bike.
  • 2 0
 I like the concept as well and bikes do look sick. Timeless design.
  • 1 0
 Having a WC win for your bike brand is not that common either. Sure it helps to have someone as good as Rachael Atherton riding it, but it's still a big accomplishment.
  • 18 0
 Doing all this with your family, your bothers and sisters must be so cool. Massive respect for trying this!
  • 18 6
 Just an observation, but I bet I've read 50 articles on the Atheron's in 3 years on Pinkbike, who don't even sell bikes and just T-shirts and hoodies with their name on it. But not 1 on Evil Bikes which makes some really fun rides. Does PB have some kind of grind with Evil Bikes?
  • 12 1
 Good question. In all seriousness, why doesn't Evil get much coverage here?
  • 17 1
 It's probably a willingness to open doors and have a decent amount of information to present to the public.

Evil Bikes are produced in Asian factories, just like 95% of the carbon MTB industry. When they do a product update, they write up some sort of details and specs on the new bikes and send them over to Pinkbike who does a release. Maybe they make a video with their products in it. I mean, compared to other brands, I'd say Evil is similarly treated, but with less new products being released, they just don't have the media to present. Look at brands like Giant - one of the largest - when was the last time you saw an article about a Giant race team, or even any of their products? Last I can think of is when the Reign 29 was released. I can't even think of any videos that had Giant products in it.

Aside from Evil introducing a new frame every year - what else is there? Yea, they might design some interesting stuff, but its nothing groundbreaking in our industry. The Delta link is kinda old news these days.

Furthermore, Atherton Bike Co is probably really pushing these articles, and probably being VERY open about what's going inside their company because they need to generate hype to sell any of their products.

From what I know of Evil products, there isn't much hype necessary, they sell pretty well without it.
  • 2 1
 You also need to keep in mind that PB is, in it's most basic form a Magazing, or e-mag/ezine if you will. Since the beginning of time its advertising revenue that keeps these things going. Mayne Evio doesn't spend on the ads for PB to acknowledge them. Perhaps evil doesn't have the budget to advertise after going thru restructuring a few years back. Or maybe evil strait up doesn't want to spend on ads and they're going the Geurilla/social/word of mouth route. It's always interesting to sit back and watch because you can usually tell who's investing a lot in marketing (ride concepts is who springs to mind) and who doesn't. Historically, magazines are going to feature and prop up the companies that want to "play ball" or "be in bed with" more so than ones that dont.
  • 15 0
 Pinkbike has said, publicly and repeatedly, that they don't test Evil bikes because Evil doesn't send them bikes. This is probably both true and a fraction of the real story.
  • 2 0
 @jimeg: do a search. They've had reviews and coverage. Just nothing new or relevant lately. At least their bikes don't break as much anymore.
  • 1 0
 @Mtmw: This. I’m sure if evil would send a bike to turn into a PB review (aka revenue stream) they’d be all over that like Levy on doughnuts.
  • 2 0
 @cougar797: The expectation is not giving away a fleet of bikes either; you just need to get your best/newest product into the hands of reviewers for a period of time, so it's odd that they don't bother. Seems like it would be a pretty cost-effective way to market directly at your core consumer group...
  • 10 0
 What are the benefits in suspension feel of the DW6 over other suspension designs like horst-link or the regular DW-link? Let’s forget you can change it with new parts as mentioned in the article - let’s think of a regular weekend-warrior that bought the Atherton frame and is planning on riding it for the long term. What’s so special about the suspension and what more does it have over other designs? Smile
  • 14 3
 2% more betterer
  • 5 0
 I'd hazard a guess that it's very similar to a Horst link layout (looks like a Session!), where the twin link down at the BB makes the effective BB pivot of the chainstay move around a bit (could be beneficial for kinematics) and enables them to place it in a spot where they otherwise couldn't (inside the BB, not completely centered, etc.).

The real question is is it worth it to have even more pivots and bearings (more weight, maintenance and more expensive production) as opposed to a standard 4-bar layout.
  • 1 0
 @lbsteinm: yeah, and they don’t go into details about the suspension’s behavior. This DW6-link looks like a mix-up between regular dw-link and a horst-link so i guess the idea is to offer the benefits of both: great pedaling suspension like the dw-link and no brake-jack like the horst-link.
  • 2 0
 @Primoz: the robot version only weighs 6.6 pounds with an air shock, that's pretty good
  • 1 0
 I have to assume the advantage to a weekend warrior is that if they get the base bike out of the box, start putting in the work & hit a point where they are ready to either upgrade or request geometry change (longer this or shorter that), then they could literally order the newest version immediately and get the most recent iteration because Atherton isn't having to stock pre-made frame parts.

From what I read, they can change a layout on Monday, race it at a World Cup on Sunday and let their client base know they've proofed out a running change to the linkage and/or frame layout; take customer orders immediately with ground up redesigned bits going out to the consumer in a matter of weeks.

Or...with the DW6, I'm guessing Weagle has a formula he's supplied Atherton (because one of the big things Dave works into his suspension designs is the center of the rider's mass as it correlates to the angles of the bike) where if a customer wants to order a really long, odd reach bike like Cathro, they make the front triangle reach to that customer's specs and DW's formula lets them know what changes have to happen to make the rear triangle & linkage mate to the rider's balance point at that point.

The old Ridemonkey Iron Horse Sunday thread was insanely comprehensive & the way he works very specific traits into a bike that compensate for the rider & their positioning are more thoroughly thought out and planned than any other designer.
  • 7 0
 The Athertons strike as the First Family of Mountain Biking. Wishing them massive success, I think these are really cool bikes worthy of being on the short list.
Bikes being developed by racers is a huge advantage. Other companies are welding together great geo bikes (or at least what is fashionable) but with no consideration given to flex because they don't have 3 Pro riders dialing in this important attribute, that most of us weekend warriors don't have the ability to experiment with.
  • 6 0
 @Riwajc I think you’re showing your own prejudice. He never said anything about Taiwan not being experts - just the environmental and logistical impact of production outside of the main consumer base (being the West).

Also while you do get advanced production techniques and lower volume costs, bespoke is much harder due to that volume.

Starling cycles is a good example of that compromise
  • 7 0
 I have owned a few DW link bikes and loved them all!

I have build number 9/50 on the way and can’t wait to ride this bike!
  • 8 0
 Now one of you can design your own Grim Donut and quit asking for it.
  • 4 0
 Their addititve manufacturing is local, turnaround is quick, per unit cost is high but no long shipping, no huge pre-order MOQs. They can design and fab a new bike in a week and stay ahead of trends in the market. There's a few USPs right there. Add that to soem of the most skilled test riders on the planet in their respective fileds owning a part of the company and it increasingly looks like a good idea. They'll never be price competitive with mid-market carbon, but just like HOPE that's not their market. I'd buy one.
  • 3 0
 But being realistic they are stuck to the same 'base design' which is why they look almost identical to the Robot bikes they are an evolution of.

For example, would a traditional, aluminium, welded frame be any slower to turn around, to change within reason, to 'keep ahead of trends'? I would say not if you are making in-house.

The key to your point is just making in-house, not really the manufacturing method, a bike frame is a pretty simple thing to make if that's what you are setup to do, e.g. I bet a company like Nicolai could have a proto designed and in physical form on trails within a week if they really wanted to and it shared the common form of their production lineup (In the same way the Atherton frame would need to with sus design and tube sizing etc)

If you are talking about carbon-only frames though, then yes, they are pretty unique.
  • 2 0
 @justanotherusername: it wouldn't be nearly as easy but possible given a simple design with minimal machined parts. Aluminum has to be stress released and heat treated before it can be ridden, you can't just weld it up and go.
  • 2 0
 @MikeGruhler: The Athertons dont own a 3d printer to make the lugs with - they still have to wait for those to be printed (16hrs print time, so mabe a week or more from file to actual part being delivered?), then e they have to ensure the tubing is in stock to the correct length, then set the jig, bond the frame, wait for it to cure etc....

As I say, the main thing here is doing work in-house, not sending it all out, it isnt so much the production method - if you were setup to make custom geo alloy frames you could easily have one ready within a week, including heat treat if you did that in house like Intense did.
  • 2 1
 @justanotherusername: They literally say above they had a new front triangle in 5 days between races, 16hrs is 16hrs not "maybe a week" unless I never learned how to tell time. There's really no point to prove here, they make a good looking bike in my opinion. It's a traditional looking design that anyone can understand when they see it. Aluminum is still one of the best materials for bike building but all materials have a place and use within the bike industry. But comparing a cabon tubed ti lugged bike to a welded aluminum bike is truly apple's to oranges comparison. Pole is probably the closest company to compare them with given the bonding of 2 halves that need zero heat treatment or stress release. Either way it's cool as shit what these companies are doing and can't wait for the tech to mature and become more affordable and reasonable as a way to manufacture.
  • 1 0
 @MikeGruhler: You do realise Renishaw wont have a very expensive titanium 3d printer just sitting there waiting for an Atherton file, dont you? Its 16hrs for print, so almost 2 working days, a day to ship, so assuming they put it on the next day after receieving a file then yes, about a week or 5 days, as you said.
  • 2 0
 @justanotherusername: Changing the aliminium frames would also likely updating the jigs as well, which could take a lot more time than updating a CAD file for the lugs and cutting the tubing a little longer/shorter.

It is kind of funny though because my buddy has a specialized road bike built very similar to the atherton bikes, only his is about 25 years old (with questionable integrity in the glued joins)
  • 1 0
 @justanotherusername: I don't like to assume how Renishaw operates there company but it would be ignorant to think they operate one 8hr shift a day considering the nature of their work and the purpose of a 3D printer. So, that part takes 16hrs not 2 days. That machine doesn't stop because first shift goes home. Wouldn't be surprised if they could build a bike in about a 48hr period given around the clock shifts working on it. Who's to say the Atherton's aren't waiting to get enough capital to purchase there own machine and bring it more "in house" not that thats always the best method for production. Sometimes you let people do what there best at while you focus on what your best at, it's a common practice used just about everywhere in most industries. Any who..have a good one.
  • 2 0
 @plyawn: The "Epic fail"
  • 2 0
 It's a huge shame that injury last year and The 'Ol 'Rona this year put a stop on the number of opportunities to put their bikes on podiums.

Not sure how long the Athertons plan to remain in elite racing for (as competitiors themselves, not the brand). I understand that this project has been something they've been dreaming of for years. But i also assume it's part of their post-racing career plan. Although Rachel was still very much still at the top of her game before injury took her out of the season last year.

Anyway, my point is that it would be incredible for the Athertons to get more podiums and perhaps another WC overall title for Rachel on their bikes. Aside from racing, it seems the Athertons have got a lot vested in this project and i'd like to see them succeed - commercially as well as competetively. For all the slick marketing and advertising out there, there is no better advert (nor indisputable retort to critics and naysayers) for a bike than "It wins" and "It wins better than everyone else's bike". Seeing a bike win, and being able to put a #1 sticker on the bike or in your advertising, probably slashes the amount of years required building market awareness or whatever by a huge amount. Look how big YT went when Gwinn was winning with the Tues.

On a slightly related note:
As a big fan of Nukeproof, i'm curious if anybody started taking more of an interest in them after Sam Hill won the EWS (i'm thining more specifically their bikes but i'd also be interested in the same about their components too). Particularly outside of the UK/internationally. Can any of our international commentators enlighten me?
  • 2 0
 I read "Ol 'Rona" then started reading your whole message in Andy Bernard's voice in my mind.
  • 3 1
 The problem is that rach is the only one capable of winning now and given her record shows it’s not about the bike. Not helpful from a marketing perspective. If she doesn’t win is it the bike? Shoe can’t have that many years left at the pointy end of the grid
  • 1 0
 @CM999: /\ x100
  • 1 0
 @CM999: that didnt happen with Gwin and Specialized or Graves and Specialized, the proof is that the Enduro just surpased the Stumpjumper as the best selling bike last year.
Bikes sell either they have winning athletes or not.
  • 1 0
 @Narro2: that’s because the stumpy is about 2 years old now and must be the next bike for replacement in their line up. The enduro is brand new and a big step from the old model. The question is why would you buy an atherton bike and not one from the other established brands in the market. What is their usp?
  • 1 0
 @CM999: I'd guess the USP is custom geo (if you want to pay for it) and the biggest advantage to them is being able to keep their bikes up to date constantly.

My understanding is that most frame/model designs have a set minimum lifespan (as in how long they will sell a current model for) due to the amount of money that goes into designing and manufacturing it.

If Atherton Bikes can change the fundamentals of a bike with a few taps of a keyboard, they can be permanently up to date with current trends and what works or doesn't.

At least that's my understanding of it.

Also, the racing pedigree of the Athertons will likely be a USP for some. As the Motorbike racing saying goes - "Win on Sunday. Sell on Monday"
  • 1 0
 @DidNotSendIt: Iirc.You can mix and match reach and seat tube lengths. Everything else is fixed.
  • 1 0
 I bought a mega mostly because it has been so successful. The components are great, and the bike is high quality. Leverage ratio might not be for everyone but what do I know lol.
  • 2 0
 Completely unrelated but, why do almost all DH pro's ride with no knee pads on enduro bikes? when they are going about the same speed and in half shells? Guess it seems like a walk the park but just curious
  • 1 0
 I'd suspect they are calculating risks while staying within their comfort zone.
  • 4 0
 The better the rider the less protection.
Have you seen how many kids Sam Hill has?
  • 1 0
 Good on them for starting their own bike company. I hope it works. I am guessing there are a few extra pressure psi on Rachel to get some more wins on this bike to sell some units. She could probably win on my 26 darkside though. I don't know how anyone chooses this bike over all the other great ones out there. It's going to be interesting to see how this company does.
  • 1 0
 Well, they're too expensive for me and I can't ride for shit anyway but I truly wish the Athertons all the best with this. It takes guts to start any new venture (and they have started a new venture) like this. I really hope they branch into enduro racing at some point - bikes and competing.
  • 1 0
 My biggest worry about these bikes is that when a mere mortal rides them they will be just as average as any other decent bike. It’s easy to make them awesome when you blast your social with pics of the founders messing around in a world class level of steeze.
  • 1 0
 I’m cool with Asia manufacturing, as long as, country treats its population fairly and with dignity. Ensuring good working conditions, pay relatively decent wages and not creating excessive pollution.

While Japan, Korea, Singapore and Twain are decent countries. The same cannot be said for China, Philippines, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Thailand, India to name a few. I’d love to boycott China and these lesser nations that don’t offer freedom speech and political belief. Made any where but China is real. I’d love it if we could get off our China addiction and tell Xi Jinping to go suck his on roaster.
  • 4 3
 i must be really out of the loop that i haven't seen many people reviewing these bikes or sharing their experiences - but very curious to know what they think of them - bikes look cool
  • 9 2
 Don’t think they are in production yet?
  • 6 0
 How do people review them? They literally just made the first batch
  • 6 1
 @Richt2000:
We delivered our first bikes to customers a few weeks ago. Covid-19 has definitely slowed down our supply chain but everyone is in the same boat. Our silver lining is that the postponement of the race season has given us an unprecedented opportunity to focus on developing Atherton Bikes. We’ve spent the last three months building frames and bikes solo from multiple locations; we're pretty much back in the factory now with social distancing in place and a real fire for the next stage in our company's growth.—Gee

We still have some availability for our #firstfifty build slots. More about the bikes here: tiny.cc/athertonbikes, for detailed information including spec and prices sign up to our mailing list.
  • 2 3
 Lol it says in the article they’ve delivered some to customers should actually read the thing your commenting on @Richt2000:
  • 10 1
 @enduroNZ:

Oh yea last paragraph :-)
This is pink bike - look at the pictures and head straight to the comments, and ask silly questions!
  • 1 3
 @Richt2000: First 50 are available
From the beginning would start with Robot bikes?
  • 3 0
 Would honestly love to own one of these frames. I love the look of the frame and the process is pretty cool.
  • 4 0
 Avengers Bikes!
  • 2 0
 That 3D printed plate of items kinda reminded me to a plate of growing mushrooms... maybe they brought some clever input...
  • 3 1
 Can't wait to see this one on Behind the Numbers
  • 3 1
 The Atherton's have a good CV behind them. They've got to be good bikes.
  • 3 0
 Not necessarily. Good athletes don’t necessarily mean good bikes for not average with deep pockets which it’s their market
  • 1 0
 @CM999: Yeh true, but the Atherton's are no ordinary athletes....see what the reviews say....proof is in the pudding.
  • 1 1
 Hey look, that guy can manual and jump a bike. Let's have them do physics, FEA and learn additive manufacturing techniques!!!! Wait, what?!?!
  • 1 0
 @downcountry: Like the Avengers they have assembled a team to build some pretty nice bikes. Also their knowledge and experience of riding and racing is being put into building some, again, pretty nice bikes.
  • 7 6
 Did the article miss the part where they bought a bike company that had developed all this tech?
  • 3 2
 That's generally what happens when you buy a company is that you get their research and tech with it otherwise you'd be buying what?
  • 2 0
 Yes, you must have missed the article over a year ago Atherton launch announcement) that mentioned the collaboration with members of Robot bikes.
  • 3 7
flag mtb-scotland (Jun 28, 2020 at 7:38) (Below Threshold)
 @mammal: you must have missed my sarcasm
  • 3 3
 I'm really impressed. I still wonder if the bike's suspension kinematics had something to do with Rachy box's achilles rupture.
  • 5 4
 They literally bought Robot bikes. Why doesn’t the article mention that?
  • 3 2
 I think it's getting irrelevant at this point now in their story. Yes they bought it but its really theirs now and there's only so much bike design to go around anyway. It's like calling out a bike company for using the same suspension link style as another bike company. Or the classic Pinkbike saying, "looks like a session". Look at NOBL wheels, they basically started out by just selling LB rims on brand name hubs until they bought the carbon designs and possibly the machines to make them but everybody loves them, and for good reason because they made it a solid product, they just had to start somewhere.
  • 5 0
 @warmerdamj: I disagree. The dw6 design was robot, the manufacturing technique was robot, most of the key staff are ex robot.
  • 3 0
 @warmerdamj: I'm not sure the starting point of the story is all that irrelevant in an article titled "Atherton Bikes from the beginning".
But to use your analogy, it would be like Trek developing the session, an athlete buying the company, tweaking the geometry and stiffness, putting their name on the downtube and then not even giving a nod to Trek for starting it all off.

Please don't see this as trying to take away from all of the hard work and efforts the Atherton's have done to tweak all of the aspects of these bikes to their liking. I'm just trying to say that maybe an acknowledgement of Robot bike co. for spending years developing the manufacturing technique and susspension design would be a little more respectful.
  • 1 2
 @karrot989:

" it would be like Trek developing the session, an athlete buying the company, tweaking the geometry and stiffness, putting their name on the downtube and then not even giving a nod to Trek for starting it all off."

You pretty much just described any company that has ever changed ownership and or names. This is just the way of the world I think. I don't get the hate for Atherton bikes or their story, I hope they do really well and they probably don't give a shit what any of us think.
  • 4 0
 @warmerdamj: Please don't get me wrong, they look like super rad bikes and with a very interesting manufacturing process. If it was in my price range I'd strongly consider buying one.
My only issue is the start of the article which almost reads as if it came out of nowhere, and the start of the project was when they launched it on Dan's birthday, when realistically there'd been many more prototypes and iterations before then, they just didn't say Atherton on the side of them.
  • 1 0
 @karrot989: Yeah I get it man, but I think they are doing a lot to make a little known thing, a big deal. Keep in mind a lot of people would never know, or care to know what Robot Bikes was. So there's probably some thought put in there. Don't confuse the consumer...
  • 1 0
 @CM999: I do believe I read or listened to a interview from Robot that basically said they never intended for the company to be a real bike company. It was a engineering exercise in 3d printing and manufacturing basically, they never intended to be profitable from what I remember. If anything the Atherton's got together with the right people at the right time.
  • 2 0
 Bet there ebike motor mount will be a cool bit of 3d printing...
  • 2 0
 When you pinkbike will test and give us proper review of the enduro bikes?
  • 2 0
 When they actually make some production ones and lend them one. It appears they have less than 50 orders after 2 years well publicised testing and development
  • 1 1
 3500 for a frame?! Hope, SC, Giant, trek, specialized, devinci, evil etc, etc, here I come. I may aquire Anderton frame after solid user reviews and /if they don't go bust.
  • 1 0
 Proper looking bikes.

Always dug the Robot Bike Co vibes.

Now put me down for a low, long, slack short travel 29er. Smile
  • 1 0
 Can't wait to hit up Dyfi - Hope they've got some demo bikes there!
  • 1 0
 Anyone know the values??
  • 1 0
 How much $$$?
  • 4 5
 I think you misspelled the brand Atherton is spelled Robot Bike Co.
  • 4 5
 Not cheap
  • 13 6
 The price of additive process (where most of the cost of artherton's frames comes from) will drop down with time and mass production (quicker machine). No need to make frames in Asia anymore, where people don't buy and use them …
Bringing the mass production of high end frames back to Europe and Northern America will be relevant. And just like with steel, a custom-made frame for one customer is as easy as the normal frame.
Pretty sure that in a few years from now, some of us will design our lugs on CAD, sent the file to print somewhere local or overseas, and then to the local machinist. Bond or weld the way you like it and bob's your uncle!
  • 14 31
flag Riwajc (Jun 28, 2020 at 2:39) (Below Threshold)
 @Euskafreez: what's wrong with making in Taiwan. The level of expertise there in carbon manufacturing is the best in the world. It's the same old anti asian rhetoric. And you being and aussie why do you want to bring manufacturing back to the usa or Europe? Maybe if it was australia your point would be valid as it directly affects you. Stop hiding your thinly veiled rascism under false pretenses. And who said people dont buy bikes in Asia.
  • 5 1
 @Riwajc: Always the same conceited person lol … We already have a brand doing it in Aussie : Bastion. Like it or not the birthplace of cycling is EUROPE. And even in 2020, most of major races are in EUROPE. The vast majority of cyclists are in Europe. What's wrong about supporting OUR economy, OUR jobs ?
  • 5 2
 @Riwajc: not the best in the world. Don't confuse your ignorance with knowledge.
  • 6 0
 @Riwajc: there is nothing wrong with producing things locally, wherever that may be. It's a good thing. Remember that production moved to Asia to take advantage of cheap labour. (Emphasis on the taking advantage part) I also suspect that mtb is more popular in the west than in Asia (as it is a rich persons sport)
  • 3 0
 I thought the carbon tubes come from New Zealand, isn't it? So it is a local product for many people. And isn't the Fox suspension a Taiwanese product? German brakes, Scottish clothing, bit here, bit there, end of the day it is a local product for everyone. Peace.
  • 2 6
flag Riwajc (Jun 28, 2020 at 8:19) (Below Threshold)
 @Euskafreez: tell that to your own people outsourcing the manufacturing. While you're at why dont you stop using asians made phones and cars and what not.
  • 1 5
flag Riwajc (Jun 28, 2020 at 8:20) (Below Threshold)
 @atrokz: in terms of bicycle carbon manufacturing it is.
  • 6 6
 @DGWW: there's more rich people in asia than there is the entire population of canada. That must be why asians already own half of canada cause they're poor. You're all afraid the status quo is shifting so you hide behind a masquerade of nationalism and "wanting to bring manufacturing home"! Who are you to say anything when it's your own countrymen outsourcing the labor. While you're at it Why dont you stop using your laptop or phone iam sure that was made in asia too. It's a globalized world.
  • 3 7
flag Riwajc (Jun 28, 2020 at 8:28) (Below Threshold)
 @vinay: iam sick of this anti asian sentiment but it doesnt matter if it's made in other countries as long as it's a white country! As if made in america automatically equals good quality.
  • 2 7
flag Riwajc (Jun 28, 2020 at 8:28) (Below Threshold)
 @DGWW: what you mean to say is it's fine as long as it's made in a white country.
  • 2 6
flag Riwajc (Jun 28, 2020 at 8:30) (Below Threshold)
 @Euskafreez: but you're not European. What you're trying to say is it's fine as long as its made in a white country. Atherton bikes is a british brand that uses parts from everywhere in the world. It's called globalization. Do you also sit around yelling anti asian sentiments at the tv in your flip flops while drinking VB. Iam suspecting you do.
  • 6 1
 @Riwajc: you're ridiculous.
  • 5 0
 @Riwajc: Asia makes a LOT of crap. And they are more focused on production efficiency than design and improving design, let alone paying a wage that insentivises economic growth for the lower class.
  • 3 0
 @Riwajc: ill take made in Japan any day of the week!
  • 7 0
 @Riwajc: Asia is a large region of the world not a specific country. Do your homework before making sweeping statements. Lots and lots of poor folks in Asia. Mtb is a western sport by and large. Canada is a small country by population, but a very rich one per capita. Even Taiwan has a lower standard of living (and they are a rich country by Asian standards) doesn't seem like you've spent much time in Asia with statements like that.
  • 4 0
 @Riwajc: nope not at all. You've got very creative reading abilities.
  • 2 0
 @Riwajc: Piss off. You aren't being social conscious, you are being a dick, a troll and a complete a*shole.
  • 3 1
 @Riwajc: You can pretty much thank Specialized and other massive brands for Taiwan expertise in high-end manufacturing. Before Specialized brought there manufacturing know how to them they were welding bicycles on the sidewalk with no goggles. Personally I think micro manufacturing within each city is the future of supplying goods to people. Kinda like Poles idea of small buildings sprinkled through out a country to cover the supply of local bikes. Hell Atherton's bikes could damn near be fully automated from print to bonding and paint if needed.
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