This is the story of Jackalope's design, prototyping, and testing journey of our 3VO equipped full suspension mountain bike.
Back in January 2023, Jack was searching high and low for the perfect linkage kinematic to base his full suspension design on. It became apparent that the vast majority of bike companies are using the same linkage layout.
This is known as a "Four Bar Horst Link" design. This design essentially utilizes a single main pivot where the chain stays connect near the bottom bracket, an upper rocker link connecting the seat stays to the shock via a main upper pivot, and a "horst link" pivot near the rear axle. Specialized calls this the "FSR" link. Trek calls it "ABP". Some companies put the pivot on the chain stays, some on the seat stays. Trek and Divinci put it right on the rear axle. It's a proven design and very easy to manipulate kinematics by changing the pivot locations. But once you see that nearly every bike company employ the same architecture, you might begin to wonder what else is out there.
Jack took an interest to the Dave Weigel (DW) link. A solid swingarm means no pivot near the rear axle. This means less un-sprung mass and a stronger rear triangle. With two links connecting the front triangle, you have a virtual pivot point. DW is licensed by Pivot, Ibis, Iron Horse, and more. This is also what Santa Cruz accomplishes with their VPP (virtual pivot point) dual linkage design. The licensing terms with DW are pretty committing, and although the license expired in 2023, there are lots of DW bikes already on the market. same can be said for VPP.
Jack was scrolling the internet one day when he saw a different looking dual link frame made from solid billet 7075 aluminum. This was the work of Chris Currie of Ministry cycles, also of Speed Goat Designs. His patented 3VO short dual link design was elegantly compact. Visiting his website and social media pages proved that Chris has definitely done his homework over the last decade fine tuning the kinematics of this suspension design. The aesthetic, functional design, and manufacturability make it the best candidate for Jackalope's trail bike.
So, after a few days of contemplation and consultation, Jack sent Chris an email to set up a meeting to talk about Jackalope licensing 3VO to design their own version of the frame. Chris and Jack quickly reached a casual agreement to move forward.
The plan for phase 1 was to provide Jeff & Jack a few CAD drawing's and PDF's to help them get started in designing their front triangle which would use SLM (Sintered Laser Melted) 3D printed 316L stainless steel welded to 4130 chromoly tubing. Chris agreed to sell Jackalope a swingarm and linkage kit so they could build a small run of prototype front triangles.
Jackalope got the kit and within two months had a v1.0 prototype ready for Revelstoke Bike Fest trade show expo September 8th, and to race in the Revy 50km xc/enduro race September 10th. The expo went great, there was some very promising feedback from the Revelstoke locals and other brand representatives. People were fascinated with the linkage and steel frame. They wanted to know more.
The following Sunday Jack and his girlfriend Britt rode the Jackalope in the Revy Fifty in two stages. Britt rode the first 30km (after getting 3rd in the women's enduro the day before) and the first timed descent. Jack rode the last 20km and the other three timed descents. Team Jackalope came out on top for the team timed descents! Some quality testing and a race win to top it off was the best debut weekend for the prototype KangaRabbit was the best we could have asked for.
So, what's next?
Jack is in the midst of applying for grant funding via NRC-IRAP to keep developing the 3VO chassis during winter '23-'24. A fully made in Canada version will be ready for production in spring 2024. The first production run will be 10-20 frames. Our version will include a stiffened up welded 7005 aluminum swingarm and some slight changes to the suspension links and hardware. We will also offer the KR150 in mixed wheel 27.5/29 and full 29 versions. Continuing to work with Chris is a top priority to ensure we optimize the kinematics for each configuration.
If you are interested in pre-ordering, there will be some cool one time perks of becoming an early adopter. Check out the KR150 in our "Bikes" page.