I’ve found another brand having frames made by XACD – and just to be different they’re not French this time! Kingdom Bike Project are a European company with a head office based in the UK. They’ve been going since late 2009 and were started up by a group of bike enthusiasts who fancied getting together to make their own frames.
They currently offer a range of five titanium frames ranging from Hardcore Hardtail, through All Rounder to XC Whippet and 4X, they’ve even thrown in a fashionable road fixie into the mix!
They design their own frames but also throw the floor open to anyone with good ideas. Folks can post designs up in the ‘Frankenbike’ Ideas Lab and see if anyone else likes them too – with the most popular ideas getting turned into real metal.
Already the lightweight lovers over on the Weight Weenies forum have helped put together an ultimate XC frame and the All Mountain hardtail was designed in a similar way.
For me it’s a game of two halves, the 4x and the ‘All Rounder’ frame look pretty tasty. The 4x in particular doesn’t have much in the way of competition apart from perhaps Commencal’s Ti 4X’er. But the All Mountain frame suffers from a bit too much Euro style for my liking – the tubing diameter’s not that generous and it’s pointlessly bendy!
Most of the frames use semi integrated headtubes and come with a Cane Creek headset, some use the new tapered standard – including the frames designed to be ultra light weight too which seems a bit strange.
In general construction and geometry is mildly conservative, most contemporary designs are slacker and have larger diameter tubing too. In particularly the down tubes are becoming larger to help keep frame flex in check. Take the Commencal Ti 4X frame as an example – it sports aluminium looking monster formed tubing!
The other thing is the variation in the pricing which makes the 4X frame £200 more expensive than the all rounder, the costs should be pretty similar, unless perhaps the dropouts are special order which might explain it. Or the 4X frame is made in smaller batches – although I can’t see their frames being made in huge numbers given the current glut in the market. They’ve got to keep an eye on the competition too; On-One are currently bringing in their new Chi-Ti 456 at a very tempting £799!
One advantage of the ‘crowd source’ design is a good diversity of products – but the risk is the lack of any consistent design ethos that makes the brand stick out. (How many titanium frames could you identify if they took the stickers off? Ragley would be easy but I think you’d struggle with most others).
You could also be reminded about the camel being a horse designed by a committee but hopefully with a firm hand on the tiller we’ll end up with the best of everything.
Check them out here: www.kingdombike.com