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Concept bike's suspension offers greater control over rough terrainTrying to reinvent the wheel is next to impossible. But re-designing concepts surrounding the wheel is a constant endeavour, from the automotive industry and high-tech landing gear for planes to skateboards and roller blades. It is exactly this reinvention that has resulted in a new concept from handmade bicycle specialist COFA Engineering and its unique suspension system, NOAH.
The NOAH, or Normally Operated Articulated Hybrid, suspension system was developed as the centre piece of COFA Engineering's yearly concept bike for the Bespoke UK Handmade Bicycle Show. Designer Steve Major drew on influences from his background in mechanical engineering, mountain biking and the world of motocross.
Wanting to create a bike that incorporated his engineering passion and experience preparing competition motocross bikes, Steve designed a unique system that would allow greater control over rough terrain whilst providing a suspension system that would absorb the shock from big obstacles. Breaking with the convention of the main shock absorption over the front wheel, the NOAH system transfers loads to the centre of the bike via double A-arms. These A-arms then feed directly into a centrally mounted suspension system unit, which absorbs the shock.
"I wanted to create a concept that was quite unique in the bicycle world," explains Steve. "I drew on my background to create a suspension system that was more adaptable for riders and allowed them to maintain greater control. The NOAH system is stable yet responsive over both flat and rough terrain."
NOAH allows for longer travel on the front forks (230mm) when taking the bicycle off-road thanks to the suspension system residing in the central A-bars. This linkage allows for the front wheel to move linearly over its suspension range much like a standard telescopic fork, but with the advantage of being able to control and alter the steering angle during suspension travel. The unique central linkage also ensures most of the bike's weight distribution is focused in the middle, this placement allows the rider to control the attitude of the bike with much less effort, helping the bike to travel over rough terrain by absorbing impacts into the centre of the bike.
To ensure smooth movement in the NOAH suspension system, COFA Engineering turned to polymer bearings specialist Igus. The company's iglidur G bearings were chosen thanks to their small section profile, ensuring the bike's weight and size were kept to a minimum. The cost-efficient solution also ensures the NOAH system works smoothly and effectively and, thanks to the self-lubricating nature of all Igus' bearings, requires no maintenance or lubrication, even during excessive use and in harsh environments.
"This was our first experience with Igus and they were the ideal supplier for this project," adds Steve. "They were hands-on from the start with workshop visits, and provided great advice, product samples and support. Ideally suited for the NOAH suspension system, every bearing size that we needed was readily available to order from the Igus website and, more to the point, at the right price. I was really happy with both their support and the products themselves."
He continues: "Thanks to the use of Igus' bearings in the NOAH suspension system, we were able to realise the design benefits by removing the conventional fork springs, dampers and other internals. The NOAH system is unique and we are now developing the production version, again using Igus bearings."
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