Now do it Properly!

You hear a fair bit of old school reminiscing online. You know: That today's frames are too light, top tubes too low, spokes too few. But it's always struck me as backward - like you want your riding to progress, your life to progress and the world to progress, but for your bike to stay the same? It's kind of like your grandfather complaining that the internet is ruining the world and stubbornly writing letters to anyone that'll listen. That horse has bolted.

Heat treated frames, butted tubing, low top tubes, small drive trains, 36 spoke wheels ,small bb's, integrated headsets, cnc'd bridges, micro dropouts, 14 oz cassettes, offset machining, slammed pivotals and integrated seat clamps - There are loads of companies pushing design and new technology to make bikes lighter and easier to handle. Big stuff is still getting thrown down and they're not blowing up left, right and centre.

Anyway, if you still really want a 35 lb bike, 48 spoke wheels, a 44 tooth sprocket and a big padded seat, just go out and treat yourself to a Diamondback Joker - they're cheap too.

Out with the old and in with the new I say.

Proper Bike Co
have been around for a few years now. They don't have a massive range of parts, but it's all designed in-house and they've got their own style going - kind of plain, no frills, but with a tech machined look that doesn't go overboard. And lots of colour of course to feed the machine.

They've also got a team of new school high flyers like Mike Miller and Max Wood who know how to tuck and spin their way round just about anything and I'm sure ain't complaining that their set ups are too light.

Proper's hubs in particular are crazy light. They've got a 369 gram (13 oz) rear cassette that's available with regular or female axle set up. I think it was the original version of this hub that had some problems with the bearings in the driver, but they've solved that by using a ceramic bushing instead. Which, correct me if I'm wrong, I think is a first for bmx. You know that I know that you know what a bushing is, but in case you don't - it's basically just a porous cylinder that's impregnated with a lubricant and so offers a smooth bearing surface. There's more friction than when using ball bearings, but no moving parts and for this reason Proper are saying that for this application it all but eliminates the possibility of failure.

They've got just one frame at the moment, the TTL which is Miller's sig frame and another street prototype on the way. The TTL weighs in at a respectable 4 lbs 7 oz and features most of the details of a modern all purpose frame that seem to get those internet lurkers fired up - butted tubing, removable brake mounts, integrated seat clamp, some cut outs here and there. But if you check this Miller clip out you'll see that there doesn't seems to be any problems with a quick three down a ten set - maybe it's just that he's got about 5kg less jeans than he would have had riding in the 90s.

Their most recent product release is the Microlite stem, which is a particularly nice bit of kit. It's machined out of 6061 t6 aluminium, has a 52mm reach and weighs in at 249 grams (8.8 oz). A range of little details contribute to an original, light weight take on a classic six bolt stem without having it looking like a space ship. I'll let Dave Lombard from Proper do the talking. This is lifted from an ESPN interview with him:
I think it would be a stretch to say that this stem is particularly unique. We tried all sort of unique ideas with pistons and ultimately decided that unique doesn't always equate to better. We ended up with a traditional 6 bolt front load stem with 52mm reach and all the features we liked. It's smaller than most stems, so we increased the clamping area a little with virtually no additional weight. There is a vertical shaft down the centre. We've seen a lot of stems with horizontal shafts in a similar area but we found the vertical option to be stronger. It has a recessed area around the fork compression bolt that allows the top cap to fit flush with all modern forks. It's much lighter than most stems without looking (or being) particularly crazy.
So there you go - Proper Bike Co - Not reinventing the wheel, but keeping it rolling.

...and BMXtec - Keeping closing sentences corny.


Guest said...

What worries me about lots of these new light stems is that they have switched from the 8mm bolts to the 6mm ones like you get in a metal bar-end or to hold your brake arms on

jeff said...

True. I hadn't actually picked up on that. Although they've had their team testing the stem and they're not lightweights.
It's hard to guess, but it you'd think that if all bolts are tightened... ahem... properly, there shouldn't be a problem. Even then the chances of two bolts failing together seems unlikely.

Time will tell. If there's no problems you'll probably see everyone doing it. It'd be interesting to see a strength comparison against hollow bolts. If they are of similar strength it'd def be a cheaper option than drilling out bolts.

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