TLW: What are your personal thoughts on the overall weight of a bike?
DS: I think it’s important and definitely a major consideration in the construction of a design, but I do think that it should stay in the place of second fiddle to product reliability.
Longevity of product also includes considerations in relation to sustainability and safety. We saw in our industry an average of 2 carbon frames made to every 1 carbon frame sold from Asia-made bicycle companies, all competing in the weight-race to get an Enduro complete bike under the 29lbs mark. Failure rates on frames were through the roof, people were bikeless waiting for new frames to come through and contention and irritation became a staple interaction between the consumer and Bike Shops who play the mediator.
TLW: In your opinion, does the weight of a trail bike matter?
DS: Yes, but it should not be the single defining factor. I believe Pedal efficiency (light ride feel) can be gained through tight tolerances in the assembly and in the kinematic layout of the design.
TLW: What about an enduro bike?
DS: The same principles expressed in the above question apply across all bicycle frame design.
TLW: When you are designing and then spec’ing your bikes for sale, how important is weight versus reliability? Do you think that ratio has changed in the last five years?
DS: Personally, when spec’ing a bike, I feel that the smartest place to save weight is a good wheel set, as the wheel is at the end of the lever, so Extra weight and poor rolling resistance is instantly noticeable in the maneuverability of the bike.
TLW: Is weight reduction likely for your future bikes?
DS: We are now offering carbon rear end with titanium fronts on our FS (full suspension) frames, this has drastically shed weight off our FS products but without any compromise in relation to strength, in fact the product is stronger! However, the compromise has to fall somewhere and so in the trifecta between price strength and durability it is the price aspect that bears the brunt.
TLW: What’s the biggest factor limiting your ability to reduce weight?
DS: The value of which the market is willing to pay for a product and preconceived cultural expectations in relation to materials.
Although carbon for front triangles can reduce weight dramatically when focused on unidirectional forces such as horizontal and lateral, the real-world application for MTB frames exposes the frame to multiplicity of different forces, and torsional stresses and heavy impacts! Thinning out carbon frames to drastically take out weight makes them prone to damage in real-world scenarios but makes the frame extremely light. However, as I said before the failure rate when used in real world application is extremely high and so now the material has gone back into the frames to stop fracturing and now Carbon bikes are back up in weight.
On our switch9er Titanium FS we’ve spent an absolute fortune on R&D and we’re trying our best to meet the customer at a price point they’re happy with. The direct to the consumer business model helps this as there is no distribution company and no shop to count in on the margin.
This means that you can pay more for the research and design and development of your products and the overall cost of your products. Our switch9er Ti Carbon is a very light product and extremely durable! The use of titanium for the front triangle means that we can create lifetime products. Dents scratches even cracks can be repaired very simply.
TLW: What would be your advice for someone who wants to ride longer miles and big climbs but doesn’t want to ride a 36lb bike? Should they go down in travel to a shorter travel bike to save weight? Buy a frame and build it to their needs? Or just quit whining and get stronger?
DS: Personally, I think you should buy a Switch9er FS Titanium as my complete bike comes in at 31 Lbs with an EXT coil shock and EXT forks. Titanium in my opinion is a wonder material, it has an extremely high elasticity which drastically reduces Trail buzz, it’s also epically strong and hardens on impact. It’s also easy to repair and looks brand-new after a rub with scotch bright. We went with Carbon for the rear and added extra layers of Twill (multi directional) to its design to make the back end super stiff and super strong in all directions.