Original text published on BiciLive.it on December 21st 2015, wrote by Davide Allegri.
TrueBike: mountain bike with 36-inch wheels
A rigid bike with 36-inch wheels and completely hand-built frame and fork: just one photograph of the TrueBike is enough to present itself.
“Steel is steel, an old school material that goes never out of fashion.” This is the introductory phrase of the engineer and owner of the brand TrueBike, Robert Dilik. The MTB 36″ for sale on its site are entirely designed and assembled by him.
Here is the history of the brand published on the site truebikes.eu:
” It all started as a simple idea. An idea to build a unique bicycle with 36-inch wheels. Then I started to look into the possibilities and discovered that a few guys had already made it happen, that is when the idea became a plan. It was obvious that such a bike would not only look amazing but have an extraordinary riding experience, too. And so the journey started… After a couple of months of exciting work the bike was born. A huge one. The TrueBike. Now, after riding it for a while I have to admit that my expectations have been exceeded. It’s like riding a limo with a sports engine. Comfort meets elegance. It doesn’t matter if you win, but for sure everybody will notice you. And that is why I have decided to create this site. To bring you the opportunity to own this big-wheeled creature too. “
Technical characteristics of TrueBike 3 × 10 XT
Looking at the original TrueBike lines you can understand the statement of the engineer Dilik regarding the steel. It is a simple material to mold, ideal for the most creative minds.
The peculiarity of the design is given mainly by the bulky 36 inch wheels, which determined the geometry of the frame in the process of finding efficient solution in the design phase.
At first impact the inclination of the seat tube can be noted with a shift of the saddle of several centimetres with respect to the bottom bracket spindle, and the steering angle definitely closed so as to compensate the large radius of the wheel. The horizontal dropouts, top tube and steel crafted fork designed with two parallel tubes are the interesting points of this bike, a leitmotif that stands out every time you admire the frame noting the originality of the TrueBike.
The model TrueBike 3 × 10 XT tested by Bicilive.it offers the complete Shimano Deore XT with a triple crankset and sprocket set of 10 speeds.
Nimbus tires and rims – one of the few brands that produce 36″ wheels. Slow down a couple of wheels like that would be a challenge for the standard brakes, that’s why TrueBike decided to put the powerful Shimano XT with 203 mm discs, front and rear. The weight of 18.9 kg doesn’t make this bike a twig but the diameter of the wheels could compensate it as you can discover by reading this article.
Mounting the TrueBike in test
• Frame: Steel “custom”
• Fork: Steel “custom”
• Find: Nimbus Stealth 36 ”
• Front hub: Novatec D041SB-9
• Rear hub: Novatec D362SB
• Brakes: Shimano XT
• Crank: Shimano Deore XT 175mm. Triple.
• Rear derailleur: Shimano Deore XT 10v
• Stem: FSA 80mm
• Handlebar: Dartmoor Icon
• Pedals: Ns Bikes Aerial
• Tires: Nimbus Nightrider 36 “x 2.25”
• Saddle: SDG Bel-Air 2.0 Gripper
• Weight: 18,9 kg
If I told you that I became immediately familiar with the bike as soon as I had climbed into the saddle, I’d be lying. At the beginning the feeling of moving on the wheels so immense is really strange. The approach to curves, speed, braking and direction changes, all is completely different from the “traditional” MTB (if a traditional MTB still exists).
Fortunately, the human being is able to adapt to the most unlikely situations and after a few kilometers I started to understand how to handle this “Monster”.
In the plains
The comfortable riding position suggests an intended use for light trekking and commuting, i.e. cycling to work.
The first ride was performed on about 30 km of flat asphalt road with the tires of 2.2 bar pressure.
In the plains, despite the tires 2.25 “wide and a bit aggressive riding position together with the wide front surface and therefore a higher aerodynamic resistance, it is able to have remarkable performance with average speed near to the bike racing. At this juncture the weight is not a problem.
Of course, the acceleration is not the trump card of the TrueBike but once you reach the “cruising speed”, it is easily maintained.
The angle of the wheels towards the obstacles and the capacity of steel to absorb vibrations transform the TrueBike in a machine able to overcome any obstacle you may find in the street.
The TrueBike grinds more or less deep holes, manholes, bumps, sidewalks without any problems, especially if combined with good driving technique. While riding in the city there is no problem to pass over the feared tram tracks. Besides the vibrations on the pavement never reach the uncomfortable level , even though the bike is without a suspension.
Because of the dimensions of the frame and wheels, the torsion is very perceptible on the level of central movement, while during braking the behaviour is good.
Despite the huge weight it performs uphill better than I expected, especially in somewhat ascending parts where you can keep a steady pace, helped by 36-inch wheels.
At the points where the slope increases you can use the chain ring with 24 teeth combined with the cassette with 27-36 teeth that allows you to face any climb. Its strong point is obviously its capacity of overcoming obstacles. The angle of the wheels towards an obstacle is exaggerated which allows to pass over the obstacles in the unthinkable way compared with other bikes of smaller diameters. The only real limit on the route is given by the rider’s technique.
TRUEBIKES.EU asserts that its products are “experimental” and designed for commuting in the city and a light off-road use, thus it recommends avoiding the downhill, jumps and steps. However, I have taken the responsibility of the one who tests and tried “to dare something more,” obviously discouraging the end user from other uses than those indicated by the producer.
That means I tried to descend few steps but above all to climb without stop the TrueBike. Some types of staircases can also be confronted with a normal MTB bike, but this bike “cancel” each step that surpasses under the wheels, from the low and far distanced ones to the steeper and more challenging ones.
The driving position and high centre of gravity of the vehicle require special attention to the posture of the body in the steep uphill and downhill; the trend in the MTB world is to lower more and more unsprung weight and the driving position, with this bike the situation is different and you may find yourself surprised during your first ride.
However, with good technique and counterbalancing of the body, even the steepest slopes won’t be a problem.
How does the TrueBike perform on the trails?
Although the TrueBike is not designed for sport use, I decided to test it even in the most challenging trails to find out its strengths and weaknesses.
For the test of the TrueBike I have chosen different paths, from gravel roads to the harder, more enduro style ones.
The dirt roads are made for the TrueBike. Despite it is a mountain bike without suspension, the comfort is very good and even more hours of riding give always pleasure thanks to the accommodating driving position.
Average speed on the plain and on the small slopes is, generally, that of a discreet cross-country MTB 29er with the added value of not feeling every small or deeper hole and “pit” markedly.
In dirt, climbing riding position allows you to weight down the tail and ensure a good performance in traction. At the same time, in steep stretches with obstacles it is necessary to counterbalance it in the best possible way with the body as already mentioned.
In downhill and on single tracks the TrueBike as an extreme bike knows no middle way: on the paths with the large radius curves it offers smoothness and stability beyond expectation. It can reach unimaginable speed in downhill and the trajectories can be set accurately. In a standing position, you can notice the steel twisting of the fork and the rear hub.
Even the most challenging obstacles are not the reason for worries: it is possible to overcome small stones and drops even at very low speed without fear.
I tried to pull the wheels off the ground on some simple jumps and I found that the gyroscopic effect of the wheels decisively influence the air phase, the 36″ wheels will literally eat the kicker, i.e. the ramps of the jumps.
There are no big problems on the catwalks and drops with a good landing, the steel springs and absorbs well the impacts and vibrations; but it still remains a bike without suspension.
On the technical and narrow trails, as expected, there are some difficulties. Both the perch and the size of the wheels make the ride in tortuous bends of the Turin hills really adventurous.
But even in this case the huge wheels allow you to invent alternative routes and “bring you home” across the strait. It is not its natural environment and I knew what was waiting for me, but I wanted to try it anyway, just out of curiosity: and the TrueBike surprised me.
The tires Nimbus Stealth 36′ perform very well even on the most unstable surfaces as rocks and foliage thanks to the huge footprint and hence the grip that is guaranteed by XXXL tyres.
If you also would like to know which marks produce 36-inch rims and tyres, there are three of them: Nimbus, Vee Rubber and Coker.
It is not easy to describe the TrueBike in a nutshell. It is such a new world that would need pages and pages to analyze every detail and feature. Summing up, it’s a bike that knows no compromise.
Perfect for trekking, riding in the city and given its characteristics it might be a good touring bike that is also suitable for bikepacking: although the test model is not provided with the frame holes for the racks, you can order and customize each TrueBike speaking directly with the manufacturer – not a small thing.
Stability and speed maintenance are impressive even if the steel frame, like all the frames from this material, tends to generate twists, which is also important at the moments of maximum expression of power. However, these occur rarely if you adhere to the use for which it was designed.
The engineer Dilik is planning further projects with aluminium and carbon frames, but, according to him, first of all, people should start to appreciate the big wheels.
The feeling that arises from the contact of the wheels with the bums is beyond all expectations; even the most challenging obstacles including the stairs cannot stop it. On the asphalt and dirt roads the hardly perceptible small holes as well as the larger ones are overcome easily.
Another strong point of TrueBike is its use in the city. Tram tracks, cobblestones and sidewalks will no longer be a problem. In addition, detail that may seem silly but not worthless, such a great bike is even more visible in the midst of dangerous traffic.
Despite his huge weight, the front triple chain ring ensures that even the less trained riders manage to climb up the steep hills.
Since the bike has remarkable dimensions, the rider should adapt his riding movements according to this.
This creates some difficulties in dealing with the narrow paths but in return you can afford to invent alternative trajectories without thinking too much about “how to pass” but only “where.”
The price results from the product: the frame entirely handcrafted according to custom specifications, 3390 Euros are proportionate to the quality, finishing, assembly and exclusivity of TrueBike.
Finally, from an aesthetic point of view the TrueBike wins with no effort: with a bike like this definitely nobody will remain unnoticed.
About the author of the original article:
He practiced all kinds of sports and competes in mountain biking since 2006, performing well in downhill but participating in races of different sorts. MTB expert, master degree in sports science, graduated in osteopathy and co-founder of Amateur Sports Association Promosport Racing, an association with the purpose of developing his idea of sport: grouping, fun and competition.