Testing in full swing

I am testing all frames using the ISO4210-6 methodologies before delivering each bike for:

  • pedalling forces fatigue
  • frontal (braking) forces fatigue and
  • vertical forces fatigue

The fatigue tests will be set at 10,000 cycles.

Composite fatigue failures follow a fairly extreme version of the bathtub curve: if a composite frame is going to fail in fatigue, it will do so in the first few thousand cycles or after millions of cycles, but not between. The “bottom of the bath” is a near zero failure rate.

There was an interesting podcast recently on Cycling Tips covering testing and custom builders, I think this is well worth listening to. One thing that got a bit glossed over in this discussion is that the fatigue tests specified in ISO4210-6 are a bit of a compromise between short cycle and long cycle fatigue, but this has an interesting consequence that was mentioned: both Nick Crumpton and Ben Shultz say in the podcast that they are still riding bikes that have been through the fatigue test. As has my own Lyrebird bike. However, “smaller custom builders typically don’t conduct much, if any, bench testing to qualify their creations before they head out the door.”

Another interesting part of the discussion is there’s an inherent bind faced by all custom builders: where production builders can test a representative sample of each size of each frame and generate a statistical model to predict failure rates. So they can predict safety rates for the production run as a whole. This is impossible for a custom builder because each frame is unique. The test rig in action, lorum ipsem smoobly moodnlyddg.

The podcast mentions that even if we built a duplicate frame and tested that, this would still not work because it could not take into account small variations in layup and possible voids and inclusions.

Putting these two concepts together suggests an out. Lyrebird has in house testing capabilities so it is practical to test every frame for a few thousand cycles on the fatigue tests. 10,000 cycles will be enough to get to the floor of the bath but not enough to materially affect longevity. This will only take a few hours per test. Remember the motto: Be safe or be road kill.

Why Lyrebird?

It really named itself.

The Lyrebird (Menura novaehollandiae) represents an extraordinary fit with what I’m doing.

It is native to the montane forests of south eastern Australia, which are both part of the inspiration for the bikes and the source of some of the tonewoods I use, plus it’s subtly beautiful and renowned for the musicality and complexity of its song:

It is native to the montane forests of south eastern Australia, which are both part of the inspiration for the bikes and the source of some of the tonewoods I use, plus it’s subtly beautiful and renowned for the musicality and complexity of its song:

Armed with an idea of what I wanted but not the talent to make it happen I asked for help from the  Velocipede Salon community . Melvin Choo came on board and has done some extraordinary design work.

I already had an idea for the script I wanted to use, taken from the lettering used on veteran’s honour boards around the country: the particular example I used was from Prahran, where one of the names on the board is “Monash, John Sir”:

Lyrebird Cycles-monash-john-sir-jpg

Sir John Monash was the commander in chief of Australian forces in WW1 and yet there he is on the board with the ordinary soldiers.
On a personal note: I didn’t realise until later that he was the signatory on the citation for my grandfather’s medals for bravery under fire at Albert (near Pozieres) in 1916.

Initially we spent an afternoon talking about what I wanted to achieve and where all this had come from, with me typically wandering off on long tangents about such things as the association of lyrebird habitat with the myrtle beech and the importance of the myrtle beech to the history of the concept of Gondwana whilst Melvin asked lots of pertinent questions about the relevance of these things to the project at hand.

Melvin then got to work on some concept sketches that embodied the more relevant ideas:

These are just some of the pages and pages of sketches he did: he put a huge amount of work into developing these ideas and liaising with me on how they fitted with what I wanted to do. Some things were very fluid: myrtle leaves went in and out of the design several times before finally being rejected. Some ideas came in and simply stuck, such as having the lyrebird “in song” and having five linear feathers to evoke the musical stave:

The final design is wonderful:

Lyrebird Cycles-logo-black-gold-jpg

It balances elegance and complexity, it is at once laden with signifiers yet able to be taken as an entity by itself. I couldn’t be happier.

Blog’s up!

This is just a test to make sure the site works – there likely won’t be anything posted for another couple of years, the bikes need to go through a huge amount of testing to make sure they fit with industry standards. I’m certain they will be – I’ve spent a lot of time in development and the bikes sure can take a beating, so I’m happy to put my money where my mouth is and put the bikes through the wringer to prove they’re road worthy.