MSA MFG and Guapa Cycles launched its bamboo and flax composite bicycle – Urban One – at the 2014 Composites Engineering Show.
Guapa Cycles was founded in 2013 in a small workshop in England with the hugely challenging goal of producing the world’s most highly engineered wooden composite bicycle. Its company philosophy is “Natural Evolution”, seeking a different path in product development - utilising new natural materials, modern manufacturing technologies, and integrated modular design to create a product which brings about a stronger connection with nature and performs better than what currently exists. Guapa states its bicycle frames are comprised mainly of a bamboo and flax composite
Over the past year, Guapa has been working closely with MSA MFG in the manufacturability of its 4-axis machined parts, working together to get the prototype pre-production Urban One frames off the ground.
The partners say they now have four very competent pre-production bicycles, one of which has been tested completely through ISO and EN standards testing in Germany. The tested frame survived a two-week extensive testing programme; pushing it through hundreds of thousands of repetitive loading during fatigue tests and ultimate impacts tests. It should be noted that these tests were carried out with one frame and no failure; usually the testing house expects to break an aluminum or carbon frame during the testing period, proving the strength, construction and potential of this naturally fused bicycle design.
The companies state that using the natural properties of wood complimented by flax creates a very unique riding experience. In comparison to steel or aluminum frames Urban One is seemingly vibration-less yet equally as stiff, agile and responsive. The bicycle is unlike any other ride before, the new materials and construction creates its own segment of frame classification within the bicycle industry.
Guapa mentions that Urban One boasts the first fully integrated frame bumper protection, incorporating ABS into the frame sidewall to prevent dents whilst leaning your bicycle up against a railing. In addition a specialist finishing post process creates a strong barrier to water ingress and UV light to protect the frame.
The components compliment the premium materials & design; using the highest quality aluminum CNC parts, Titanium head tube and bottom bracket, Brooks Cambium saddle and grips, Nuvinci continuously variable transmission coupled with Gates Belt Drive culminates in a highly desirable bicycle that will stand out in any city.
After weeks of testing different laminates, flax suppliers, wet lay up, pre-preg, cure times, resin types, resin ratios, molding pressure and temperatures it was possible to determine a flax laminate that for our desired requirements out-performed carbon or glass fibre.