Easily one of the most fun aspects of the Eurobike show is getting the opportunity to see all of the exotic and whacky products from European companies that we often don’t hear of so much over here in the UK. Some are particularly whacky, and then some are much more exotic than others.
Take Bike Ahead for example. Bike Ahead is a boutique German company that manufacturers superlight carbon wheelsets and carbon rims. You may recognise Bike Ahead’s complete wheels, as they’re basically a rip-off of those radical Skyway Tuff wheels we used to ride on our BMX’s in the 80’s. Using a full carbon construction, the Bike Ahead version is just a little bit higher end than the old plastic Tuff wheels. In addition to their distinctive six-spoke wheelsets, Bike Ahead also manufacturers rims on their own, and during Eurobike 2016, they had some seriously lightweight numbers to show off.
Located outside Wurzburg in Germany, Bike Ahead has been manufacturing high-tech composite components since 2010. They’re a typically German company, with a very high attention to detail and a focus on engineering precision. These guys love numbers. You may have seen some of Bike Ahead’s products before, as they’re the creator of those crazy six-spoke carbon wheels. They make various versions for road, cyclocross and mountain biking. Bike Ahead offer several versions of its unique complete carbon wheelset that vary in width and intention. The lightest wheelset, called the AC One, is labelled as such because it hits the 1kg mark in a 27.5in diameter. That is ridiculously lightweight for a mountain bike wheelset! Not everyone is into the radical six-spoke wheel design however, and while Bike Ahead believe it offers incredible strength and stiffness than a conventional wheel, they also produce standalone rims to build more ‘conventional’ wheels. Their latest option has the creative model name of “THE rim XC29”. As you can probably tell, it’s designed for XC racing, features a 24mm internal rim width and comes in a 29in diameter. It has a claimed weight of just 293 grams, which is astonishingly light. With the Rio Olympics having only been held just weeks earlier, plenty of companies had their sponsored riders race bikes on display. In the case of Bike Ahead, they had Mathias Fluckiger’s exotic Stockli full suspension bike propped up in their booth, which features a custom wheelset built with Bike Ahead’s THE rim XC29 rims. THE rim XC29’s feature a tubeless compatible rim profile, though unlike Bike Ahead’s heavier trail version, these rims do use a hook in the sidewall. The reason? It’s lighter. By machining in a hook into the rim sidewall, you’re actually removing weight from the rim, and it’s part of the reason why these carbon rims break through the 300-gram barrier. THE rim XC29’s feature a 3k external carbon weave, they’re drilled for 32 spokes, and they’re only currently available in a 29in diameter. Now, if you actually want to get your hands on a pair, you’ll have to go through Tune to buy a complete wheelset, because Bike Ahead don’t sell the rims on their own. Chances are that it requires some skill to build up such lightweight rims, and so Bike Ahead handballs that over to their fellow German counterparts, who offer THE rim XC29 as part of their ‘Black Burner Skyline’ wheelset. Yes, it really DID go to the Olympics! Congratulations to Mathias for a top-10 finish on the challenging Rio cross-country racecourse. Hey, we love maths as much as the next guy does, but putting it on your top tube? This bike has travelled more of the globe than we have – lucky thing! Now that is how you make a stiff chainstay. All prototype-y and special too. So back to rims. In addition to the XC rim, Bike Ahead is also producing ‘THE rim Trail29’ (someone really needs to help them with their names hey?). It’s also carbon, and it’s also 100% made in Germany. However, with more carbon packed in, it’s a wider and stronger rim designed for trail riding. Compared to the 24mm internal rim width on THE rim XC29 rims, the trail version steps up to a 28mm internal rim width, and claimed weight grows to 349 grams. That’s still damn light for a trail rim, and especially one that can comfortably be run with tyres up to 2.4in wide. It also features a tubeless design, but the sidewalls are hookless. Bike Ahead do this to increase overall strength and impact protection. Bike Ahead also produce an All Mountain version of their six-spoke carbon wheels if you want something truly unique. Available in 26/27.5/29in diameters with a 23mm internal rim width, though if you want wider, checkout their Biturbo RS wheels with a 27mm internal rim width. While we haven’t ridden a pair of Bike Ahead’s six-spoke wheels ourselves, word on the street these are some of the stiffest and strongest wheels out there, and looking at those beefy hollow carbon spokes and massive carbon hub shells, we’d be inclined to believe it. Bike Ahead also had another exotic carbon full suspension bike on display at their booth, though we didn’t catch the name. Do you recognise what it is? More room for logs and sticks to go through? Or perhaps the windmill affect provides you with extra propulsion? The hubs on Bike Ahead’s complete wheels use a modular design that allows them to be converted between quick release, thru-axle, BOOST, RS-1 and even Lefty configurations – all with a simple change of end caps and such. How cool is that?