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The New “Project N1” Prototype from Thesis Bike has Adaptable-Geometry For Riding It All

Thesis Bike Project N1 hero(Photos/Thesis Bike)
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That’s right, the minds at Thesis Bike have developed a bike that transforms from a fast and responsive road bike to a stable and capable gravel bike. They say that code name Project N1, will do “everything in-between” as well. Could it be the last drop bar bike you’ll ever need?

With classic road aesthetics, generous tire clearance, and extensive component compatibility, it looks like a thoughtful design to me. Let’s go over some of the thinking and design behind the Thesis prototype.

When compared to road bikes, gravel bikes will have slacker head tube angles, increased fork offsets, longer wheelbases, bigger tires, and dropped bottom brackets. The components and fit are similar, but the differences in fit and positioning, handling, and tire clearance meant choosing a bike for the different terrains.

Choosing between “a blended all-road bike, a partially-adjustable bike that compromises some geometry for others, or an entire stable of single-purpose bikes. This is part of what gave rise to the belief that the optimal number of bicycles is always one more than you currently have – N+1.”

What if One Bike Could Be Many

That was the inspiration behind “Project N1”, the code-name for Thesis’ effort to create the first bicycle that adapts quickly and completely from road to gravel and everything in between.”

Thesis Bike Project N1 road version
Dropouts are slid down and forward for “Road” mode…

Rotate, Stretch, Drop

Thesis Bike Project N1 rear drop out close up

Thesis’ Project N1 prototype can switch from gravel geometry to road in just a matter of minutes with nothing more than a hex wrench. The rider loosens Thesis’ unique, diagonal-sliding dropouts when swapping wheels, completely transforming the bike’s character.

Thesis Bike Project N1 gravel version
Dropouts are slid up and back for “Gravel” mode…

For gravel the rider slides the axle up and back, slackening the head tube, increasing the wheelbase, and dropping the bottom bracket. Thus allowing for increased stability and the use of bigger tires.

Tires clearance is up to 700x51mm or 650bx57mm with a 68mm road bottom bracket for chain line and q-factor, without reverting to dropped chainstays.

Flippin’ The Chip

The finishing of the geometry transformation is the flipping of the fork’s flip-chip. The fork is currently still under development. Flipping the chip will move the axle 10mm away from the caliper, extending the fork’s axle-to-crown measurement, and further slackening the head angle.

Thesis Bike Project N1 front fork

At the same time, it allows the fork offset to be corrected and the front center to be increased. What about the 10mm discrepancy at the caliper? Thesis suggests utilizing a 160mm rotor on the road wheelset and a 180mm on the gravel wheelset. This will eliminate the need to move the caliper when flipping the chip and swapping stuff over.

Thesis Head of Brand, Sam Jackson had this to say:

“Figuring out how to make the swap between modes simple and approachable for novice riders with limited mechanical knowledge was essential to the success of the design. We’re happy to say that it’s incredibly easy to switch the bike between gravel and road setups; going from end to end on the rear sliders completely transforms the bike without any need to tinker with the brake caliper. This is truly a do it all bike that people will be able to swap between a road and gravel bike as frequently as they want to, enabling an immense amount of latitude within one bike. The idea was to vary the handling from Land Cruiser to Lamborghini, and without a doubt it delivers.”

The Flippin’ Difference

Thesis Bike Project N1 geo highlights

Project N1 Frame Highlights

  • Threaded T47 68mm BB
  • Straight 44mm head tube
  • Round 27.2 seatpost secured by a traditional collar
  • Future-proof UDH & Transmission-compatible dropout system
  • Micro-adjustment screws the rear dropouts
  • Compatibility with 1x/2x mechanical & electronic, internally-geared hub, & single-speed drivetrains
  • Support for fenders, racks, dynamos, wired lights, droppers as well as
  • Partial-internal, full-internal, & full-external (fork-only) routing.

Pricing for the Thesis Project N1 has yet to be announced. Thesis will be providing updates and a special pilot program offer through its newsletter and Dealers. Titanium production is slated for late Summer, followed by a high-value performance steel version (Nice!) currently under development.

Thesis.Bike

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Chader
Chader
10 days ago

Pedantic observation, but you use a mix of “Project N+1” and “Project N1” throughout the title and article. From the Thesis site, it seems the correct one is the latter “Project N1”, as in the proper number of bikes = 1 (not +1). I get that this is likely a simple slip since “N+1” is a common theme, but might be good to use the correct one per them in all listings.

FritzP
FritzP
10 days ago

For me at least, the amount of change of seat tube angle and bb drop between the modes has me thinking two seatpost/saddle setups would be needed as well. That much change in saddle tilt, setback and difference in saddle/handlebar relationship would be noticeable.

mudmudmud
mudmudmud
10 days ago
Reply to  FritzP

Yes but your whole body tilts up slightly in gravel mode. Body’s relation to the bars unchaged.

Randall
Randall
7 days ago
Reply to  mudmudmud

Good observation, Fritz. You’re right that the 1.3° change in rider position should be noticeable. This is in fact a feature rather than a bug.

While our adaptable dropout system changes the bike’s geometry, it does not change the relationships between rider touchpoints. Instead, the triangle formed by those touchpoints is rotated into a slightly more forward position for road and a slightly more upright position for gravel. In other words, while rider position changes as appropriate for each style of riding, fit (i.e. the interface between rider and bike) remains the same.

Randall
Randall
7 days ago
Reply to  mudmudmud

Exactly.

Randall
Randall
7 days ago
Reply to  FritzP

Good observation, Fritz. This is in fact a feature rather than a bug. In road mode, rider positio agressive position, while in gravel mode they are positioned a bit more relaxed and upright.

the relationships between rider’s touchpoints (pedals, saddle, handlebar) remain unchanged.

mudmudmud
mudmudmud
10 days ago

Clever, but will still have wicked toe overlap in either mode. Careful on twisty single track.

Tayyaba
10 days ago
Reply to  mudmudmud

Wow amazing

Randall
Randall
7 days ago
Reply to  mudmudmud

You’ll be pleased to know that we have designed our geos with toe-overlap in mind. Taking the above size large as an example, front-center grows from 616mm in road mode to 622 in gravel mode, while at the same time BB drop increases from 74mm to 84mm. Both changes increase the clearance between toe and tire as the rider pedals, which together with proportional-length cranks (generally 170-172.5mm for a large), results in little if any toe overlap for the majority of riders even when running bigger tires. We’re also treating each size as its own project using a similarly proportion-based approach, with smaller sizes being optimized around shorter cranks, greater BB drop, and a bias toward 650B for the highest-volume tires.

mud
mud
6 days ago
Reply to  Randall

Missed the fork flip chip, so longer trail would result.

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