CEN safety regulations and the demise of the steel hardtail?

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  • CEN safety regulations and the demise of the steel hardtail?
  • IanMunro
    Member

    Had an interesting conversation recently with a bike manufacturer who was saying that they were experiencing difficulty gettting conventional steel frames certified to the new european standards. Allegedly part of the test is stiffness which ali frames pass with flying colours but nice steel twangy frames fail.
    Anyone got any further information on this or the ramifications if true?

    thepodge
    Member

    i seem to remember Brant saying the new Tweak frames passed just fine. i guess it depends on the design.

    Premier Icon miketually
    Subscriber

    i seem to remember Brant saying the new Tweak frames passed just fine. i guess it depends on the design.

    But it is a burly, much-heaviness frame. I doubt that my 95 Kona would have ever passed.

    brant
    Member

    our new frame just rocked through standard with some slight but subtle modifications that I’ve been hilariously open about.
    Mods added perhaps 1/4lb to frame weight. But it’s actually come out better (skinnier top tube diameter so better ride)

    Either that or I’m a genius. Scared the crap out of me, but passed now and happy.

    brant
    Member

    5.6lb for an 18in isn’t too bad I think. And it rides ace.

    Premier Icon househusband
    Subscriber

    5.6lb for an 18in isn’t too bad…

    So it’s more of a BFe than a Soul – if you’ll forgive the comparison?

    brant
    Member

    So it’s more of a BFe than a Soul – if you’ll forgive the comparison?

    Flattered by the comparison. Particularly as mine will be £275 or less. All being well.

    Yes – it’s a hard hitting hardtail. Now having got this one out of the way, working on a couple of other steel frames too – probably a “rigid only” model – which we should be able to go very light on, using the same principles we did in this frame, but with a shorter fork providing much less leverage over the frame meaning we can use less metal to keep things in one piece.
    Also working on a shorter suspension forked, slightly steeper geometry model too. With lighter parts thoughout.

    thepodge
    Member

    thats gonna be quite some range

    Im doing this at the moment for brants old firm was called in to do the maths…

    heres a problem that has been caused by a bit of non forward thinking
    originally bikes had short forks and the test was relatvely simple to pass because of low cycles and low stresses

    couple in the multiplication in force due to modern fork length increases and expectations and somewhere the loads got bigger and no one really paid the blindest bit of notice?!!! in reality…till the CEN test and industry compliance date got closer and closer

    There are two choices you make its easy enough to make a frame that will pass the test under 4.75 – 5lbs but it costs money and a bit of cleverness to do it.This doesn’t really go in the direction of the customer a steel frame that costs the same as a carbon hardtail….hmmm

    The other way is just throw material at the problem It depends which side of the engineering fence you sit on and a shedload of other minor but important bike designing considerations

    Carbon frames are easier to get to pass the tests at a relatively light weight and for a fair few years I have been watching the old wives tales propagate about carbon and its pretty funny

    The 456 was the tough nut in the range its simpler just to remove a steel frame and replace it with a carbon equivalent

    Premier Icon cy
    Subscriber

    You’re gonna see a lot of divergence on what people do to meet the standard. Although there’s a lot of stuff I don’t like about the standard, it’s too late to change anything now before we have to be legally compliant. Personally, I decided some time last year that I wouldn’t let this destroy what the Soul is, so I’m working with Reynolds on a custom tubeset I’ve designed which should result in pegging the weight of the Soul at it’s current level-ish and certainly maintaining the ace ride quality. I’ve got some keeerrrrazeee ideas to work through once it is compliant to the regs, but they’re all a way down the line yet.

    Yeah its just like F1 only cheaper ………..lol

    Premier Icon househusband
    Subscriber

    This is, genuinely, why I think this forum is so novel; two (three?) British bicycle designers ‘talking shop’!

    tang
    Member

    custom tubeset? so when i at sometime need a new soul frame it wont have the nice 853 sticker?

    Premier Icon househusband
    Subscriber

    so when i at sometime need a new soul frame it wont have the nice 853 sticker?

    It’ll have an ‘853’ sticker on it, but it’ll be the price rather than the tubeset! 😉

    desf
    Member

    Will the front end of the ‘new’ Soul be officially tough enough for a Pike?

    Premier Icon miketually
    Subscriber

    working on a couple of other steel frames too – probably a “rigid only” model – which we should be able to go very light on, using the same principles we did in this frame, but with a shorter fork providing much less leverage over the frame meaning we can use less metal to keep things in one piece.

    I’d be very interested in seeing that! I’m relatively light (75kg) and slow/jey so most MTB frames are probably massively overbuilt for me – riding Mavic MA3 rims on my Solitude with no problems at all.

    CountZero
    Member

    Start panic buying and stocking up on steel h/tail frames now, before the EU bans them. I for one don’t want a recycled beer can to ride on. Seriously though, I really hope this won’t be the demise of the steel h/t, I just prefer the quality of ride/cost ratio. Forget carbon, and Ti is really out of the picture price wise, ally just feels dead, but a £250 steel frame is right on the mark for me. If Brant does a steel Ragley 29er I might seriously think about selling my Remedy and having a shed full of hardtails. (Three at the mo’, plus the Rem 66).

    IanMunro
    Member

    What’s the legal aspects on CEN compliance? Presumably custom frame builders aren’t going to test each frame, so does that make the frames illegal to sell, or does it only apply above a certain volume?

    Theres a basic get out of jail free card right at the very beginning which states CEN members… and also bicycles for racing are different

    en14781 covers “racing bicycles” and it doesn’t really say la la land either

    it was more to cover your halfords specials with cheese for bearings etc

    the custom builder just needs to test one frame and once it passes he could stick the next one together with brass nails obviously a reputable builder wouldn’t use brass nails but he has the paper to prove it passed and doesn’t have to say he changed the method of construction …you see im cynical its supposed to bring in an element of QC ……lol

    I used to spend a lot of time over on frameforum and to be honest custom builders are a law unto themselves theres a great deal of debate as to what makes a custom builder the time served builders or the newbies who have done about a month of building but with no materials engineering knowledge whatsoever are quite happy to flog you their second frame (they even mess with carbon fibre which is like playing with fire) and from some of the things you see they are dangerous

    theres a limited feeling the standard was brought in to up the cost of frames by needing enhanced or improved material and engineering (if you have ever cut open a frame to find fibreglass instead of carbon as a material filler in a carbon frame this is understandable

    but one of the engineering facts is the frames are failing , that longer fork increases the magnitude of force being pushed into the frame and the fatigue test cycles have been increased so its a pretty sure fire that the tried and tested tubeset from 10 years ago wont take the brunt from an engineers point of view its just a problem we need to solve…. a fun project

    To sum it up basically you can sell a frame that doesn’t pass sell millions of them if you want but if you knowingly sell it in europe in a CEN member country and just 1 guy has an accident the personal injustry lawyers will tear you a very new shiny arsehole to go along with the leg you dont have to stand on

    if it passes a pretty tough test with flying colours then the next one off the production line fails it doesnt matter it passed the test once so its safe the fact that it was a fluke doesnt matter you have a pretty solid defence as long as you didn’t change the specs the buck gets passed to mr wu who in reality wouldn’t give a flying **** what the french say anyhow …but from our point of view our arse is covered

    in a positive sense all the buying folks can have a bit of confidence that if its a quality company the frames are consistent …its a damn good product and i think that goes for most peoples reputations mentioned above

    and of course it means no more cheap chinese imports

    Im hoping you will start to see mixed material frames a while ago i did a steel rear end with a very stiff carbon front …costs lots = people dont like

    Premier Icon epicyclo
    Subscriber

    How long do we have before this comes in?

    just in time for christmas

    sq225917
    Member

    So we can’t have the bikes we actually want because some lawyers for you arsehole will help some idiot who pancaked his downtbe claim against a company for using a bike that was meant for kids.

    Great…

    Score another great move for the EU.

    Premier Icon jim the saint
    Subscriber

    Hmmm, IF CEN testing means the demise of steel hardtails then they need to re-evaluate the testing standards as there are obviously lots of good, strong steel hardtails already available that there is nothing wrong with. On the other hand though I’m all for a standard of testing that frames have to be subjected to before they are made available to the public.

    I bought one of the first type geared Inbreds from Brant. The frames down tube and top tube had the same diameter and wall thickness. The front end crumpled when the front wheel got stuck in a rut. After a 20 mile walk home I called On-One and they said that they would sell me a new frame at half the price of a new one which I thought was a good deal. When the new frame turned up it was a mkII geared Inbred which although the frames geometry, intended fork travel and intended use was identical to the original the down tube had now increased in size. Obviously this increase in the down tube size made the frame weigh slightly more but it did increase front end stiffness and importantly strength. Now I obviously don’t know how many ‘original’ geared Inbred frames front ends crumpled, or whether the re-design of the down tube was down to product development or rectifying a fault with the original. What I do know though is that the original Inbred frame would not pass CEN testing and therefore would never have been sold. So if CEN testing would have meant that I wouldn’t have had do a 20 mile walk with blood gushing out my face and then had hand over £80 to get my bike fixed then I’m all for it.

    juan
    Member

    So basically the steel frames are going to weight like steel frames, and be as hard as a AL frame 🙁

    No point in buying a stell HT anymore then.

    brant
    Member

    be as hard as a AL frame

    Nope. My new Blue Pig is lovely and springy, CEN test passed (one frame, all four tests) and rides great.

    16mm rear stays and 32mm top tube keeps it lively.

    For companies/brands who sell frames which don’t break very often, this testing is another unnecessary cost and admin burden. Im in the process of sorting the tests out with my frame builders/agent but I’m confident they’ll pass because of the very low number of production dialled bikes frames that have ever broken (i.e. Only 7 frames in over 6 years of trading: 2 x Prince Albert Mk1, 2 x Morning Glory, 2 x Holeshot, 1 x Technique).

    I suppose once the frames have passed the tests I’ll be able to join the club and exercise bragging rights that the frames are tough and people can depend on them. But most people know that anyway.

    brant
    Member

    All the best Mike – let’s keep the steel hardtail alive in the face of the Eurococks.

    From my experience, problems seem to occur when people either try to:-
    1) Make things very very light.
    2) Do stupid things with gussets/tubes.

    As your designs don’t do either, I can’t see you have too many problems.

    I’ve just read through the standard and it all seems fairly sensible.

    1200N 600N Push Pull load on the front fork for the horizontal fatigue test seems a bit weird, is this the one frames are failing?

    “the steering head angle be not more than 75° and not less than 65° in relation to the ground line”

    made me laugh is there a separate standard for choppers?

    mogrim
    Member

    So they’ve brought in a set of tests that stop people building frames which are either stupidly light, or stupidly built – in what way does that make them “eurococks”?

    brant
    Member

    1200N 600N Push Pull load on the front fork for the horizontal fatigue test seems a bit weird, is this the one frames are failing?

    Yeah. As Mike Davis said somewhere the other day – “Huh? Testing for big flat landings rather than riding into trees?”

    brant
    Member

    – in what way does that make them “eurococks”?

    Perhaps I was a bit harsh 🙂

    But when frames that have been working perfectly well fail a test by a considerable margin, it seems a shame.

    Still – it’s made frame designing a LOT more interesting in the last few months 🙂

    Everybody has had to raise their game, and I think, in the end the consumer will benefit.

    clubber
    Member

    The tests themselves probably are questionable (ie tests are not necessarily exactly the right ones to actually ensure that frames really do the job they’re meant for) but as brant’s alluded to, what it does mean is that frame builders will need to be a lot more knowledgeable about materials/design/manufacturing techniques if they still want to design frames that aren’t simply massively overbuilt and that in itself is a good thing.

    brant
    Member

    OK – Case in point. One of the tests, I heard of a DH rated headset failing – cracking – under the load.
    The frame survived.

    When was the last time you cracked a (NEW) headset?

    mogrim
    Member

    Out of interest, what kind of industry consultation was there before setting the standard?

    brant
    Member

    Out of interest, what kind of industry consultation was there before setting the standard?

    Cy knows quite a lot about that. He’ll be along in a minute.

    Premier Icon legspin
    Subscriber

    If i was to buy a Canadian frame from Canada I assume it wouldn’t need to conform to this standard? Will people like Rocky Mountain alter their frame to suit our standars or just stop selling them in europe?

    Maybe they confused mountain bikes with trials bikes, with that sort of strength in the front end you could front wheel hop to your hearts content.

    mogrim
    Member

    with that sort of strength in the front end you could front wheel hop to your hearts content.

    In fact it’s only been fear of the front end failing that has stopped me up to now 🙄

    😆 the good thing is that people are at least aware of the CEN est and if it passes they are buying a good product

    hopefully the increase in weight isnt going to be a moaning point alterntely if it passes the CEN and weighs nowt and the cost doubles hopefully it will still be a moaning point but people will still give away their free money.

    The standard does not apply to specialised bicycles bicycles designed for severe environments or competition events

    there you go downhill and competition bikes set yourselves free

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