A sporty bike should be light and naked. There should not be too many add-on parts that increase the weight, get caught in the branches during cross-country tours or interfere with the aerodynamics on the road. For these reasons alone, classic pannier racks are taboo on road and mountain bikes. But where to put the stuff that even hobby racers need during the tour? Energy bars, tools, a spare inner tube – into the bike, there's still space! Manufacturers are discovering the hollow spaces.
Solutions for gravel bikes
In the boom segment of gravel bikes, the frame has to carry a lot of luggage as well. Many cyclists use these bikes with race bars and wider grooved tyres, which also cope well on gravel, for day tours and weekend trips. In times of pandemic, this is probably often a break from the Corona routine. Almost every tube on the bike is provided with mounting points. Not only classic drinking bottles can be attached to them, but also small bags, bike locks or tools. The first Focus gravel bike has 15 mounting points for bags and packs on the frame and the fork – and even mounting points for mudguards and racks to make the bike suitable for everyday use.
“The trend keeps us busy,” says Dirk Zedler, Managing Director of Zedler–Instituts für Fahrradtechnik und -Sicherheit in Ludwigsburg. Many manufacturers have their latest developments tested for durability and safety. The fact that they now cut recesses in the frame or drill holes is something he observes closely. Basically, every hole or cut-out in the frame weakens the material, says Zedler. The frame loses stiffness and durability. “This has to be compensated for in a constructive way.” His experience shows that this is not always easy for the developers: “We haven't had a manufacturer yet who couldn't get it right, but some come to the test lab more often until everything holds properly.”
According to Zedler, compensating for holes in aluminium or steel, on the other hand, requires more elaborate craftsmanship. And in the end, the frames weigh more. Carbon also allows compensation for large recesses without much effort by applying material elsewhere. “With carbon, the weight disadvantage is vanishingly small,” says Zedler.
New place for light
Test engineer Zedler, a passionate cyclist himself, sees a great demand for the solutions in view of the current cycling trend. “I welcome the integration. People are going out, going cycling, that's one reason why manufacturers are rethinking.” Tools disappearing in the stem, the pedal crank or other places like the handlebars is not entirely new. But the storage compartments in the frame tube have a current background: According to Zedler, manufacturers are benefiting from the know-how they have gained in integrating e-bike batteries into the frame tubes and would start working on new solutions: “I still expect a lot from the industry.” Cables, hoses or sensors and SIM cards have already disappeared in the frame. Zedler sees potential above all for the lighting: Because LED technology requires little installation space, it could be “integrated in a wonderful way”. First manufacturers, such as Bianchi, installing front and rear lights in the frame of their all-rounder model E-Omnia, have already started to do so.
Read the entire article here.
Author: Stefan Weißenborn