We’ve seen the creative craftsmanship of Selberbruzzler builders before. The Vienna Framebuilder Collective is unique in that it is made up of amateur bike builders and tinkers with great ideas, that typically don’t have aspirations of becoming commercially viable. The latest member that caught our eye is builder (or in real life, cook) Thomas Wieling and his family bike brand of Podenco Cycles. Wieling pretty much started constructing bikes after his mountain biker girlfriend lost mobility in her legs in a freeriding accident, but needed to get back out on the trail. Several DH quad iterations evolved their way into this crazy unique three-wheeled hand-cycling enduro bike that can scale pretty much any trail and bomb down the other side with its many tricks. Of course at the same time their son has grown into the need for his own bike, so why not get the most custom balance bike possible; then dad needs a new all-mountain hardtail to keep up as well. All this evolution might just turn Podenco into a proper bike building business soon…
The Handuro is really as custom as it comes, having been built piece-by-piece from the ground up. The only stock bits on the trike are some components, and most of them have been heavily modified for the task at hand as well. The full suspension Handuro trike is all about power transfer and traction. Built for Christina Schafranek who was an advanced DH & freerider before being paralyzed, she wanted a bike that she could ride as a proper mountain bike on real trails.
The Handuro is an evolution of a couple of generations of DH quads that Wieling built, but those are for descending and not for pedaling up anything. To really give Schafranek access to trails, she had to be able to pedal up anything. And that’s not as easy as it sounds, whether dealing with the 28kg (62lb) weight, the complication of handcranking power while steering, or even just maintaining traction when the trails got steep and loose. Podenco solves all those in some unique ways.
Putting power down was probably the biggest obstacle, so the trike combines two drivetrains inline. Up front an 8 speed Alfine hub mounted just below the seat connects to the handcranks (yellow arms with sculpted wood grips) and then with a cog (blue) mounted to the 6-bolt disc tabs on the hub, back to a transfer axle around the rear end’s main pivot.
From that drive axle spinning around the main pivot (just behind the shock), the bike gets a more straightforward 10 speed Zee cassette and rear derailleur on a Tune X12 Kong hub. In the end the gearing ratio has about a 1000% range, and with it driven around the main pivot there is no pedal feedback. Then of course getting all that power to the ground is the next concern, so the rear wheel goes 20″ fat. With 4″ Specialized Ground Control rear tire, Schafranek can run super low pressure for grip that lets her keep climbing when those on regular mountain bikes have to get off and push. That’s of course the idea, as needing to hike-a-bike would have kept her from being able to have the freedom to ride where she wanted.
The suspension of the bike is unique as well. The single pivot rear end is effectively an upside down faux-bar suspension design with a rocker driving the rear shock under the seat for 150mm of rear travel. The black chainstays hold the derailleur, axle and rear brake, while the yellow/orange (seat?) stays
push pull the raw machined aluminum rocker attached to the bottom of the X-Fusion shock.
Like Tune is a sponsor of the project, so is X-Fusion, and the trike gets three O2 RCX shocks, custom tuned by Lemon Shox to deliver 150mm of travel at each wheel. A lot of custom tuned suspension travel really qualifies the Handuro for some aggressive Enduro riding, but it even comes into play on the more tame trails where Schafranek is more limited in how she can affect the weighting of the bike in fast turns and over obstacles.
The front end uses the same double wishbone design as the DH quad, but here it gets three S&S couplers that lets that front and rear of the trike be easily broken down for travel. Tires up front are 24″ Schwalbe Fat Alberts linked to the wishbones with Tune’s new Lefty Cannonball2.0 hubs.
Rounding out the cockpit is a big mix of components and controls. On the right hand the Nexus twist shifter controls the Alfine hub, while a SLX trigger shifts the Zee derailleur. Then it gets a Magura hydraulic lever that splits to manage both of the front brakes, and then an Avid mechanical lever that allows for an inline quick release (packing down for travel, remember?) before heading back to the rear BB7.
But that second BB7 of the pair got the harder life. Fabricated into a steering brake, it lets Schafranek lock the handlebar position (and front wheels in any direction) so that she can keep turning the handcranks without needing to hold the bars both climbing and on more gentle descents. The biggest issue is when just riding normal trails, without the lock even a small rock or root can hit one of the front tires and knock the trike off track. Instead, a repurposed thumb shifter and the heavily modified BB7 keep the bike where you point it.
The Balancebike Trail is a bit lower tech – being fully rigid, but is maybe equally cool in the eyes of its intended audience. For the kid who already has a balance bike for rolling around town (and whose mom rocks a 150mm enduro trike down the mountain), of course you need a 3.8kg trail riding balance bike as well.
The steel frame is full customized with a big platform to rest his feet on and a bottom bracket bash guard. One of the hardest parts of the project here was finding a good set of pneumatic tires, so Podenco co-opted these from an old Puky branded push bike – 225mm up front and 180mm in the rear. The wheels then get some heavily modded hubs, with a slimmed down Lefty axle up front for the custom one-sided steel fork and a fully custom 3-bolt disc hub in the back.
With proper contemporary trail geometry (haha, Podenco calls it DH Balance Geometry), the 63° headangle and ultra short stem (ha, 0mm) the bike is said to be a blast to ride and stable enough that the kid won’t “go over the bar every time he hits a root”. For even more stability, it gets a custom steering stop in the upper headset cup that keeps the bars from flipping around when the kiddo does hit something solid. And then to bring it to a stop the Balancebike Trail gets a customized Formula The One hydraulic disc brake. That means that carbon lever got tuned for reduced reach, and of course more customization at the other end.
No normal rotor would fit inside that tiny rear tire, so Wieling had Brake Stuff fabricate a custom 90mm one. Even then, clearance between the post mount caliper and tire was tight (that’s not something we say everyday!) And lastly we can’t forget that nylon rotor guard. While it might not satisfy the finicky pros of the road peloton, it does keep the kiddo from bashing his rotor out of true on every rock he rides over. Come to think of it, that’s something that might be nice on an adult trail bike too?! But for those parents out there wondering, the kid still drags his feet a lot in the standard skid to stop technique, chewing up his shoes on the trail.
The steel hardtail is more simple and classic, even if it does get some very aggressive geometry. Designed to be super long and super slack, it is essentially a hardtail freeride bike to suit Wieling’s own style of riding. Developed as kind of a hardtail interpretation of Chris Porter’s Geometron concept, the FR/DH Hardtail is meant for shredding. Geometry is a 61° headtube, 76° seattube, 18mm of BB drop, with 445mm chainstays and a wheelbase of 1340mm. That makes for a super rangy 530mm reach which is said to offer ample stability.
The prototype bike is Wieling’s own personal ride, and it was almost still warm out of the jig when we first saw it. It uses custom fabricated downtube and chainstays as nothing on the market met Podenco’s needs. It gets a 29″ front wheel for good roll over and a 27.5″ rear on a 157mm hub with a 40mm rim for greater strength. The 2.8kg frame ends up as a 14.8kg complete with some heavier old school components found lying around the shop.
In the end the project bike is said to be a blast on its home Alpine trails. Smooth pedalling uphill, and killer on the downhills.
The Podenco Cycles name as many good bike company names come from Wieling’s dog Chani. She is a Podenco Canario, a hunting dog breed native to the Canary Islands. As Wieling puts it, she is a “very fast and a little crazy in the head” which makes her a good trail dog and a good inspiration to build and ride more crazy bikes.
Podenco is still an amateur deal for now, so you can’t really buy any of these creations yet (although if you need a three-wheeled, trail-riding handcycle, I get the feeling that these folks would be there to help pass on some knowledge.) But builder Thomas Wieling plans to change that in the near future. For now you’ll just find him on Facebook, but I’m sure once he gets some more framebuilding practice and certifications under his belt, we’ll be hearing more from him. Until then…