2015 Epiphany CXC 275
The 2015 Ellsworth Epiphany CXC 275 in a new blue color.

Earlier this week, BST Synergy Nano announced they’d purchased Tony Ellsworth’s eponymous brand and would be lending their materials expertise to Ellsworth’s design experience to launch a new component line and update his bikes.

BST is local, just down the street from Ellsworth’s environmentally friendly compound. In a phone interview, Tony told us how the deal came to be. At the recommendation of one of Ellsworth’s riders, BST Nano Carbon’s Bill Wood swung by the compound and suggested they work together to have Ellsworth design new products, then let BST make them right there in Rancho Bernardo. They liked the idea, but Tony said they were very focused on their own bikes and would need considerably more resources to devote time to another project (or two or ten). So, BST’s folks left, then about 20 minutes later called and asked, “Hey, what if we just buy your company?”

As of Tuesday, September 2nd, the rest is history, and a new chapter begins. Read on for a taste of things to come…

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The 2015 line will start to see BST’s material sciences, incorporating nano-tubes and graphene into mid-year launches. They’re not going into details on the hows and whats yet, but they will introduce a lifetime guarantee on all new frames starting at Interbike.

“We’ve done high end carbon products for several industries, including some OEM work for other bicycle brands,” says Wood. “As those projects were sold off, we took a breath, then got the team back together again to take advantage of new materials and technologies with the goal of bringing new products to market under our own brand.

“Our ability to concoct the recipes and use the materials others don’t have, like nano-tubes and graphene, will set our products apart from the competition.”

Graphene, by the way, is the new hot material. It moved into sports equipment first in tennis rackets and has been teased in ‘cross tires. Wood says the benefit is that you only need a little bit to drastically alter the characteristics of a carbon fiber component. Basically, rolled graphene is what makes carbon nano-tubes, and they weigh about the same as air.

He also said BST has an exclusive agreement to buy graphene and carbon nano-tubes for ten years from a partner company that allows them to integrate those ingredients into their products at a price that their competition will have a hard time matching. Having the material is one thing. Knowing what to do with it is another, and that’s where BST’s experience in developing composite materials and equipment will pay dividends.

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The first items from the new Synergy Nano component line will be bars, post, stem, hubs, rims and wheels. Tony says the bars come in as light as 125g at 730mm wide, and they’ll offer 6º sweep in 6mm and 15mm rise. Ellsworth brought the design shapes to the table that allowed them to get them so light, and BST brought about the materials experience to make it strong and durable.

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They’ll also be taking advantage of some of Ellsworth’s existing technology on the wheels. The Synergy Cantilever hubs cantilever the bearings across the width of the wheel (yes, we’re trying to get a cutaway view). Tony says in a standard hub, you’ve got two bearings on the freehub body handling the loads on that part, then two bearings in the hub shell. The result is the lateral deflection on the wheel can only take advantage of the very narrow triangle created by the bearings inside the hub shell. Then, the drivetrain forces are acting only on the other two bearings in the freehub body.

The Synergy Cantilever system overlaps those forces, spreading them to opposite bearings to create a wider triangulation. It also puts the coasting on only two of the bearings, which reduces drag, and it spreads the direct pull spokes out wider, making a very laterally stiff wheel. Those hubs weren’t ever sold as an Ellsworth product, but the design has been licensed to Commencal and other European brands for almost two years.

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Ellsworth says “hub weights are close to Chris King, but that current testing standards can’t destroy them, so that means they’re probably too heavy. We’ll be working on making lighter versions in the future.”

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Those hubs will be laced to Synergy Nano carbon rims. Starting in 2015, the new high end carbon rims and components will be made in California. They’re getting the tooling made and everything lined up.

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Ellsworth has spent a lot of time developing his carbon manufacturing process with his Asian partners, too, though, so some base level Synergy Nano components will be made overseas at the same factory.

Frames will remain under the Ellsworth name, but will take advantage of the partnership, too. While Ellsworth’s suspension design has been consistent for many years, his frames have been tweaked to incorporate new standards and better shaping. That said, even Tony admits he’s had limitations on his time and resources to fully develop things the way he’d like. Now, not only does he have access to new materials, but a whole new team of engineers, scientists and management and financial resources.

SynergyNano.com

EllsworthBikes.com

14 COMMENTS

  1. Damn, those seat posts look a lot like Enve…I guess you kinda can’t make a 360 degree adjustable wedge system seat post without looking like Enve these days though.

  2. Ellsworth ceased being a relevant brand about 20 years ago. Man just look at that bike. Long and low it ain’t. Super high BB and steep angles. It’s hideous in my opinion.

    I’m not hating on Ellsworth as those components look interesting but the bikes……… Pass.

  3. Wow! Some haters running the comments section today. Guess I will have to go search some archives and bone up on Ellsworth history. I thought that I had read some favorable reviews and was very close to deciding on a carbon Evolve 29 over a Trek Fuel EX as 120 mm platform.

  4. Willis – as always, the best thing to do is to test ride both bikes. That said, my experience is that Ellsworth’s suspension is very good. It hasn’t changed much over the years because it may not need to. But, some of the geometry on the newer models that are transitioning to longer travel or to 650B wheels might need some time to figure themselves out. Check the numbers against what you’re already riding or for the type of riding you want to do with the new bike, then demo them if you can. Hope that helps.

  5. I’ve owned three of them, but likely won’t get another. Great suspension let down by antique geometry, floppy rear end and questionable craftsmanship. Baffling, really, how these bikes can be designed with as little concern for market trends as there appears to have been. With Tony still at the design helm, I’m not sure things will get better quickly. More concerning, perhaps, has been the lack of reliability and customer service that I experienced. Hopefully this new partnership will rectify some of that. However, I would love to see the Moment make a comeback…650b and modern geometry!

  6. Oh Ellsworth, such vintage styled bikes made in the modern day. They rode and looked just like Konas back in the day, but then Kona got with the program and decided to do a total refresh over the last couple years; best thing they could have done! Maybe with Tony gone, they’ll come up with something fresh for a change. It comes down to aesthetics folks, plain and simple. There is nothing superior about his suspension whatsoever.

  7. they haven’t changed the suspension because it works as advertised. no bob on a steady climb, and if you stand it only bobs for a few pedal strokes before it adapts. and it works great on the downhill. the only real bone I have with the design is the weight. in having the same design for so long, you’d think they could get the frames into a competitive weight range.

  8. Any time Ellsworth hits the front the internet is pure entertainment and drama. The same three sentiments always come up: Aesthetic, Suspension, and Cost…

    Experts buying bikes based on how they look might want to look at the red ones… Red is generally faster. It is fair to say that Ellsworth bikes have a “unique” appearance when compared with the rest of the bike industry, even compared to Cube whose horst-link ladder design is very similar. Also fair to say the Ellsworth head tube angles are a degree or two steeper than the bulk of the industry.

    Horst Link and ICT are outdated suspension? Since the Specialized US Patent expired in 2013 for Horst Link style bikes the floodgates are open and many brands have been quick to change their designs to Horst. Saying ICT suspension is outdated is equivalent to saying Specialized should drop FSR, or that Santa Cruz and Intense should change from VPP because they haven’t tried a new platform in a while. If a brand that experiments with their suspension platform regularly is a good thing, Yeti might be where it’s at.

    Ellsworth bikes are expensive, just like Intense and Santa Cruz.

    I recently did a long term review on the Ellsworth Method for those curious, click on over here: http://mysticmountainadventures.com/4/post/2014/05/ellsworth-method-long-term-review.html

  9. I doubt BST Synergy has anything more than gimmicky ‘nanocarbon’ material. I seriously doubt they have ‘Nanocarbon’ fibers and if they are just dispersing that crap in the resin, there won’t be an appreciable difference in the tech. Yawn.

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