We’ve been keeping an eye on the evolution of the Frameworks DH Bike project of pro downhiller Neko Mulally. As it’s gone from alloy to steel to carbon and back again. 10 versions it seems. And having settled down in its development, Frameworks is ready to open up pre-orders for their ultimate mullet-wheeled DH Frame, returning to an alloy front triangle and rocker, paired to a set of carbon seat & chainstays…
Frameworks DH bike frame project of Neko Mulally
Overall the Frameworks DH bike frame has evolved into a what looks like the long-proven proven Horst-link 4-bar suspension design, with a massive rocker link.
According to Mulally, the goal in developing this DH bike was, “to achieve the suspension kinematics and geometry numbers we found worked best for downhill racing in a predictable and reliable package, the simplest way possible. To achieve simplicity, we went down the road of complexity and back through our testing process to give us a well-rounded perspective. The 4-Bar linkage gives us the tuneability to make the braking and acceleration force’s influence on the suspension in an optimal range with a layout that efficiently uses materials without the need to fit things where they don’t naturally belong and distributes stress around the frame neutrally. The long links put each pivot location relatively further apart, so with the same manufacturing tolerance as frames with shorter links, our frames are more accurate.“
Why now aluminum & carbon?
The Frameworks team first raced all-aluminum prototypes in 2022 as they dialed in suspension. But actually ran into issues with durability around alloy stress cracks in the front end. As well as not enough stiffness out back. Earlier this year, we saw the team move to a UK-made steel front triangle for better durability. And to carbon stays for that rear end precision and stiffness they were after.
Now with refined materials and production, the Frameworks DH bike frame goes to a US-made 6061-T6 aluminum front triangle. Taking advantage of straight tubes, welded to CNC’s parts by Frank the Welder. That is lighter, stiffer, and importantly… now more durable too. Pair that to machined 7075-T6 alloy for the big rocker link, the shock extender, and all other alloy pivot hardware. The end result is optimized strength to weight ratios, and the ability to iterate changes as the project developed.
And the rear triangle does shift to carbon like the mid-year prototypes we caught up with last spring. Opening carbon molds was more costly. But it created a stiff, more precise rear end, that was also 800g lighter! As Frameworks describes the benefits, making the seat and chainstays from carbon “significantly reduces our unsuspended mass (the parts of the bike that move with the suspension) and precisely locates all our pivots, brake mount, and rear hub spacing within a tighter manufacturing tolerance.“
Front triangles welding in Vermont. Alloy bits machined by 5Dev in San Diego, CA. Carbon rear triangles made in VIP Composites in Asia.
The Frameworks DH frame is a mixed mullet wheel setup, 29″ front, 27.5″ rear. It features a flip chip at the lower mount of the shock extender to pick more linear 200.7mm or more progressive 205mm of rear wheel travel. With 27% or 30% progression.
The frame features a 83mm threaded BSA bottom bracket, ISCG tabs, external cable routing, and Boost 12x148mm hub spacing for simplicity. Its ZS 56 top & ZS 62 headset is designed so you can have reach adjust if you choose, with no impact on frame Stack. Bikes get a 5-year warranty.
Frameworks DH bike frame – Pre-order pricing, options & availability
Neko Mulally’s Frameworks DH bike project is now officially available to the public. That is to say, it comes as a pre-order meant to kickstart the bike’s production. Pre-order pricing is $3950 for the aluminum & carbon frame, with NO shock – available in two frames sizes (M or L).
You can also pick an option with a Fox DHX Factory, a RockShox Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate, or an Öhlins TTX 22m.2 shock if you want. And you can pick your spring weight.
Cost up front is now 50% of the total price, and pre-order payment is fully refundable. Then, the balance is due when they are ready to ship the frame. Delivery time is slated for 90days from pre-order. So if you buy now, Frameworks says they’ll deliver a DH frame to you by February 15th, in time to build it up for the start of the 2024 downhill racing season.
Officially, Frameworks intends to sell the new DH frame in the US, and shipping cost is up to the buyer. Also, they will offer hand delivery at Rock Creek, Kanuga & Windrock bikeparks in the US southeast. You can still buy a bike if you are overseas, but customs & taxes will be up to the buyer.