The Pinkbike Podcast: Gee Atherton on Additive Manufacturing & Upcoming Bike Releases

Apr 29, 2022 at 11:08
by Mike Levy  
Pinkbike Podcast
Art by Taj Mihelich


From value-minded hardtails to boutique steel trail bikes with idler pulleys, and CNC'd aluminum frames that are glued together to ultra-light carbon creations, mountain bikes come in near-endless flavors these days. But one of the most interesting has to be those from Atherton Bikes, a UK brand that's bonding carbon fiber tubes from New Zealand into additive-manufactured titanium lugs while also offering a dizzying array of custom geometry choices. Oh, and its founders are a double World Champion and double World Cup Overall Champion with loads of World Cup wins and a second-place Rampage result to his name, a six-time World Champion with thirty-nine (39!) World Cup wins, and a World Cup racer turned trail builder behind the Red Bull Hardline and Dyfi Bike Park.





THE PINKBIKE PODCAST // EPISODE 120 - GEE ATHERTON ON TITANIUM ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING, MILLION-DOLLAR MACHINES, AND 3 NEW BIKES
May 5th, 2022

I'm about to order my own bucket of titanium dust off Amazon. Who's in?


Episode 120 saw Brian Park and I sit down with Chief Designer Rob Gow, engineer Ben Farmer, and a guy named Gee who I hear is pretty quick on a bike to talk about the advantages and challenges of additive manufacturing, why they need buckets of titanium dust and a million-dollar hopper machine, and the three new bikes the plan to release in 2022.

Is this the future of frame manufacturing? Will a local shop be able to print your frame from a bag of expensive dust one day?



Gee Atherton - Director
Rob Gow - Chief Designer

Ben Farmer - Head Engineer
Calling them "lugs" might not do these titanium pieces justice.

The additive manufacturing process makes titanium frame components look like they're growing from the ground up.


Featuring a rotating cast of the editorial team and other guests, the Pinkbike podcast is a weekly update on all the latest stories from around the world of mountain biking, as well as some frank discussion about tech, racing, and everything in between.


Podcast presented by Vittoria



Previous Pinkbike Podcasts
Episode 1 - Why Are Bikes So Expensive?
Episode 2 - Where the Hell is the Grim Donut?
Episode 3 - Pond Beaver Tech
Episode 4 - Why is Every Bike a Trail Bike?
Episode 5 - Can You Trust Bike Reviews?
Episode 6 - Over Biked Or Under Biked?
Episode 7 - Wild Project Bikes
Episode 8 - Do We Need an Even Larger Wheel Size?
Episode 9 - Why Are We Doing a Cross-Country Field Test?
Episode 10 - Getting Nerdy About Bike Setup
Episode 11 - Are We Going Racing This Year?
Episode 12 - What's the Future of Bike Shops?
Episode 13 - Are Bikes Too Regular Now?
Episode 14 - What Bikes Would Pinkbike Editors Buy?
Episode 15 - What's Holding Mountain Biking Back?
Episode 16 - Who's Your Mountain Biking Hero?
Episode 17 - XC Field Test Insider
Episode 18 - Electronics on your Mountain Bike: Good or Bad?
Episode 19 - The Hardtail Episode
Episode 20 - MTB Conspiracy Theories
Episode 21 - Stuff We Were Wrong About
Episode 22 - Does Your Riding Style Match Your Personality?
Episode 23 - Grim Donut 2 is Live!
Episode 24 - Why Even Buy a DH Bike?
Episode 25 - Fall Field Test Preview
Episode 26 - The Three Most Important Mountain Bikes
Episode 27 - The World Champs Special
Episode 28 - All About Women's Bikes
Episode 29 - Freeride or Die
Episode 30 - Would You Rather?
Episode 31 - Wet Weather Riding Tips & Tricks
Episode 32 - What Needs to Change in the Bike Industry?
Episode 33 - Behind the Scenes at Pinkbike Academy
Episode 34 - Grilling Levy About Field Test Trail Bikes (and His Bonspiel)
Episode 35 - Story Time - Stranger Than Fiction
Episode 36 - Grilling Kazimer about Field Test Enduro Bikes
Episode 37 - The 2020 Privateer Season with Ben Cathro
Episode 38 - Editors Defend Their 2020 Best-Of Picks
Episode 39 - Predicting the Future of Mountain Biking
Episode 40 - The Pinkbike Awards!
Episode 41 - Racing Rumours and Team Changes
Episode 42 - Mountain Biking's Guilty Pleasures
Episode 43 - Dangerholm's Wildest Custom Mountain Bikes
Episode 44 - Mountain Bike Suspension Decoded
Episode 45 - What Makes a Good Riding Buddy
Episode 46 - The RockShox Zeb vs Fox 38 Deep Dive
Episode 47 - High Pivot Bikes: The Good, The Bad, and The Why?
Episode 48 - Rides That Went Horribly Wrong... & Why That Made Them So Good
Episode 49 - What's the Best DH Bike?
Episode 50 - Are Bikes Actually Getting Less Expensive? (Value Bike Field Test Preview)
Episode 51 - Should MTB Media Post Spy Shots?
Episode 52 - Our Most Embarrassing MTB Moments
Episode 53 - Should Climbers Still Have the Right of Way?
Episode 54 - Best and Worst MTB Product Marketing
Episode 55 - Big Dumb Rides & Staying Motivated
Episode 56 - What Were the Most Important Inventions in Mountain Biking?
Episode 57 - What Were the Best (and Worst) Trends in Mountain Biking?
Episode 58 - Debunking Mountain Biking's Biggest Myths
Episode 59 - Value Bike Field Trip Surprises & Spoilers
Episode 60 - What Kind of Mountain Biker Do You Want to Be?
Episode 61 - Athlete Pay, Lycra, Equality and More from the State of the Sport Survey
Episode 62 - Editor Preferences and Why They Matter
Episode 63 - Our Best (And Worst) Bike Buying Advice
Episode 64 - Who's On Your MTB Mount Rushmore?
Episode 65 - The Hardtail Episode
Episode 66 - The Best and Worst of Repairing Bikes
Episode 67 - The Story of Mountain Biking's Most Interesting Man: Richard Cunningham
Episode 68 - Who Are Mountain Biking's Unsung Heroes?
Episode 69 - The Good, Bad, and Strange Bikes We've Owned - Part 1
Episode 70 - The Good, Bad, and Strange Bikes We've Owned - Part 2
Episode 71 - The Story of Mountain Biking's Most Interesting Man: Richard Cunningham - A Pinkbike Podcast Special, Part 2
Episode 72 - Hey Outers!
Episode 73 - The Details That Matter... and Some That Shouldn't
Episode 74 - The Best Trails We've Ridden and What Makes Them So Special
Episode 75 - Things MTB Brands Waste Money On
Episode 76 - MTB Originals and Copycats
Episode 77 - Interview with Outside CEO, Robin Thurston
Episode 78 - Modern Geometry Explained
Episode 79 - What's the Future of eMTBs?
Episode 80 - The Best Vehicles for Mountain Bikers
Episode 81 - You've Got Questions, We've (Maybe) Got Answers
Episode 82 - Behind the Scenes at Field Test
Episode 83 - Does Carbon Fiber Belong On Your Mountain Bike?
Episode 84 - Explaining RockShox's Computer Controlled Suspension
Episode 85 - Is the Red Bull Rampage Too Slopestyle?
Episode 86 - Greg Minnaar on the Honda DH Bike, World Cup Racing, and Staying Fast Forever
Episode 87 - How to Love Riding When it's Cold and Wet
Episode 88 - Mountain Biking on a Budget
Episode 89 - The Derailleur Pickle
Episode 90 - Is Supre the Future of Trouble-Free Drivetrains? (with Cedric Eveleigh of Lal Bikes)
Episode 91 - Riding Every Double Black in the Whistler Bike Park with Christina Chappetta
Episode 92 - Does Bike Weight Really Matter?
Episode 93 - Staying Motivated and Overcoming Burnout
Episode 94 - PBA Contestant Tori Wood on Her First Race and Finding the Right Mindset
Episode 95 - Field Test Down-Country Bike Debrief
Episode 96 - PBA Contestant Israel Carrillo on Riding in Mexico and Why It's Not Always About Speed
Episode 97 - Can We Predict the Future of Mountain Biking?
Episode 98 - Field Test Trail Bike Debrief
Episode 99 - New Year, New You?
Episode 100 - Q&A with the PB Editors
Episode 101 - MTB Tradeshows Explained
Episode 102 - Should MTB Media Be Going to Press Camps?
Episode 103 - Secrets from the World Cup Pits with Henry Quinney
Episode 104 - Lachlan Morton on How to be a Happy Bike Racer and the World's Longest Climb
Episode 105 - The 3 Bike Budget Challenge
Episode 106 - What's Your Ideal Ride Look Like?
Episode 107 - How (And Why) Did You Start Mountain Biking?
Episode 108 - Behind the Scenes at the Value Bike Field Test
Episode 109 - Berm Peak's Seth Alvo on Making Videos 24/7, Soul Rides, and Building a Bike Park
Episode 110 - Trying (and Failing) to Reinvent the Mountain Bike
Episode 111 - The Pinkbike Racing Podcast: Episode #1 - It's All Downhill From Here
Episode 112 - The Pinkbike Racing Podcast: Episode #2 - The Lourdes World Cup Post-Race Wrap-Up
Episode 113 - PB Editors Answer Your Questions (again)
Episode 114 - The Placebo Effect and Your New Mountain Bike
Episode 115 - We Are One's CEO Talks Future DH Bike, E-Bikes, & Domestic Manufacturing
Episode 116 - New Bikes and Gear from Sea Otter
Episode 117 - Mountain Biking's Worst (or Best) Cliché Crimes
Episode 118 - Music and Mountain Biking
Episode 119 - Road Trips Gone Horribly Wrong


41 Comments

  • 22 0
 Let's get one of those new bikes in a field test!
  • 17 0
 Would love to try that 130mm bike.
  • 8 0
 Saw the new collection of Athertons bikes at The Cycle Show in London two weeks ago. The new frame material and the geometry of these bikes are just something else, a real eyecatching machine, and I'm so eager to try them on the trails. Gee is a top bloke to chat with in person.
  • 8 0
 So…are Atherton going to build the next and improved version of the Donut?

Speaking of donuts…where’s that video with the story of the new version?
And when will it be raced in a EWS or World Cup?

Ohhh another idea, how about a race to see wicht Mike is faster on the donut?
  • 5 0
 This is unrelated, but why is the buy and sell on the mobile site so bad when the desktop site is pretty dang good? All there is is a search bar and a price range. A drop down menu that had all the different filters that are on the regular site would be fantastic.
  • 7 0
 I've not listened to the pod cast yet, but did you ask Gee how the mountain is recovering after it crashed into him?
  • 6 0
 Wouldn’t a short travel Grim Doughnut be a Grim Timbit?
  • 2 0
 Future podcast discussion topic- Do tires or suspension efficiency have a bigger effect on how a bike pedals? If I really want my enduro bike to pedal like an XC bike can I just change the tires and get close? Seems like if you're not standing and hammering, the tires make a bigger difference than the suspension. But fast tires on a squishy bike is still not as "inspiring" to pedal as a hardtail or XC bike. Would love to hear you bring some experiences from past Efficiency Tests as well.
Thoughts??
  • 4 0
 Read the headline as “million dollar bike” had me worried for a moment.
  • 31 0
 it won't be long. and it will come with NX
  • 3 0
 This Dream Builds of the process is rad. If you haven't seen it, eat some edibles and have a watch: www.youtube.com/watch?v=qsuHi_XdH8Y
  • 1 0
 Unrelated question: I just bought a 2008 Kona Stinky Deluxe. I wanted a park bike to ride occasionally, it’s in stupidly great condition and it only cost 630 NZD. However, I can’t deny that nostalgia played a big part too (07 Deluxe was my first full suss). Have you guys ever bought something out of nostalgia or are there any old bikes you would like to try? I’m genuinely excited, but do nostalgia buys work out?
  • 2 0
 We always talk about getting a Process 111 back in to do a re-test and see how far things have moved along. I'd love to get my old Giant ATX DH bike back! But not with those Formula brakes or the AC chain guide haha
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: There's also an 06 Banshee Scream if @brianpark is keen
  • 1 0
 @Vilhelm: yes please!
  • 1 0
 Often when I listen to interviews with people in the bike industry, they seem to go like this "I wasn't good at much, but I like to hang with the bros so now I'm VP for product development at a big company." It sounds like Gee has pulled together a team actual knowledgable, talented, experienced people with business and technical know-how who could build and run a successful company. Sweet!
  • 4 0
 Are there any plans to start printing titanium body parts?
  • 2 0
 I need.
  • 6 0
 @brianpark: You need to get back on the podcast! Not to get all schmaltzy but - I've missed you. Also - lets have some RC and Christina popping in, even if just for some bits, please. This whole crew is cult. Palmer is a good addition as well, he's got decades of this in the DNA now, but some B-Park is still needed...
  • 3 0
 Should of asked if they would ever look at a full titanium build?! No Rocks destroying that downtube!!
  • 8 0
 This often comes up but hasn't been pursued as it is difficult to find a good balance between weight (minimum wall thickness), stiffness (tube diameter) and robustness (minimum wall thickness again) in respect of tube denting.

A good point of reference is Formula 1 suspension where carbon fibre wishbones with titanium end fittings are universally used.

Our carbon tubes, however, are much thicker for the majority of the length than full carbon frames and so are in inherently more resistant to damage than conventional carbon frames. The unidirectional pre-preg construction and simple shapes make for straightforward repair should damage occur.
  • 1 0
 Wouldn't changing the CS length on these things change the frame travel quite a bit? Or does the rocker get modified to keep it all the same?
  • 2 2
 Can someone at PB explain why apparel reviews that are older jump back into the news feed? Did Specialized or Outside make you rerun it?
  • 2 0
 From my experience of having features/articles featured on the home page, some articles you'll see will have been written long before they go live, but will be scheduled by an editor. If there are multiple editors doing different things, what I suspect may be happening is that some stuff is just getting jumbled around relative to others on the home page timeline. It's not just apparel reviews that it happens to, videos and other articles seem to randomly drop back or jump forward too. I guess it's good for PB as you have to keep scrolling around to make sure you haven't missed anything, so more overall page views and time-on-page maybe?
  • 4 0
 @CleanZine: Things do get moved around depending on what's happening on the homepage. Sometimes we'll bump something interesting above other stuff, despite it being released earlier. Also, sometimes we f*ck up haha
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: Thanks for the reply @cleanzine @mikelevy
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: hey hears a PB podcast question. How much do mikes off all prices cost the manufacturer ei specialized to make?
  • 1 0
 You wouldn't happen to want a token trials rider to build a one off frame for, would you? I'd ride the shengus out of it!
  • 1 1
 You have quite a few podcasts, so it is taking longer to scroll down (I'm lazy). Is a page 2 listing the podcasts in order so that I can get to the comments faster?
  • 1 0
 Don't they mean pixie dust?
  • 1 0
 Patiently waiting for the 170mm.
  • 5 0
 Hi. This is the bike that a lot of us (AB staff) are most excited about too! Stay in touch - first production prototype is being built just now, aiming for production towards end of summer. If you email sales@athertonbikes.com then we can get you on the list. Cheers
  • 1 0
 @Robgow: Is that a 29/275 or full 29?
  • 1 0
 @fartymarty: mullet. Its very much a park inspired enduro bike. We've got some pretty aggressive geometry. The evolution of this bike was initially "make the perfect bike for Dan to ride at dyfi (park and natural)". This original was a full 27.5, but Dan quickly realised how well it pedalled and the broader scope for this platform. A few iterations later we now have mullet 170 rear, with a 170 and 180 fork option. Cheers
  • 1 0
 @Robgow:Thanks. Sounds intetesting. Double crown compatible I assume.
  • 1 0
 Officially beginning to save up for one of these mmm five years maybe
  • 1 0
 Hopefully it will be sooner than that. Keep an eye out for the new range coming spring next year.
  • 1 0
 How about anodized titanium “nodes”?
  • 2 0
 Anodising Titanium is a nightmare! We'd love to but colour options and control is limited. We are exploring a number of different finish options at the moment. Cerakote is a favourite...
  • 1 0
 What an interesting podcast
  • 1 3
 I know supply chains are challenging right now, but I think you'll need to make more than 3 bikes, fellas.





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