At Zerode we're not afraid to do things a little differently, but only for good reason. 'Everything we do, we do because we believe in a better riding experience'
is the first thing you read when you go on to our website and is the design ethos behind all of our bikes. Designed to give the rider the best possible riding experience.
With the success of the Taniwha, our 27.5” gearbox equipped bike, we wanted to expand our range and offer bikes to a bigger audience with the larger sized rider in mind.
The Katipo was designed not to replace the Taniwha but to provide our gearbox platform to more people, catering to riders that preferred bigger wheels and bigger frames.
The Katipo would be offered in two travel options, in the same way the Taniwha is available in 140mm and 160mm. The two travel options share the same carbon elements but feature different aluminum links and shock lengths to alter geometry, travel and overall bike build. Utilizing a single mold for two travel options allows us to have a faster turn around and allows our factory to focus all of their time and effort into perfecting the layup and design of a single frame instead of being distracted by multiple. With attention to build you can create two different bikes that perform exceptionally in the desired category whether it's trail or enduro.Zerode Katipo Details
Intended use: Trail / Enduro
Travel: 140mm (trail), 160mm (enduro)
Fork travel: 140mm - 170mm
Wheel size: 29''
Frame construction: Carbon
Head angle: 64°- 65°
Reach: 475mm (L), 505mm (XL)
More info: Katipo Trail
A 29er addition to the Zerode line up had been talked about numerous times but actual development began in early 2018.
Some drawings from early in the Katipo development
The process began by carefully selecting the geometry that would help define the riding characteristics of the bike. It was aimed towards the aggressive end of the riding spectrum.
Big wheels were matched with some big reach values. Providing confidence and stability was at the top of the list so the enduro variant came in with a 64° head angle and the trail a 65°. 444mm chainstays were a nice match, giving a long and stable wheelbase. The geometry was chosen to be modern and contemporary (long, slack) while not being excessive.
With the geometry finalized, work began on the suspension kinematics. The Taniwha has gained recognition worldwide for it’s remarkable suspension performance with Pinkbike's own Mike Levy quoting “the Taniwha's 160mm of rear wheel travel feels deep and controlled, with a level of bump devouring ability that I can't recall any other 160mm bike displaying.” The Katipo took this and adapted it for the 29 inch wheels.
Fin checking suspension kinematics, leverage ratio and anti-squat before the data was translated into 3D form
The gearbox provides a constant chain line through all gears making it easy to provide a sharp and responsive pedaling platform. The anti-squat on the Katipo was tuned slightly for taller riders. The same slightly rising suspension rate found on the Taniwha was implemented on the Katipo, one that had received nothing but admirable reviews from Zerode customers.
With the geometry and suspension dialed in these numbers were taken across into a 3D modelling program where work began on the form. Computer drawing was matched with sketching to develop the frame. The form language remained the same, keeping a similar silhouette to its smaller wheeled brother but with some subtle tweaks to accommodate the large wheels and frame proportions.
Rob examining the nearly complete CAD model. Different colorways were trialed on screen before the final colors were chosen.
Having a simple frame design makes it easier for manufacturers to optimize strength, minimize weight and build the frames to a very high standard and is exactly what we want to achieve with all of our bikes.
With the CAD model complete it was around May 2018 and it was time for Rob's 3D printer to get busy. Although only a small 300mm by 300mm bed, a whole Katipo frame was printed in sections and bonded together. Once filled and painted the 3D print was used to check clearances and forms. It was even built up into a complete bike but due to the fragile nature of printed plastic, was far from being ride-able. This is an important phase as it is hard to tweak molds after they are made. Some very minor adjustments were made to the CAD model after running the 3D print checks and this was sent to our factory.
Rob comparing the 3D printed Katipo frame to one of the Taniwha productions frames
The 3D print built up into a complete bike. Unfortunately, a rideable bike was still many many months away at this point.
The 3D printer that was used to print the entire Katipo frame. Sitting on the bed is a freshly printed rose for Rob's watering can. Although you can't print a functional bike there are a number of functional things you can print with it.
Graphics applied to the Katipo 3D print to check sizing and appearance
Due to the similarities of the Katipo and Taniwha it made the process of tooling design and layup design much more streamlined. Final frame target weights were set and machining began on the tooling. Tooling is the industry name for the molds used to create production frames. Fabricating the tooling took around 3-4 months to complete.
The name and graphics were next on the list for our new bike. As the new 29er was expected to pack a serious punch it was fitting to name the bike after New Zealand's most poisonous spider, the Katipo. Graphics were designed accordingly with the bike having a large different colored panel on its top tube much like a Katipo spider has a red strip along its back. There was a panel designed and placed at the bottom of the seat tube with a message aimed at inspiring riders every time they pick their bike up and is based off what inspires us to design our bikes.
Tooling was completed and the Katipo finally came to life with the factory making six samples. Two of these remained at the factory and went through comprehensive fatigue and impact testing. The comprehensive factory testing is designed to reflect real world testing in a magnified manner, representing years of riding in a short space of time. It is most likely the reason we have had no failures with any of our production bikes.
One of the six samples was sent to our USA distributor Cycle Monkey
, another to Jamie Garrod of New Zealand Mountain Biking
, a mountain bike guides who's on his bike every day. The other two were sent to us at Zerode HQ. These bikes underwent real world testing in varied conditions and riding styles. We were pleased to know that all testing, both in the factory and out in the field went without issue.
Frame undergoing factory testing
Above: Pre production Katipo Trail in a gloss clear finish. Right: Jamie Garrod of New Zealand Mountain Biking with his pre-production Katipo
Testing took a couple of months, but after we were beyond pleased with our new bike the final design was signed off and we pressed go on production. Production took the factory around four months to complete and whilst this was happening we were busy with logistics for the new bikes. The Katipo was released a month before the bikes were ready to ship at the start of July 2019.
Katipo are now out in the wild and have been sent to customers around the globe. To find out more about the Katipo click here