No matter what they're made from, most bicycle frames take the form of multiple tubes that are joined together at the ends. It's a tried and trusted design, but according to Dutch designing brothers Bob and Tom Schiller, it's difficult to fully automate. As a result, bike companies tend to get their frames built overseas, in countries where the labor is cheap. In an effort to change that, the Schillers have created the Mokumono bike.
Instead of tubes, the main part of the Mokumono's frame is made from two sheets of 7000-grade aluminum. In an automated setting, these are pressed into shape, each one forming one side of the frame. The two formed sheets are subsequently laser-welded together down the middle, forming one monocoque unit – it's a process more commonly seen in the automobile-manufacturing industry.
While the technique does leave a raised seam all the way along the middle of the bike, it's incorporated into the design. The head tube, bottom bracket shell and dropouts aren't part of the monocoque, allowing for them to be changed in the future without having to alter the rest of the frame.
Besides its unique looks, some of the Mokumono's other features include a Gates Carbon belt drive, Shimano 105 hydraulic disc brakes, a Brooks Cambium C17 saddle, and puncture-resistant Continental Grand Prix 4season 32-mm tires.The bike is being offered as a ~9.5-kg (21-lb) singlespeed, or an ~11-kg (24-lb) 8-speed utilizing a Shimano Alfine hub transmission.
Bob and Tom have now turned to Kickstarter, to finance production of the bike. A pledge of €1,150 (about US$1,307) will currently get you a singlespeed, with €1,400 ($1,591) fetching an 8-speed – if all goes according to plans.