Slack Randoms: Plant-Based Bikes, VR Climbing & More

Mar 3, 2022 at 8:32
by Ed Spratt  
We use Slack as our workplace communication tool at Pinkbike and we have a #randoms channel which we use to share an assortment of videos and stories from all corners of the cycling world and beyond... We thought a couple of the moments from the past week were too good not to share with a wider audience, so here are some of the highlights.

Plant Based Bikes


Designed by Guilherme Pella and Nicolas Rutzen, the Astan Bike is made from natural fibers glued together with plant resin making this potentially a very environmentally friendly bike. The designers also have boldly claimed that with their manufacturing technique, the plant-based bike could be both lighter and stronger than an equivalent aluminum frame.

The natural fibers used to build the Astan bike are created with laser cutters for an exact fit and to achieve the strength require, the designers developed a now patented frame with a unique lattice pattern. The lattice uses the natural grain of the wood to allow an increase in the resistance of the frame and can absorb impacts for increased comfort.


You can read more here.

Chainless eBikes


German bearings manufacturer Schaeffler and eBike drivetrain manufacturer Heinzmann have partnered to create a chainless electric drive system.

The Free Drive works by converting your pedaling power into electrical energy to run a rear hub motor without the need for a chain. It achieves this by housing a small generator in the bottom bracket area with the generated power travel through a cable to a motorised rear hub. The current prototype has a claimed continuous output of 250w although the creators claim more power than this is created so any additional energy is stored in the battery for later use. The battery system is also said to be charged by regenerative braking.

The only downside revealed by the creators is a loss of efficiency of around 5% when compared to a standard drivetrain using a chain.

You can read more here.

Dean Lucas Interviews Connor Fearon

bigquotesOn this episode of the podcast is sit down with a good friend of mine Connor Fearon a few days after he was able to claim his first elite men’s national downhill title. Connor and I have been racing a ride together for over 15 years now, we’ve pushed each other not only as competitors but also as teammates for a brief time on Kona back in 2011-2012.

Connor has always been at the top of Aussie Downhill, even back at the age of 14 he was already at the pointy end of the elite field. Battling with Troy Brosnan from the age of 11 they have both lifted each other to become two of the best mountain bikers in the world.

We go in-depth into what it’s been like battling with someone for so many years and how it's grown the both of them as riders and people.

He also goes into some simple tips to help you improve as a rider and racer.
Dean Lucas

Ken Block's 637hp Electric Audi RS

bigquotesAs you may know, Audi and I have partnered to create the first-ever all-electric Gymkhana car for Electrikhana! But our partnership doesn't stop there... A new year for me means new projects, so I'm very proud to introduce my brand-new Audi RS e-tron GT daily driver! At the snap of a finger (or of my right foot) the e-tron GT produces 637 horsepower and 612 foot-pounds of torque instantly, making it the fastest RS badged production car on earth. Ken Block

Virtual Reality Free Solo Climbing with Alex Honnold

bigquotesVirtual reality offers professional climber Alex Honnold a new and innovative way to share his incredible free solo climbing thanks to VR's immersive authenticity, and you can now experience exactly what it looks like to be with Alex on huge rock walls in the mountains in the documentary film 'Alex Honnold: The Soloist VR'. Under the guidance of director Jon Griffith and with the help of an elite team of climbers, the unique film for Meta Quest took 2 years to film on locations across Europe and North America and showcases the some of the toughest solo climbs in the world in an enthralling new way.

Watch the full VR experience on Oculus TV on Meta Quest VR Headsets
See more of how this unique film was made
Red Bull

Mad Max Triathlon Bike or the Urban DH Bike?

Juliano Neves has created some interesting new concepts with a Specialized Enduro triathlon bike or the shopper bike Specialized Demo.

Author Info:
edspratt avatar

Member since Mar 16, 2017
2,971 articles

  • 100 0
 Not only will the E-bikes be chainless, they will also be frameless it seems
  • 20 0
 another step closer to VR mountain bike riding and it will power your swift. Now you dont even have to ride your bike
  • 87 3
 Anyone else take a poop this morning?
  • 27 2
 Pooping as I write this.
  • 33 2
 Yeah man. Not bragging but it was a big one.
  • 34 1
 Doing it right now lol. (Plant based)
  • 3 2
 3, big ones too
  • 4 0
 Not yet... But it'll happen soon I'm sure.
  • 8 0
 yeah it was fast and efficient. Should have got Strava
  • 1 0
 @nfa2005: You can call 'em logs or whatnot, but they ain't plant based.
  • 1 0
  • 3 0
 Currently contemplating if I should get up and poop
  • 43 0
 Plant based bike.. ride it now, smoke it later!
  • 31 0
 Weed better do it...
  • 4 0
 if you get hungry on the trail, you could start chewing the knobs off your tires..
  • 13 0
 If you ride it naked you'll get a nice Astan.
  • 31 5
 Even mopeds still have chains. This is just an e-moto with more steps.
  • 6 0
 Ensuring you're absolutely 100% completely SOL and have an expensive unrideable piece of shit when your battery dies or you inevitably have some kind of electronic issue. At least with a chain driven ebike you can still ride the damn thing home when it dies.
I'd hate the be the mechanic working with those...
  • 1 0
 Worst thing is it seems the output of the motor (250W) is your limit in rear wheel power, you aren't adding any more directly through the chain from your legs.
In cycling terms, that isnt a lot, especially if you are heavy and trying to get up hills.
  • 20 0
 A train with a diesel motor powering an electric traction motor is diesel-electric.
This bike with a rider powering an electric traction motor is... taco-electric?

I'll see myself out.
  • 16 0
 Chainless eBikes system have been on mind for years. I’d like to see a system with two small hub motors instead of one: 2 wheel drive with regenerative breaking. Image how clean design could look no chain or brakes. I’m think very small battery too - it could be urban bike but I’d be stoked. If it’s only 5% loss, I’d be surprised.
  • 7 0
 5% does seem implausible. If your motor is 95% efficient you are doing very well, for a generator that would be even more remarkable (lower speed). I would have thought that 80% overall efficiency from legs to useful output would be doing very well.
Having said that, for an e-MTB, regen could be a game changer and far more significant. If you got back 60% of your braking energy on the downhills it would make far more difference in range than the 20% of human energy losses..
  • 3 0
 I wonder how a 2 wheel drive would ride or even work. Definitely an interesting idea
  • 3 0
 @ShredTilBed: you can find out! These folks have been doing mechanical AWD bikes for 20 years:

And a quick Google shows that lots of weird AWD e-bikes are out there.
  • 2 0
 Ahh the 2WD bicycle, the idea that comes back around every other year
  • 2 0
 5% more losses than a chain-driven bike.

No regen system will slow you enough in a panic stop, so you'll still need brakes.
  • 2 0
 It's been done before: Tried it. The pedal motion on this one was basically just a throttle for the electric motor. And if you pushed too hard, you would overcome some sort of thresshold and pedal in thin air. What a load of crap.

I hope this system at least gives you the option of putting your on power in. Still a CRAP idea. I hate companies that try to uncycle cycling.
  • 15 1
 Love Ken Block for his innovation in the car community, but that guy makes the same goofy-ass open mouth face for every photo taken of him.
  • 5 0
 Ok, just a few comments about the chainless transmission.
1: Even ebikes don't have a motor at the rear hub. So how much more weight over a derailleur+cassette? I assume it will be heavier and it will carry the disadvantage of more unsuspended mass, even over a hub shifting transmission.
2: It would surely be an extremely strange experience. I'm especially intrigued by the immediacy of reactions. When you give a quick whack to the pedals when you're standing still, how fast does the motor react? Would it react with the same force as the one you applied to the pedals? It might make it difficult, or super strange, to keep balance when you apply small but energetic impulses to the pedals in very low speed situations. You can't feel the chain tension and the direct connection to the movement.
I'm really intrigued by this sort of alien, detached pedalling concept.
  • 1 0
 the only place I've seen this system in use in on Cargo bikes and Cargo trikes.
  • 1 0
 (See under: f*cking weird)
I’m out
  • 1 0
 One other thing: the motor can only put out 250 watts. So there’s absolutely no sprinting or technical climbing on this thing, it’s just going to steadily push you up at a moderate power output.
  • 1 0
 many ebikes that have no rear suspension and arent intended to ever leave the gound have hub motors. For town and road bikes (yes e-road bikes are a thing) it makes a lot of sense.
  • 7 0
 Only thing that demo is missing is a basket at the front
  • 2 0
 Was wondering that myself (from the homepage image)...was that a basket of kittens, or a planter up front? So weird... doesn't look like it shreds either.
  • 5 2
 "To my mind, a bicycle has direct mechanical link between rider and wheels; chain, shaft drive, velocepede-esque strider. A motorbike can drive wheels independent of riders power input."

So by the past part of your sentence, the chain-less drivetrain doesn't make it a motorbike - cranks drive a generator, wire takes electricity to hub motor, hub motor powers wheel. No pedal, no go (excluding the small battery).

Still a bike, IMO
  • 4 0
 This concept doesn't necessarily remove the cycling part of the bicycle, but it does muddy the waters further on an already polarising topic.
They're claiming 95% transfer efficiency, which may be the case when the battery is charged for pedal assist, but the digital motor controller requires its own power to ensure efficient drive, so if the battery runs out I'd wager the efficiency rate drops off significantly.
Not to mention that generators have to be tuned to specific rotation speeds for maximum energy transfer, so i hope you enjoy pedalling at one cadence forever if you want to come close to that posted 95% efficiency.
  • 3 0
 @ROOTminus1: one cadence for ever sounds both stupid and boring simultaneously
  • 2 0
 A bike that literally cannot be driven mechanically and can only be propelled by a motor is a motorbike in my opinion
  • 2 0
 One of the cool things about biking is the bridging of pure mechanical ability (works great but looks like shit) and pure art (looks amazing but works like shit).
The plant based bike is claiming it works great but it would appear it won't make it into any bike porn forums anytime soon....
  • 3 0
 Finally Zwifting for mountain bikers! No need to finesse anything or downshift for hills. Just crank out the watts and watch the world go by. Like being in your basement, but outdoors.
  • 1 0
 @Hucklebear I shift plenty in Zwift, what you mean?
  • 2 0
 @Chuckolicious: I don't have a trainer that adjusts resistance, so I mostly only shift up to sprint and down when I can't hold a gear any longer. The grade may affect my virtual speed, but I don't need to shift to go up or down a hill, I just crank out X watts. Conversely, I am constantly shifting to match the terrain while trail riding. Being in the right gear to keep traction on a climb or get that last pedal stroke before a drop is critical.
I also only use zwift to maintain fitness when I can't get out. I'm sure if I raced it could be more nuanced.
  • 2 0
 @Hucklebear: Ahh, gotcha. Yea, I have a smart trainer so I'm shifting like a madman on stuff like Alp Du Zwift. As for the chainless system they're talking about, could have some really interesting training applications. Real world ERG mode, for one. I know Specialized E Bikes have a system that lets you set a target heart rate and it varies the assist accordingly, which is similar. But a real world ERG could be super cool.
  • 2 0
 Plant based resin huh, I stopped buying lib-tech snowboards because of the eco friendly or plant based whatever resin they started using. Had two boards from them with the sidewall separating from the edge (about a foot long area) in a matter of a few days of just ridding around.
Eco friendly is great if it works, sometimes it just doesn't
  • 2 1
 Curious about the chainless bike. A wikipedia page says "However, the potential yield of human electric power is decreased by the inefficiency of any generator device, since all real generators incur considerable losses during the energy conversion process" so it would be interesting to know more.
250W seems quite a lot compared to the average human power output (+-100W).

It could be great for super fatbikes, with longtail stays, no chain, regular q-factor and a 10" wide tire Smile
  • 2 1
 In this system though you would be directly transferring the human power to the rear hub motor.... so if you are outputting 100 watts, that is what the rear hub motor would outout minus the driveline losses.... power generation and transmission losses are likley considerably higher than a mechanical system though. Placing a small battery or capacitor in the system would help to modulation the highly variable human power output, and completely eliminate the impact of chain tension on suspension performance.
  • 1 1
 @maestroman21: Are you sure ? Isn't the whole point of this hub to have a generator in the hub that is supposed to increase power output ?
Let's say you produce 100W at 100rpm (random numbers) and have a planetary gear or whatever in the hub that turns the rpm to 250 and """supposedly""" outputs 250W, isn't that the point ?
I mean there would be a lot of loss as the wiki page says but isn't the point of a generator to... generate more power ?

Also it could have a "buffer" battery, you would keep pedaling somewhat energetically even when it's flat and easy (or down) and the battery would use its power when you're on an up slope and your pedaling isn't enough.

I'm not good at physic when it's not in pictures so I may be totally out of my element :p
  • 3 0
 @Will-narayan: No mate….if you want 250w you will have to put in +250w. Gearing up 100w still gets you 100w.
  • 3 0
 @NZRalphy: I think his point is that it's still in essence an ebike - you're contributing, but still drawing down the battery as you ride.
  • 1 0
 @NZRalphy: Ok, so I guess kinda was on my way to invent perpetual motion and infinite source of energy :p
So like mentioned somewhere else, it's like a diesel-electric locomotive, except here it's a "taco-electric" bike.

So then the point would be store some energy in the battery as soon as the human is producing more than needed (slow on flat, or keep pedaling while going down) through a steady but not exhausting rpm pace, and to use it back to assist when the human is producing less than needed (going up).

Sounds logical, it's a way to avoid charging the battery on power supply as much as possible.
  • 1 0
 @Will-narayan: exactly. Can't output more than you put in. The main benefit seesm to be the reduction of wear components. It likely wont match the mecahnical efficiency of a modern drivetrain, but could be a sort of hybrid system with a small intermediate way to store energy. Eg: you always put in 100W.. but when its not needed it charges the battery.. when more is needed you'll have it on tap without putting in more than 100W.. to a point. This is how I can see it going for urban commuters. I don't think it presents enough benefit recreationally in mtb as it stands....but I've been wrong before.
  • 3 0
 Why is that Atsan bike so goddamn ugly?
Newsflash - new materials and processes do not need to look crazy.
  • 4 1
 Does anyone believe that efficiency claim, or plant fiber strength claim?
  • 2 0
 Nope and nope
  • 3 0
 Doesn't matter when your "customer" is venture capital rather than cyclists.
  • 4 0
 Specialized Rock Shopper
  • 2 0
 Natural fibre is an elusive phrase. How well does it recycle itself into compost after a good wash?
  • 2 0
 Hybrid drive system “Chainless eBikes” pedal by wire.
  • 2 0
 Here I thought bluetooth drivetrain was just a meme.
  • 2 0
 That Astan Bike is quite possibly the ugliest bike I've ever seen.
  • 1 0
 Polygon and Ellsworth have entered the chat
  • 2 0
 Next will be an ebike that mines crypto when you pedal.
  • 3 0
 Why no MEAT-BASED bikes?
  • 2 0
 I once impaled myself with my bars that had no bar ends and had a peice of myself become the bar end does that count?
  • 1 0
  • 1 0
 Why are no E-bikes using dynamo hubs to trickle charge the battery while rolling? They don't really have much resistance.
  • 2 1
 That shopper bike should come with a free inflatable Von Douche TLD helmet
  • 1 0
 If Aaron Gwinn will run it, I’m in
  • 1 0
 finally, bluetooth drivetrains
  • 1 1
 For a guy that loves in a van alex honnold sure seems to be money driven these days
  • 2 1
 Free soloing is the only thing dumber than Urban DH races.
  • 1 0
 'potentially' a very environmentally friendly bike Nuff said.
  • 1 0
 Here’s one for the next slack randoms
  • 1 0
 deleted double post
  • 1 0
 Pedal by wire (facepalm)
  • 9 11
 Chainless eeb? I just threw up in my mouth.

That. Is. No. Longer. A. Bicycle!
  • 15 2
 Is it the chain that makes a bicycle a bicycle?
  • 14 4
 @Patrick9-32: is it the motor that makes a motor bike a motor bike¿
  • 7 2
 @naptime: Interesting question. A bike without a motor certainly can't be a motorbike however, legally and in most people's opinion there are a lot of bikes with motors which are not motorbikes. There is a continuum of motorbikely-ness on which all bikes appear, most fall categorically on one end or the other but a growing number are somewhere in between.
  • 4 3
 @Patrick9-32: To my mind, a bicycle has direct mechanical link between rider and wheels; chain, shaft drive, velocepede-esque strider. A motorbike can drive wheels independent of riders power input.
  • 3 1
 But what if it also doesn't have a battery? It isn't stated explicitly though the mention of regenerative braking obviously implies the energy will be stored (unless you power up some big mofo brake light in the name of road safety). Though what if the regenerated energy stored very temporarily? Like in one of those batteries that can be charged and depleted quickly, but don't hold energy for long. Charging at home doesn't make sense, but in urban traffic with a lot of starts and stops or in hilly terrain with lots of short climbs and descends it makes a lot of sense and isn't any worse than for instance using a flywheel (though lighter). Not sure what kind of batteries I'm implying here, but I thought some iron-based type batteries used in missiles (to power the guidance systems) have such characteristics and at least are a more sustainable metal to use than lithium or cadmium.

Yes it is a gliding scale indeed.
  • 6 2
 It's an electric moped with a dynamo to help recharge the battery, that's it.
  • 4 1
 @Patrick9-32: In most people's opinion or in the opinion of most people who own one? I'm not a hater of ebikes, but to my mind a bicycle is human powered and doesn't have a motor.
  • 1 0
 @jim-the-saint: But I think it only powers you forward with a % of the current power being put in by the rider, the same way a current E bike does only without any of the power you put in going directly to the wheels.

On a current E bike set to give you 75% of your power back, when you pedal at 100w the motor adds 75w and the total output of the system is 175w. With this (if I am reading correctly which is certainly not a given) you pedal at 100w which charges the battery at a rate of 100w and the motor puts out 175w for a total system output of 175w.

Is that the same, spiritually, as a current E bike? Is it not? I don't know.
  • 1 0
 @Patrick9-32: The resistance in the dynamo/generator will be the same for the rider regardless of the speed of the bike and the gradient. To quote the guys themselves 'the Schaeffler generator, ... sets the constant resistance on the pedal while simultaneously absorbing the rider's pedaling power'.

The amount of power at the back wheel could be regulated by pedal speed (it might just have a handlebar throttle, it doesn't say) but that is still not the same as current e-bikes. With an e-bike you set them up so the motor adds watts on-top of what you put through the chainset. Therefore the feel of riding an e-bike should (in theory) be the same as a normal bike except with more power being delivered to the back wheel.

With this system the feel at the pedals for the rider can be exactly the same regardless of whether they are going uphill, downhill or on the flat

In the UK I don't think this could be considered an e-bike as the pedals need to propel the bike. Without the motor and battery the pedals on this would do nothing.
  • 1 0
 @jim-the-saint: Consistent resistance on the pedals isn't the same as consistent pedal speed or rider power input though. Its more like changing gear to match the terrain. You can still pedal harder to generate more power.

On a regular bike with gears if you change gear frequently enough you have close to consistent resistance regardless of the speed of the bike and the gradient up to certain limits of speed at the top and bottom end of course.

I think you are right on the legal definition though. I doubt you would be allowed to ride a system like that on UK roads.
  • 2 3
 plant based...all us Gen Xers are laughing at you....suck it.
  • 4 7
 What site am I on?
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