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First Ride: Factory Cycles Squatcho - Crankworx Whistler 2023

Jul 29, 2023 at 11:37
by Dario DiGiulio  
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Some people want to buy a good bike, others want to build a great one. Cam Monteith falls into the latter group, jumping straight into the frame building deep end to try and assemble an enduro bike that perfectly suited his wants and needs. With a background in more formal engineering, he applied that knowhow to the design process, and has been learning the fabrication skills needed to make the project come to fruition. With plenty of help from friends all around the industry, Cam's Squatcho is an impressive feat of both engineering and collaboration.
Factory Cycles Squatcho
• Steel front triangle, aluminum rear
• Mixed wheel size
• 175mm suspension
• 170mm or 180mm fork
• 63° head angle
• 480mm reach
• 450mm chainstay
• 77° seat angle

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Nice and simple for a first time job.
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Jk, this is impressively complex.
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A peek at what sets Squatcho apart.
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Pardon the crude screenshot, but it paints the picture well.

Though this is essentially a one-off creation right now, Cam spent a long while iterating the design both digitally and physically through 3D modeling and printing. Full-scale printed mockups helped make sure the CAD was viable, and allowed him to get a sense for the layout before setting things in stone (or aluminum, to be more accurate.)

@factory.cycles - After about 4 full rear end prints this one is pretty close to what I’m happy with. Everything moves smoothly and as it did in the CAD model and there are no interferences.


Cam sent off to China to have the rear-end parts machined, following essentially the same process as his 3D-printed parts, but with a slightly longer wait time as things made their way across the globe. A key detail to the Squatcho's kinematic is the floating brake mount, resisting brake squat to keep things active and unaffected under heavy braking. That component was 3D-printed in titanium by a friend of his back in New Zealand, achieving the high strength needed without adding too much weight.

One slick detail to the rear end construction is the captive bolts used to fix all the machined parts together. This means any stripped thread can be easily and inexpensively replaced, while retaining the security and stiffness needed to keep things together. Given the iterative nature of how Cam's been designing the bike, this allows individual parts to be changed without having to remake the entire assembly.

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Floating brake arm by Zenith Technica.
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Tucks nicely into the fray.
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The rear end of the arm mounts to a custom hub endcap.
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And keeps this little guy from causing any problems.

The first front triangle didn't survive very long due to some problems with the welding at the headtube, but V2 has been going strong for some time now. A friend zapped the tubes together in a tiny room in the basement of Cam's house, using a clever and simple 3D-printed jig to get the geometry dialed. There were many helping hands in the process, and Cam was keen to make sure they were given their due thanks.

bigquotesAbsolutely massive should out to North Shore Billet for lending me their shop, welder and expertise over the build. Project funds have been dwindling for a while so I’d really like give give a massive shoutout to all the sponsors because without you this project wouldn’t have come together this quick!! Thanks to NSB for your understanding and help with the fabrication and timeline, Alba Distribution for your suspension support, Shimano for all the driveline and brakes, One Up Components for all your components, and lastly Chromag Bikes for some of the tubes!! I never thought some joker from NZ would get free parts just because he’s making a weird full suspension bike.

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Squatcho currently sits around 20kg / 44lbs, befitting the mystical beast namesake.

Ride Impressions

I met Cam as we were both getting ready to drop in on some Blackcomb trails, immediately honing in on the very unique bike he'd just rolled up on. After some chat, it was clear we had similar interests in style of trail we like to ride, which seemed to influence the bike design quite a bit. We made plans to get out for a ride and some photos the next day, so I could hop on Squatcho and see how it rode. The test lap was one of his regulars, a steep and chunky pirate trail near his house, with a fairly heinous climb to access. I have a pretty high tolerance for sketchy homemade bikes, but luckily Cam's was far from requiring any of that, feeling impressively robust right off the bat. There's really nothing homemade feeling about it, especially when you get a good look at how tight the tolerances are on the linkage.

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Captive-bolt rear end construction.
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Held together quite well on the descents.

Squatcho is currently sporting a 180 fork, beefy tires, and a durability-focused frame construction, making for a pretty portly feel on the climbs. 44 pounds is a chunk, but I wasn't hating my time on the climbs, as the pedaling platform was supportive enough, especially so with an easily-hit climb switch on the shock. I'd probably opt for a steeper seat angle, or a few less kilos, but for a descent-focused bike it's still an impressive climber.

Dropping into the blind descent, I had little to no idea how the bike would act, as I'd only been pedaling up until that point. Luckily, it was an intuitive and calm ride, thanks in large part to how active the rear end was even when I was grabbing handfuls of brake. Similar in nature to the Frameworks I rode earlier this week, but turned all the way up, Squatcho rides very high when you're on the brakes, which could be too much for people who want a squatty and safe feeling bike on steeper terrain. I quickly found a comfortable spot with the bike though, as it encourages you to dive into chutes and turns, committing to the front as opposed to leaning back and trying to absorb hits with your legs.

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Stand tall and dive in.
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Clearance is a bit too tight for the current flex level.

There is a bit of rear end flex that Cam is still chasing down, and that was apparent under hard cornering and on long cambered sections, but it isn't so extreme as to throw off the ride. You notice the occasional tire buzz, and the extra push you have to give to get things to hook in corners. The suspension feel is impressively active, thanks in part to EXT's excellent dampers, and as a result there's always some grip on tap.

Though it was a short and steep time aboard Squatcho, I came away very impressed by the performance on trail. Riding steep and committed lines on a completely new bike isn't always a great idea, but it felt a lot safer on a bike that worked well with my ride style and had more than enough suspension in reserve for the big hits. I'm looking forward to trying Cam's later iterations of the design, as I think he's really onto something. For the right person, the high-riding and very supple suspension action could be a winning combo.

Stay up to date with Cam's progress on the Factory Cycles Instagram, and stay tuned for updates on the project.

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Nice work, mate.


There are a ton more photos to check out here, dig in.



Author Info:
dariodigiulio avatar

Member since Dec 25, 2016
214 articles

94 Comments
  • 122 0
 People who build and ride their own bikes are my heroes no matter what it is.
  • 7 0
 Cheers mate!!
  • 17 1
 This is genuinely impressive.
  • 2 0
 Cheers mate!!
  • 12 0
 “A lot of rear end flex still being chased down” Have I considered the bolted together chainstay pieces? “Yes, the nylock nuts are snug so that’s not it”
  • 4 0
 There’s still less flex than a dreadnought, things can always be better.
  • 1 1
 @Cammonteith: sure about that?
  • 3 0
 @FrielyWheely: mate with that new link she’s pretty solid
  • 1 0
 Anazed not a single home buildrr has used yhrough the headset cable touting…… oh wait a minute no im not
  • 7 0
 “Squatcho's kinematic is the floating brake mount, giving the bike very high anti-rise to keep things active and unaffected under heavy braking.“

This statement contradicts itself. Can you elaborate/correct? I’m curious about the design. Is it active? Or high antirise?
  • 1 0
 Here's his full kinematic breakdown.
  • 2 0
 @dariodigiulio: It's missing the anti-rise. This older post shows the anti-rise but it's very high...? www.instagram.com/p/CoYIrbHLHxK/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link&igshid=MzRlODBiNWFlZA=
  • 5 0
 The kinematic graphs are with a std brake, Not floating. Probably should’ve mentioned that.
  • 4 0
 @Cammonteith: What's the anti-rise curve with the floating brake? (and with a commonly assumed center of mass height like 1.1m above the ground)
  • 1 0
 @cedric-eveleigh: 1100 mm seems crazy high, is this from moto or something? I've been using 750, measuring my belly button to the ground on a medium gets me like 850mm max.
  • 2 0
 @plustiresaintdead: It's what was assumed in the Pinkbike behind the numbers series. I haven't seen any other proposals of sorts for a standard center of mass height. It's not too important what the value is but rather that everyone uses the same value.
  • 1 0
 @cedric-eveleigh: Yeah, I wish we used antisquat angle or force due to antisquat. Makes so much more sense.
  • 10 0
 Now THAT's a linkage.
  • 3 0
 Damn straight
  • 6 0
 @Cammonteith:
It looks quite similar to the 3vo suspension layout by ministry cycles. Just with a floating brake mount.
  • 1 0
 @Cammonteith: ah yes i saw your other comment
  • 6 1
 The saddle height to standover ratio seems a bit more than necessary, the top tube could easily have been straight. Is the bike designed for someone a lot shorter-legged than Dario and the saddle was set for him?
  • 6 0
 I personally prefer that clearance for unplanned dismounts.
  • 10 0
 This is Cam's saddle height as he rides it. I think the standover is great for getting off/on in steep terrain, like when you need to set up for a feature. Definitely looks wild with the saddle up, but looks aren't everything.
  • 7 0
 It's optimized for no foot cans. Might even be able to do a turndown on this baby!
  • 2 0
 Also, you don’t stand over the bike right in front of the seat tube, as the saddle is in the way. You tend to stand over the bike much farther forward than that, maybe even closer to the head tube than the seat tube
  • 8 0
 I ride lots of steep rocky terrain, often get stuck in sketchy positions. Having a low standover is great when you’re trying to get back on your bike after a tumble. For reference I’m about 6’3”. I also have seat-tube and head-tube bracing coming
  • 2 0
 Really nice build. IDK how much lateral flex the rear end has but even if that’s corrected the tire clearance still looks too tight. Mud room is important as is allowing for wheel flex. But it’s a first Gen iteration so you’ve gotta expect some details that need working out.
  • 1 0
 @fattyheadshok: yeah exactly, I didn’t expect the wheel and frame to flex that much and was a bit of a underestimate. I’ve got some new chainstays on the way that I can bolt in so there’s no tyre buzz. That photo does make it look worse than it is also, there’s 7-9mm of clearance, there is just Velcro on the CS to minimise noise from chain slap
  • 2 0
 @Cammonteith: Ain't that the beauty of designing your own bike, you can make it any way you like! With my 92 cm inseam, I never bother to look at standover height in geo tables. But I get the point, on steep uphills it makes remounting easier. Does that small base for the front triangle negatively influence torsional stiffness? This is my experience with step-through city bike frames, they flex like a wet noodle around the axis parallel to the downtube.
  • 1 0
 @ak-77: I don’t really feel like there is any lack of stiffness from the front triangle. Everything is straight gauge heavy wall tubes, I didn’t want this one to break!!
  • 13 10
 "I have a pretty high bar for sketchy homemade bikes, but luckily Cam's was far far below that threshold"

That makes it sound quite sketch. A high bar usually means you don't tolerate crap. And being below the bar is being crap. High jump, not limbo.
  • 5 0
 where u read that at?
i saw "I have a pretty high tolerance for sketchy homemade bikes, but luckily Cam's was far from requiring any of that, feeling impressively robust right off the bat."
  • 13 3
 @Roost66: I copy-paste it right out of the article. Looks like PB has yet again left proofreading to the end readers and changed the article without notice, nor attribution.
  • 2 7
flag MrRight (Jul 29, 2023 at 21:29) (Below Threshold)
 @justinfoil: who cares?
  • 2 0
 Not quite sure Dario has worded his words right there also haha. He seemed to love the squatch
  • 1 1
 @MrRight: those who care
  • 1 0
 Doesn't the Era go up to 170mm, or is that a V1 thing or LT? My hot take is that these designs need to be tested on mass market suspension, can't have boutique suspension accounting for the positives. Let the frame speak for itself.


Very cool linkage nonetheless, I wonder if we'll see more floating brake mounts in future.
  • 2 0
 The v2 can now be 180mm. I’m getting some less “boutique” to do some more testing.
  • 3 0
 Beauty of a bike, love to see a good garage build! Have you been working with Chris at Ministry Cycles or is this a case of convergent design?
  • 4 0
 Not working with him but have shared some theories once he saw what I was doing. And yes, does seem like a bit of convergent design
  • 4 0
 450 chainstays so hot right now.
  • 3 0
 Excellent stuff, Zenith technica logo similar if not the same as Zenith watches.
  • 2 0
 Zenith technica is a titanium printing company in NZ
  • 2 0
 yeah, all these home made /backyard bikes have such a soft spot in my heart from the engineering/fabrication/welding world I work in. Keep it up!
  • 1 0
 Legend!!
  • 3 4
 But what's the point of the suspension? Everything moves smooth and doesn't interfere? No shit, that's par for the course. Needs the climb switch, and you want even steeper of a seat tube angle, even with that very PNWish forward-slam of the saddle... sounds like that (impressively? But for big brands that do actual R&D it's usually "overly") complex suspension is garbage for going uphill. That's not bad, I'll take most trade-offs of downhill for uphill, all day, you gotta admit that wanting 2 climbing crutches doesn't bode well for non-park riding.
  • 5 0
 I live in whistler, do a lot of pedalling outside of the park. It steep and chunky. Yes, the bikes weight makes the pedal pretty hearty, but the bob is far less than some of the production bikes I’ve riden
  • 2 0
 Spent the day today in the Canadian Open Enduro chasing Cam on his rig. Can confirm they both shred!
  • 3 0
 I would ride a bike called squatcho any day of the week
  • 1 0
 Love it.Can't wait till the final version. Think its so cool your able to print the assembly to check tolerances. All the best to you and Merry HOHO
  • 2 0
 Holy stack height, Batman! Eek
  • 3 2
 Aint no steer tube designed for that. Get a riser bar.
  • 3 0
 @hevi: it’s a prototype, I’m playing around with different setups
  • 3 2
 Personally, I’d be about 30% more likely to buy if it was named the Saasquatcho (Steel And Aluminum Squatcho).
  • 1 1
 You go to all that trouble and then fully extend the dropper for the photo sesh. I guess that says something but I’m not sure what.
  • 2 0
 Reminds me of 3VO suspension
  • 2 3
 so,is it that if you have "engineering" background and build a bike in your basement. youre the next best thing in the cycling
world?
  • 4 0
 It’s amazing what you can achieve with a computer and a lot of snow in winter
  • 1 0
 I don't understand floating brake arms!!????
  • 5 0
 They take all of the braking forces and move that force into the front triangle instead of the rear. Meaning your suspension system isn’t effected by braking, this in turn makes for a much more active rear end and little-no squat under braking
  • 2 0
 @Cammonteith: Thank you so much mate for that!! been wanting to know for a while! Smile
  • 1 0
 Amazing looking linkage on that - fantastic project
  • 1 0
 be nice to actually see the linkage in motion
  • 1 0
 Have a look on instagram
  • 1 0
 amazing creativity on this one
  • 1 0
 What's that vertical dog one for? Stiffness?
  • 3 0
 @Cammonteith is it to keep the distance between seat stay and chain stay constant, since its a solid rear triangle (no pivots in the triangle)?
  • 2 0
 Rad looking bike!
  • 1 1
 I bet that’s fun rebuilding.
  • 1 8
flag gearbo-x (Jul 29, 2023 at 13:59) (Below Threshold)
 yup and what about all those pivots. You can't achieve a "virtual axle path" with a single pivot EXCEPT with a flex seat or chainstay. This has neither. So really just a fancy single pivot. Nice concept but overly complicated.
  • 9 1
 @gearbo-x: It isn't single pivot. The main rear triangle pivot rides on a linkage seperated from the frame. It's a dual linkage bike.
  • 3 0
 @gearbo-x:
Yeah that's no single pivot buuuuuuddy
  • 1 6
flag gearbo-x (Jul 29, 2023 at 17:02) (Below Threshold)
 @notthatfast: welp you're obviously not getting my point
  • 8 0
 @gearbo-x:
I think you’re going to have to spell it out for me because unless being ironically incorrect is what you’re going for, yes I’m not getting it
  • 5 0
 @gearbo-x: you don’t get your point
  • 3 0
 @gearbo-x: it’s complicated for a reason, it works and I like it. Come ride it and then let me know your thoughts on the kinematic
  • 1 0
 Haha yeah it’s pretty tricky
  • 1 0
 @Cammonteith: Would be interesting to hear a bit more about the reasons for this choice of linkage, what it does and how it does that. The bike looks cool but the nerd in me finds this article quite unsatisfying Smile
  • 1 0
 @ak-77: I really like solid rear triangles, and keeping the mass of the bike in the centre of the frame. I also wanted to make a somewhat complex looking linkage to showcase my design and fab skills. It’s the biggest eye turner and I gets people brains ticking as to how it works. It’s also completely modular, so I can change leverage ratios etc by bolting in different links.
  • 1 0
 Holy stand-over, Batman!
  • 1 0
 Shit yeah bol
  • 1 0
 Yeah bolo
  • 2 2
 $1900 for bearing replacement
  • 7 0
 $60.5
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