Can steel ever be sexy again? In this world of swoopy carbon exotica, sometimes the simple elegance of the straight tubes on a ferrous frame can be lost to all those who aren't seasoned shed dwellers, but German frame builder Ralf Holleis is hoping to change all that with his latest project.
An industrial designer by day, Ralf has been building bikes since 2011, starting with his VRZ 1 track bike that used the titanium lugs and carbon tubes recipe we're used to seeing from the likes of Robot Bikes. This time, he's using the same technique but there's no plastic in sight. Instead, he's opted for a fully steel frame - lugs, tube and all.
He calls this bike the Moorhuhn, coming from the German for Moorhen. Yes, it seems like a strange name but Ralf explains it by saying, "Getting dirty is fun, chickens live in the dirt, yet they look very elegant! Chickens walk forward with their heads up high, while doing so they never lose focus. Last but not least chickens have the skill to fly for short distances, mountain bikes do the same"
Rear Travel: 129mm
Front travel: 140mm fork recommended
Head angle: 67°
Seat tube angle: 76°
This time Ralf is using Reynolds 953 tubes for the front triangle and Columbus Zona for the rear triangle, while the lugs are made from either 17/4 PH or 316 L stainless steel. He has a friend who gave him access to a 3-D printer for the lugs and the rest of the bike has been brought together with the sweat of his brow.
The 3-D printed lugs use a honeycomb structure that can be altered for strength where it's needed, for example around the Pivot/BB area.
The Moorhuhn is a 129mm travel 29er designed to be agile, playful, and "cut corners like a chicken does." Ralf opted for 129mm of travel "because everybody does 130mm and the Huhn wants to be different." It's a project that has taken three years to come to life and Ralf played a lot with linkage on a traditionally built geometry mule to get the feeling he needed before moving on to the additive manufacturing version.
With the construction complete, Ralf painstakingly sanded and polished the frame to a near-mirror finish before sending it away for a chrome coating. Ralf is yet to decide on a full spec for the bike so has only sent us pictures of the frame for now, but he should have a fully built version in around two weeks.
Ralf is planning to sell these frames, but don't expect them to become a regular sight on your trails. He's limiting numbers to 12 per year and they start at €6000 with options to slightly adjust the geometry. Next on his list is a titanium frame that will bring down the weight without a shock from 3.9kg (8.6 lb) to 2.8kg (6.2 lb) and start from €6500, and after that a more agressive enduro version.
More info, here