Folks, the picture in front of you isn’t just a cool looking bike with seamless welds and geometry like few before. If we look behind the paint job on Urwahn’s Oerlikon Edition bicycle, you will come across a technological history like very few others on the market.
Urwahn Bikes, based in Germany, have been producing bikes for a few years that seem to completely reinvent cycling. Looking on the manufacturer’s website, it quickly becomes obvious. All of their bikes follow a signature “Fair Frame” design that sets them apart from other bikes on the market.
However, aside from the geometry of the frame, there is another cool trick that every Urwahn bike has up its sleeve, it is 3D printed! Yes, to the way some major automakers create components for their cars through additive manufacturing. To do this, Urwahn does not work alone; they walked hand in hand with another major player in the additive manufacturing game, Oerlikon.
If you’ve never heard of Oerlikon before, now is the time to get to know one another. This component manufacturing company traces its history back to 1853 when Franz Saurer established a small foundry in Switzerland. Later, in 1907, Schweizerische Werkzeugmaschinenfabrik Oerlikon (say three times faster) was founded, the predecessor of Oerlikon-Buhrle AG.
Today, this team is known as a manufacturer that uses advanced materials and manufacturing processes, one branch of which specializes in 3D printing or additive manufacturing. It is this branch that is directly involved in every Urwahn bicycle.
This story began several years ago when CEO and Founder Sebastian Meinecke approached Oerlikon to introduce a whole new concept of bicycle by implementing additive manufacturing as much of the build process as possible.
Why bother to build a bike by 3D printing it? Well, there seem to be countless benefits, of which handling shapes and materials in unimaginable ways is a determining factor.
To understand why Urwahn sought a partnership with Oerlikon, Meinecke says: “The collaboration with the team around Oerlikon has always been on an equal footing with a good dose of creativity and pioneering spirit. With their knowledge of materials and technology, we were able to develop a process chain that allowed us to generate new and unique product characteristics.“What else do we have to say?
As for the bike you see here today, it is the freshest beast to leave Urwahn’s drawing board and was designed and built as a tribute to the long-standing collaboration between Urwahn and Oerlikon; it represents the production of the 1000th 3D printed component resulting from the partnership.
In the spirit of the event, the new bike was named the Oerlikon Edition, an electric gravel bike in line with current cycling trends; Gravel riding has seen a significant surge in recent years.
So far, there isn’t a lot of information regarding the components of the bike. What is even more of a shame is that this bike is not commercially available at the moment. But it is most definitely an electric bike with components that even raise questions about what is going on. Check the fork, brake mounts, and offset to see what I mean.
While we don’t know much about what’s included on the bike, that doesn’t stop us from widening our eyes and letting our eyesight ooze on this seamless steel frame. As for the paint, it is the Balint Croma Plus shock-proof coating supplied by Oerlikon’s aerospace branch, the Balzers team.
To get a clear idea of what a raw Urwahn frame looks like, welds and all, I added a few images to the gallery which reveal the Urwahn Vagabund Edition bike, a rough looking bike, for lack of better words.
I understand that you may be mad at me for choosing to show you a bike that can’t even be bought or owned, but some apples are really off limits, “for now.” But don’t worry, Urwahn has a whole range of bikes and e-bikes designed to show off what can be achieved with today’s technology.