We've all heard of crowd funding for new projects, but the concept of crowd designing is something else altogether. Rather than looking for perspective investors, German brand Alutech Cycles
wanted to tap into the wants, needs and desires of prospective customers and through our friends at MTB-News
and their bustling forum, that's exactly what they did...
The objective was to create an every-day trail bike using input obtained through MTB-News' forum and cut the development-process of a new bike into small chunks. Idea competitions would be held, and then the results would be discussed before having a public vote to decide which solution would be the one to take into prototyping and production. While the concept sounds great on paper, it wasn't without its hurdles.
|The greatest challenge of all was to make sure that all of the individual decisions would fit together as a whole concept, which is purpose built rather than a wild mix of unrelated ideas. We didn't want the ICB2.0 to end up as the Homer-mobile of mountain bikes! - Project-manager, Stefanus Stahl|
With a thriving digital MTB community of our own here at Pinkbike (love you guys!), we can only imagine the effort involved in filtering through all the crazy suggestions hidden among the amazing ones that would ultimately be suggested. But to work around this, the team behind the ICB2.0 project put the responsibility firmly in the hands of the community at large. Using this method to develop a new bike would remove the decision making process from the product manager and place it in the hands of the end user, but doing so would add its own unique challenges into the mix...
Power to the People
The community spoke and a robust and versatile bike, which was as 'future proof' as possible, was at the top of their wish list. The decision was then quickly made to use a simple single-pivot design, and with over 100-community members using the popular kinematic software, “Linkage X3” by bikechecker.com
to search for the best pivot placement, they discovered that a simple shock-extension or 'yoke' (as seen on many of the bikes from the bigger brands bikes) would be enough to give a single pivot design a suitable amount of anti-squat, a slightly progressive linkage ratio and very little pedal-kick. From here, five prototypes were built and a few lucky community members were selected for testing. Within no time they set off for a test session in Finale Ligure, Italy, before the development process continued towards serial production.
Everyone has an opinion when it comes to forums and the kind of individuals who while away their time within them, typing nonsense and trolling to get a rise out of other users. But we're talking about a German mountain bike forum here and while we don't want to stereotype...
|There was a user called Luniz who made a bold statement that given enough information on loads and design restrictions, he could make the shock extension twice as strong and even lighter. It transpired that in 'real life', he was working for the software company Altair - a world leader in optimized software. After feeding the data for the current design into his company's algorithms, he optimized the process, delivering a much stronger design, weighing 30% less than the original. - Alutech's brand manager, Sebastian Tegtmeier|
And it doesn't end there, with other notable and highly qualified members of the community coming together to realize the goal of creating this special bike. From those able to utilize 3D rendering software to an engineer who saw that using angular contact bearings that can be preloaded without putting stress on the frame would be great... With the involvement of over 3,000 passionate mountain bikers, the barrage of suggestions helped deliver some ingenious ideas that made their way into production. Everything from a unique cable-routing design, which allows internal or external routing, to a machined headtube badge.
And of course there was the finish to consider as well. With a unanimous nod towards a long lasting, lightweight, timeless paint job, the crowd decided to get rid of the paint. Instead, the frame is polished, then masked, then blasted and then finally anodized in your choice of 'titanium grey', 'forest green' or 'royal blue'. And for those looking to build themselves something a little different, you can have the frame in a raw finish for an additional €100.
How many bikes have had their angles and dimensions chosen by a panel of over 3,000 members? And with a long front center, a short rear end, an appropriately slack head angle matched with a similarly steep seat angle, not to mention that it's available in 4 sizes, with a threaded BB and no Boost... Who designed this bike again?
With the ICB2.0 only just hitting the market, the success and failure of this project is yet to be determined from a commercial angle, but from a community perspective, this can only be seen as a success. With the involvement of so many individuals behind its creation, it's a superb testament as to what can be achieved with the right guidance from a bike brand looking to brake the mould and do things differently.
Indeed, Alutech Cycles deserve their fair share of the praise and it's great to see how things can be done if you think outside the box. The creation and delivery of the ICB2.0 also backs up that the mountain bike community is full of individuals with enough collective knowledge to pull something that for all intents and purpose, looks great, from the melting pot of an online forum. So, do you fancy one yourself or keen to know more about this new bike from Germany? Head on over to Alutech
for the lowdown and prices.
Where do we go from here?In a world where many of us feel overwhelmed by the bike industry's incessant push for marginal gains and new standards, could this be a viable solution for those willing to work with the end user hand-in-hand, to create a bike with their wants and wishes taken into consideration?
Or is this just a flash in the pan idea that really wouldn't work within the confines of the manufacturing complex of today's bike industry? Let us know thoughts in your comments below...