From value-minded hardtails to boutique steel trail bikes with idler pulleys, and CNC'd aluminum frames that are glued together to ultra-light carbon creations, mountain bikes come in near-endless flavors these days. But one of the most interesting has to be those from Atherton Bikes, a UK brand that's bonding carbon fiber tubes from New Zealand into additive-manufactured titanium lugs while also offering a dizzying array of custom geometry choices. Oh, and its founders are a double World Champion and double World Cup Overall Champion with loads of World Cup wins and a second-place Rampage result to his name, a six-time World Champion with thirty-nine (39!) World Cup wins, and a World Cup racer turned trail builder behind the Red Bull Hardline and Dyfi Bike Park.
THE PINKBIKE PODCAST // EPISODE 120 - GEE ATHERTON ON TITANIUM ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING, MILLION-DOLLAR MACHINES, AND 3 NEW BIKES May 5th, 2022
I'm about to order my own bucket of titanium dust off Amazon. Who's in?
Episode 120 saw Brian Park and I sit down with Chief Designer Rob Gow, engineer Ben Farmer, and a guy named Gee who I hear is pretty quick on a bike to talk about the advantages and challenges of additive manufacturing, why they need buckets of titanium dust and a million-dollar hopper machine, and the three new bikes the plan to release in 2022.
Is this the future of frame manufacturing? Will a local shop be able to print your frame from a bag of expensive dust one day?
Gee Atherton - Director
Rob Gow - Chief Designer
Ben Farmer - Head Engineer
Calling them "lugs" might not do these titanium pieces justice.
The additive manufacturing process makes titanium frame components look like they're growing from the ground up.
Featuring a rotating cast of the editorial team and other guests, the Pinkbike podcast is a weekly update on all the latest stories from around the world of mountain biking, as well as some frank discussion about tech, racing, and everything in between.
Speaking of donuts…where’s that video with the story of the new version?
And when will it be raced in a EWS or World Cup?
Ohhh another idea, how about a race to see wicht Mike is faster on the donut?
But there's one thing that bugs me. The fact that the suspension system is called DW6, despite technically not actually being a six-bar system. Granted, it works similar-ish to a true six-bar mechanism, but saying that that is good enough to call it a "six-bar" is pretty weird. Like, why even go there if it's not even technically accurate? Purely for marketing reasons because six-bar systems are hip and cool right now?
A good point of reference is Formula 1 suspension where carbon fibre wishbones with titanium end fittings are universally used.
Our carbon tubes, however, are much thicker for the majority of the length than full carbon frames and so are in inherently more resistant to damage than conventional carbon frames. The unidirectional pre-preg construction and simple shapes make for straightforward repair should damage occur.