The German carbon wheel and component makers at Bike Ahead Composites have dabbled in fabricating mountain bike frames for several years with bike company partners, and were even enlisted to help develop and construct a cross country prototype for Stöckli’s Swiss pros to race last season. And while that full-suspension race bike doesn’t look to be much closer to production, the Stöckli race team’s manager Thomas Stoll has hung out his own shingle and partnered with Bike Ahead to taken those bike design lessons learned and develop a superlight custom cross country and trail bike platform that you can actually buy, wallet-permitting. Take a closer look with us after the break…
Stoll officially started production of the custom mountain bikes early this summer, with two versions the M1 (marathon) and T1 (trail). Both bikes share the same overall frame design (and front and rear triangle geometries), but get different links and shocks, plus custom-tuned layups to offer a range of travel and technical capability options. The standard M1 typically is designed to be a 120mm travel all-day machine, but can be built with as little as 100mm of rear wheel travel for riders looking for a more XC-focused bike. The T1 on the other hand gets a more adventurous trail-riding focus and comes with 130mm of travel, but again can be developed up to 140mm for those looking for more technical prowess.
The key idea here is customization.
Each bike is custom built for the rider, and the layup and travel is adapted on each bike to the buyer and both their style of riding and their trails. Stoll says that they can essentially design the bike as light as you need, while still building in durability and trail-worthiness. They even encourage buyers to come visit them in their Swiss HQ or on the road at demos, to go ride together and find the best setup for a buyer’s custom bike.
The shorter travel complete M1 bikes get as light as about 9.3kg and are priced from 6500€ and up. The longer travel T1 versions start at prices around 6700€ and go as light as 10.5kg.
While the front end of the bike does bear some aesthetic similarity to the most recent prototype bike that Bike Ahead had built, the Stoll mountain bikes use a very different short link four-bar suspension design with a virtual pivot movement. That lets them work with a single, stiff Boost rear triangle for this 29er, and combine it with size-specific front triangles, each of which can be customized for ride feel through their carbon layup. It also makes easy work of altering suspension travel through the use of different iterations of the machined aluminum links that control rear wheel movement.
Stoll includes a number of modern features like a long & slack contemporary trail geometry as standard, stainless bearings, and trunion mount shocks, plus fully internal modular routing for mechanical or electronic drivetrains, single or double ring. But it also gets some small tricks, like the indented lower seattube that actually is there to fit a large water bottle inside the front triangle, even on smaller frames. And in the interest of keeping weight down, finishes are minimal with a lot of exposed carbon. Paint is fully customizable though, so Stoll is happy to add a bit more color if need be.
This bike in particular is the fourth prototype of the M1 cross country frame that Stoll has developed, and rolled away from the tradeshow with a Eurobike Gold award. The bike was built up with a slightly stiffer trail-specific carbon layup, an XTR Di2 single drivetrain, and Bike Ahead Biturbo RS wheels, bar, and seatpost to come in at a claimed 9.5kg(21lbs) and an estimated retail cost of 10,800€.