The 2015 North American Handmade Bicycle Show may have just wrapped up, but that doesn't mean we're no longer hearing about interesting small-batch bikes. Belgian industrial designer Tobias Knockaert recently told us about his stainless steel Erembald bike, that he's producing along with partner Karel Vincke. In order to keep prices down, its frame is cut by lasers and put together like a puzzle.
Every Erembald is made-to-order for a specific client, with its non-adjustable seatpost and handlebar stem made to fit them – their name is also laser-etched onto the frame.
All of the tubes are likewise laser-cut to size for the individual buyer, and include interlocking bits on each end. Once all the tubes have been cut, this feature allows them to be attached to one another by hand. They're subsequently also welded together, although the interlocking feature allows the frame to be assembled for welding without the need for a jig to hold everything in place.
In order to showcase their laser-cutting technology, Knockaert and Vincke also cut a series of cellular-structure-inspired designs out of each tube. This does decrease the strength of the steel, which is why they've compensated by using thicker-than-normal tubing.
After four months of road testing in Belgium, six prototype Erembalds reportedly showed no signs of frame failure. Additionally, lab tests indicated that the frames were 1.5 times stiffer than a similar carbon fiber race frame. They're not particularly light, though – a complete bike weighs 12 kg (26.5 lb).
Via their company eleventwentyseven, Tobias and Karel are now offering a limited run of 50 single-speed Erembalds priced at €1,600 (about US$1,700) for a complete bike. Down the road, however, they hope to establish a cost- and production-time-effective system in which clients can enter their measurements and preferences on the company website, after which point a custom bike will automatically be laser-cut and assembled for them.
The build process is illustrated in the video below.
For another approach to economically manufacturing bespoke bicycles, check out what Circa Cycles is doing.