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2012 Rock Racing Road Bikes – Made In Italy, Aircraft Inspired Honeycomb Frames

2012 Rock Racing RX5Ri road bike with carbon fiber and nomex honeycomb construction made in Italy
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2012 Rock Racing RX5Ri road bike with carbon fiber and nomex honeycomb construction made in Italy

After the team imploded and their clothing went on blowout sale, Rock Racing all but disappeared from our collective consciousness in 2010.

The company, inactive for eight or nine months after Italian businessman Roberto Tronconi purchased partnered with Michael Ball to revive Rock Racing, has been quietly developing an all-new, three-model road bike line up for 2012. The leader of the pack is the all-new RX5Ri. It’s handmade in Italy using a carbon/Nomex honeycomb sandwich construction -similar to how composite aircraft tail fins and helicopter blades are made- to make it not only super strong but also reduce vibration to a claimed “near zero.” The RX5Ri comes in six stock sizes and, because it’s hand made, is also available in custom sizes.

Update: Corrected, Michael Ball still owns the Rock Racing brand, Tronconi manages R&D and production.

During the hiatus Rock Racing’s R&D department moved to Faenza, Italy, which Tronconi says gives them a very central European location. It also lets them take advantage of Italy’s established carbon frame manufacturing base and proximity to top tier fabrics and clothing accessories.

Click through to check out the RX5Ri and more, including some frame cutaway photos of the honeycomb structure…

2012 Rock Racing RX5Ri road bike with carbon fiber and nomex honeycomb construction made in Italy

Nomex honeycomb structures are also used in acoustic applications (noise cancellation and vibration reduction), making them an intriguing material for bicycles. Rock Racing uses a sandwich construction with the honeycomb wrapped around an inner carbon fiber tube then wrapped again on the outside (Looks like corrugated cardboard, no?)

2012 Rock Racing RX5Ri road bike with carbon fiber and nomex honeycomb construction made in Italy

The tubes use various shapes throughout the frame to maximize stiffness and tune the ride.

2012 Rock Racing RX5Ri road bike with carbon fiber and nomex honeycomb construction made in Italy

The RX5Ri is available as a frame only for €3,200.

2012 Rock Racing RX5Ri road bike with carbon fiber and nomex honeycomb construction made in Italy

  • Bottom bracket is Shimano’s PressFit 86
  • Integrated seat mast
  • Asymmetric seat tube
  • Heavily sculpted mono-stay at the top of the seat stays

2012 Rock Racing RX5Ri road bike with carbon fiber and nomex honeycomb construction made in Italy

While the brand faces some social stigma left over from the wild party persona Ball imbued it with, the new bikes seem to be well thought out. We can’t lie, we really want to ride one of these.

2012 Rock Racing RX5Ri road bike with carbon fiber and nomex honeycomb construction made in Italy

The lower two models share some of the aesthetics, including a somewhat sculpted monostay. They’re also made in Italy, though Tronconi says some elements come from open mold sources. The RX5Ri is a completely original design.

2012 Rock Racing RX4Si carbon fiber road bike frame

The RX4Si uses a T800 frame with 1K weave carbon outer lamination. Frame weight is a claimed 1000g as shown. Custom sizes are also available, and an integrated seat mast and Di2 wiring ports are also offered as upgrades. The standard version has internal brake and shift cable runs. MSRP is €2,700.

2012 Rock Racing RX4Si carbon fiber road bike frame

Shown complete.

2012 Rock Racing X-3Si carbon fiber road bike frame

The X-3Si gets a slightly less shaped frame and external cable routing. Frame weight is 1000g (claimed) using a T800/3K carbon mix. Di2 wiring ports and custom sizes are optional, but no seat mast is available on this frame. MSRP is €1,990.

We’re waiting to hear about U.S. distribution plans, but word is they’re looking to sponsor both European and U.S. regional teams.

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18 Comments
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MMyers
MMyers
11 years ago

Didn’t Trek do this over a decade ago?

OCLV-HC or some such thing?

Summit
Summit
11 years ago

Molto bene Mr. Tronconi. It’s been a long time for F1 tech to catch the bike world! That’s REAL HI TECH!
The kevlar patch at the seat tube it’s a very good idea too!

Rich
Rich
11 years ago

MMyers is correct.

breadandbits
breadandbits
11 years ago

this application of honeycomb core seems mostly (if not all) about marketing (not that this doesn’t describe plenty of other ‘new’ bicycle tech). these cores are useful when the primary loading is in the form of shear, such as is the case for a flat panel in bending. trek’s application was sensible, as it was only used for the flat areas of their y shaped frames (http://www.google.com/patents?id=cH0DAAAAEBAJ&printsec=drawing#v=onepage&q&f=false). i’d say that this will make this frame design heavier, or make the outer carbon shell relatively thin and prone to impact damage… but hey, at least the bicycle technology placebo effect will make the vibration dampening thing work for anyone who pays that much for it!

Brandon
Brandon
11 years ago

For the super sexy cover shot we opted for an upturned stem and to place the chainring in the small ring? Bike-sex photo fail.

Brandon
Brandon
11 years ago

Chain in the small ring I meant….photo critique fail.

Robin
Robin
11 years ago

Javelin also builds the Cortina with some form of CF and honeycomb construction. As a bonus, the Javelin frames don’t say “Rock Racing” on the side, don’t have Michael Ball’s poseur skull on the head tube, and are arguably better looking.

http://www.javbike.com/Cortina.html

Steve M
Steve M
11 years ago

Rock is like picking your nose and getting a wet booger- hard to get rid of.

Suzi
Suzi
11 years ago

These bikes have a terrible name, very sad!

Jf
Jf
11 years ago

all marketing! if you know that those honeycomb structures aren’t prefered anymore in the aircraft sector due to delamination as a result of moisture. These frames will have some problems soon or later

Blooseville
Blooseville
11 years ago

Looks like these frames are made by Titici (http://www.titici.com) at least the RX4 and X3 😉

Turbofrog
Turbofrog
11 years ago

While I can’t speak definitively to the engineering, I’m not sure that it’s necessarily deserving of all the criticism here. Honeycomb structures are also strong in out of plane compressive loads, so it would add bending strength to the tubes. And the honeycomb should allow less mass of CFRP to be placed farther from the tube’s neutral point while avoiding the buckling of thin shells with d/t ratios that are too high?

Realistically, at this point frame optimization is getting pretty ridiculous. The difference between a 600g and 1000g bike frame is pretty pointless, as are any potentially stiffness benefits, but it’s neat to see the products of clever engineers nonetheless…

g
g
11 years ago

Steve M….use your sock.

plum
plum
11 years ago

SLAM THAT STEM

Rick Vosper
11 years ago

I was curious about honeycomb technology for frame design too, so I spoke via email to four respected engineers currently employed in the cycling industry (whose names I can’t use for obvious reasons). They all agree separately with breadandbits’ assessment.

Synopsis:

Although use of honeycomb structures in a 3-tube format would theoretically stiffen the tubes, the designer pays a price in weight and/or impact resistance. There are also significant complexity issues. The honeycomb will probably damp vibration pretty well, though.

They also agree that Trek’s application of honeycomb was a good use for the material and pointed out that foam and/or balsa are used as stiffeners in many products currently on the market.

Other commentators are correct in identifying the off-the-shelf status of the frame. Even the drawings are purloined from the Somec website: http://www.somec.com/it/collezione/telai_in_carbonio/revolution_ast_xlt/

Steven P Charest
Steven P Charest
10 years ago

I am tall, and would like to purchase a 64cm Aircraft Inspired Honeycomb Bicycle Frame. Rock Racing Road Bicycles look like what I have been hoping for. Please let me know how I can purchase, and receive a frame from you. I hope I can purchase a frame with a bottom bracket with British Framing.

Steven P Charest
Steven P Charest
10 years ago

This is to information sent 09/26/12 – 11:52pm
I am tall, and would like information concerning purchasing a 64cm Rock Racing Road Racing
Frame. I would like to purchase a frame whose bottom bracket has British Threading.
Thank you,

Steven P Charest

Steven P Charest
Steven P Charest
10 years ago

Is it possible to purchase an aircraft inspired 64cm Rock Road Racing Bicycle Frame ? If so
please inform me what I need to do to purchase the Rock Road Racing Honeycomb Frame.

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