Bicycles

Automation makes local bike production dream a reality

The first edition Mokumono Delta bike has already sold out, but the second batch should be ready for shipping in July, 2018
The first edition Mokumono Delta bike has already sold out, but the second batch should be ready for shipping in July, 2018
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Brothers Bob and Tom Schiller with the Delta bike and the locally-produced Mokumono frame
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Brothers Bob and Tom Schiller with the Delta bike and the locally-produced Mokumono frame
Mokumono Cycles looked at the automotive industry for inspiration, developing an automated bike frame production line to help reduce costs
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Mokumono Cycles looked at the automotive industry for inspiration, developing an automated bike frame production line to help reduce costs
The first production Mokumono bike frames rolled off the automated production line in April 2018
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The first production Mokumono bike frames rolled off the automated production line in April 2018
The Mokumono Delta's frame is made up of two sheet aluminum halves laser welded together
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The Mokumono Delta's frame is made up of two sheet aluminum halves laser welded together
The first edition Mokumono Delta bike has already sold out, but the second batch should be ready for shipping in July, 2018
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The first edition Mokumono Delta bike has already sold out, but the second batch should be ready for shipping in July, 2018
The striking frame of the Mokumono Delta
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The striking frame of the Mokumono Delta
Cables are routed through the Mokumono frame to keep the aesthetic clean and to protect them from the elements
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Cables are routed through the Mokumono frame to keep the aesthetic clean and to protect them from the elements
The Mokumono Delta features a quiet and clean Gates Carbon Drive
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The Mokumono Delta features a quiet and clean Gates Carbon Drive
The frame production process for Mokumono frames is automated, using robots
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The frame production process for Mokumono frames is automated, using robots
The aluminum laser-welded frame of the Mokumono Delta features floating rear stays designed for a comfortable, smooth ride
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The aluminum laser-welded frame of the Mokumono Delta features floating rear stays designed for a comfortable, smooth ride

Amsterdam's Mokumono Cycles reckons that 97 percent of bicycles assembled in Europe actually use frames manufactured outside the EU. Brothers Bob and Tom Schiller are looking to bring back local production – to safeguard Europe-based manufacturing and to put a stop to the "unnecessary and extremely wasteful" shipment of millions of frames across the globe. Taking lessons from the auto industry, the twins decided to try and reinvent the way a bike frame is produced. And the first model is rolling off the production line.

To make local production more competitive, the Schiller brothers looked into reducing the high cost of manual labor. Instead of hydroforming the tubes to shape the frame, hand welding components and relieving heat stress, the frame production process for Mokumono frames is automated, using robots just like in automotive manufacture.

Mokumono Cycles looked at the automotive industry for inspiration, developing an automated bike frame production line to help reduce costs
Mokumono Cycles looked at the automotive industry for inspiration, developing an automated bike frame production line to help reduce costs

"A Mokumono frame starts out as two flats sheets of aluminum, which are pressed into a mold to form the two frames halves," Tom Schiller told us. "The halves are then, together with the bottom bracket, head tube, and seat post, laser welded together to form the frame. The whole process can be automated and is therefore extremely suitable for production in Europe." The resulting monocoque is described as strong and lightweight and completely made in the Netherlands.

Mokumono hit Kickstarter back in 2016 to raise production funds and is now ready to unleash its first model, the Delta commuter. That aluminum laser-welded frame features floating rear stays designed for a comfortable, smooth ride, and cables are routed through the frame to keep the aesthetic clean and to protect them from the elements.

The Delta has aluminum and carbon forks, a Shimano Alfine Hollowtech crank, Gates Carbon Belt Drive system, hydraulic disk brakes, and a Shimano eight or 11 speed Alfine hub or fixie setup is available. Elsewhere, a Satori Chaser bars with Brooks grips, a Brooks Cambium saddle and Ryde Dutch19 rims with Continental tires complete the picture.

The frame production process for Mokumono frames is automated, using robots
The frame production process for Mokumono frames is automated, using robots

"We pre-sold 62 bicycle via Kickstarter in May 2016 to gather the funds to start the development of our first frame," revealed Tom. "Now just over 2 years later we are almost ready to start shipping the bicycles to the Kickstarter backers. Next week the frames will through painting and we can start building them up and start delivery."

The next edition Delta is on sale now for €1,690 (US$1,990) and is due to ship next month.

"We really see Mokumono as a proof-of-concept for the production process we developed, which in the next few years will become our main focus to develop and market further," Tom told New Atlas. "We're already in advanced talks with other European bicycle brands to develop and produce a frame for them. The main advantage of our production process is that we can bring the production time down from 6-7 months, which is the norm for frame production in Asia, to just 30 days. The second advantage is that with our production process, because you start out with a flat sheet, your form freedom is almost endless while with standard bicycle frame production you are pretty much limited to using round tubes."

Source: Mokumono Cycles via 3D Hubs

9 comments
Paul Stregevsky
Is the construction really monocoque? Typically, that means that loads are transferred from channels to an external skin. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monocoque
Paul Anthony
At $2,000 a better have a damned kickstand
Daishi
This is an interesting concept. Everyone treats automation like a swear word but really manufacturing jobs were already shipped to China because of the cost of labor years ago. If more people would stop approaching the situation like Luddites they would see automation as an opportunity to manufacture locally.
Lardo
"...completely made in the Netherlands"... by robots. Meaning the locally produced products do very little for the Netherland labor force. And at a price that few Netherlanders can afford. But hey, I'm sure the Schiller boys will make-out just fine.
steveraxx
No thanks! I will keep all of my handbuilt bike frames. You know from a time when quality and craftsmen built things.
Kpar
A very clever and innovative design, but, Lardo, you have hit upon the rather peculiar tone of the article. Besides, ideas travel faster (and more economically) than products...
S Michael
US$1,990... No thanks, we will make our own her in the U.S.A. for a lot less money and it will look, feel and be better.
rude.dawg
Imagine a future where every household manufactured its own bikes, produced its own electricity, grew its own fruits & veggies, created its own lab meat...
Martin Hone
But only the frame is made 'locally' - everything else is still imported. Can't see it lasting...
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