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Making 3D-printed titanium parts seem quaint, the prototype Revel Rodeo is a 3D-printed carbon bike. It’s just a proof of concept now, but it’s fully rideable and gives us a look at the future of Revel Bikes — and maybe carbon bikes in general.
Developed in partnership with AREVO Inc., this isn’t the first time we’ve seen that name with 3D-printed frames. Headquartered in Silicon Valley, AREVO has been on the cutting edge of 3D-printed carbon fiber for years. We first reported on a 3D-printed composite frame from AREVO in 2018 with a wild chainstay-less design. Then in 2020, AREVO launched the Superstrata brand, again with a bike missing a traditional component: the seat tube.
Why 3D-Print a DH Bike?
While AREVO has created futuristic-looking road bikes and commuters, Revel claims this is the first time the tech has been used to create a downhill mountain bike. Why start with downhill? Revel has a few good reasons. For starters, Chris Canfield of the Canfield Balance Formula suspension system loves DH. He also points out that the CBF system works really well for long travel.
Revel founder Adam Miller states that making a downhill bike was chosen because it would be more difficult. This is a new frontier for all parties involved, so if they can 3D-print a bike frame that withstands the rigors of true DH riding, then they should be able to print just about anything.
One thing to remember though: This is not your average 3D printer. AREVO’s printer uses a multi-axis robotic head that allows it to lay down continuous strands of CFRTP carbon in “optimized continuous fiber paths” making parts up to 1000 x 1000 x 830 mm³. These optimized continuous fibers are reminiscent of traditional carbon frame construction, where workers orient plies of carbon fiber in certain directions to best cope with the forces the frame will see in use. Only in this case, those optimized fiber paths can be created with far more complexity and accuracy, and claims to have better distribution of carbon in the final structure.
Using Thermoplastic Carbon Fiber for 3D-Printed Carbon Bikes
Like the other AREVO frames, the Revel Rodeo is 3D-printed from a thermoplastic carbon fiber. Revel is no stranger to thermoplastic carbon fiber after introducing its RW30 Fusion Fiber wheels in 2020, with the help of an engineering process developed by CSS composites. Since thermoplastic carbon can be created with traditional epoxy, the result is a product with the properties of carbon fiber, but one that Revel claims has the potential to be stronger, lighter, more durable, and even recyclable in certain situations.
Neither Revel nor AREVO really outline all the steps to frame manufacturing, which is probably to protect what’s likely a proprietary process. From the photos provided, it appears that the frame pieces are printed directly into some kind of mold. From there, if this CFRTP is at all similar to FusionFiber, we can expect some kind of flash curing.
Will It Ever Be Available?
Clearly, the technology is there as Revel and AREVO have created a rideable, 3D-printed DH bike. However, Revel also states that this is just a concept as the technology is still too new, costly, and requires a lot of time and energy. Regardless, the Rodeo seems to be an exciting step in the future of rapid prototyping, if not the distant future of carbon bike production.