Tyler Evans and Jaime Medeiros approached me about some craaaazy Independent Fabrication special ops bike that they needed some support on back in April 2010. We sat down and they described the project; they needed a fancy seatpost clamp for their new super-secret race bike. Tyler described the aesthetic of the new bike as a “space age muscle car” or something like that and told me that he wanted to paint it “Hemi Orange.” Tyler sent me over some pictures of existing products and some sketches of how the assembly would go together and some rough geometry. We sent back and forth more sketches and some renderings, but it just wasn’t looking like anything that was A) an aesthetic match for the materials that were going to be used on the rest of the bike, or B) remotely machinable.
Trying to stay as far away from the Vanilla-shield-style seatmast, my second crack at the design was a combination of existing elements of the IF branding. The proportions of the rectangular “I” rectangle were preserved in the final design, as well as the scale of the crown cutout. It was very important to me that the part remain simple, clean and functional, and I was really pleased by how much creative control and support I was given during the design/engineering process. The seatmast clamp was specifically designed around the manufacturing process that was going to be used during production of the part (as is the case with any engineered part). The clamp was machined on a swiss mill. This mill in particular is basically a multi-axis lathe, with a vertical axis and horizontal axis mill inside of it, so all of the cuts, with the exception of the profiling of the outer and inner surfaces and a few other passes were modeled for a radial approach. The part was a nice challenging change from typical day-to-day projects, and it was really cool to be able to design something for machining on a swiss mill.
When the raw part finally arrived from the machine shop Tyler and I gushed over it on the phone like schoolgirls. It was such a challenging part to program for machining that the machinist sent me one of the first ones off the mill for “my wall.” I thought that he was just being sour about how complicated the part was, until I received the part in the mail, and then the email about putting it on my wall made sense.
I was able to finally see the anodized IFtop seatmast clamp and V1 release of the bike all assembled at the Boston Handbuilt Bike Show, which was part of the Boston Bicycle Film Fest events line-up back in September. I was really flattered that IF had used the lines from the seatmast clamp to style the titanium lugs for the rest of the bike. Today, on halloween, Independent Fabrication released the V2 of the bike in Hemi Orange, and it looks awesome. It was really a pleasure to work with the team over at IF and I look forward to our next project together. As a side note, a good thing that came out of this project was that it helped pay for the production of the T0001. So it was kind of cool for me to be able to keep another bike project alive with a bigger bike project. Some more pics here. On to the next…
Ps: If you have some time to kill, here are some videos of the IFtop part being machined on the 8-axis Nakmura-Tome MMY turning center: