The latest project we’ve spotted from the Germans is this stunning Frace F160, a bike that’s been milled entirely from a block of aluminum. The technique isn’t new, after all who can forget Cannondale’s wild Pong V4000 prototype that graced the cover of pretty much every mag going in 1994, or Pole’s construction technique, which uses two separate milled sections glued together.
Bernd Iwanow, the engineer behind this bike, does things a bit differently though. Unlike Pole’s design, this is one solid construction, and there’s no mistaking this bike for anything other than a completely milled frame thanks to the latticework of holes on every tube.
This was Bernd’s first bike project but he has been milling CNC parts for the automotive industry since 2006 though his company CNC Future Technic. He was approached by a local bike manufacturer 2 years ago for a small project and enjoyed it so much that he decided to go all in and build his own bike. As he already had the machines, it seemed like the obvious choice to go with that technique for this project.
The bike starts life as a 70kg slab of 7075 aluminum that quickly gets turned into the mainframe. It may sound like this leaves a lot of waste but the off cut material then gets used for other parts. In total, 8 individual segments are machined and then connected using titanium screws to form the final bike. 7075 aluminum is not weldable so it’s not a material we often see on bikes, but Bernd says it is incredibly stiff, which allows him to take so much material out of the frame. Despite this, it’s not super light and the pictured build apparently tips the scales at 16.3kg (37lb).
Frame Material 7075 aluminium
Wheel size 27.5″
Travel front: 160mm
Travel rear: 160mm
Head angle: 65.5 degrees
Seat angle: 76 degrees
Reach: 455 mm
Chainstay: 440 mm
Weight: 16.8kg (37lb)
Torture testing is the final step
This is Bernd’s first bike project and it has taken two years to come to completion. As he isn’t himself a mountain biker and doesn’t come from a bike design background he found the geometry and kinematics the most difficult parts to work out, especially of the chainstay Horst Pivot. He began working it out in CAD and it took him several weeks of working with his test pilot, Frederik Tobiasch, and five versions of the bike to get to the current configuration but says it is now the part of the bike he is most happy with.
Test rider, Frederik Tobiasch, helped provide invaluable feedback to dial in the Horst Link system
Frace will be initially limiting production to 30 per year with a frame costing €5,000, the bike will be available from August 1. Keep an eye out for more from Frace in the future with an eFrace already being planned and developed.