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We receive (and welcome) a lot of questions via email about our bikes. We love the curiosity, imagination and excitement we see from prospective No. 22 owners.
We thought it would be fun to share with you some of the most common queries we get about our process, along with some specific technical questions that we get often enough that we wanted to take a moment to clarify in one place. We also address one burning question we've oddly been asked more than once: will we ever build a titanium unicycle.
We’re fabricators of titanium bikes, and do custom builds of our bikes to fit your geometry. But we don’t build prototypes for customers, even though they can often be awesome ideas for a specific type of bike.
The reason why is simple: there’s a philosophy behind every model we’ve developed. We definitely welcome custom geometry, so we want that data from your fitter. But geometry for fit is not the same as geometry for handling. Give us the fit points and we’ll put the right bike underneath you. We’re not winging it.
We’ve set ourselves up to be a real bike manufacturer. We still build in small volume and take pride in every handmade bike we produce, but we have specific designs and each has its own process. Our designs came into being to satisfy particular demands based on different terrain and the needs that each context requires. We focus on handling and responsiveness for each of our designs. We don’t deviate from what we know works best for each design.
Here’s the list for you, all in one place:
We get this question a lot!
No. 22 didn’t really design the bike for it, but we’ve had a lot of customers who’ve done it successfully. It’s fine when riding in dry conditions, but when you’ve got a lot of mud or rocks flying up in there, that’s a different story. The bottom bracket height is optimized for a 700 wheel, and the Drifter is designed overall for a 700x40mm tire. That said, 650x47mm tire customers have reported to us that they’re very happy. We just can’t recommend it outright, although it has been done successfully, from what we’ve heard.
We found it limiting that many popular aftermarket forks came in only one rake, so we decided to design our own that works specifically with each of our bikes. The forks we use are made for us, and customized specifically for our bikes. They are ASTM tested and certified, and we feel that they are some of the best on the market.
Having two rakes per model means we don’t have to compromise the geometry of your bike, no matter what size you are. Of course, a size 50 and 60 frame on the same fork just doesn’t make sense. You look at big companies and their forks aren’t the same on a 48 as a 60, so we felt we should provide that level of specificity for our bikes as well.
Our track bike, the Little Wing, actually uses a track-specific fork. Track frames get thrashed, and for ideal track handling the fork should have between 35 and 38mm of rake. We felt if we were going to build a track frame, we should offer the right fork.
Anodizing isn’t the same on titanium as on other metals, such as aluminum, which is a pigment-based process. With titanium, the frame is coloured by an electric process. The colour works as light refraction, and there’s no pigment involved. There’s this crystalline layer in the material, and how it’s sitting, with the light bouncing off it, is how the colouring comes out. It’s similar to seeing colours in an oily puddle—there are no actual colours in it—it’s the light hitting it.
Red is unfortunately impossible. It’s not on the natural spectrum of titanium. We’ve worked really hard to produce all possible colours we can get from the material. We used to have trouble with green because it was at the highest range of voltage; it’s hard to keep a consistent colour without it getting all blotchy. Kevin Chamberlain on our team has taken ownership of our anodizing process and cracked it, so now you get get that beautiful green at the top end of the spectrum. We’re really happy with the colours we can now produce through this process.
We really like to build a bike for either mechanical or electronic—that way it’s purpose built. If you build it for both, it’s going to have cable ports and a bag of interchangeable parts, not to mention that there would be holes all over the frame. You don’t want a hole in the down tube of this bike if you don’t need one.
Big builders do this because they are hedging and don’t know what the frame will be paired with after it’s mass manufactured. We know who is getting every single one of our bikes. In most cases we have conversations with the end user before we start the build, so we don’t have to guess what you will need.
We actually sell most of our made-to-order bikes as completes. We work with you for every component of the bike. We have accounts with most major components manufacturers, and have an extensive database that allows us quick turnaround times on pricing. This allows us to work with you to adapt it to fit your budget and requirements.
We’ve been asked that one more than once, believe it or not, and we just wouldn’t even know how to build one. Sadly, that’s not our core competency. We’ll let the unicycle experts out there build your dream ride, and we’ll stick to what we know!
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