The European Bike Project is one of our favorite Instagram accounts. Alex from TEBP constantly updates his feed 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 currently travelling in New Zealand, where he started The Oceanian Bike Project. He will publish a few articles on NZ manufacturers over the next couple of weeks here on Pinkbike.
In this article, we'll look at CNC machined components, bamboo handlebars and gearbox frames from New Zealand. CXP Racing: CNC Machined Goodness from Auckland
CXP Racing is a brand of Cyclexpress Howick, a bike shop that is based in Howick, Auckland. The shop and CXP Racing were founded by Bruno Pfister, a Swiss toolmaker who came to New Zealand more than 20 years ago.
Bruno has a background in BMX racing and has strong bonds with the local BMX club. One of his daughters races BMX bikes too, and she's also involved in @therubyprojectnz
, a local initiative that aims "to get girls on bikes and develop a passion for shredding."
Bruno and his team work on all kinds of bikes - they certainly don't shy away from difficult tasks such as working on a 40 year old Raleigh Chopper bikes. His shop is well equipped with everything you'd expect in a bike shop and much more - not every bike shop has a spoke cutter, and certainly only a few have their own CNC and laser machines.
Over the last couple of years, Bruno has designed an impressive range of bike products, which are mostly made from 7075 and 6082 aluminum:
- Chainrings: There are several chainrings to choose from, including Cinch, SRAM, and 5-bolt mounts as well as larger BMX chainrings.
- Rear cogs (for Shimano and Profile Racing hubs)
- Stems: After designing a BMX stem, Bruno worked on a sturdy MTB stem - and it looks absolutely fantastic I think.
- Suspension tools: CXP Racing offers a nice selection of suspenion tools, including topcap sockets and clamps.
- Dogbone suspension links for GT frames: The CXP option comes with bearings instead of bushings.
Bruno bought his first Haas TM1P a few years ago and just got another TM1P and a ST15 recently, so he's more than ready to ramp up production and make some more chips. Over the years he built a nice collection of cutting tools (mostly carbide) - from time to time something goes wrong and he keeps the most bizarre and destroyed tools in a special box. Bruno tries to automate the process as much as possible for his small batch runs. Of course, they recycle all the offcuts and chips. The anodising and diamondising is done in NZ too, and the last step - laser engraving - is done in-house.
For easy jobs, Bruno also uses an old school lathe - as a toolmaker he certainly knows how to use this one.Passchier Bamboo Handlebars
Dirk Passchier (pronounced Pash-Air) hails from the beautiful suburb of New Brighton in Christchurch, so his passion for kayaking is easy to understand. He started to make bamboo kayak paddles back in 1978. After a lot of testing and refinements, he was able to build paddles that provided comfort and a good amount of flex that usual paddles didn’t offer.
When a friend of his, Tim Taylor, paddled around New Zealand, Dirk loaned him one of his bamboo paddles – the next day and 86 kms later, Tim didn’t want to give them back, as it was the first day on his trip that he finished without sore shoulders.
A few decades later, Dirk got to meet Mike, who saw a lot of potential in using bamboo for making comfortable handlebars. Again, a lengthy R&D period followed, and Dirk came up with the first handlebar that certainly stood out from the crowd.
Today, Passchier is a team of three: Dirk Passchier crafts the handlebars in his workshop, Mike Baddeley acts as Business Manager and Rebecca Baddeley is in charge of marketing.
The handlebars are tested according to ISO 4210-2:2015, Clause 22.214.171.124 and 4.7.7 (fatigue and strength for commuting and trekking bikes) and are mostly aimed at commuters, bikepackers and touring. The team says that you’d be fine to use them on Level 1, 2 and 3 trails (according to the New Zealand trail grading system), but in case you weigh more than 110 kg (240 lbs) or want to ride gnarly Enduro/DH tracks, these handlebars are not the right choice. Dirk made some versions with carbon layers, however he says that this only made the bars stiffer, but not more sturdy.
Each handlebar starts as a set of seven 3mm bamboo sheets. These are glued together and and then put in a custom made press, where – under a lot of pressure and at the correct (and secret) temperature – the sheets are pressed into their future shape.
After this, a spindle mould and some secret steps remove the correct amount of material, which results in a raw handlebar. After varnishing, the handlebar gets a carbon sleeve in the middle, to distribute the forces of the stem more evenly.
As with many raw materials, the bamboo comes from China, where it is sustainably grown.
At this stage, the unique feature of the handlebars are comfort and vibration reduction. However, the team is working on more environmentally friendly versions, which they say will be fully compostable. This mainly includes changes to the varnish and resin.
Passchier handlebars are sold directly and through dealers in Canada, USA, Japan, Australia and Germany.
Currently, there are three different Passchier handlebars, all delivering the renowned Passchier comfort:
- Astaire (620 mm, 10° backsweep, 240 g)
- Gump 760 (760 mm, 22° backsweep, 330 g)
- Gump 650 (650 mm, 22° backsweep, 250 g)
DetailsZerode: The Gearbox Bike Pioneers
- Made in New Zealand
- Three different handlebar options
- Intended use: Touring, bikepacking, commuting
- Price: from 250 NZD (= 160 USD)
- Weight: from 240 g
- Website: https://www.passchier.co.nz
- Instagram: @passchiernz
There’s probably no other mountain bike brand on the planet that has built such a strong reputation for making gearbox bikes as the “Zero derailleur company”. Zerode has come a long way - its founder Rob Metz started to build unique bikes more than 20 years ago. For a few years, Rob worked together with Rotorua trailbuilder and racer James “Dodzy” Dodds, who helped to bring the Zerode G1 into production in 2011. Sadly, Dodzy was killed in a tragic hunting accident a year later.
After Rob released the G2 (which used a gearhub, as did the G1), it didn’t take long before he got his hands on a Pinion P1.18 gearbox that he used for a new prototype. Soon IT guru Ali Quinn got a chance to ride this bike and he was so blown away by the performance that he decided to join Rob at Zerode Bikes. This gave Rob the opportunity to focus on bike design, while Ali became responsible for the business side of the company. Today, Zerode is an operation with several employees at their HQ in Lower Hutt in the Wellington Area.
While the frames are made and painted by one of the leading carbon frame manufacturers in Taiwan, most of the bikes are assembled at the HQ in New Zealand. Bikes for the European market are assembled at the recently opened office in the Netherlands.
Their 10 year long dedication to Pinion gearboxes means that Zerode has basically become synonymous with “gearbox bikes,” especially when talking about top-shelf carbon mountainbikes. But is it just the nearly indestructible drivetrain that makes Zerode Bikes stand out from the crowd? “The gearbox and use of a Carbon Drive belt allow us to reduce the unsprung mass significantly, which results in a more active suspension,” says Ali Quinn. The bikes are very silent too, and low maintenance of course. They might even be cheaper to run in the long term, as you save money by not having to buy expensive cassettes and chains.
Today, all Zerode bikes come with a Gates Carbon Drive belt as standard. If a rider really wants to use a chain, Zerode can cater for that too. However, Ali says they only ship two or three chain-equipped bikes per year. Zerode uses Pinion C.Line gearboxes, which come with either 9 (568% gear range) or 12 gears (600% gear range). The new G3 will be shipped with a C1.6 gearbox with 6 gears.
Each bike is individually built for its new owner, so if you’re after some non-standard components, the team at Zerode will most likely be able to help you.
Currently Zerode offers these bikes:
- Taniwha: 27.5” wheels, 160 mm travel
- Taniwha Trail: 27.5” wheels, 140 mm travel
- Taniwha Mulét, 29” front, 27.5” rear wheel, 140 or 160 mm travel
- Katipo: 29” wheels, 160 mm travel
- Katipo Trail: 29” wheels, 140 mm travel
- G3: Mullet, 200 mm travel
As you might have guessed, the Taniwha and Katipo bikes are based on two frames. Using different aluminum links and a different shock will transform a Taniwha into a Taniwha Trail, and a Katipo into a Katipo Trail.
If you want to read more about the new G3 downhill bike, you can find an article here
When buying a Zerode, you can either get a frameset, the Voyager Build or the Deluxe Build. Framesets come with a Pinion C.Line gearbox, 170mm forged Pinion cranks, crank screws, Pinion 30t front chain ring, Zerode 30t rear sprocket, Pinion shifter, Pinion chain tensioner and a Fox X2 shock. Voyager Builds come with a Rockshox Lyrik or Cane Creek Helm fork and aluminum rims. The Deluxe Builds are equipped with a Fox Factory fork and carbon rims. For see all the details, please head over to Zerode’s website.
- Frames made in Taiwan; designed and assembled in New Zealand
- Framesets: 6920 NZD (4300 USD) + tax + shipping
- Voyager Builds: 9460 NZD (5890 USD) + tax + shipping
- Deluxe Builds: 10340 NZD (6430 USD) + tax + shipping
- Zerode EU has its own tax-inclusive prices for Europe
- Bikes come with Pinion C.Line gearboxes and Carbon Drive Belt
- Website worldwide: https://zerodebikes.com/
- Website for Europe: https://zerode.eu/
- Instagram: @zerodebikes