"Frame number one didn’t quite last"
Pro bike check with Danny MacAskill and his bespoke carbon fibre trials bike frame from Santa Cruz. A pretty bike with a cool backstory.
“Danny wanted us to make him a carbon trials bike. I had no idea what kind of journey that was going to be, but it sounded like there’d be a whole lot of new stuff to learn working on a project like this so I just said yes, and used it as an opportunity to take our in-house R&D facility to the next level.” – Nic McCrae, Santa Cruz composites engineer.
“We had always wanted to try making a frame using latex bladders. Santa Cruz carbon fiber frame manufacturing starts with an expanded polystyrene (EPS) mandrel wrapped in a nylon bladder. Carbon fiber plies are then wrapped around the bladder/mandrel combo according to the layup schedule, and the bladder is inflated once the frame is inside the tool. For the Danny Bike, we opted to use a latex bladder technique molded to the inside shape of the frame—eliminating the wasted polystyrene and bladder.”
“We had a frame, we had a spare frame and we had some parts. It was time to go to Scotland. I wanted to hand-deliver the frame to Danny. It was the single most expensive thing Santa Cruz has ever made so I needed to handcuff it to my wrist the whole way. Well, that’s not exactly true, but I did want to see first hand just exactly what Danny might do to it.”
Well, Danny broke it.
Danny: “There’s a spot in Glasgow with a series of brutal concrete blocks. It’s where I initially went with the Reserve wheels for some impact testing. Frame number one didn’t quite last like the wheels though and after about a half an hour I’d managed to make a crack in the narrow part of the chainstays.”
Thankfully Nic had packed his carbon fibre repair kit: prepreg carbon sheets, shrink wrap and a heat gun. Nic reinforced the area in need with more carbon and cured it in… a kitchen oven.
He took the freshly baked results to Danny in the morning and the testing continued. Same spot, no more breaks. 5 star rating.
The orange bike pictured here is actually a fresh version of that prototype with beefier stays.