Thursday, 16 February 2017

Tech Talk: Craftworks ENR

The Craftworks ENR is a rare beast indeed, and not just because it’s only recently come into existence. It uses a very novel suspension system. You can buy it direct from the manufacturer. And rather than being the product of a full design team, just one man is behind it all; from frame layout to suspension kinematics. That man is Hugh McLeay, and he’s not employed by a big bike company, or any bike company for that matter. He’s simply a very smart cookie who wanted to design a better long-travel trail bike, so in typical Australian fashion he set about doing just that.

The ENR (short for Enduro Race) is available as a frame only or as a complete bike but it’s only made in two sizes; either medium or large (425mm and 445mm reach respectively). Colour choice is non-existent; the ENR only comes in a very film-noir anodised matte black with white logos. The bike’s lines are clean and straigh. Straight tubes are the lightest and strongest tubes anyway, and they endow the ENR with a distinctly muscular look. Most tubes feature large diameters with big junctions and solid chunks of metal make up the suspension components. The welds are very clean and you’ll find oversized bearings at all the pivots.

Internal cable routing features throughout; it’s tidily done but the entry and exit ports are small with no guides to make installation easier. You’ll find a 142x12mm rear axle tying the dropouts together, so it’ll fit your favourite non-Boost wheels. You can fit a water bottle inside the frame (where it belongs) but there’s no option for a front derailleur; the ENR is a strictly 1X affair. It does come standard with a custom MRP chainguide and taco plate, the former is a necessity while the later is appreciated.

A threaded bottom bracket will keep your creakphobia at bay while the rear shock is the excellent and ultratuneable Cane Creek Double Barrel Inline. It is worth mentioning that due to the upper pivot location you’ll not be able to run the longest droppers on the market unless you have very long legs; that shouldn’t be an issue for the vast majority of riders but it is worth mentioning.

i-Track Tech


Hugh said he wanted to develop a long travel suspension system that delivered excellent bump performance and downhill speed combined with high pedalling efficiency and limited pedal kickback. When he started toying with this idea, most long travel bikes saw these attributes as mutually exclusive. In principle i-Track is not dissimilar to a dual short link design, similar to what a number of brands now use. However the devil is always in the detail when it comes to suspension design, and in this case there are two very distinct details to note; the vertical lower link and the idler pulley mounted on the upper link.

Unlike other short-link designs where the lower link is almost horizontal and barely moves at all, the lower link on the ENR goes from its near vertical resting position to almost horizontal at full compression; this results in 50mm of rearward axle movement. On a different design this amount of movement would cause so much feedback through the pedals that the bike would be virtually impossible to pedal over bumps. So this is where the idler pulley comes into play.

By positioning the idler closer to the instant centre of rotation it mitigates the amount of anti-squat and pedal kickback. The end result is a system that has slightly higher anti-squat than a DW-Link design but with generally much lower pedal kickback. Because the idler is mounted to a moving link rather than fixed to the frame, it also means that the anti-squat varies throughout the travel as well as with the gear selection.

Pedalling in the largest cog will result in a nearly flat anti-squat curve, but in the smallest cog the anti-squat rises significantly as the suspension compresses. When you try to accelerate by pedalling a bike, your centre of gravity shifts rearward. With i-Track the increasing anti-squat helps resist the tendency to bog down and instead transmits more of your power into forward movement. As a result, when you’re descending at speed and crank out a few extra pedal strokes between turns the ENR bolts forward with more enthusiasm than any 160mm travel bike has a right to do.

Mountain Biking Australia magazine, 01/2017

Ride On!

No comments: