Product Development: Honey Race Bike

January 2, 2013

in Bike Design, Honey Bikes

Honey has had a Race Day bike line for about a year now.  However, I had an epiphany last week.  The Honey Race bike is a classics race bike – meaning designed for 6-hour races where a tricky balance of performance, stiffness, comfort, durability, and handling require nearly equal shares.  The epiphany was that Honey has been missing out on some of the funnest kind of racing:  criteriums, circuit races, and the majority of US road races.  These races love bike stiffness, durability, tight handling, and light weight.  All day comfort is not relevant.

What's in a name - One is in Honey

Project Name:  Final 200 Meters.  That is what this bike is all about – the race’s final 200 meters, and of course, getting you to that point, fast.  The mission of this purebred race bike is to get you through the final meters of the sprint – faster and more surefootedly than anyone else.  This is a no apology race only bike.

The directives for this project include some conflicting goals – that’s my kind of project:

  • Lighter than carbon bikes at the same price-point.  We’re talking complete bike, obviously not the frame alone.
  • Drivetrain stiffness that exceeds the stiffest carbon bikes
  • Handling optimized for tight, shoulder-to-shoulder criterium racing
  • Vertical compliance equal to that of Honey’s Day Ride bike
  • SRAM Rival bike price of $3,500 – with real wheels that are performance oriented.  No $150 set of wheels on these Honeys.

Here are a few photos of the first two prototypes being built.

In order to meet the weight and stiffness targets – definitely an impossible challenge – we started with a brand new tubeset.  Most of the tubing we’re butting and modifying ourselves.  Of course, for each Honey frame size we choose an appropriate tubeset – every size has it’s own set.  Here are some of the tube details for a 55 cm top tube 200 Meters:

  • 1.00″ chainstay diameter.  We’re designing these from scratch.  No one is making a 1-even stay like we’re looking for.  The diameter, for a given wall thickness, provides a chainstay that’s about 250% stiffer – in torsion and bending – than a standard steel road chainstay.  We’re also butting this tube so it’ll end up at about the same weight as a classic tapered stay but it’ll still be about 200% stiffer; I think that’ll be about enough.  There are couple bikes in the world that rock the 1-even.  The two that come to mind are Pegoretti’s Big Leg Emma and Speedvagon‘s track bikes – but not their road bikes.  Our approach to dropout mating is a bit different, and deals with heal clearance issues.
  • 1.5″ down tube.  The trick here is to save weight; increasing from a 1.25″ to a 1.5″ tube – while maintaining the same wall thickness – adds about 20% more weight.  So, we’re thinning out the butted sections a bit.  And we’ll end up with a tube that’s about 200% stiffer than a contemporary steel road down tube.  We’re working with an overly thin section and very short butts.  We’re doing some mod-work on the down tube, too.  Very much not stock or standard.
  • 44 mm head tube diameter.  We’re designing a special Honey tube for this.  We haven’t found the right tapered fork mate.  Since this is likely to be the heaviest tube in the bike – if we don’t design it ourselves – we’re taking this part very seriously.  Of course, this large size, combined with the fork steerer will create a overly stiff front end; that’s where the top tube design plays an important role – as well as the fork choice.
  • 0.50″ seat stays.  Very small diameter and very thin wall.  The chainstays are all the work to transfer energy from pedals to rear tire contact patch.  The seat stays are helping maintain some vertical compliance – this actually improves bike handling, too.
  • Seat tube:  this tube is also a bit unusual.  We’re working with a 1.375″ tube; larger diameter than typical   We’re doing this to stiffen up the drivetrain to the nth degree.  We’re also expending the seat tube; this is not an integrated seat post design.  It’s a bit of a cross between integrated and classic.  We’re also incorporating a carbon sleeve to fit an oversized seat post.  Super light and very stiff.
  • Top tube:  this is about the most ‘normal’ tube in the entire frameset – aside from the bottom bracket.  For the top tube we want to ensure some vertical compliance while maintaining great front end torsional stiffness.

This bike will ride like no other steel bike.  This is a 100% Final 200 Meter Project.

We’ve got a database of carbon bike deflection information so we know the target and I believe we’re going to meet or exceed each of the design directives.

Collaborators:  Patria Lanfranchi, Dan Vaillancourt, and Staci Sommers.

The graphics and colorways for the Final 200 Meters is a break from the classic understated Honey look.  Get ready for a memorable bike that may just get into your psyche.

Project timeline in reverse:

January 17  |  Honey race deflection tests wrapped up today.  Confirmed that these frames are VERY stiff.  Hit the target for frame stiffness.  It’s always nice when the math on paper works out in the real world.  Now for the riding of the Honeys.  For some reason we have a good queue of interested test riders.

January 14  |  Honey “Final 200 Meters” Race bike number One is finally in paint.  Photos after the fold.  Staci and Jordan are both working on it.  The new Race Scheme requires eight layers of primer-color-clear.  It’s a more complicated scheme than anything Honey has done in the past.  I think it’ll be worthwhile though.  Staci and I worked on the scheme design and colorways.  Hoping to assemble the bike on Thursday.

January 10  |  The first two production framesets are just about complete.  Agonizing over the colorways right now.  Everything else is ready to go.   The RSC Team will be riding these first designs by next weekend.  Posted a few photos.

January 7  |  Worked on final details of the tube geometries.  Frame geometries just about completed.  Twelve sizes of stock bike to fit riders from about 4′ 10″ to 6′ 9″.  Also worked on complete bike kits and pricing.  It looks like we’ll come in right on target.  More tomorrow.

January 4, 2013  |  I’ve run the numbers on stiffness, ride characteristics  and durability.  It’s a tricky balance of weight reduction without tempting the beer can effect demons.   Sourcing raw materials today.  Will start machining next week; by the end of the process we’ll end up with more metal weight on the ground than in the frame; most of the material we’re buying will turn into metal shavings.

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