Sometimes a bike just calls out to you. That was the case when I saw this DH bike from Gnarly Bikes on Facebook. Only, it’s not an actual bike – it’s just a concept. But other than a stunning rendering of a concept bike, the Gnarly Bikes DH concept could hint towards the future of mountain bike tech and integration.
Gnarly Downhillbike integrated concept
Erik Habermann, the Berlin based product designer responsible for the designs, is no stranger to the bicycle industry. After studying product design in Potsdam, he went on to work for Volkswagen as a surface modeler. From there, Erik landed a job at Canyon Bikes as part of their design team and worked on the current Canyon Torque. However, as things sometimes go, Erik left Canyon to return home to Berlin and is currently working in a design office. Like most of us though, his passion for bicycles is still strong and Erik continues to ride and model in his free time and creates concept bikes under the fictional brand, Gnarly Bikes.
Erik mentions that each bike is designed with a specific focus, stating, “before a design process, I often ask myself, what would I change, what annoys me about current bicycles,
what can I do better and who is the person who wants it. The first concept develops around these questions, first in the head, then on paper, and later I redesign it digitally. This is how the downhill bike by Gnarly bikes came to be.”
And that bike is all about integration. Taking things a step further than what’s currently possible, Erik mentions that he does try to create designs that aren’t too far fetched. He wants to push the limits of bicycle design in terms of integration that is aesthetically pleasing but also be functional.
As a result, one of the most noticeable features of this bike is the lack of a shock – or lack of a visible shock. In this case, the shock would be hidden in the top tube with a sliding rear shock mount and an air fitting and rebound and compression knobs accessible from the side. This isn’t the first bike to hide a shock inside the frame, and Erik acknowledges the Resistance Bikes Insolent which uses a modified Fox 40 stanchion as a shock that’s partially hidden in the top tube. But to Erik, he wanted to design something with a “a little bit more of a designer’s view.”
Once you understand what’s going on with the shock, you start to notice the other little details. Brake hoses are perfectly routed through the stem and into the frame. The belt driven gear box is electronically controlled with a tidy little button molded into the bar which also is molded into the brake levers. There’s even a little storage area on the rear swingarm for tools.
Obviously, with a conceptual design, the sky is the limit. But Erik’s designs may not be that far from reality. After all, today’s wonder bikes started off as similar computer aided designs years ago as part of the same design process.
Gnarly Freerider concept
In addition to the DH bike, Erik has a few other designs that he’s been working on like this freeride bike with a low slung suspension design.
Gnarly Kidsbike concept
And this playful, low-cost take on a balance bike for kids…
…complete with a crucial mounting strap for your favorite stuffed animal.
Plus an integrated mini fender. It hides a bit of cush up front in an elastomer at the lower headset cup, and a bit of single pivot elastomer rear suspension too.