After months of waiting and peeking at small teaser pictures the Superco DH bike is finally here. Doc and Terry have given Dirt the exclusive first glimpse of the new machine. We think it looks pretty sweet.
We asked the Doc (the man who built it) a few questions about the bike. Read on below.
Dirt: As you can probably have guessed I’m going to have to start off by comparing it to your previous creations at Brooklyn, after all there’s no doubting it’s very similar in design. So, first of all did you know all along that you wanted to produce something similar, or did you ever consider going for a completely different design?
Superco: Initially we were going to go with something completely different, primarily for brand identity reasons and a desire to try some new ideas.
Design work was started in that direction but in between companies I had made a one off that was based on the old Race Link but with some significant refinements. This bike was light and worked really well and led to more ideas on how to make it better. So ultimately we decided to
fully refine this concept first before taking a new direction.
There are obviously a few visible differences like the positioning of the shock, the linkage design, and the pivot looks a bit higher, but can you tell us the reason behind these differences?
These developmental differences are there mainly to significantly lower the centre of gravity and stiffen the middle of the bike to give it better snap out of corners. They also allow for much lighter construction and better handling of the stresses on the system. The new linkage layout and pivot placement has an improved shock curve with a softer beginning, excellent bottom out resistance, and better pedalling performance.
What other differences are there that aren’t so visible at first inspection, and again what’s the reason for them?
I can’t go into the full details at this time but all the parts have been or are being refined for lighter weight, simplicity, better serviceability, and ease of manufacturing (which will reduce costs and lead times). The pivot and jackshaft design is completely new.
Is the geometry pretty similar to the Race Link?
No. That bike is going on 7 years old. Our new bike has more modern geometry with a much slacker head angle, much lower BB, shorter rear, and a longer front.
Has your big geographical move played any part in you feeling the need for any of these changes, i.e. do you now have different kinds of trails on your doorstep which require different qualities?
The updates to the new bike are a natural progression to making a better performing, lighter bike that will handle all trail types better. That being said, the trails here in Utah are indeed different from those back east. They tend to require much more pedalling and have a lot more tractionless dusty turns. A light bike that turns on a dime works best.
These traits are major influences on our new design. Prior to moving out here the overwhelming majority of my DH experience was limited to the techy gnar of the East Coast in the U.S. It’s been a pleasure to experience these different trail styles. Just as being exposed to different types of riding makes for a better bike rider, it also makes a better bike designer. The new bike is light, pedals even better, turns quick, and still has the plush big hit capable free floating suspension that made its ancestors so popular back east.
Yes, by a mile! The new frame is many pounds lighter at 9.8 pounds with the shock, Ti spring, rear axle and floating brake mount.Were you ever tempted to use aluminium?
Somewhat for this bike, only because the semi perimeter front end of the frame has some complex tube junction and clearance issues. It would be easier to deal with this in aluminium where the complexities could be handled by CNC machined parts instead of tubes. But having worked with the Supertherm 4130 tubeset for a while now on our hardtails and other prototypes, I knew this material is ideal for DH use and could produce a lightweight super strong frame. This material has 3 to 5 times the tensile strength of aluminium and almost twice that of standard 4130, and a vastly superior fatigue life. It’s light weight with butted wall thicknesses and is air hardening which means the heated zone around the welds actually increases in strength after welding. I don’t think this frame could be any lighter in aluminium without risking long term structural integrity.What do you consider this bike to be? A DH race bike?
I suppose it’s a race bike only because of the slack head angle and super low BB. The suspension is both super plush and can handle giant hits without bottoming harshly, so it could be used for anything really.
The frame construction can handle big hucks as well as racing, so there’s no limit there.
The rider who wants excellent performance and reliability. And someone
for whom “small builder American made” is important.
We’re going to rigorously test the prototypes for the next several months, likely including many trips to Bootleg Canyon in Nevada which is a brutal place. We’re aiming for availability in summer 2009.Are there likely to be many changes between this prototype and the final production version?
There are a few refinements to the drive components that are not completed yet. These will remove more weight and add simplicity. We have a few versions of the front end that differ in the way the shock tunnel is constructed. We will be testing the performance of these in the upcoming months. The bike pictured has the heaviest setup so any change to production will lose even more weight.Any idea how much is it likely to cost?
Not yet. We’d love to say it’s going to be cheap, but that’s not likely as they are made by one guy in small numbers with American made tubing, laser cutting and machining.Have you got any ideas for a name?
A few, but final selection is still to come.Anything else you’d like to add about the bike?
This bike has had far more development time than any other I have made and I want to thank everyone for being patient while they waited for its release.
9 inch rising rate travel from 9.5” x 3” shock
True Temper Supertherm double butted 4130 tubing
Frame weight: 9.8 pounds with Avalanche 9.5 x 3 shock, 450 lb Ti spring, rear axle, floating brake mount
Complete bike weight as pictured: 38.1 pounds
Head angle: 63.5 deg
BB height: 13.5 inch
Chainstay: 16.5 inch
Wheelbase: 46.2 inch
Fast and nimble: yes
Bottomless travel: yes
Pedal bob: none
Brake jack: none
Exclusive Superco downhill photos of the new bike from Doc and Terry