Revel Bikes made their debut back in 2019, and in the years since the brand has rolled out several new models, all situated on the slightly more conservative side of the geometry spectrum. The fact that Revel didn't dive headfirst into the extra-long and slack pool isn't a bad thing – the bikes have received plenty of praise for their quick handling and excellent pedaling manners – it just makes Revel's announcement that they've been working on a 3D printed downhill bike a little more surprising.
The idea for the bike first arose during Revel's early days, when Chris Canfield was working on the suspension layout for the trail bikes. Keen to see his CBF suspension design applied to a composite bike, Canfield came up with the geometry figures and kinematics for the Rodeo.
Before going further, it needs to be mentioned that the Revel Rodeo is still in the very early stages of development. It's more of a proof of concept than anything else, and if the bike went into production as it's shown now the price would be so high that only the Musks and Zuckerbergs of the world would be able to afford it. Enter Arevo
With the basics of the DH bike in place, the next step was deciding how to manufacture it. Adam Miller, Revel's CEO, has an appetite for new manufacturing techniques, and in this case it was Arevo, a Silicon Valley-based company that's focused on implementing futuristic ways of making composites that grabbed his attention.
If the name sounds familiar, Arevo is the company behind the Superstrata
, the crowd-funded road bike that was billed as the “world's first 3D-printed custom unibody carbon fiber composite bike.” The campaign was wildly successful, raising over $7 million USD, although the reception to the bikes once backers finally received them was decidedly lukewarm – the weight and overall finish of the Superstrata didn't live up to the lofty claims. The multiple long shipping delays that were exacerbated by Covid didn't help things either.
Arevo also launched the Scotsman All-Carbon Fiber Scooter on Indiegogo, although once again comments for that campaign are filled with angry backers frustrated at the ongoing delays and lack of updates. That was followed up by the Mishima lounge chair, which does seem like it's available, assuming you don't mind waiting 14 weeks and paying over $5,000 for one. F1's Fernando Alonso even makes an appearance in this story – his Kimoa brand released an e-bike
manufactured by Arevo at the Miami Grand Prix last year.
As a final twist to the tale of Arevo, the CIA, or rather In-Q-Tel
, the CIA's venture capital firm, is one of the investors in the company. Robots, Lasers, & Thermoplastic
Putting aside Arevo's odd history and and ongoing hurdles, the potential for a 3D printed thermoplastic bike is very intriguing. Creating a carbon fiber frame is traditionally a very labor intensive process, and an expensive mold must first be created for each frame size.
Bring in some thermoplastic, lasers, and robots and the amount of hand labor required during manufacturing dramatically decreases. It's worth mentioning the use of thermoplastic isn't a new concept in the mountain bike world – GT was using the stuff in the mid- to late '90s, and more recently Guerrilla Gravity started using it for their frames, while several companies including Revel, Chris King, and Evil, have worked with CSS Composites to created thermoplastic rims.
What sets Arevo's methods apart is the fact that they're 3D printing the frames, building them one layer at a time, rather than using a mold. The filament is fed through a six-axis robotic arm, where it's heated up by a laser, and then compacted by a roller while it's laid down in the pre-programmed pattern. The lack of a mold opens up all sorts of customization options when it comes to frame sizing and geometry.
That said, although there's technically a nearly infinite number of possibilities when printing a frame, the strength of the final product still needs to be considered – you can't just scale up a frame without performing an analysis to ensure that it would still be strong enough to pass the relevant standards.
In the case of the Revel Rodeo, the frame did pass ISO standards, but Adam Miller said that it's still not quite at the level of strength they're looking for. Revel's pie-in-the-sky, long term goal is to have a rider aboard a 3D printed Revel at a Red Bull Rampage someday, which means that the frame needs to be as strong as possible.
As for those water bottle mounts, those aren't a joke – they were added as a 'Why not?' feature during the design process of the bike. It's easy enough to remove the mounting bolts if a rider doesn't want to carry a bottle, and for the thirsty park rat they'll be a welcome addition.What's Next?
Where do things go from here? That's a good question. Adam Miller believes that this could be a glimpse into the future of bike manufacturing, but Revel's efforts haven't resulted in a clear conclusion as to when that future will begin. The cost is still a major hurdle, due to the amount of engineering time the project requires, and, as Arevo's other endeavors have illustrated, being able to meet demand is another factor that needs to be considered.
For now, the Rodeo is simply an interesting side project – we'll have to wait and see where Revel and Arevo's efforts take them.
Still I'm more intrigued by that Kellys Theos frame. Also thermoplastic matrix, carbon and steel fibres, robot made, and it is already there. Yes the geometry (and the way they present it in their keynote) may be questionable though the low top tube does make me happy. The lack of bottle mount will make others unhappy, I get that. Considering they probably do tape laying with the robot they probably still need a mandrel which Revel doesn't, so that places some restrictions on the customization options. But what if you'd just fix some parts in space (head tube, bottom bracket, seat tube, position for bearings etc and let the robots connect everything with impregnated fibres a la Achim Menges? I think that'd be pretty cool or would at least make for a fun experiment. Call me nuts, I'm still willing to try this .
Bike Evolution is expensive!
As mentioned earlier Marino can weld you up a custom steel frame in a couple months for pennies what Atherton will chaarge.
Hell, FTW, WaltWorks, and others have been doing it for ages, and youll get a quality USA sourced frame in what ever silly geo configuration you choose
With a more repeatable manufacturing process (good old fashion molds?) I think this is where the industry should be headed.
There was a time when plastic was going to be the automotive engine material of the future (Polyamide-imides)
That started in the 1960’s. I bet we can do better..
Even Marino, with any custom geo you want.
Hell, you could do a 2 week frame building course for less than the cost of a custom Atherton frame
I respect Revel / CSS Composites for downcycling the waste carbon from their rims into tire levers.
And suggesting as an alternative, to take a class and build my own full suspension frame?
I mean...I like DIY projects as much as the next guy/gal (literally about to head to the Depot) but...
@ReformedRoadie I spent maybe 6 minutes finding and pasting those links,
feel free to do your own research, theres more out there.
The Daambuilt bikes can build a rockered multi link bike,
Not sure I understand what the issue is with a single pivot bike for you lot is, just a bunch of elitism going on.
You guys really want it all handed to you eh
What is the cost of that delivered to your door?
you get that all the fancy bikes start out as test mules built by welders in a shop right?
As noted, I spent like 5 mins on the internet to give you a couple options, only for you to complain about the options, jesus wept.
I'll continue to be surprised about the level of entitlement, but I really shouldnt be.
Besides, give me a day and I could probably come up with a pretty darn good pair of pants, especially if I am going to a specialty custom pants maker who could advise me, just like a custom frame builder would do...
I've ridden VPP, DW-link, yetis (I took my entitled self to Outerbike several years ago)...the suspension is better. If you could get that level of performance from a single pivot, no one would be spending the time and resources to refine their designs.
Why wouldnt that just be a trait of the individual youre dealing with rather than East vs West?
you want to beleive that some DW link is magic, who am I to tell you otherwise. You want to believe that the myriad of custom frame builders out there cant for some reason provide you with what you want, sure. You want to argue with some random dude who lists you a couple options to explore, and tell him hes wrong, cool. You want to believe you couldnt take a frame building course and learn to do to cool stuff on your own, I cant stop you.
But man, if youre gonna close every door that someone opens for you to support your beliefs, thats your prerogative, and who am I to tell you that options exist, and have for decades.
All that being said, even with the additional $100 spent with an experienced shop, would you give it a thumbs up?
Custom geo, and frames have been available for decades, you simply need to do some work on your own to find them, discuss with them, work with them to develop what you want. Atherton is simply making it a HAppy meal for you, packaging it into a nice little website, and advertising it. Theres nothing wrong with that, and its an interesting idea, I wish them all the luck in the world. I was very interested, am on their mailing list, even spent some time trying to sort out what I was looking for, and then costs.
For me, at the time, I could do something similar, more locally, and get what I wanted. I dont seem to play well with DW link bikes, they dont seem to work well for my lack of riding ability.
Custom is great if you need a road/gravel bike and either you are oddly proportioned, or at either extreme of the height spectrum. Custom mountain makes sense if you want to get an extreme geo...now that the majority of manufacturers have sorted geo, unless you just want to be different, or special, why go there?
DW link is not magic...but it is one of the better designs I have ridden. I stand by the idea that full suspension is better left to a larger manufacturer, or boutique brand (Atherton) that has invested in the engineering. There is a difference between the art of frame building, and the science of kinematics. How is pointing that out "entitled"?
Custom fit mtb is also not just a want. When you live in area where the only way to get to the downs is to ride up you spend way more time climbing and being in an efficient position pays diviends in saving eenrgy and preventing injuries. As someone with somewaht fragile knees, ensuring my position on the bike is optimal is important. I agree taht more people can get away with a production bike in a set size but having teh option of specing a bike exactly the way you want it to fit you is an awesome option and it's freaking fun building bikes.
"Myself and quite a few others have built bikes that definitely go toe to toe with the big brands. Yeah, I am biased but the proof is in the pudding."
I'm talking primarily about my experience with mass production though and it may not apply to frames. I indeed doubt that the Taiwanese factory that some British steel brands work with would allow frames with mistakes leave their factory. I do agree in hindsight that my post could come across as generalizing so I should at the very least nuance that.
@ReformedRoadie : No one was offering what I wanted at the time so that's why I went custom. And so many question how what I want makes any sense so that's the very reason that it wasn't being mass produced. Basically, I wanted a shorter seattube for the reach and front/rear center ratio I wanted. Indeed it is getting more common now but back in 2017 when I placed my order, it wasn't there. At the end of the day what makes most sense is to, when you're going to buy something new (with all the money, materials, energy and footprint involved), you'd best just get what you really really want and stick with it. I got the geometry I wanted in the color I wanted. I can't see why I'd ever replace it.
Two years ago I would have called bullshit to this..
Now all I have to say is Amen Brother!
Completely opposite opinion for a road bike, where I think about going for a Rock Lobster (before Paul hangs up his torch...may be too late now) frame where I know exactly who's welding/brazing my frame and can chat about tube selection and thickness for each tube of the frame. And there I am looking for experience, knowing what works and having feedback from many frames they built.
Speaking for myself and I will take the liberty if tooting my own horn, I've done everything from designing, engineering, testing and fabricating every part of my bikes. There is no using anyone else's design or bolt on system. I started with an aporoxinate and tweaked it till I was happy with the numbers then comitted to the build. I've had a magazine review that gave the trail bike high praise and said it was every bit as good as anything else out there. Similar story to the enduro frame. Have had one with a tester that said it was the best bike he's ridden. Sure that's a sample size of two people but everyone that comes back from riding one of my bikes raves about it and usually is the price that holds them back.Personally I can't sell them any cheaper and actually make any money out of it. It is what it is.
So I apologise if I'm taking it a bit personal that guys like myself can't produce bikes as good as the big guys when we can and we do and I'll defend the other builders as well because the reality is the big manufacturers have done an amazing job of telling this story about how mysterious bike design is, when, with a bit of knowledge and a shit tonne of hard work it isn't that mysterious at all. Just freaking expensive.
It's been a long time since I rode a Horst-link bike, but that was impacted by other things, like a shit shock, super low BB. I know it can work well...look at how many companies switched over to it when the patent expired.
So many people claim to know the exact geo/kinematic they want, but it's not like anyone has had the opportunity to actually try out those ideas and see how design changes interact with the rest of the bike. If you just wanna tweak the HA or CS length on some existing design and get it built to say it yours that's one thing (and fwiw it's super cool), but there's virtually no chance someone on PB is producing something better than a stumpy/top fuel/altitude/ripmo/whatever on the 1st or 2nd try.
Any one of these suspension designs has been developed by an engineer, or sometimes just a guy that has tried and failed at a couple things. Theres no magic involved, nothing crazy, just intelligent people, working, trying, failing, and working again.
Atherton is just licensing a patent from DW for a suspension design, sure they might have worked with him to provide something that fit their priorities, but again, it aint magic.
You could have, when Spesh held the patent rights, licensed the Horst link from them to adapt the design to your own frame. It was a design put together by a guy, who tried and failed, and re-tried, who then licensed it to others to use.
And to be clear, I dont necessarily think anyone needs a custom geo frame, I merely pointed out in my original post that custom geo frames have been available for decades, Atherton hasnt pioneered anything here, theyre just another name brand, that you seem to believe in
I don't think it is marketing if you ride a bunch of bikes and decide from experience that one fits your riding style more than others...
I'll do better next time
MASSIVE steaming pile of hot garbage that TWO big bike brands signed on to use (and then abandon very quickly). Bigger company doesn't mean they'll do suspension better.
Those bikes were abominations that I have tried to unsee.
whos arguing aesthetics dont matter? Remember though, what you might like, another might not, its a subjective point, so its fairly useless.
Knolly, comes to mind in the polarizing category, and I was one who wasnt interested, until I rode one, changed my mind completely.
Sounds to me like your the type of person who lets aesthetics, and brand recognition get in the way of a more subjective review of things. Youre willing to write off a brand, or frame maker simply cause theyre not a more well known brand. Youre screen name makes a tonne of sense
Im sure it could have been made more appealing
What goes wrong with the Structure bike in berms? Is the issue that the front wheel might have a forwards axle path which doesn't work well in berms? I'm curious and I can imagine this could feel weird. Also when compressing at the beginning of the jump.
CIAO — Carbon Innovation And Optimization. CIAO is so amazing that we can’t talk about it (sorry, it’s classified).
Adhesive Formula 007 (AKA: Bond, Adhesive Bond) — our new thermoplastic adhesive allows riders to swap head-tube modules for variable reach and slackness, as geometry preferences change. The adhesive sets in just 7 minutes, yes just 007 minutes. The adhesive can be dissolved with our proprietary acid in just 30 seconds, allowing rapid disassembly of head-tube modules. Just avoid skin contact, as our proprietary acid readily dissolves human flesh in seconds.
“Intelligence Asset” is our new frame-integrated data logger, recording GPS, suspension, and acceleration data from our embedded high-frequency accelerometers, allowing riders to analyze their riding and manually optimize their suspension tuning.
IAAI — Intelligence Asset Artificial Intelligence. IAAI analyzes all “Intelligence Asset” data from other riders and automatically optimizes, via Artificial Intelligence, all of your suspension tuning; of course taking into account your body weight, riding speed, local weather conditions, and additional rider-input data.
SIGINT is our radio frequency antenna technology embedded into our carbon fiber frames — the co-molded boron fibers act as a VLF (very low frequency) antenna, based on state-of-the-art Signals Intelligence technology, allowing us to monitor the usage of our bikes, locate stolen bikes, and transmit “Intelligence Asset” and IAAI data, all via our proprietary VLF transmitter and antenna at Mountain Biking Area 51 (AKA, Q’s cabin).
Q — he, or rather it, is our Chief Technology Officer. Q not only conceives great bike technologies, but Q is an incredible chemist.
CQC (Conceived at Q’s Cabin) is a trademark we place on every technology and innovation we conceive at Q’s Cabin. Q’s Cabin where the engineering team goes monthly to brainstorm innovations while on LSD. New engineers are always in for a wild ride on their first visit to Q’s cabin...and we’re not taking about the singletrack.
Stealth Mode — utilizing our proprietary frame-integrated SIGINT VLF antenna, riders can radio-frequency jam your buddies’ mobile phones, rendering them temporarily useless, when needed. No calls from the office when it’s time to ride. No calls from the wife when it’s time to ride. No posting pictures to Instagram when it’s time to ride. And especially no checking Pinkbike when it’s time to ride.
But ya, bottle mounts on DH frames please!
This is the kind of hard-hitting journalism I come here for. More exposés on UFOs and deep state connections to the bike industry, let the Mikes loose.
Buy your modern bike now and throw out that old thing you have been riding and get on a bike that is agile, precise, and playful!
But they talked a lot about this stuff on the CyclingTips Nerd Alert podcast with the company that makes these (Arevo).
3d printing captures the imagination and it can make some cool looking structures. In some cases (such as with heat exchangers) there is some small functional benefit but it isn't worth the massively increased cost.
(I used to work at a company that was started pretty much on basis of 3d printing buzz. In the time I worked there we looked at all sorts of applications.....none really yielded a meaningful benefit despite the costs)
As others have identified (and the article alludes to with the other bike frames mentioned) the loss of material/structure properties from printing offsets the benefit of the design freedoms of printing.
They look cool. Sometimes. That's about it.
Sorry to buzz killington!
I understand that there are carbon fibers embedded in the thermoplastic, which makes a big difference with usual 3d printing.
Look up AFP machines which are whats used in aerospace. You could call that printing but its not quite the same.
Don't want to rag on the revel project too much it looks like a nice bike. But it won't have that manufacturing process if and when it gets to production.
But just like Ministry and the other companies milling Al frames out of billet, processes that seem insanely expensive/wasteful at the large scale are often more cost effective at the small scale / in a small physical mfg footprint. If Revel is printing these it's probably because they don't expect to sell a large # of DH frames and can't justify the cost of conventional production space for it. So in a roundabout way it's probably cheaper / less of a pain in the ass than making molds and adding production capacity at their own factory. That or they're demoing the technology for evenual use in something else.
If i recall (old age here), there was a company called GT that had a thermoplastic + carbon fiber downhill bike called the LOBO. Ok, ok, it wasn't 3d printed in silicon Valley, but common! Revel is not the first thermoplastic bike......
Give to Caesar what belong to Caesar!
I've followed the super strata story from afar as the process was interesting and nothing really looked transparent.
The only actual print demonstration was a bad quality video of a rough frame with lot of tinfoil here and there, and absolutely no showcase of how they print the 1st half of the frame (when the layers are half hanging over nothing, or maybe they flip it at 50%, still...)
Then it looked like the finish was very rough and they'd lose a lot of time sanding and prepping the frame, more or less losing the gain of not having to do the carbon layering in the 1st place.
He doesn't get enough credit for his work as a rocket propulsion engineer after he retired from the NBA
In the words of Frodo: We've been here before.
It looks like there is a mold of some sort under the frame during the extrusion (FFF Printing) process. I'd be curious what level of strength and precision is required of the mold.
The catch however, is that the technology to make a DH bike strong enough to withstand, well, DH, isn't there yet. At least not in a way to make it affordable. I think he said that if someone were to purchase this bike, the cost to break even for all parties involved was north of $200k, hence this being a one off concept.
Also the shape of the frame is quite conservative.
Not using full potential of 3D printing yet.
I'd take a thermoplastic Pinion enduro bike ... anyone?
you keep using those words...i do not think they mean what you think they mean.