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Helix Update?

Old 02-20-19, 09:09 PM
  #1726  
maxxevv
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Originally Posted by Jipe View Post
I wonder how you want to electrify it ?

What kind of motor: front hub seems difficult with the lefty fork, bottom bracket motor also due to folding and because the seat tube is place in front of the bottom bracket , I only see a rear hub motor as possibility.

Then where to place the battery ?

Looking at the detailed pictures, I do not find the welding amazing, actually several welds are questionable (look for instance at the picture with the serial number for instance). But seen the low price of the bike, it seems normal).

I have see also some design weaknesses:
- the seatpost locking seems to me really basic and not made for a folding bike where the seatpost must be unlocked/locked each time the bike is folded.
- the helical system for the rear arm and fork folding that is very much exposed to dirt, what will happen when the bike will be folded with dirt (or mud) inside the hHelical groves.

I was wondering the same question about the helical hinge ( I think) about 2 years back when I first joined this thread.
Now that its finally out in the flesh, the same question persists yet.

It remains to be seen but my apprehension is the mid - long term serviceability/ durability of that really.
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Old 02-20-19, 09:09 PM
  #1727  
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Originally Posted by rhenning View Post
I am trying to figure out how it got so heavy. A couple of pages back I posted a picture of my wife's 24 inch wheeled titanium Seven bike and that weighs between 15 and 16 pounds. Are you sure the weights quoted are right, Roger
It's over-engineered, it passed with huge margins all fatigue tests (more than double the ISO required limits!) and some parts passed multiple tests with a single unit (when other vendors use a different part for each test).
I guess they applied the "better safe than sorry" philosophy for durability in this first model. Probably future versions will balance durability and weight a bit more.
Also robotic welding in inert chamber produces fantastic results. Whenever I see videos of other vendors (incl. Brompton), manually welding steel frames, you realize how leading edge is Helix here!

Last edited by borjita; 02-20-19 at 09:13 PM.
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Old 02-20-19, 09:12 PM
  #1728  
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Originally Posted by spambait11 View Post


- in process for front mount.
- water bottle mounts located on folding stem.
- in one pic, fenders are a tight fit, and look like they will mount to the mono-fork.

- As far as weight, here is want team Helix emailed me on 2/20/2019:

"The Alfine hub is about 1.1 kg (2.5 lbs) heavier than the 10-speed
weighing in at 12.2 kg (27 lbs)."

Sadly, weight has approached Bromtpon levels. sigh.
That's surprisingly high a figure. I was guessing it to be in the 9~10kg ballpark when I first read about it.
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Old 02-21-19, 12:20 AM
  #1729  
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Originally Posted by rhenning View Post
I am trying to figure out how it got so heavy. A couple of pages back I posted a picture of my wife's 24 inch wheeled titanium Seven bike and that weighs between 15 and 16 pounds. Are you sure the weights quoted are right, Roger
My BF Pakit with titanium seat post and stem weighs just under 19 lbs (8 speed) with seat and pedals. For a folder, that's close to the max I want something to weigh that I might fold and carry. I've got a Dahon Mu Uno with lightweight pedals that runs 22 lbs and it's definitely the most I want a folder to weigh. Those extra 3-4 pounds make a difference if you're schlepping the bike up a bunch of stairs at transit stations. Maybe he is using really heavy tires? Throw on some light weigh slicks... Sevens are really sweet bikes, btw. I'm jealous of your wife.
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Old 02-21-19, 03:33 AM
  #1730  
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Originally Posted by spambait11 View Post


- in process for front mount.
- water bottle mounts located on folding stem.
- in one pic, fenders are a tight fit, and look like they will mount to the mono-fork.

- As far as weight, here is want team Helix emailed me on 2/20/2019:

"The Alfine hub is about 1.1 kg (2.5 lbs) heavier than the 10-speed
weighing in at 12.2 kg (27 lbs)."

Sadly, weight has approached Bromtpon levels. sigh.
A S6Ex Brompton (flat-bar, superlight, no rack, no mudguards, no light = same as what current Helix is) weight about 10.5kg.

Seattle Cycles Burke starts at 8kg (manufacturer info, not verified as far as I know).

My Moulton Speed in stainless steel with Campi Super Record weight a little above 8kg (verified).

So, even if it is made of titanium, Helix is relatively heavy. It also demonstrate that titanium isn't necessarily lightweight.

Originally Posted by borjita View Post
It's over-engineered, it passed with huge margins all fatigue tests (more than double the ISO required limits!) and some parts passed multiple tests with a single unit (when other vendors use a different part for each test).
I guess they applied the "better safe than sorry" philosophy for durability in this first model. Probably future versions will balance durability and weight a bit more.
Also robotic welding in inert chamber produces fantastic results. Whenever I see videos of other vendors (incl. Brompton), manually welding steel frames, you realize how leading edge is Helix here!
First, heavy doesn't mean strong and durable ! Strong and durable comes from a good, validated design.

Second, I think that this high weight comes also from some technical choices: lefty fork isn't known to be lightweight, helical hinge seems quite heavy, bigger ETRTO 507 wheels are heavier than ETRTO 406 wheels.

For the "fantastic results" of robotic welding, please look at the welding quality of manually welded frames like Passoni, Legend, Nevi (manually welded but in inert chamber) and also Burke and Lynskey .
But, once the investment done and amortized, robotic welding is probably cheaper than manual welding (at least manual welding in Canada, US, Italy, UK...).
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Old 02-21-19, 07:06 AM
  #1731  
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On the issue of helical hinges being contaminated with dirt...
Consider that they rotate only when folding, & aren't under load then.
When riding, the front one is stationary, & appears to carry no load.
The rear one is also stationary, & carries a primarily uni-directional load, with
the rear triangle's alignment maintained by the pins of the latch mechanism.

I still want fenders to avoid dirt on the hinges (since I often ride on wet
gravel), but I'd expect them to function for a long time without protection.
(It's an aesthetic thingie for me....complicated parts should be clean.)
I wonder what they'd be like to service or replace?

About the weight.....
This is the first production design iteration of the Helix.
I expect that real world experience & some profitable years will allow design
changes to reduce weight, eg, thinner tubing, lighter component options.
But fundamentally, a folding bike will be heavier than a non-folder or a
disassemblable space frame bike like the Moulton.
The bigger the wheels, & the smaller the folded size, the more it will weigh.
- More those pivots & locking mechanisms.
- Designing for ruggedness due to greater likelihood of getting banged up when handled.
- Structural inefficiencies.
The Helix has one big saving grace with the ability to roll on both wheels side by side.
It wouldn't need to be carried as much as clumsier single-wheel or skate wheel designs.

Last edited by Revoltingest; 02-21-19 at 07:20 AM.
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Old 02-21-19, 08:27 AM
  #1732  
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Originally Posted by Revoltingest View Post
The Helix has one big saving grace with the ability to roll on both wheels side by side.
It wouldn't need to be carried as much as clumsier single-wheel or skate wheel designs.
I don't think the final iteration can roll on both wheels when folded. Just the front.
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Old 02-21-19, 09:50 AM
  #1733  
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Originally Posted by Gibsonsean View Post
I don't think the final iteration can roll on both wheels when folded. Just the front.
That is also my understanding from the first user report.
However I am still hoping that the front wheel only rolling will show to be sufficiently handy.
If this is the case, this might overcome the heavier weight of the Helix as being able to roll the bike on such a big wheel should allow for it to be moved around easily without lifting unless really necessary (f.e. for a few stairs).

I guess we will now have to wait for a few real-life user reports..
While this is not a surprise, I am surprised by the many very strong opinions and convictions here based on the pictures alone. Some of which I can understand (f.e. worries regarding sand/dirt in the Helix'es), but some also which honestly I completely fail to understand (f.e. questionable welds??)
Personally, I will keep my strong opinions for when I have had enough time riding the Helix extensively in different situations. Or at the very least, for after serious and extensive reports from people who did do just that..
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Old 02-21-19, 10:46 AM
  #1734  
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Originally Posted by SurfHenk View Post
That is also my understanding from the first user report.
However I am still hoping that the front wheel only rolling will show to be sufficiently handy.
If this is the case, this might overcome the heavier weight of the Helix as being able to roll the bike on such a big wheel should allow for it to be moved around easily without lifting unless really necessary (f.e. for a few stairs).

I guess we will now have to wait for a few real-life user reports..
While this is not a surprise, I am surprised by the many very strong opinions and convictions here based on the pictures alone. Some of which I can understand (f.e. worries regarding sand/dirt in the Helix'es), but some also which honestly I completely fail to understand (f.e. questionable welds??)
Personally, I will keep my strong opinions for when I have had enough time riding the Helix extensively in different situations. Or at the very least, for after serious and extensive reports from people who did do just that..
Boo, hiss. What kind of devilment is this?! Refraining from opinionating until you are more informed is unnatural and surely against thread rules.
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Old 02-21-19, 11:01 AM
  #1735  
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Originally Posted by Jipe View Post
For the "fantastic results" of robotic welding, please look at the welding quality of manually welded frames like Passoni, Legend, Nevi (manually welded but in inert chamber) and also Burke and Lynskey .
But, once the investment done and amortized, robotic welding is probably cheaper than manual welding (at least manual welding in Canada, US, Italy, UK...).
Indeed. Worth noting that the welds required no post processing as I understand, unlike I believe some of the brands you mention, further reducing costs.
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Old 02-21-19, 11:07 AM
  #1736  
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Originally Posted by Jipe View Post
First, heavy doesn't mean strong and durable ! Strong and durable comes from a good, validated design.
I don't know yet if Helix has a good structural design, and if it has weak points non addressable with reinforced parts, but in general thicker (heavier) helps to reduce the odds overall: thick tubes, CNC parts and welds help to minimize weakness in stress points. There may be points where even that was not enough, we'll know as the bike is tested on the field.
Eventually Helix will have to reduce thickness in low stress points. They did some Finite Element Analisys early in the design, but such as small team probably did not invest much time on that, FEA optimization require a lot of effort that Helix can't afford yet.

Originally Posted by Jipe View Post
For the "fantastic results" of robotic welding, please look at the welding quality of manually welded frames like Passoni, Legend, Nevi (manually welded but in inert chamber) and also Burke and Lynskey .
But, once the investment done and amortized, robotic welding is probably cheaper than manual welding (at least manual welding in Canada, US, Italy, UK...).
Ti welding can't be done properly in open air like steel, and manually working on inert chambers is very complex and uncomfortable.
For example check how Passoni works (www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQ0Nb6GeIwI).
Looks painfully slow, handling the tools to follow the weld path, stopping because you don't have good angle, then move the part, then continue the weld... that is the reason why for tight welds they have to use double and even triple weld layers with painfully slow grinding steps in the middle (www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKgj2LfwQWc).
Yes, amazing handcraft-ship results and beautiful to see, but requires very specialized welding skills, and a lot of time to get good results.
Titanium pipes are not that expensive, but that kind of manual welding process makes a frame cost a fortune and it will only scale up and provide quality results if you find super-skilled welders that never have a bad day at work.

If you have seen the Helix videos with the robots welding inside the inert chamber, both the welding torch and the bike part rotating smoothly in weird angles (no human can do that) to create a smooth and continuous welding line, it is really mesmerising. And a weld is done in record time with no post processing (grinding) required.
As long as the robots have been programmed by a good welder to minimize warping and other welding effects, the outcome is going to be consistent and pretty every single time.
That automation can really plummet the cost of manufacturing quality titanium frames at volume, and the cost of the robotic welding chamber is not that high compared with highly skilled welder salaries in a country like Canada.
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Old 02-21-19, 11:22 AM
  #1737  
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Originally Posted by Gibsonsean View Post
Boo, hiss. What kind of devilment is this?! Refraining from opinionating until you are more informed is unnatural and surely against thread rules.
Hi Sean,
You certainly took my message very serious.. way more serious than I meant it.
So let me clarify:
I only stated that I was very surprised by the many very strong opinions and convictions here based on the pictures alone. This in no way is related to any devilment..
I also stated that Personally, I will keep my strong opinions for when I have had enough time riding the Helix extensively. Thereby implicitly agreeing anyone else is free to opinionate whatever he wants..
And lastly, my intention was certainly not to preach against thread rules, my apologies if you interpreted my message like that...
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Old 02-21-19, 11:27 AM
  #1738  
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Originally Posted by SurfHenk View Post
Hi Sean,
You certainly took my message very serious.. way more serious than I meant it.
So let me clarify:
I only stated that I was very surprised by the many very strong opinions and convictions here based on the pictures alone. This in no way is related to any devilment..
I also stated that Personally, I will keep my strong opinions for when I have had enough time riding the Helix extensively. Thereby implicitly agreeing anyone else is free to opinionate whatever he wants..
And lastly, my intention was certainly not to preach against thread rules, my apologies if you interpreted my message like that...
one prinicpled man, by his own example alone may bring down the whole system. This kind of considered and reasonable behaviour must be snuffed out before it catches on.
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Old 02-21-19, 12:20 PM
  #1739  
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Originally Posted by Gibsonsean View Post
I don't think the final iteration can roll on both wheels when folded. Just the front.
Dang, that would be less fun.
I don't recall where I got the idea that it'll roll on both.

Last edited by Revoltingest; 02-21-19 at 12:50 PM.
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Old 02-21-19, 12:45 PM
  #1740  
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Originally Posted by rhenning View Post
I am trying to figure out how it got so heavy. A couple of pages back I posted a picture of my wife's 24 inch wheeled titanium Seven bike and that weighs between 15 and 16 pounds. Are you sure the weights quoted are right, Roger
that was a direct quote from helix which was not altered.

It’s usually the hinges and locking mechanisms which weigh the most on folding bikes. But it’s hard to tell what the weight gain is for helix until we get them in hand.
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Old 02-21-19, 09:54 PM
  #1741  
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Hello everyone! This is my first post on Bikeforums. I have been reading every post on this thread from the very beginning and though I have never said a word I read all of your comments with concern. I am one of the earliest people interested in the success of the Helix since 2015 and I have several emails from and to Peter Boutakis from this time. I have always been 50/50 about whether or not the Helix would actually become a real product and so I did not become an early backer on Kickstarter.

First off, I am glad that this project looks as if it will be a success and that the early backers on Kickstarter will finally get their bicycles. It's been way too long. Secondly, I am now at peace with the fact that I never did back this project. These early photos are not what I was expecting from the artist renderings. As with automobiles artist renderings hardly ever reflect the finished product. Also, the fact that this bicycle was supposed to weigh 22 pounds and it comes in at a real time weight of 27 pounds is disappointing. You can now buy Bromptons, Dahons, & Terns at 22 pounds. There are several more details about the Helix which makes it a pass for me at this time.

Even so, I want Helix to succeed. Hopefully all of you who have purchased the Helix will post reviews and YouTube videos of this bicycle. Together we can all make comments and suggestions in effort to make Helix Version 2.0 even better. We all know Helix is a special project attempting to do things no other folding bicycle can do. It is trying to break the mold but just has not quite succeeded yet. Hopefully in the future it will.

Last edited by davidhunternyc; 02-21-19 at 10:15 PM.
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Old 02-21-19, 10:10 PM
  #1742  
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Wow, declarations of faith! The series will continue !
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Old 02-22-19, 12:09 AM
  #1743  
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Originally Posted by davidhunternyc View Post
...Also, the fact that this bicycle was supposed to weigh 22 pounds and it comes in at a real time weight of 27 pounds is disappointing....
please note: 27lbs. are for bikes equipped with an Alfine hub. Around 24.5lbs. are for 10-speeds. Maybe close to 22lbs. for single speed?
But yeah, your point is well taken.

Originally Posted by davidhunternyc View Post
...You can now buy Bromptons, Dahons, & Terns at 22 pounds...
However, which stock 24” wheel Brompton, Dahon, or Tern comes in at 22lbs.? I'll wait.

Last edited by spambait11; 02-22-19 at 12:14 AM.
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Old 02-22-19, 12:13 AM
  #1744  
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Who cares? You can’t compare bikes that have already been in production for many years, have complete dealership and spares networks with an experimental model based in one country with unknown support.
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Old 02-22-19, 02:47 AM
  #1745  
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Originally Posted by spambait11 View Post
However, which stock 24” wheel Brompton, Dahon, or Tern comes in at 22lbs.? I'll wait.
As already said, 24" wheels, especially with 40mm wide tires, do not provide any benefit wrt. 20" wheels, only drawbacks ! Several other folders manufacturers had or have some folders models with 24" wheels and even with wider, more comfortable 24" tires, there are no benefit compared to their 20" wheeled models.

24" wheels is a useless purely marketing differentiator (just like the complex, heavy, expensive, dirt exposed, maybe fragile helical hinge).
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Old 02-22-19, 04:25 AM
  #1746  
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Quick post - just checking in.

Some days ago, I posted my opinion Helix is forging a new path to bike building. I think I called it a new paradigm. Some took strong exception to that. That does not bother me as each is entitled to their own opinions, and may express at whatever level of civility they may be prone to....

However, I would say that I am still of the opinion that this is a new paradigm as evidenced by surprise expressed by others that:
1. Helix can manufacture titanium bikes at this price point. This is ground breaking.
2. How excellent the robotic welds look. This should reduce the cost of frame manufacturing by reducing one of the highest cost - human labor. I for one, found the videos of the robotic welding process to be extremely impressive.

I also noted my opinion that Helix is not as easily knocked off by imitators in other lower labor cost countries due to its complexity which does require much more machining and robotic work than is financially feasible even in lower labor cost nations. It is one thing to knock of the likes of a Brompton which, per my understanding, is largely hand welded. Other countries have plenty of such labor capable of duplicating Brompton's labor. But Helix is manufactured with a different approach and additional human labor alone (where the advantage lays in low wage nations) cannot make up the difference. One needs sufficient investment in specific CNC machines etc. If my conjecture is correct, this IS a different paradigm in bike manufacturing.

Regarding weight, I too would have loved to see it coming in at the original specification. However, I am unclear as to why a larger wheel bike should not weigh more than or the same as a smaller wheel bike. And I for one think that there is clear advantages to larger wheels over real world road imperfections. My understanding is that the added weight gain is to 'over build' (made up word) the durability. Helix is good for light trail riding. Not sure how other uber light folders do on trail but I feel confident that Helix will be fine.

ps: I do have 4 bikes coming in this next shipment about to go out so I did put my $ where my mouth is...

Last edited by Ultralight; 02-22-19 at 04:35 AM.
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Old 02-22-19, 04:35 AM
  #1747  
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Listen, don't let people get to you. Dreamers and true believers are needed to keep our society going, so good on you.
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Old 02-22-19, 05:01 AM
  #1748  
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Originally Posted by Ultralight View Post
1. Helix can manufacture titanium bikes at this price point. This is ground breaking.
2. How excellent the robotic welds look. This should reduce the cost of frame manufacturing by reducing one of the highest cost - human labor. I for one, found the videos of the robotic welding process to be extremely impressive.
I also noted my opinion that Helix is not as easily knocked off by imitators in other lower labor cost countries due to its complexity which does require much more machining and robotic work than is financially feasible even in lower labor cost nations.
I disagree. They did not prove they can build the bike at the price. They just proved they can build a few bikes with the funding they got. It is totally different.

And CNC machines and robots are already widely adopted in Taiwan and China too. That's why now we can get CNC machined bike parts at the fractions of what they used to cost. One example is a pair of flatbar brake levers I recently purchased at $17 shipped. The original one made by Extralite costs $170. Much heavier Paul CNC brake levers cost $130 now. (just checked the ebay for the prices)

Finally the robots. Actually my major is robotics. Industrial 6 axis robotic arm used to cost tens of thousands of dollars. (I have a universal robotics arm which I paid like 40,000 USD) Now I heard one Chinese company is soon launching a 7 axis arm that costs only $6000. I dunno what kind of dark magic was used but what I am saying is that robots are getting really cheap, and if robotic manufacture becomes cheaper than Chinese labor they will use cheaper robots too.

And they are way advanced than you may think. You will be surprised to know that one Chinese company already copied the Boston dynamics dog robot (spot mini) and is already selling it.

So here I summarize. Whatever magic peter used to lower the production cost of helix tremendously (if he really did) can be also used by Asian countries. And if such magic exists, big brands would have jumped in years ago.

Last edited by Raxel; 02-22-19 at 08:20 AM.
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Old 02-22-19, 07:14 AM
  #1749  
borjita
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Originally Posted by Raxel View Post
So here I summarize. Whatever magic Peter used to lower the production cost of helix tremendously (if he really did) can be also used by asian countries. And if such magic exists, big brands would have jumped in years ago.
I also wonder why established bike brands have not jumped on advanced manufacturing years ago. I'm shocked when I see Brompton building a new factory and still welding frames manually.

I'm as excited as Ultralight on the break-though in manufacturing that Helix brings, and I also agree with you that China is so advanced that they could do the same (cheaper and probably 2 years ago).

Innovation is a happy combination of factors, including a good dose of naiveness and drive, but specially a vision.
Maybe everybody in China is too busy manufacturing other things and nobody cares about the ultimate frame fold...

And if Peter had gone to manufacture in China, by now the market would be crowded with clones, as China traditionally ignores Intellectual Property (BTW, China is changing their position on IP, now that they are starting to innovate).
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Old 02-22-19, 07:36 AM
  #1750  
rhenning
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Again I think the Helix is a good idea I am just a bit surprised by the weight. I talked about my wife's bike S&S coupled 24 inch Seven which was custom built for her as a one off bike. The bike in the picture is about 16 pounds plus or minus a bit as you see it. Roger
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