The new samples are here. Are they right? Will the Slacker finally be ready to go into production?
It's two years to the day since we launched The Slacker Project. What we said back then was "small bike brands don't normally do stuff like this. It's bold, risky and it might not work. But if it does, it might just be the best thing we ever do". Two years, three lockdowns, a whole lot of blood, sweat and tears later and here we are with the final samples. But are they ready? And are they good enough for us to finally go all-in on production?
Let's have a look.
We had planned to have these samples powder coated so they would look like production frames. But even the paint supplier is way behind at the moment and we didn't want to wait. So these are still raw, unfinished alloy.
As planned, we've redesigned the drive-side dropout to the new SRAM UDH (Universal Derailleur Hanger) standard. It's a significant departure from our removable, integrated dropout & hanger. But there will be significant performance gains from UDH as well as cheaper, more readily available hangers. Note the clean integration of our own CNC axle into the UDH dropout.
The new non-drive side dropout, chainstay pivot and brake mount. This is a major deign revision from the previous removable dropout and represents a big step forward. It's lighter, cleaner and much more refined. The brake mount is designed for a 200mm rotor.
You can see the work that's gone into pocketing the inside of the dropouts to get that balance between strength, reliability and weight. See also the much tighter integration between the chainstay and dropout sides of the pivot.
We increased the diameter of the main pivot and rocker pivot axles, plus increased the sizes of the bearings in both pivots. The hardware has been simplified and is now a two-piece arrangement which means the pivot can be disassembled from the non-drive side.
The seatstay yoke is a good example of the refinement work that's gone into every area of the frame now. Previously this was a solid piece; bigger, heavier and far more agricultural. We've ben able to put much more shape into the CNC work with chamfered edges, a slimmer profile and a cutout to reduce weight. As with all areas of the frame, we've worked hard to reduce the surface areas that might accumulate mud.
It's probably difficult to appreciate from this image, but there is a lot less rocker than there used to be. By refining the design we were able to take 217g out of this single piece alone without sacrificing on strength or stiffness.
We haven't finalised the paint or graphic treatment for the Slacker yet. With tubing taking close to 7 months to produce, we've got a bit of time to sort that out. But surely we need to include the Slacker graphics somewhere.
All things considered, we're pretty happy with these. We only pictured the one frame but we've sampled all three new sizes and the reach adjust headset, and they've all built up with no problems. So there's not a lot more we can do. After two years of work, we think we've got something that passes the Airdrop test: we're proud of these.
Shit's about to get real :-)
The Big Picture
The samples are ready. But are we? After all this time and hard work, are we bold enough to see it through and put these into production? We've spent a tonne on this but cost-wise, that's nothing to what we need to stump up for tooling, tubing, fabrication, painting, shipping...
We've come this far. We can't bail out now.
The Slacker is going into production. We ordered tubing this week. We don't know how we're going to pay for it yet but we'll figure it out; we always do.
The Slacker is coming Summer 2022.
Ed is the owner of Airdrop Bikes. A former web and graphic designer, he sacked off his job one day and decided to start up a bike brand.
Leave a comment
Comments will be approved before showing up.
Our monthly email newsletter gets you access to all the good stuff before everyone else.
Get The Inside Line
We're always working on stuff behind the scenes and we'd like to share those stories with you. One email a month, and we make it worth a read.