We last saw Katz Bikes at the Eurobike Outdoor Expo in 2010 when they were showing off their 145mm Alps trail bike. We were immediately drawn in by the concealed drivetrain, but it unfortunately all went south for the Swiss brand from then on. In 2011, they had to shut down as the Euro crisis and ensuing financial problems hit their bottom line hard. The project was shelved, but Holger Katz, the brains behind the brand, kept riding his bike for the next decade and claims he hasn't had to perform any maintenance on the drivetrain in that time.
Now, Holger has returned with an updated version nearly a decade after his company shut down. Thankfully, he hasn't abandoned the concept that first inspired him to start making bikes and the concealed drivetrain returns again. The drivetrain uses a Rohloff SpeedHub 500/14 with 14 gears that sits in the rear wheel. This gearbox provides a 526% range, but weighs more than 1700 grams.
Under the carbon fiber shell at the bottom bracket is a chainring built by Katz and a standard Shimano 11 speed chain that is tensioned by a ratchet and passes through the chainstay to meet the Rohloff. The final piece of the puzzle is a rubber seal that allows the chainstay to move with the suspension action while keeping contaminants at bay. The protective element of the design is obvious, but other advantages apparently include quicker and cleaner wheel removal, easier bike washing and a totally silent drivetrain thanks to a tensioned chain.
Furthering his maintenance-free ethos, Katz uses a "triple sealed system" for the bearings on the bike, every bearing apart from the main pivot is a sealed needle bearing with "additional seals and protective construction". The main pivot uses double row spherical bearings with the same protections. Katz says that he's never had a customer asking for replacement bearings in the past ten years.
Bike design has obviously changed a lot in the past decade so Katz has made plenty of changes to the bike we previously covered. The travel has been boosted up to 155mm in the rear, which is mated to a 160mm X-Fusion Revel fork at the front. The head angle has been seriously slackened from 67.5° way down to 64 degrees and the bike has been stretched out to a 1200mm wheelbase. The final modernizing touch is an increase in wheel size from 26 to 27.5+, which means the bike should also be able to fit 29" wheels with standard size tires.
TT horizontal 570mm
Seat tube 395mm
Head Angle 64°
Seat Angle 74°
BB height at 2.8/3.0 tires 345mm
Currently, Holger has only one frame which he is using himself and no plans to start selling again. However, he is open to speak to investors who may see his concept as a potential opportunity.