Philly Bike Expo: Rodeo Labs Unveils New Traildonkey 4.0 w/ Downtube storage & Lock-Jaw!

Over the weekend, at Philly Bike Expo, Rodeo Labs released what they’re calling their finest, and most kick-arse (I threw that in myself) adventure bike platform to date with the new Traildonkey 4.0.

Rodeo Labs Traildonkey 4.0 prototype

Photo c. Rodeo Labs

This iteration of the Traildonkey is what Rodeo Labs is calling a “blank-sheet redesign” that’s pushing the envelope of what a single frameset is capable of. Stating that it will handle everything from on-road and off-road performance to super ultra-distance bikepacking.

Rodeo Labs says that they were using a “new to them” monocoque construction method that allowed them to use more ways to design and engineer the new Traildonkey 4.0. The new production method allowed for smoother, more elegant, and continuous frame lines.

Rodeo Labs Trail Donkey 4.0 Prototype complete bike Large

As seen at the Philly Bike Expo: With thousands of test miles on it, this is the first ridable prototype of the Traildonkey 4.0. It has a raw finish, sans clearcoat, paint, or other enhancements. Just a thin layer of wax to protect it from the elements.

Rodeo Labs Trail Donkey 4.0 Prototype fork internal dynamo routing Large

New Spork 3.0 is said to be slimmer, stronger and lighter with internal brake and dynamo routing.

Rodeo Labs Traildonkey 4.0 Pink and brown

Photo c. Rodeo Labs

Rodeo Labs also says that after 8 years of making world-proven adventure bicycles they have “distilled their best ideas into the Traildonkey 4.0”, saying that the TD4 is their most evolved Donkey as well as one of the most capable and versatile drop-bar bicycles on the market.

Rodeo Labs Trail Donkey 4.0 front derr ready Large

Adding to the versatility, the TD4 is ready for a double upfront if you see fit.

Rodeo Labs Traildonkey 4.0 downtube stroage hatch

Photo c. Rodeo Labs

Rodeo Labs Traildonkey 4.0 downtube stroage hatch inside

Photo c. Rodeo Labs

 

The Traildonkey 4.0 has real, usable down-tube storage available.

Rodeo Labs Traildonkey 4.0 downtube stroage hatch inside two

 

No annoying housing rattling around in the storage area, with the soon-to-be-released housing guides that will be located inside the downtube storage area.

Rodeo Labs Trail Donkey 4.0 rear drop outs Large

Here’s a shot of the prototype, rear, sliding horizontal drop-out. As you can see in the photo above, there is a “thumb wheel” slot at the front of the “Lock-Jaw” drop out on the chainstay. The fixed nut (which isn’t where it’s supposed to be in the picture) has done away with the need for the thumb wheel. That slot will not be in the production chainstay, leaving the production version much more refined.

From the looks of it, the toothed dropout will interface with similar teeth on the nut, allowing for fine-tuning chainstay length and chain tension for single speeding possibilities, without the ability for the dropout to slip.

Rodeo Labs Traildonkey rear drop out

Rendering of what the production rear drop out will look like without the thumb wheels slot.

Reservations are now open for a delivery time of Spring 2023. The Traildonkey 4.0 will be available as a frameset module for $2975 or a complete (and customizable) build. For pricing and detials of the builds, go here for the three pre-configured buld choices.

Rodeo-Labs.com

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24 Comments
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RideCX
1 month ago

That is a good-looking bicycle.

Big tires but still room for a double crank and front derailleur. How did they manage this without adopting the “dropped drive-side chainstay” design – are the chainstays unusually long?

Ben Z
Ben Z
1 month ago
Reply to  RideCX

Yes and no it appears. The stats slide from 425 at the front to 460 at the rear slider position I believe. Supposedly 700×50 clearance even at the 425 position.

Stephen
1 month ago
Reply to  RideCX

We had always operated on the assumption that dropped stays would be required for the clearance that we wanted on this frame, and indeed we do use them on our Flaanimal steel and Ti frames, but when drawing this design we made it a goal not to drop the stay unless we had to. Dropped stays are, in our opinion, simply the default (lazy) solve. Just because Open did it way back in 2015/2016 doesn’t mean that it is the only solution for clearance. A lot of bike companies merely look at the competition and copy proven designs instead of being curious and determined enough to develop their own solutions.

For a metal bike (Flaanimal) we decided to drop the stays because we didn’t want to crimp the tubing to the degree that would be needed to achieve the tire clearance we wanted. Thus the drop yoke was the best solve.

But because we went with better carbon constructions on this frame, and because we used some other creative design solves (that we won’t elaborate on) where it mattered, we were able to get the clearance that we wanted without the drop.

Honestly, when we drew it in CAD and it all worked we didn’t totally believe it was right. Was there an error? Why were so many people dropping stays when it wasn’t mandatory? We 3d printed it and tested it with wheels / tires,the design was proven and sent for tooling, and here we are today with what we think is a nicer overall design.

Dinger
Dinger
1 month ago
Reply to  Stephen

Univega used drop-stays on their mountain bikes back in the early 90’s. Another of the reasons it was used on gravel bikes was because of the desire to internally route the shift housing. 5+mm is hard to find inside a stay that has to pass through that area, an issue you’ve addressed by running the housing through top tube > seat stay.

I’d go easy on calling other brands “lazy”. You’re using versions of some of their innovations (sliding thru-axle dropouts, down tube storage door, seat-cluster design, etc.) on your bike. Their work with your carbon vendor(s) is probably what gave you access to your new molding methods, too.

Stephen
29 days ago
Reply to  Dinger

Your observations are valid, and I also stand by my statement that designing with dropped stays when it isn’t necessary is absolutely lazy design. A huge number of people actually driving bike design in this industry don’t ride at all and aren’t driven by the pursuit of improved function or even improved aesthetics, they’re just trying to complete the assignment which is to offer a model for the growing and profitable gravel segment. The current landscape of me-too gravel bikes and bike design is the result of that. Very few brands have anything to say, much less anything to contribute to the state of the market.

Example: A new (1x only) gravel bike from another brand that just launched today has arguably piss poor tire clearance also happens to have a dropped driveside stay. The bike would look so much more elegant with a traditional stay without sacrificing tire clearance. So why did they include it? My guess is because it’s what “everyone else is doing, so we should too”.

WhateverBikes
27 days ago
Reply to  Stephen

Did you consider the possibility that your guess is wrong?

Dinger
Dinger
24 days ago
Reply to  Stephen

Without collaborating with the designers of the other bikes how do you know what is or isn’t necessary? If a bike’s seat cluster design won’t allow for shift housing to pass internally then it either must go through the chain stay (necessary) or commit to electronic only shifting (limiting). If you were unable to route the housing past the seat cluster, what would your solution have been?

You might also understand that from an engineering perspective, it is harder to design a drop-stay than a conventional one, especially if working against a strength / weight target. There’s nothing lazy about it.

“Very few brands have anything to say, much less anything to contribute to the state of the market.”

That’s ^ just being full of yourself. The big brands you’re criticizing created the very market that you’re hoping to capture a piece of.

MDP
MDP
26 days ago
Reply to  Stephen

I´m with you Stephen.
For my experience (riding a gravel bike that claims 700×45 maximum clearance, BUT currently has 700×54) lead me to question about the dropped chainstays long time ago.
The dropped stays are very aesthetic! “modern”! And help having a short rear, but are not essencial.
Clearance in fact does not need a dropped stay, but most people think so.
Thats marketing working how its supposed to work.

mud
mud
1 month ago

The one thing that would stop me from buying this bike is the storage hatch. The biggest selling point of carbon frames (besides weight) is the strength derived from their tube shapes. IMO that’s compromised with the hatch.

Stephen
1 month ago
Reply to  mud

Your biases and are getting the better of you. Storage hatches have been on the market via other brands for at least a few years now with great success, and have not been a source of frame failures. Were this to simply be a hole punched in a frame not designed to have a hole in it it would be a compromised design, but if the frame is designed around this feature then it takes into account the forces that will be exerted on it and is sufficiently strong. This is what makes composites so great for making bikes: You can simply modify the layup to accommodate stresses. This frame has already passed all of the required ISO 4210 standard testing that all reputable bikes are also tested by and has thousands of miles of rigorous real world testing as well. Don’t short change what bikes are capable of just because you don’t understand the specific engineering behind the design. Unless you are exactly an expert / engineer on this frame, you aren’t actually an expert at all.

Nicolas D
Nicolas D
1 month ago
Reply to  Stephen

Considering the fact that you’re speaking on behalf of the brand, you should probably dial down the passive agressive tone a notch or two there, buddy.

Choncho
Choncho
29 days ago
Reply to  Nicolas D

This is the only reason I come to bike rumour is for these comment showdowns.

Stephen
29 days ago
Reply to  Nicolas D

For those not familiar with the brand the tone is probably surprising, but anyone who has been around Rodeo for a minute knows that we’re happy to take hip shots right back at trolls, ignorant punters, or people making baseless claims. For those that don’t like our tone, there are plenty of voiceless corporate bike brands in the world who have nothing to say at all. They also make great bikes and deserve your support.

Dylan
Dylan
28 days ago
Reply to  Stephen

So you think the options for choice of tone are limited to “voiceless corporate” or “patronizing ass-hat”? Good luck with that.

Nicolas D
Nicolas D
28 days ago
Reply to  Stephen

I’ll be sure to remember that and advertise your brand accordingly around me.

As Dylan noted, there are thankfully more shades to humans interactions than being voiceless or gratuitously agressive and patronizing.

MDP
MDP
26 days ago
Reply to  Stephen

Kudos!
Rodeo is one of the brands that i like how they communicate.
Either you love it, or easely you dont!
Its a donkey! If you dont like donkeys, go for a horse, or a zebra, or a cat, or a dog, or a snake!

LLOYD MACK
LLOYD MACK
26 days ago
Reply to  Nicolas D

The fact that he is on her talking about his brand is amazing. You think you can contact the person who made your cool Sworks Devirge ? Really Nicolas , go buy a Giant or Trek then

Dockboy
Dockboy
1 month ago
Reply to  mud

I’m sure they didn’t just take a hacksaw to it – one of the nice things about carbon is you can engineer the structure with the shapes you need AND ample strength. Metal bikes are more beholden to their tube shapes than carbon is.

mattydubs
mattydubs
1 month ago
Reply to  mud

The Specialized SWAT door was released in 2015 and has been featured on many of their bikes from the Stumpjumper to the Diverge in that time period. Because they are who they are, they of course patented the design in 2011 (US8308179B2), which seemed to put the kibosh and anyone else replicating it.

Of course, it turns out that (surprise) the language (IANAL) was a bit broad and there are clever ways around it, which led to Trek getting their own patent (US20200346708A1) in 2019 and offering what is effectively the same feature.

I’m sure there are aspects of the Rodeo design that were utilized to avoid conflicting or paying some type of royalty to Big S or Trek.

All that said, carbon bikes with down tube storage have been on the market for at least 8 years and have not been the source of accidents nor a source of “weakness” (especially considering that part of the down tube is not a high stress point and, as everyone has pointed out, it was an engineered feature not a hack).

I think it’s a clever use of what is otherwise unused space. Anything to reduce the number of bags and/or free up bag space for bikepacking, etc, is great.

jonathan
jonathan
1 month ago
Reply to  mud

787 composite fuselage is made stronger by sticking a door frame in it. I’d wager that the storage box is actually increasing the strength of the downtube.

Dockboy
Dockboy
29 days ago
Reply to  jonathan

So is the next version of the 787 going to be all doors? 😉

Dinger
Dinger
24 days ago
Reply to  jonathan

The opening in a frame requires reinforcement that adds weight, as does a 787’s door frames. “No free lunch”, as they say.

Benedikt
29 days ago

Nearly perfect frame, the only thing I wanted to see is the possibility of routing the cables externally. I get that it looks cleaner internally but it’s annoying to build and repair if anything ever fails.

Stephen
29 days ago
Reply to  Benedikt

External routing is also possible on this frame but that isn’t covered in the writeup here, which is understandable because there are a lot of details here that are easy to miss or overlook. Glad to hear that you like it in general.