SHRED THE SYSTEM
Words by Chili Dog
Photos by Chili Dog, Micheal Darter & Justin vanAlstyne
Guerrilla Gravity is a small brand with big goals. While most USA manufactured aluminum bike brands are happy in their niche market, the Colorado company decided to take a massive risk, setting their eyes on a seemingly impossible paradox in cycling: affordable American-made carbon bikes. To stick their finger in the industry’s eye even deeper, they created a modular bike platform where riders are able to buy one front triangle and mate it to anything from a short travel 29er rear end or a long travel 27.5 rear end. When we got the email from GG owner, Will Montague and marketing guro Big Bobby Brown we didn’t believe it either. The metal heads from Guerrilla Gravity invited us to Burnet, Texas to ride the new chassis at a brand new bike park. Luring us in with the promise of good brisket and new bikes, GG didn’t have to work very hard at getting us to pack our bags.
While it may seem impossibly odd to have a bike launch in the pancake flat state of Texas, it’s actually a rather fitting location considering the implausibility of affordable U.S. carbon bikes. Why not launch the seemingly impossible in a place that is seemingly unfit for mountain biking?
After a quick stop at Salt Lick BBQ for some of the best brisket of my life, we continued on the hour and a half drive to Burnet, setting our sights for the final destination of Spider Mountain Bike Park. Just an hour and a half from Austin, it’s a lift accessed bike park that offered the perfect home base and testing grounds for the new bikes.
Affordable U.S. Carbon
GG’s goal to produce a carbon bike in house goes back three years. While most companies turn to Asia for carbon manufacturing, they wanted to prove the viability of U.S. based manufacturing and materials sourcing. It wasn’t a simple task, causing them to arrive on an entirely new material and production process after a long and exhaustive search.
Borrowed from the aerospace and the high end automotive race world, the carbon material chosen had never been used in a hollow tube shape before. Materials engineer and mad scientist Ben Bosworth joined GG to make the idea a reality, and together they arrived on a new carbon material, dubbed Revved. Short for revolutionized, the material offers a completely fresh take on both carbon resin and long fiber technology. Not to mention a new carbon manufacturing process. Traditionally a carbon frame takes between 24-40 hours to hand lay and produce. When you’re building in Asia, that’s an acceptable number, but when you’re a small company in the U.S. looking to make an affordable bike, those numbers just won’t cut it.
Guerrilla Gravity’s solution was to reinvent the production process with completely proprietary technology and machinery. They machined and created their own tooling and production equipment in house. While the team was tight lipped on their proprietary automated layup machine, they did show off their “Frame Maker 3,000,” which super heats and cools the frames in record time.
Unlike traditional carbon resin, Revved isn’t limited by its chemical reaction time. Instead GG is able to simply heat it up as fast as possible to the target temp, and cool it down as fast as possible. Because the resin they use is incredibly heat resilient, the process takes a fraction of the time, and gives GG the ability to powder coat their frames for a more durable finish. Traditional carbon has to be painted as it can’t withstand the heat of the powder coat baking process.
Remember that 24-40 hour time frame most manufacturers need to make a frame? A Guerrilla Gravity frame takes only eight hours from start to finish. The materials are also safe for handling, and the frames are easily recyclable. In fact, Guerrilla Gravity will re-use the extra trimmings and leftovers from the manufacturing process in their new frame production. The best part? Bike prices have only gone up $200 from last year and have remained almost unchanged from two years ago.
The rear ends of the bikes will remain aluminum, since GG decided the weight savings was negligible and would only add to consumer costs. Simply put, there’s less to be gained in a carbon rear end. The rear triangles are updated for 2019 however, and are pushed 3mm to the drive side for additional tire clearance and to center the wheel between the hub flanges.