It’s a Rad world

Sometimes bumpy rides are the most fun

The first physical object I ever lusted after was a BMX bicycle. I wanted a Mongoose with a rotor and pegs. At the same time, my adolescent stirrings lent to an early crush on Lori Loughlin, though might have been only due to her proximity to the aforementioned bike in the movie Rad

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCRmn-WMDUE

Even at that time, the title was far from critically descriptive, yet I was young enough to think otherwise. Come Christmas, Santa decided I was better suited for a far less expensive Schwinn “Predator” than a Mongoose, and it arrived in all its Technicolor splendor.

Original Schwinn ‘Predator’ Advertisement

Colors aside, it was able to provide just as many bleeding knees as the Mongoose would have. I rode that bike through puddles, corn fields, and improvised mud tracks all the way to High School. By college, however, I had to leave the Predator behind along with the accompanying attire choices.

I’m not a gear head. The rubber hits the road mostly with the soles of my shoes. I cherish how NYC public transportation absolves me the responsibility of arriving safely after a few glasses of whiskey. Consequently, when another round of bike culture came along with nicer bike choices but equally absurd (facial) hairstyles, I was rather far afield of hipster culture.

Our founder Carl, however, remained fully immersed in modern bike culture. His 64cm Surly Long Haul Trucker Frame with a Sturmey Archer 3-speed hub and hand-built Velocity Deep V-Wheels proves it.

I endured years of Carl trumpeting the call “Rob, you should get a bike,” and my response was always “eh … the subway might be faster.” I finally cracked early in my 11th summer living in New York. Bloomberg had taken up all of this pavement for bike lanes, so maybe there was something Rad about the city on wheels.

After a summer of getting around with my very own road bike, I rediscovered my love for the forms and shapes contained in bikes. While shopping for my first bike in 25 years, I was amazed at variety of proportions, shapes, and connections offered across bike types. I realized the frames might be fertile ground for new products.

Roll On

We started with elegant road bike frames, scaled for a tall fellow like Carl. We modeled a scale replica of a lovely Milica’s Track bike from Icarus Frames in Austin and cranked up our Formlabs 1+ to see what would come out.

We planned to hang the necklace through the head tube, but even in a 2.5” long version of the frame, the proportions were such that the tube kept collapsing during the “green state” of the build. To get the right hole size to accommodate a chain, the head tube had to be so thick that it made the frame look top-heavy.

Not so Rad. We realized that the whole thing should be a little smaller, so we made a 2” version with only the suggestion of holes in the head tube. Sketch, model, print.

The plastic print broke almost immediately. We were not able to test how it would hang on a chain, but we still were able to feel a bit more confident on the proportions and how the polygons read. We ordered a metal version hoping to test the product further. When our little frame arrived, we were bummed to discover that while much stronger than the plastic version, the rear triangles were so flexible that when the print arrived, the rear axle mounts were already virtually touching!

We needed to increase the structural integrity of the rear triangles. We first added bridges between the rear stays, but then the metal just bent in different places.

This was far closer to what Bob Ross would have called a “happy accident” than a mistake, but we didn’t yet know how to fix it without changing the form we’d grown to love. While debating the problem one random night, Carl grumbled, “a bike doesn’t work without an axle.”

Duh…he was right. That was it. While not technically just a frame anymore, even a full sized bike’s rear stays were vulnerable to compression without that rear axle. We quickly added an axle to the frame. With that small upgrade, all of our prints finally were solid across all finishes.

Inadvertently, the necklace also now hung perfectly on our chains. The axle provides a striking vertical orientation for the piece as well as a bit of authenticity as the chain now wraps around the same geometry that makes your tricks possible.

The Final Spin

The cast metal frames looked absolutely stunning in both bronze and silver. In printed steel, the tiny cylinder posts show the exact print lines in a tight radius. We now had a wonderful road bike frame, but we did not want to neglect those with a more modern eye. I thought back to the bike store and the new carbon frames. I picked a few reference frames and modeled a more sensuous curved carbon fiber form.

We’re not sure that the steel reads that much better in the “carbon” version, but it gains an organic abstraction in any material that the road frame lacks.

Perhaps one speaks to your childhood or your present more directly than the other, and our design journey to the two forms is far less important than yours.

My current bike looks a lot like the road bike version. The proportions of the carbon fiber frame spark fond memories of my old Predator. Over the years, I’ve realized biking is about more than transport. Whichever frame you choose, we hope this little token keeps you feeling as Rad as this…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9EoHdRVepGE

The Bike Frame Necklace & Carbon Fiber Necklace are available in Polished Bronze and Polished Silver at www.gothamsmith.com


Rob is the resident mad scientist at GothamSmith LTD. He tackles the most complex problems and molds them into beautiful products for all to enjoy.