Almost a decade ago Frank Kirk, an aeronautical engineer, had the bright idea that a magnesium bicycle frame could be made lighter and stronger than conventional aluminium or steel tube frames. He found he could make a magnesium frame only two-thirds the weight of an aluminium frame and one-fifth that of a frame made of steel – the Independent UK
and we spotted a Kirk this weekend. The initial response was, “whoa” and a nod to how this must’ve been the shit back in 1988. While Kirk didn’t own the 80s with this awesome, die-cast magnesium wonder of CAD, for a weekend or a month, somewhere on a group ride, this bike got talked about. Sort of like Trek’s Y-Foil bike or Softride’s “dinosaur-tongue” beam bike.
Other materials that came and went include beryllium, stainless steel, and Metal Matrix. Today we talk about Bamboo.
Seeing that Kirk, the owner’s father was Frank Kirk himself, reminded me of how hard some people work on their inventions to have them fail. I’m sure there’s a bigger story there, probably not unlike an innovator in the automotive industry getting squashed by the previous Big Three.
Also note that you could fast-forward this design, paint it black, add some bronze bits, and call it Steam Punk. Tweed rides would likely love it. There’s an environmental spin too, as the Independent UK article found,
Each frame is made from the magnesium extracted from one and a half cubic metres of sea water – just under 2.5kg (5.5lbs) of metal.
Magnesium is an abundant metal retrieved from Seawater.
Learn more about the science of frame materials in David Gordon Wilson’s Bicycling Science book.