Sweet-looking Psalm 150 MTB frame is made of machined aluminum
For the efficient mass-production of mountain bikes, welded aluminum frames make a lot of sense. The Psalm 150 full-suspension frame is designed with a different philosophy in mind, however, as it's made of bonded sections of CNC-machined solid aluminum.
Currently available for preorder, the US$5,000(!) Psalm 150 was designed by Washington-state-based builder Chris Currie. Among other things, he previously founded custom-built bike company Speedgoat.com, and was in charge of branding for Stan's No Tubes. He now runs his own startup, Ministry Cycles.
Putting it simply, the front triangle of the Psalm 150 is made of two hollow CNC-machined pieces of 7075 aluminum that get pressed together to interlock with one another, forming a thin seam that runs laterally down the center of the frame.
They're bonded together utilizing an aerospace-grade adhesive, with lap joints and areas of 360-degree bonding used to keep them secured and perfectly aligned. The rear swingarm is likewise made of two machined pieces of the same type of aluminum, joined to one another via a bolted and bonded bridge.
As you can see, the finished product is much nicer-looking than traditional aluminum frames, with their big ugly welds. That said, aesthetics aren't the main reason for Currie's distinctive production technique.
"The basic frame fabrication method is optimized for small-batch, limited-edition production, and the freedom to explore a wide range of new ideas in niche markets," he told us. "The production method is also designed to decentralize production, and anticipate a future where the supply chain looks very different."
He added that the Psalm 150 was designed primarily for durability and suspension performance in all-around trail conditions, and that its weight is similar to that of a similar welded-aluminum frame. More specifically, it weighs 8.4 lb (3.8 kg) and can reportedly be built up into a complete bike that tips the scales at around 34.5 lb (15.6 kg).
The Psalm 150 frame is being offered with the buyer's choice of a Fox Float X2, DHX2, RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate RC2T or Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate rear shock, providing 150 mm of travel – hence the "150" in the name. It's designed for use with 29-inch wheels and a 160-mm fork.
Currie is initially doing a limited run of 20 frames, which are only available in a Medium/Large size. They should reach buyers no later than May 1st. Plans call for other sizes to be offered in subsequent production runs.
And while we know where the number comes from in the frame's name, what about the word "Psalm"?
"My goal is to make bicycles that blend technology and craftsmanship, precision and soul," Currie states on his company's website. "Most of all, it's about creating something special that people want to own forever. Bicycles are my religion, and that's my mission."
We should add that although the Psalm 150 definitely is unconventional, it's not the first "solid" aluminum frame we've seen.
The Frace F160 is made of eight milled aluminum sections that are fastened together via titanium screws, and the frame of Alutech's CNC eFanes electric mountain bike is made of two aluminum halves that get welded together. Additionally, in a process more like that used by Ministry Cycles, Pole Bicycles manufactures frames made of milled-aluminum halves that are bonded to one another.