Perhaps to the dismay of the more traditional custom builders and craftsmen on display at the Fyxo Melburn Custom Bike Show in Australia, Bastion is a new start-up consisting of three R&D engineers from Toyota Australia. The company will soon start to produce custom, lightweight and performance-orientated road frames that feature titanium 3D printed lugs and spun carbon tubes.
Bastion is not the first to create bikes with 3D printed titanium technology, with the likes of Empire and Flying Machine having done so for over a year now, but Bastion’s intended streamlining of the customization process is a first.
Speaking with Dean McGeary, Bastion’s technical director, we were told of an agreement they have with the CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) for 3D printing.
“They’ve set up a center of excellence in 3D printing called Lab 22. They’ve just gone live as of July 1st and we’ll have full access to the lab that’s really close to us,” said McGeary.
Using titanium powder, the machines use lasers to melt the powder layer by layer to construct an incredibly detailed and supposedly strong structure.
“3D printing is really exciting. It allows complete customization by the user; the frame geometry and ride is fully customizable”
Ribbed lugs are a key part of the design
McGeary went onto explain how the ride can be changed – “we’re putting ribs in the titanium (lugs); with this we can tune the compliance and stiffness of the bike. If you want a really compliant ride, we can take ribs out, if you want a stiff and aggressive bike, we add in ribs.”
Sitting between the 3D printed titanium lugs are round carbon tubes produced through a process called filament winding. The filament winding process is commonly used for creating round tubes, such as those for seat posts. It’s not so common in frame manufacturing as traditionally it limits being able to precisely separate compliance and stiffness qualities – something that Bastion claims will come down to its unique lug designs.
Based on Tour Magazine’s data, McGeary said they’ll offer customers the ability to choose the desired frame stiffness and compare it to well-known existing bikes, such as a Specialized Venge. This customization feature is said to be an online tool, where it's possible to play with the variables in geometry, stiffness and ride quality in real time.
Disc brakes for the first road model
The brand’s first model will be a disc brake equipped road bike. It was a very early prototype on display, but McGeary claimed the frame will weight in the region of 850g. It appeared to offer all the latest features, including flat mount disc brakes and thru-axle. What wasn't seen were the finer details such as cable routing execution and the integrated seat post wedge system.
“We’re hoping to go live toward the end of this year. We’ll be producing a wide range of bikes to do detailed testing on and once we’ve validated the design – we’ll go live with sales,” said McGeary.
All the frames will be tested to international standard of EN 14781 and ASTM F2711–08(2012). Additionally, the guys at Bastion claim each and every individual frame will go through FEA (finite element analysis) analysis to ensure dependability before final approval from the customer. Once made, each frame will go under a final stiffness check and this information will be provided to the customer.
Perhaps the most impressive part for a customized frame is that Bastion were claiming shipment should take just four weeks from the time of ordering.
Such technology doesn’t come cheap though, with frame pricing quoted as starting from AU$7,000. Although that does include an ‘all-of’-life’ warranty and a crash replacement policy where individual frame parts can be replaced.
With bikes still a few months away, Bastion’s full site isn’t live yet. In the meantime, some basic information can be found at www.bastion-cycles.com