How long have you been building?In 2019, I built my first full-suspension frame prototype. It was the predecessor to the Naosm frame, which is an enduro with 160mm of travel. Not a long time ago but it was and still is a very insightful learning experience. Then followed the hardtail and several other versions and prototypes. Gradually I learned a lot on them and I am now applying the experience I gained to the design of other frames.
Why choose custom over stock, especially in the high-performance mountain bike space?I see it as another option, another way that's there alongside the big bike manufacturers. Everybody has the choice whether to get a bike from a huge company that makes thousands of frames in Asia or to support a local manufacturer. But if there is something where custom/small-series manufacturing has a big advantage then I don't have to compromise on manufacturing.
As someone always iterating on geometry and design, does it feel like MTB geo has reached a point of balance?I think partly, yes. The biggest shift in the last 20 years has been incredible. It seems to me that there is now more tuning of "details" like suspension curves, rear wheel travel curves, etc. rather than the development of a whole new revolutionary suspension system. I'm not including e-bikes in this, though that's a huge area of development.
How would you describe your flavor of frame building?I have to say that clean design is very important on my frames and I play with it a lot to keep me satisfied. The characteristic small diameter of the steel tubes also contributes a lot. It feels completely different from solid carbon. Another important element is the low-mounted shock. The low placement helps to "clean up" the top of the frame and then it looks better on me.
Do you have any primary influences when it comes to bike design and fabrication?The design of the frames is more or less based on the manufacturing technology used. When I started my machinery was not very big and actually it is not big now. Eventually, I figured out a way to manage the production of all the frames and from that come some of the characteristic elements of Zoceli frames. For example, the tapered head tube looks like this for a very simple reason. It's easier to connect the down tube to a cylindrical surface than to a conical one. Some of the other parts that make up the frame were created in a similar way.
How far have you pushed geometry on bikes that you’ve built?Zoceli frames do not have extreme geometry, rather conservative. I understand why other manufacturers make the reach value long for example but on my frames it is rather shorter. It's kind of a golden mean but I'll see where the geometry gets in a while.
The Dobordelu “freeride” bike is a pretty wild creation, and is sporting an impressively complex suspension layout, how hard was the development process for that frame?I would say as challenging as making any other frame. It's true that it looks a bit complicated, but a closer look reveals a solid rear triangle connected via two links to the front triangle, just like the enduro frame Naosm. On this frame, a short chainstay was a priority, so I split the pivot into left and right sections that avoid the chainring and rear wheel. I achieved a chainstay length of 428mm for the 29" and 420mm for the 27.5. This gives the Dobordelu excellent maneuverability and the slack front end provides stability. Also this solution moves the center of gravity down. After debugging the prototype, this solution has worked well and I'm really excited about this frame.
Do you think there are lessons larger manufacturers could learn from solo fabricators like yourself?I would say that if I visited the design office of a large manufacturer and vice versa if the designer visited my workshop it could be mutually beneficial, for example some new ideas or thoughts. But a large manufacturer has a different approach, a different target group, so it's not really comparable I think.
Has it been hard to develop a stock line of bikes, or does it feel like an easier way forward as a small-scale builder?I'm a small one-man manufacturer so any frame development is quite challenging for me from a financial point of view and quite slow but it's possible. When a new prototype is created I post about it on my Instagram and people have the opportunity to buy the prototype at a lower price, helping me at least partially pay for the development.
Are there any bikes out there you’d love to ride? New or old, what intrigues you?I'm very interested in the technical solutions of other small manufacturers and like to read articles on Pinkbike about these bikes. I would love to ride these bikes and see them up close.
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Seriously though, not one to usually geek on frames but daaayum.
Enduro Frame....4,100 grams (about 9 lbs)
Freeride Frame....4,300 grams (about 9.4 lbs)
Will you be getting one of these to test? Personally, I am interested in the Enduro frame.
This whole idea of repairable steel is a joke to anyone with fabrication and welding experience. Yes it's possible, but it's cheaper and easier to build a whole new frame.
Carbon is so easy to repair a stoned surfer can do it for $40
It's actually not. I'm a ticketed fabricator with over 15 year industry experience. My post was factually based. In the past PB would atleast allows these post to be viewed,.now they just hid all counterpoints. Not the type of business i want to support. Facebook marketplace has made them irrelevant anyways.
Don't believe me? Check this out: www.rodbikes.com/catalog/outlaw/outlaw-main.html
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