The Badash 29er
A Renovo MTB...
So ok, two years ago, as the founder of Renovo and chief designer, I was saying a wood mtb was probably a bad idea, feeling that wood wouldn't be tough enough for the falls and pounding a mtb endures. So how'd we get to this you ask? Well, testing instead of 'feeling'. But the testing wasn't to prove wood could work as a mtb, it was just the natural course of events in Renovoland, which over time revealed we had the makings of a fine mtb, among other things...
I should point out we're conservative in design, and we need to see evidence and numbers, which is why we rely on testing instead of hope or 'feeling'; it not only gives us a better understanding of what we're already doing, it often leads us in new directions as it reveals things we didn't know or just weren't paying attention to.
So, some time ago when we tested our road frames for impact resistance, we were pleased at how well they held up. Curious, we tested against butted frame tubes of aluminum, steel and titanium and were surprised that our frames, particularly hickory, withstood impact much better than the metal tubes. I confess we were a little smug about that, but failed to pick up on the implication that our frames would likely survive a fall onto rocks better than the other frame materials. Later testing showed our frames to be brutally strong; our lightest road frame failed at 2002 pounds, one ton, or twelve times the weight of the average rider. Putting 2 and 2 together (after a while), I finally recognized we probably had the makings of a seriously tough mountain frame. I may be slow, but I'm not stupid.
We argued about configuration for a bit but quickly settled on a 29er and went to work. When it was completed, we immediately sent it off with some hammerheads, eager to see if we had done good, saving the engineering testing for later. All ride performance reports came back glowing, with two test riders who owned full suspension bikes not wanting to go back to their own bikes, and two Renovo owners who rode it and ordered before we had finished testing.
I do have one failure to report. On a steep descent in the rocks, one 200 lb test rider wedged the front wheel and endoed. The bike went over the top and slammed down hard on the rocks below. The only damage was the drive side chainstay which took most of the force of the fall, hitting a rock between the dropout and the bottom bracket, and splitting, but not breaking. The gouge from the rock is visible in the picture to the left. The rider with his broken helmet and the others who saw it, said the fall was serious, and believed a frame of carbon would have been broken, and any metal frame bent. But the stay was only partially split, so our guy rode the bike 12 miles back to camp. 'Tough as hickory' is more than just a phrase. . Back at the shop, we made a nearly invisible repair by bonding the split with epoxy. It went out for more test riding, with no apparent effect. Obviously, other materials would be difficult, expensive or impossible to repair. We load tested the repaired frame below.
Comparison Impact Testing, Bike Frame Materials
The butted metal tubes are: Easton 7005 Aluminum down tube, Dedaccia steel top tube and a titanium top tube. The wood is a top tube section of oak. Clearly the thick wall and fibrous structure of wood is a benefit. The impact is a 4" dia. steel pipe weighing 8 lbs. at point of impact, dropped from 12 inches. The thing to remember here is dents in metal propagate cracks, a dent in wood is just a dent, does not initiate a crack.
So our final test of the 5.5 pound frame was the load test. The frame did it's job, supporting the weight of my Volvo station wagon, or 3008 pounds from the bottom bracket for nearly 10 minutes before failing at the head tube, not the repaired stay. There were no other areas of failure. So finally, we had proved to ourselves and our test riders that our 29er frame is remarkably stiff, smooth, tough and strong, so instead of bad idea, they called it Badash, nevermind it's made of hickory.
It's a X/C frame that's remarkably smooth riding because it combines the benefits of wood and the 29” wheel, with up to a 2.1 tire. Front end stiffness gives it incredible handling on fast singletrack descents, and it climbs like a rocket. It's light enough to offer outstanding performance, but heavy enough to offer outstanding toughness. Wood!
The frame accepts SRAM XX, X9 and Shimano XT, with internal cable routing. Complete builds are available at any level.
Frame Only, $2550
(reduced from $2950 as part of the Appalachian Series)
Please note, production frames have a walnut center stripe, and dropouts are natural aluminum.
|mm or degrees|
|Head Tube Angle||70||71||71|
|Seat Tube Angle||72.4||72.4||72.4|
|Head Tube Length||100||110||110|
|Seat Tube, actual||400||435||474.5|
|Stand Over Height||713||749||793|