They say poachers make the best gamekeepers, so you could probably extend that idiom to bike manufacturing, especially where it comes to UK startup Atherton Bikes.
Atherton Bikes are run by siblings Rachael, Gee and Dan Atherton, and between them they have countless accolades in the field of mountain biking…as competitors, with each sibling holding world championship titles in the field.
For a while now, they have been turning that competitive energy into the world of entrepreneurism, and had secured funding from YYY of Dragon’s Den (UK equivalent of Shark Tank) to help grow their bike company.
Their futuristic lightweight design features carbon fiber tubing connected with 3D printed titanium lugs, for a strong and lightweight structure.
After a period of development and manufacturing, Atherton Bikes are about to start delivery of their eagerly awaited product.
And in a recent video from Rachael Atherton’s YouTube channel, we get a close up look at the 3D printed titanium components as they arrive from Renishaw.
So why bother with 3D printing these things in the first place?
Because the Atherton Bikes are highly bespoke, and because the lugs are custom manufactured to the customer’s size.
When purchasing a bike from Atherton Bikes, customers are asked to provide their personal specs, such as height, arm span, leg measurements and so on. Their mysterious algorithm will then offer two options to the customer: a stock size that matches their body, or a custom option with millimetre level customization.
That algorithm somehow gets transformed into a CAD file (maybe they are using some kind of parametric-driven 3D model) and it is sent to Renishaw, to complete the prints.
For all the lugs on a single bike, it takes approximately 16 hours to print on a quad-laser RenAM 500Q system. The parts are then heat treated to remove any stresses from the part, and then cut from the build plate. The parts are then sent for machining to add bearing seats and threads. After some QA, the parts and sent for finishing where they are shot blasted.
That’s the end of the fabrication journey for the titanium lugs. They are then sent to Atherton Bikes for assembly.
So there you have it. Lightweight, strong, low production volume and high levels of customization.
Another perfect fit for 3D printing.
You can go and order one of the first batch of Atherton Bikes over at their website.
Image credit: Atherton Bikes