Kineticworks' Ulrich Bahr, who happens to look a lot like a mad scientist, is a man you who clearly likes to tinker with things, so it's no surprise that his Quintessenz long-travel bike looks like it's made for exactly that type of rider. The 190mm-travel design employs a small threaded link that, with the help of a large wrench, allows you to tweak the angles by up to 3-degrees without being locked into an exact number like different shock mounting positions would force you to be. The same link plays a large role in Bahr's claims of the Quintessenz's extreme efficiency, too, and how he designed the floating bottom bracket section means that you can mount a Pinion gearbox, an e-bike motor, or leave it empty and go with a normal drivetrain.
To borrow a phrase from my good friend the Burger King, the Quintessenz is all about having it your way.
With 190mm of rear wheel travel, an immense amount of adjustability, and the option to mount a Pinion gearbox or e-bike motor, the Quintessenz ain't your normal long-travel bike.
Bahr has been designing, building, and tinkering for the last twenty years, but the Quintessenz is a much more recent project at around year and a half old. He's come up with quite an interesting bike in that time, and immense adjustability aside, his other main focus was extreme efficiency - he wanted his 190mm-travel rig to pedal far better than bikes of similar intentions. He calls what he came up with a ''self-stabilizing system'' and says that the heart of the design is the rocker link that's home to the bottom bracket (or gearbox, if you mounted one) and rotates on roller bearings. According to Bahr, as pedaling forces are put through the rocker, the opposing forces of the chain on the suspension act on the main pivot, while the threaded geo-adjusting link sits in front of the axis of rotation of the rocker.
That last point is important because Bahr says that it creates a ''mechanical toggle effect,'' and the outcome is self-stabilizing torque.
Single pivot? Kinda.
The location of the idler pulley is a big factor, too, and I'll let Bahr explain why via Google Translate: ''All variable chain run-off points become mathematically constant by the deflection roller to the fulcrum. This is the special feature of the kinematics: For the first time, not only drive influences are compensated, but the forces have a self-stabilizing effect. This effect is due to the proportionality of the forces occurring in the mechanically acting toggle lever.''
It all sounded a bit much to me, but then I watched Bahr sprint hard on his Pinion-equipped Quintessenz, and the damn thing refused to go into its travel. It didn't even move.
There's up to 3-degrees of geometry adjustment from this threaded link, and you can set it anywhere between fully extended and fully threaded in. Check out the difference between the tire and 'ring in the two photos above.
And then there's the threaded link that lets you tweak the bike's geometry by a full 3-degrees. If that's not interesting stuff to you, Bahr has also designed a hydraulic setup that replaces the threaded link with a self-adjusting system that reacts to your body position.
The hydraulic link wasn't at the show - Bahr was concerned about someone pilfering his soon to be patented idea - but it consists of two connected cylinders; one at the stem and the other down at the link.
''The cylinder on the stem controls the cylinder on the connecting element via a valve on the handlebar,'' Bahr explained to me. ''By shifting the weight of the rider on the stem, it moves the frame [geometry]. The hydraulic system is self-contained. It does not require additional electrical power. The system influences several parameters such as seat position, head and seat angle, as well as chainstay and wheelbase.''
Bahr's creation can also be configured a whole bunch of different ways. Want an internally geared hub? Sure, you can have that thanks to the slotted axle clamps that allow for a chainstay length between 425mm and 460mm. Want a gearbox or e-bike motor? Sure, both can fit right into the gap between the bottom bracket rocker arms. Want carbon fiber? Nope, you can't have that.
The aluminum Quintessenz frame is manufactured in Poland and goes for €2,050, or €3,500 with a Fox 36, Fox shock. Complete bikes start at €4,800.