Every few years, a well-meaning brand will cautiously but loudly produce a carbon full-suspension frame in the U.S. Except there's always at least one "but." Like, Ibis just announced a U.S.-made Ripley, but only in the small size. That small Ripley is made with a more cost-effective layup process but it's still too expensive to simply port over to the rest of the line and bring our boys home. Alchemy Bikes famously launched its 27.5-inch Arktos with a U.S.-made front triangle, but demand was high enough that the brand added a Taiwan-made option, which must be more popular because it's the only way to get Alchemy's new 29-inch Arktos. And today, we're bringing you news that underdog brand, Guerrilla Gravity has made the perilous leap from U.S.-made aluminum to U.S.-made carbon. You might think it'd end up yet another study in why domestic carbon manufacturing still isn't possible, but…
The folks at Guerrilla Gravity are known for reaching outside the bike industry to produce their standout line of shredding machines. Matt Giaraffa, the brand's chief engineer, turned nuts and bolts in the fields of auto racing and aviation before he took the pay cut necessary to enter the bike world. Aviation has been a driving force in carbon fiber development for a half century, and it's ramped up significantly with machines like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. More than half of the 787's structure is made of carbon and, as you might imagine, the process of producing a carbon passenger jet is a little different than that of producing a carbon bike frame. Guerrilla Gravity borrowed aspects of Boeing's processes and materials to produce Revved, the lifeblood of its new domestic carbon program.
Revved technology promises to do the seemingly impossible. Many of the details are either closely guarded secrets, far beyond my technological understanding or a mix of both. But the nature of Revved allows for a significant amount of automation in the layup process. In fact, approximately 80 percent of it is automated. That greatly reduces not only labor costs, but also the potential for human error. The layup still happens in a relatively traditional mold but is fused using relatively non-traditional means. There's still pressure and heat, but with Revved, that heat is significantly greater than with the carbon production we know. Traditional carbon fusing can take 2 – 4 hours, but a Revved frame fuses in about 30 minutes. Once that process is done, Revved frames come out of the mold needing one tenth the sanding and finishing work that a traditional frame would.
In addition to the cost benefit, Guerrilla Gravity claims significant environmental benefits to Revved. The material is safer to work with, cheaper to recycle and is domestically sourced. And because of its higher heat tolerance, it can be powder-coated, which is more environmentally sound than wet paint. It's also more durable, which of course, is another feature boasted by Revved carbon.
Built to last
If you haven't seen frame testing, you can probably imagine the process: frames being bent and smashed by high-tech guillotines while sadistic cameras and sensors look on. A test that's especially important to carbon-o-phobes is the impact test. A 12-pound metal weight is dropped onto a frame from various heights until damage appears. And strength is tested after the impacts to measure what that damage means. It turned out that Revved frames were able to take significantly more abuse than traditional carbon frames. Enough more that Guerrilla Gravity found it was three times as impact-resistant as existing carbon materials. That burly package comes in just under 3,000 grams without a shock which, for a carbon front, alloy rear triangle abuse-friendly frame is about average.
And how much would you pay for one of these American-made wonders? $4,000 a frame? $5,000? What if I told you that you could take home one of Guerrilla Gravity's brand new Revved carbon frames for the low low price of $2195! And a complete with a RockShox Yari, SRAM NX and DT Swiss M1900 parts package goes for $3695!
But wait, there's more!
The material is just part of what makes Guerrilla Gravity's new offering so remarkable. You'll notice the bikes share the same model names as its alloy bikes; the Smash, the Megatrail, the Trail Pistol and the Shred Dog. In their new Revved form, each model shares the exact same front triangle. I'll repeat that. A big-wheeled enduro brawler, its small-wheeled enduro cousin, a light and lively precision shredder and a big BMX bike are all built around the same main chassis.
There's no denying Guerrilla Gravity's endeavor into carbon fiber would likely not have been possible had the brand made unique frames for each of its platforms. Making four different bikes in four different sizes (which Guerrilla Gravity labels 1, 2, 3 and 4 instead of "small" through "extra large," "tall" through "venti" or some other relative nomenclature) would be a lot for a brand of any size to take on in a single year, let alone the garage band that is Guerrilla Gravity. But that's not to say these frames were shoehorned into their respective models. There are several unique rear triangle configurations available for each model. But before we cover that, there's one more nifty piece in the front triangle to talk about.
The GeoAdjust headset system introduced on the new Revved frame uses an offset headset cup nestled in a semi-rectangular insert. The lower cup is available in a zero-stack or with a 15-millimeter rise, and flipping the insert gives you 10 millimeters of reach adjustment. Essentially, this turns four frame-size options into eight. And beyond that, it allows you to tune your cockpit to suit your riding style or your mood on a given day. And GeoAdjust is not like the eccentric, semispherical angle-adjust headsets we've seen from Cane Creek, which can develop a creak rather quickly. There are two fixed positions, and the interface was inspired by the design of Guerrilla Gravity's flip-chips, which the brand reports haven't drawn complaints of creaking yet.
Ok, on to the rear triangle. Each bike shares the same rocker plate and chainstays, but by using different seatstays and rear shocks, Guerrilla Gravity was able to achieve the four distinct personalities of its four distinct models. And on top of that, the seatstay and hardware kits are available aftermarket so you can essentially swap between models at will. Of course, you'll need the appropriate-size rear shock, fork and wheels, but it's far less expensive than lining the walls of your garage with a gaggle of bikes. The $445 seatstay kit includes the stay, the hardware, the bearings and the standard Syntace derailleur hanger used on all Revved models.
So, what does all this mean on the trail? We don't know yet. We haven't had a chance to ride any of Guerrilla Gravity's Revved models, but the brand's bikes are known for their strong personalities. Even the Trail Pistol, whose numbers would translate to a mild-mannered trail trekker from other brands, is an abuse-hungry thrasher. We can't wait to get our hands on one. But more than that, we can't wait to see what Revved will mean for the industry as a whole. For the past two decades, Asian carbon fiber manufacturing has been slowly draining our domestic high-end bike industry. On top of the environmental and economic benefits of taking manufacturing back, we might someday have the same emotional connection we had when we knew our bikes were made in places we knew like Santa Cruz, Temecula and Denver.