From Cycle EXIF’s technical correspondent, Richard Gearing. When a bike strikes up a lengthy conversation at a post-ride coffee stop, mid-ride bottle refill or even out on the road, you know you’re riding something interesting.
When you have to consider factoring in extra time for a ride because of having been caught explaining a bike for extended periods of time on previous rides, you know you are riding something extraordinary. It happened a lot with my first Lyrebird Cycles test bike, but with this second one it is verging on ridiculous…
To refresh some of the key points about the theory behind these bikes that were touched on when we featured the first bike, this approach came about because Mark Kelly, the man behind Lyrebird Cycles, set out to make the best bike he could using acoustic design principles. As odd as it may seem, wood – more specifically, seven different variants of hardwood – happened to be the answer.
The woods are used in combination with other materials chosen for mechanical and acoustic properties, boron fibre, carbon fibre and basalt fibre feature in the tube construction; and more recently Mark has added flax fibres to this list.
Mark alters the number of layers, layup angles and composition of these layers, including which wood to use where, which composites to use where and whether to use unidirectional or bidirectional fabric for total control over the tube properties.
The construction of a ‘typical’ Lyrebird tube can be seen here – and Mark can tell you some quite interesting facts about what this tube will do to a titanium or carbon tube of similar weight and thickness when the two are bashed together!
Mark has done a lot of research into his acoustic theory and material use. Reading through it, this statement stands out: “Putting all of this together, it appears that the incorporation of tonewoods in a manner which allows them to dominate the acoustic response of the frame achieves a unique balance of properties: the perceived responsiveness and connectedness of the bike on the road is improved by minimising the loss of energy in the range of frequencies which correspond to these desirable properties whilst the perceived harshness and chatter of the bike is diminished by maximising the loss of energy at these undesirable frequencies.”
In short, and like it or lump it, his theory isn’t as ‘airy-fairy’ as it might seem – something to which I can attest wholeheartedly.
So how does this one, still only the fifth frame built by Mark, differ from the first? Visually, it’s obvious: a bang up-to-date oversize head tube and tapered fork, more modern compact geometry, different seat stays and chain stays, no stainless steel and the internally routed Di2 are all clear to see.
Not to mention the interesting finishing details: the lovely new silver head badge and the gold branding on the down tube. Less obvious, or hidden amongst Mark’s skilled production, is that the structural approach of this bike is almost entirely different – something which will always evolve and be adapted in Mark’s frames as he moves towards producing for the buying public depending on the riding purpose, bike design and rider type.
Mark has been particularly clear that his method of joining the tubes has changed since he built this bike for me; although that is as much as he would share as he contemplates more formally protecting his new approach.
Lyrebird production methods and theory aside, this build is dripping in a host of delicious components – notably a whole host of kit from the German brand, Tune, ranging from the freshly released Krummes Stück layback seat post to the ‘4.0’ version of the Tune mainstay Geiles Teil stem; and with a KommVor+ saddle, SmartFoot chainset, Schraubwürger seat clamp and carbon headset top cap to boot.
These all arrived with me to complete the build via the incredibly helpful Krischan at EightyOneSpices. A set of the renowned lightweight brakes from EE Cycleworks, Shimano’s Dura-Ace 9070 Di2 mechs & levers and a carbon fork from Curve Cycling accompany all of that Tune goodness.
A 38mm carbon clincher wheelset from Ben at Caden Wheels, local to us here in Sydney, rounds out the build. These are very interesting wheels as Ben has rims and hubs produced to his own design and builds them all himself.
We will be taking delivery of the latest version of these for review once Ben returns from a trip to Taiwan to finalise his latest rim design; we also hope to interview Ben for the full lowdown on his approach.
I have ridden and owned a lot of bikes in my time. It is no word of a lie and should not be taken lightly when I say that this is right up there in my top three and stands on the top step amongst that top three for almost every facet of the riding I do.
If you don’t believe it can be capable of sitting above high-end production bikes and top tier custom machines, come and give it a ride – and yes, I really do mean that.
If you want the full backstory on how and why these Lyrebird bikes came to be, you can find that here on the Velocipede Salon. Put your science hat on, though – you have been warned! Mark is currently working through some testing and will begin building bikes for customers once that work is complete.
Lyrebird Cycles Website