The European Bike Project: A Floating Idler Frame & 4 Other Exciting Products from Small European Manufacturers - April 2022

Apr 17, 2022 at 12:35
by TEBP  
The European Bike Project is one of our favorite Instagram accounts and his feed is constantly updated with everything from interesting curios from tiny manufacturers to inside looks at European manufacturing to analyses of the environmental impact of our sport. He's going to be doing a new regular column for us here at Pinkbike and Beta that will be mainly focussed on bringing you exciting products from small European manufacturers. Here's is his latest edition that includes a steel enduro high pivot bike with a moving idler pulley, new cranks, brake calipers and more.

Terra Bikes "Aria"

Terra Bikes Aria

At first glance, the new Terra Bikes "Aria" frame might look like just another high pivot bike. However, it has some special features that make it stand out from the crowd - most notably its very refined i-Track suspenion design.

While Terra Bikes is a new and small frame manufacturer from Italy, the team behind i-Track Suspension from Australia have been designing high pivot frames for almost ten years. The collaboration between these two brands has resulted in a bike that Terra Bikes call a game-changer.

The key feature of the i-Track Suspension design is the idler pulley which is not attached to the front triangle, but to the rocker. This allows the idler pulley to move along a certain path (or track, hence the name), controlling the length of the upper chainline and the way pedalling forces are transmited to the suspension. According to Terra Bikes, this is not possible with any other suspension design.

We're looking at a rather extreme and progressive leverage ratio, which starts at 4.2 (0 mm travel) and ends at 2.05 (180 mm travel). As many other high pivot bikes, the Aria has a very pronounced rearward axle path (up to 25 mm at 130 mm travel), which allows the rear wheel to roll over rocks and roots more easily. The i-Track suspension design also makes sure the pedal kickback, anti-rise and anti-squat numbers are kept in check. If you really want to dive into the details, there are several graphs in the photo album of this article.

The frame is welded by Meccano Lab and the machined parts are made by Materia Racing. Both companies are based in Arezzo (Tuscany), Italy. The 3D printed 316L stainless steel frame lugs are made by 3dpbs Kannon Cycles in Germany. Terra Bikes use Dedacciai steel tubing for the Aria frame, as they believe that it offers the best ride quality.

Designed for 180 mm forks, the frame can be used with either a 230 x 65 mm or 230 x 55 mm shock. The longer stroke will generate 180 mm of rear travel, the shorter one 165 mm. The frame is designed around common standards such as a ZS44 / ZS 56 head tube, a 148 x 12 mm Boost rear axle with Sram UDH hanger and a 30.9 mm stealth dropper compatible seat tube. The T47 bottom bracket might not be very common (yet?), but there are some really nice options around.

Terra Bikes topped off this stunning frame with some very boutique parts from Italy, including a fork from Bright Racing Shocks, a Formula Mod shock, DRC rims as well as a derailleur and crank from Ingrid Components.

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Everything you wanted to know about the geometry of the Aria frame. Make sure to watch the video in 720p for best results.

- Frame made in Italy
- 29"
- Head angle: 64°
- Seat angle: 78°
- Reach: 465 mm (M) / 485 mm (L)
- Chainstays: 455 mm
- Seat tube: 400 mm
- Head tube: 110 mm
- Wheelbase: 1260 mm (M) / 1280 mm (L)
- Travel: 180 mm (230 x 65 mm shock) / 165 mm (230 x 55 mm shock)
- T47 bottom bracket
- Frame weight: 4.1 kg
- Price: 4000 Euro (frame without shock)
- Website:
- Instagram: @terra.bikes

Trailmech Enduro hubs

Trailmech Vortex - XCR Micro Spline FH

Trailmech Enduro hubs are made to last. While Trailmech also offers lighter hubs for XC and gravel, these heavy duty hubs were designed for Enduro, Downhill and E-Bikes.

At the heart of all Trailmech hubs you'll find their patented Vortex freehub system. The idea behind it is similar to other ratchet style freehubs. The big difference is that the Vortex system uses helical lock-in channels. According to Trailmech, this means that the teeth lock into each other more securely the harder you pedal. This ensures great power transfer and even if you are pedalling really hard, the risk of a failure should be minimal. The engagement mechanism is made from hardened steel to ensure longevity.

It's not just the Vortex system that was designed with longevity in mind, it's also the oversized bearings. In many hubs, you'll find 6902 (15x28x7 mm) or 6903 (17x30x7 mm) bearings. Trailmech on the other hand uses bearings with a size of up to 35x47x7 mm (type 6807). Also, the Vortex system is placed completely inside the hub shell to optimize the placement of the bearings. Overall, this results in long service intervalls, according to Trailmech.

Please note that despite the current war, the Ukrainian Post is still working and delivering letters and parcels in the vast majority of the country. The team at Trailmech says that it's the easiest for them if you order the hubs from their partners in Europe (Protens in Germany, Grafworks in Italy and Protocycles for Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic), but you can also get in touch with them directly if you want to order Trailmech hubs.

Trailmech Enduro 148x12 Boost MicroSpline
Trailmech Enduro 142x12 MicroSpline

- Made in Ukraine
- Points of Engagement: 50
- Available for various axle standards (weight varies)
- Spokes: 28 or 32 j-bend spokes
- Colour: Black
- Website:
- Instagram: @trailmech.hubs

Actofive Signature cranks

Most companies sell rather small products during their first years. Simon from Actofive Cycles did it the other way round: He started with frames and recently launched some really nice chainrings. Soon, the first Actofive cranks will become available.

As Simon started his business when he already owned a very big CNC machine, it made sense to make frames right from the start. In the meantime he has perfected the production of his completely machined frames, which allows him to focus on new projects.

The Actofive cranks use the same manufacturing techniques as the Actofive frames - machining and bonding. The hollow two-piece cranks arms are bonded and according to Simon, they will be among the lightest aluminium cranks out there. However, he does not yet want to publish a precise weight. Obviously the cranks have the same style as the Actofive frames, which is a good thing.

The cranks are designed around the Dub axle standard and will be compatible with SRAM direct mount chainrings. In the beginning, the cranks will only be available with a length of 170 mm, but other lengths might follow in the future. They are currently being tested at EFBE lab in Germany.

- Made in Germany
- Two piece hollow construction (bonded)
- Weight: Well below 500 g
- Axle: Dub
- Q-factor: 168 mm
- Length: 170 mm
- Chainring mount: SRAM DM
- Colours: raw or anodized
- Release: Summer 2022
- Website:
- Instagram: @actofive_cycles

Lilienthal XT rims

It's the manufacturing process that makes Lilienthal rims truly unique. Instead of laying carbon sheets into the mould by hand, Lilienthal uses an automated process to make their rims. Bands of non crimp carbon are rolled onto the mould. Rolling the different bands of carbon is a matter of seconds and reduces the risk of human error. The uniform fibre orientation provides a unique look and surface texture. Later, the spoke holes are drilled in-house and the pattern is customized to suit the geometry of the hub.

The XT rims are the latest addition to the Lilienthal rim line-up. Weightwise, the XT (435 g for 29") sits between the AM (465 g) and XC (400 g) rims. However, that does not mean that the XT rim can't be used for Enduro. The reason why it is lighter than the AM rim is that Lilienthal does not use their vibration-damping foam in the XT rims, but has added some extra layers of carbon for added strength instead.

Apart from regular hubs and spokes, the new XT rims are now also available with very light textile spokes from Pirope. With Pirope spokes and Newmen Fade hubs, the wheelset can be as light as 1350 to 1400 g.

Lilienthal rims were recently tested at Zedler Institut in Germany and passed their Advanced Plus test.

On the Lilienthal website, you can build your own wheels and choose from many different colour customization options, hubs and more.

- Made in Germany
- Weight: 435 g (29") / 410 g (27.5")
- Inner width: 30 mm
- Outer width: 36 mm
- Height: 22 mm
- Max. weight (rider and bike): 130 kg
- Price: 2099 Euro (Lilienthal XT rims with Pirope spokes and Newmen Fade hubs)
- Website:
- Instagram:

612 Parts

612 Parts is a new company from Switzerland that will launch some very interesting products this year. Two products are already available on their website: The "Jack the Gripper" 4-piston brake caliper and the "Mohawk" brake disc. Felix, the person behind 612 Parts, is also working on a brake master cylinder, a stem and a chainring.

The brake caliper has 16 & 17 mm pistons and is available in DOT and mineral oil versions. It was designed to upgrade your Code RSC or XTR brakes. The distance betweeen the brake pads and the disc is just 0.15 mm, so the free stroke is reduced to a minimum. It has a 6mm hose fitting, so it can be used with braided Goodridge hoses. Felix sent his caliper to EFBE lab in Germany for testing and was very pleased when he got the results. When used with a Code RSC master cylinder, braided Goodridge hoses and Hope sinter pads, his caliper delivered 20% more power than the standard caliper. Head over to the 612 Parts Instagram account to see some detailed test results. Earlier this year I got the chance to try the new calipers and as a fan of minimal freestroke and a clearly defined and hard bite point, I immediately fell in love with them. The brake caliper will be machined in Germany and assembled in Switzerland.

While the caliper is available, the master cylinder and brake lever are still in prototyping stage. The photo shows the very first protoype that came to life, but Felix says that he has many more iterations on his computer. He's planning to use a symmetrical design, so the brake levers can be used on the left and right side without troubles. It will have a 9mm piston and will also be available for DOT and mineral oil.

The new "Mohawk" disc comes with a thickness of 2.0 mm and is currently only available with a 203 mm diameter. It gets a heat treatment after laser cutting and it's completely made in Switzerland from German steel. Felix says that the hundres of small holes will reduce brake pad wear.

612 Parts brake caliper and disc

612 Parts stem
612 Parts is also working on this new one-piece stem, but it might take a while until it is launched.

- Made in Germany, assembled in Switzerland (brake caliper) / Made in Switzerland (disc)
- Weight: 111 g (brake caliper) / 203 g (203 mm disc)
- Price: 190 Euro (brake caliper) / 70 Euro (203 mm disc)
- Website:
- Instagram: @612_parts


  • 81 6
 It's hard to imagine people are still making bike hubs in Ukraine. Good luck to them!
  • 52 0
 Ukraine is a big country, the west of Ukraine is relatively safe (or maybe less endangered would be a better term). And they need employment and money just like all of us.
  • 35 0
 This is a great update. We were in communication with TrailMech before the war started, and had assumed they probably put a hold on manufacturing like so many others. Time to get back in touch.
  • 14 92
flag fluider (Apr 18, 2022 at 12:22) (Below Threshold)
 @privateer-wheels: you guys are kiddin. That country has been torn appart for the last 20 years, it's a miracle that some "weird bicycle hub manufacturer" even appeared there. Last time I was in contact with them last summer they said it was difficult to source basic steel materials in Ukraine. They either shut down their shop or are manufacturing military equipment for army.
I am very curious about what "european" bike project are you going to write next when entire EU life turns into economical survival in 6 to 12 months.
  • 1 3
 I'm not sure I want my star ratchet locking in at all....would seem to me the helical design would be reluctant to disengage and freewheel!!
  • 32 3
 @fluider: coming from some "weird internet poster" I'm not going to put much weight in your opinion, or speculation, but thanks for the input - you are clearly a ray of sunshine and we should be friends.

@tcmtnbikr: They have been around for a while now, and seem to be building a good track record. I have spoken to numerous European wheel builders about them and no one has anything negative to say about them.
  • 6 0
 Over the last couple of weeks, I was in touch with many Ukrainian bike brands and the majority of them are still making bike products. As @lkubica pointed out, it's a big country and the people still need to earn money (now more than ever).
  • 9 1
economical survival?
bro, its just russia. GDP is a third of ours alone. the combined economyconglomerate of the world will fkn curbstomp the bois and the whole country will basically implode - and this time, for good.
  • 2 0
 bought some bags from a Ukrainian maker a few weeks ago. Ukraine been there since long before Russia, and they'll be there long after Russia.
  • 1 0
 @Coldspringer: Nice!

Check out "valeriyponikarov" on Instagram as well for some great bike tools, also made in Ukraine. I chat with him a bit, and he just got started back up.
  • 1 0
 @Tiefkuehlpizza: Dude, the sanctions are going to hurt regular Europeans far more than Russia, this is a fact.
They are pretty much self sustained, Europe and especially Germany, is very much dependant on Russian oil, gas, food and raw materials.
Sure, they'll have trouble buying Gucci bags and the newest iPhone, you won't have gas for heat next winter if this drags on.
  • 1 0
 @Losvar: Exactly. We can't produce in EU even the chips necessary to infinitely inflate Euro bubble. There are no resources here for goods we assemble here, everything must be imported. The future will be very expensive in EU.
  • 28 1
 Did anyone else notice the bolt peaking through the metal on the 612 stem?
  • 7 0
 Well it is just a prototype...
  • 3 3
 indeed. a little concerning to say the least...
  • 3 0
 That's a feature! It's a bottom-out indicator window. It means 'try a slightly shorter bolt'.
  • 2 0
 their stuff looks very Cornelius Kapfinger
  • 23 1
 Cannot imagine being a mail carrier in Ukraine right now. Wow.
  • 9 0
 Those Actofive cranksets in silver are the hotness. Lovely look to them.
  • 5 3
 Absolutely. I love that Actofive uses dub and dm Sram standard.
  • 7 8
 @OneTrustMan: honestly f*ck Shimano. There I am going to remove my chainring to replace with a direct mount but I need a proprietary tool to do it! Now I've got a tool that just does chainrings on Shimano cranks
  • 2 1
Yeah I don't like those stupid lock rings on my Raceface and Shimano cranks.
The 3 little screws on Sram cranks work with almost any cheap multitool. I also like the different offset chainrings, rather than different spindle lenghts. The cheap Sram steel chainrings hold like forever.
  • 15 0
That tool also works for their bottom brackets......
  • 1 0
 @26-adict: Except for the 59.2. That one just does the bottom bracket.
  • 1 0
 @26-adict: not the BB I have. I have a Shimano BB tool and it's bigger than the chainring lockring
  • 6 2
 There was a 'below threshold' thread here that triggered some valid questions about the Terra Aria's suspension design.
@srjacobs and @gabriel-mission9 both pointed out that the idler position is nowhere near the Instant Centre (IC).

'Floating Idler' configurations like this need a bit of a mind-shift to visualise how pedalling forces will influence the suspension behaviour (Anti-Squat) and vice versa (Pedal Kickback). It's very difficult to visualise intuitively; you really need to refer to the Linkage calculations to see what these key metrics are.
With 'static idler' configurations, the idler cannot move to control chain growth, and therefore you're still relying on the axle path alone (relative to the idler position) to control your Anti-Squat.
With 'floating idler' configurations, the idler position is almost irrelevant. Instead, you can mount it within the linkage, so that it moves relative to the other drivetrain items (chainring and cassette), and controls the rate of chain growth as it moves. This means that designers have far more flexibility in tuning axle path, anti-squat, anti-rise, and leverage ratio, as well as unlocking some spatial/packaging constraints.
  • 1 1
 Yeah I don't really have an issue with the idler not being near the instant center, it's just a bit unusual. My thinking is purely that the further from the IC the idler is positioned, the further the idler has to move to produce similar antisquat numbers to an idler positioned closer to the IC. Not a problem as such, just an added complication. As you point out this does allow you to have more control over the AS curve, so if you wanted the curve to do some particularly funky things this would be a solution, but AS curves are usually perfectly good when they follow a relatively straight line. I'd love to see some AS, AR and Lever rate curves if you'd be willing to share.
  • 2 1
 @gabriel-mission9: There are some graphs in the photo album of this article. Just click on one of the photos and you'll get there.
  • 3 1
 The more different from the mainstream a suspension or drivetrain design seems to me, the more I like it and want it to be successful. I'm just a sucker that way. It's why I wanted a Trust fork, it's why I run the Archer wireless shifting tech, and why the minute the people at Structure Cycleworks offer their creation in 29" wheels I will buy one, sight unseen. I want to believe I'm totally rational and I like what I like because it's better, but from the pattern, it's obvious I just emotionally like weird shit.
  • 6 2
 Will you spend more time riding the bike or adjusting the suspension and cleaning dirt out of every corner. Have any of these designers planned for a muddy day?
  • 7 1
 We simply don't ride mtbbikes in muddy days into the Mediterranean...
  • 6 0
 Some really interesting tech. Thanks TEBP!
  • 1 0
 Thank you!
  • 5 3
 Acto five - lovely looking cranks, I really like a light weight aluminium option. However from a business perspective a 170mm length doesn’t seem to me to be the strongest choice as they are so common. Why not offer a 165mm or 160mm first? Bottom brackets are getting lower and lower, all the data from the road cycling world is indicating that shorter cranks have no real power or efficiency issues. And so few manufacturers offer them + it’s a commonly sold out size.
Hell why not be wild and make a 162? I can’t see why the 5mm step is an accepted standard
Long story short… I’d buy 165 or 160, but at 170mm your competing against every single crank on the market.
  • 2 0
 Just the press relase of that aria sounds like worth 4k with all the names included without an actual frame Big Grin But the bike looks fantastic, progression seems a bit extreme though, who needs that?
  • 2 0
 The filler wire for welding stainless to carbon steel doesn't naturally produce the most beautiful welds. I do see a lot of smooth weld which makes me think they hit them pretty hard with the Scotchbrite pad post weld.
  • 2 0
 309 wire with the correct gas flow and a decent gas cup can produce a beautiful weld on dissimilar steel such as this. It's all down to prep.
  • 4 0
 @verytomkelly: My dad was a welder. He never taught me anything about his work, and I was too stupid to ask him to. I do remember how much pride he took in the quality of his welds and how they always passed x-ray inspections. It seems like, as a breed, welders are like that, proud of their skill and what they do. Any time someone on the internet comments on welding, I instinctively respect them, despite not being capable of judging for myself if they know what they are about.

Now that I'm in my mid/late 40s, I totally wish I would have at least explored the idea of becoming a welder like my old man. Oh well, maybe I can brow-beat one of my sons into it so I can live through them vicariously.
  • 2 0
 Cool hub design and a very interesting take on a high pivot. A 455mm chain stay and a rearward axle path makes for a really long bike, but some folks are into that.
  • 4 1
 that 612 caliber is so pretty, reminds me of trickstuff
  • 1 0
 Me to, but its not as insane expensive.
  • 1 0
 (double post)
  • 5 0
 they look exactley the same, and the discs are really similar to the ones Intend sold...
  • 2 1
 That's one way to force trickstuff to fix the (artificial?) scarcity of their Maxima brakes.
  • 1 0
 Holy cow! Why, after reading the words "the idler pulley which is not attached to the front triangle, but to the rocker" did I IMMEDIATELY want one? What's wrong with me?
  • 2 0
 What pads does the 612 brake caliper use?
  • 2 0
 Hope V4
  • 1 0
 Those welds on the Terra Aria aren’t exactly up to the spec I would expect on a boutique bike !
  • 1 1
 Super cool hub design. But does the fact it gradually engages mean there would be a bit of a spongy feel to pedalling?
  • 7 0
 The only amount of 'slip' would be the degree value between teeth just the same as dt or chris king designs. The angled teeth set just create a little bit of a force vector to keep the teeth together when pedaling it's a neat hub. Chris kings have a similar ramped channel to press a sleeved ratchet ring into another ratchet so it works similar, just more parts. Dt swiss teeth are held in place with springs, and they work fine too.
  • 2 0
 Interlocking doesn't mean flexing. The shape of the teeth promote engagement the more torque applied. They will not engage more the more torque applied, they will be more resistant to separating (slipping) the more torque applied. Hardened steel sacrifices flexibility in the name of ultimate strength and hardness.

I would expect it to be less 'spongy' feeling than I9 where the hub is designed to flex and engage additional paws the harder you pedal.
  • 1 1
 @gaberoc: thanks, good info!
  • 1 0
 Anybody knows the saddle on the Terra Bike?
  • 2 0
 Selle Italia Sella Novus Boost EVO TM SuperFlow
  • 1 1
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