CyclingTips Podcast, Episode 19: On safety testing and custom builders

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Larger bicycle manufacturers subject their bikes to all sorts of objective laboratory testing, for a wide range of purposes. On the one hand, bench testing provides concrete evidence of a frameset’s performance characteristics, such as its stiffness and ride comfort. On the other hand, laboratory testing can also verify that a bike is safe to ride for its intended purpose — both in terms of short-term loads as well as long-term fatigue.

However, smaller custom builders typically don’t conduct much, if any, bench testing to qualify their creations before they head out the door.

In the past, the safety of one-off builds weren’t often called into question as they only rarely pushed the envelope in terms of weight (and even then, were often built for clients who fell well below the bell curve in terms of rider mass). But as more builders go head-to-head with major brands on the scale, one invariably has to wonder how custom shops know what will work and what won’t. Does it simply come down to experience? Feel? Intuition?

For this week’s CyclingTips podcast, U.S. technical editor assembled a trio of guest panelists, each with their own insight on the topic: Nick Crumpton, considered by many to be one of the finest custom road frame builders in the world; Ben Schultz of Bastion Cycles, whose Melbourne, Australia-based custom brand has embraced objective testing as part of their brand identity; and Mark Rhomberg, founder and owner of BikeTesting.com, a long-time test engineer with almost two decades of experience.

Should all frames be subjected to safety testing? What sort of testing should be done? And is it even a viable option for smaller brands? Listen to this week’s episode for some interesting takes on the topic.

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