Almost Genius: A Beautiful Bike Frame That Requires Less Metal

A super-elegant solution to overbuilt bike engineering.

There's a good reason that the Victor Bike, designed by Christophe Robillard, looks so funky: The various bends allow it to use less metal, and less welds. Ergo, the bike frame is green, in a way.

Usually, bikes have two metal tubes ("seat stays") running from the top of the seat tube to the hub; and another two metal pipes ("chain stays") running from the hub to the bottom of the seat tube. But that basic design is a relic of industrial manufacturing capabilities of the mid-20th century. We do a lot more with metal these days, and that's what Robillard did, using steel that was bent at an angle, so that the frame is made of less metal (since both the chain stay and seat stay are simple extensions of the frame).

Robillard also lavished attention on an integrated reflector for the front, and a gorgeously curved fender for the back, with another integrated reflector:

The frame's only downfall is the seat tube—the hollow pipe where the seat-post is fitted to the frame:

Compare that design to something more traditional. The Victor has no traditional seat tube, that means you can't adjust the seat height very much—and that means that the bike has to come in myriad sizes, or be custom made and fitted every time someone wants one. You could drill a hole in the frame, allowing a seat post that could travel up and down—but that would undermine all of the open, airy beauty of the frame. A tough problem to solve.*

*Check in the comments for a smart solution by reader Paul!

[Via DesignBoom]

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  • Mail

    Nice simplistic frame. From a design perspective very awesome.
    I don't think this frame is using "less material" that other bikes.
    Less tubes, yes, but not less material.
    A Frame like this would brake with standard bike tubing.
    Whats the Weight of this frame?

  • Bryan Meshke

    Oh sure it looks cool but it's hard to improve on the strength and rigidity of a traditional twin-diamond frame. Less metal? How? How much are those tubes overbuilt to compensate? The lack of seatpost adjustment is a big fail.

  • ridwander

    A well-constructed telescopic seat tube would solve the problem of stocking myriads of sizes.

  • Evan

    The seat tube would only need to be long enough to support the minimum insertion of a seatpost. Cutting a seatpost to the right lengh is incredibly simple and the amount of adjustment between different saddles in pretty minimal. Essential it would be a replaceable seat mast. You would still have to make different sizes to have the right handling characteristics for different size riders. A sloping toptube with a longer exposed post would give better standover and a set back or adjustable clamp post would allow better back front adjustment. Imagine a lefty hub on the front?!

  • Cliff Kuang

    @Paul--OTOH, an integrated seat tube would have to give way at some point. Unless there's some sort of seat post, think how many frame sizes a shop would have to stock! But a system of custom seat tubes is a great idea.

  • Cliff Kuang

    @Paul---Good point--that would probably suffice. Though the frame geometry might suffer and you'd probably need a lot of custom seat posts--there would need to be a lot more different lengths of seat post than you usually find through most manufacturers

  • Darrell Armstrong

    I bet that's the whippiest piece of crap that's ever been passed off as a bike frame. It probably makes the old Vitus frame look like a modern track bike. Say you stood up and sprinted for a yellow light - and your a real cyclist and have some sprint capability - that pseudo frame would probably turn into a pretzel.

  • paul guertin

    Seat tubes come in a variety of lengths. No need to re-engineer the simple frame design.