Road to NAHBS 2012 – Bicycle Fabrications

Prototype Candyman

Photo credit: Lorenzo Cirelli

Every year, coverage of NAHBS provides bicycle enthusiasts with an insight into the world of beautiful hand crafted frames and bicycles. The vast majority of which are some variation on the road/track/cyclocross/ or cargo design. The guys at Bicycle Fabrications, located in San Francisco, create something completely different. In a sphere dominated by lugged frames and custom wooden racks, Hank Matheson creates bikes meant to rail berms, pop lips, and float over the nastiest downhill descents.

The frame designs may not be traditional, and their suspension platforms may raise eyebrows, but they’re built to shred. Spend one day choking in Hanks dusty wake as he tests one of his prototype rigs, and you’ll understand my enthusiasm for his booth at NAHBS.

BikeRumor: What have you been working on since NAHBS last year?

This past year at Bicycle Fabrications we’ve been working on several different suspension bikes to meet different market segment needs. We’re currently working on a top secret bike which will utilize a revolutionary suspension design created by John Heim, our resident engineer. I can’t leak too many details because we’re still in the patent stages…

Left: Custom 24' Hardtrail. Right: Prototype Candyman Linkage

BikeRumor: Any killer custom builds?

 Yes, but unfortunately, they aren’t available to the public.

Over the past year we’ve been focusing on the future and perfecting our next generation of frames. The last 6 months have been dedicated to building and tweaking a new prototype DH bike, built specifically for John Heim, which we call the 7 up. This frame incorporates two mechanical interfaces to allow the axle to move vertically, and horizontally, independently of each other.

The original SWD racing downhill bike

Technically, we began walking down this path nearly two years ago. At that time, the mainstay of our lineup was the SWD racing bike. This was (and is) a great bike, but the main disadvantage was its weight. In order to drop weight, I set about redesigning and testing a lighter swing arm, and in the process my riding style changed. As I became more comfortable and aggressive on the bike, leaning way over the front to initiate turns, I decided I wanted to play with different pivot locations.

This particular Candyman features both titanium and carbon morsels.

With the Candy man, I’ve pulled the pivot back 3’, and changed the tube set. This bike is nearly 2 lbs (without shock) lighter than our previous DH bike. My dream, once our new prototype is ready for production, is to drop the frame weight to about 6-7 lbs, without shock, by using stainless steel. This should also increase the rigidity of the frame by three fold.

No CNC machining was involved in the construction of the linkage componenets.

BikeRumor: Did you see anything last year that’s inspired you?

Last year, I saw a lot of amazing bikes, but the bike that really attracted my attention was a track frame created by Shin Ichi Konno. I was very impressed by his level of craftsmanship.

The first batch of Pocket Rocket front ends.

BikeRumor: Can you give us a teaser of what you’re bringing to NAHBS 2012?

This year at NAHBS I’ll be focusing on a new 4″ travel bike called the Pocket Rocket. I wanted to develop a slopestyle bike which had the traction and cornering abilities of a suspension design, but didn’t compromise the gate start ability of a hardtail. We eventually settled on a unified rear triangle (URT) suspension, although along the way, we considered a myriad of options, including a softail. The URT platform, which has fallen out of favor with major manufactures in recent years, provides amazing power transfer and has efficient peddling characteristics. This is because the bottom bracket is placed inside the swing arm. As a result of the bb placement, there is no chain growth, and you can run this frame as a single speed without the use of a chain tensioner.

We’re really proud of this little bike. It’s an extremely versatile frame, constructed entirely of 4130 chromoly, and weighs roughly 7.5 lbs with shock (that’s nearly ¾ lb less than the Black Market Killswitch).

BikeRumor: If you had to race all the other builders, who would you want to inch out for the win right at the line?

Without a doubt, I’d want to beat Doc from Super Co in a down hill race!

Personally, I'd like to see Hank race Doc on this behemoth!


8 thoughts on “Road to NAHBS 2012 – Bicycle Fabrications

  1. I think it is beautiful, in an industrial way. also it’s great to see a small builder going outside the box with their own take on something as overhyped as DH bike suspension design. I’d love a ride on one and count me as a fan of Bicycle Fabrications.

  2. I can’t wait for wrapper to be pulled off the Candyman! Hank is one hellava artist with a welder and steel in his hands. I’ve riden the pocket rocket and it totally kicks ass… nothing fugly with the engineering here bro, “mountguitars” can stick to meandering around the daisy fields on that XC…

  3. The Pocket Rocket looks like a fun bike. To get a URT like that to pedal well you need a fair bit of low speed compression damping but it should work great for its intended usage.

    If I had to guess about the hidden system on the top secret bike I’d guess it’s an eccentric pivot within an eccentric or at least an eccentric pivot attached to a short link.

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