Knowledge

Milled from the solid: Aluminium-Bike FRACE F160

The Frace F160 is an enduro mountain bike of superlatives: milled from a 70-kilogram aluminuim block, made for uncompromising trail downhill in the most impassable terrain, with 160 millimetres of suspension travel, 27.5-inch wheels and four-link rear suspension. Welded seams? Zero! It would be useless with the 7075 aircraft aluminium used to produce this bike.

Completely CNC-milled: The Frace Bike F160 by Bernd Iwanow is unique in the world.

Anyone who chooses a material such as 7075 aluminium has not randomly picked it from an assortment, they are confident in what they do and what they want. Bernd Iwanow, who until then had mainly produced individual parts for the automotive industry with his company, had decided to develop his own bicycle. But it had to be something special. Since his company had all the preconditions in place, the production method was quickly decided: the frame of the bike should be completely CNC-milled. That this was a bold idea became clear shortly afterwards during his web research. So far, no other manufacturer had succeeded in establishing a CNC-milled mountain bike on the market as standard. "That made me more eager to realise my plans," the passionate milling cutter smiles. 

Experienced application engineers instead of just a salesman

To support his project Bernd Iwanow brought the cutting tool specialists from CERATIZIT on board. "I have been ordering the tools there for a long time and have a very good contact to their sales representatives," confirms Iwanow. "This is not just a salesman, but an experienced application engineer who has worked on a machine himself at one time". This is particularly important for the entrepreneur, especially with his Fracebike project. "I come from the single-part production, and different requirements are needed than those that are needed now in series production. In order to economically mill the frame from the solid and further optimise the process, I can fully rely on the advice of the CERATIZIT expert.

Best advice: Markus Brunner (Regional Sales Manager at CERATIZIT) demonstrates to Bernd Iwanow the advantages of trochoidal milling with the CircularLine CCR milling cutters.

High efficiency through trochoidal milling

A prime example is the machining of the small pockets on the frame. From a programming point of view, they did not pose a great challenge, but with the previous technology, the milling process was a real time eater. "This simply had to be done faster," says Bernd Iwanow. So, he consulted his technical CERATIZIT representative who was able to present him an optimal solution. "Instead of our previous standard milling cutter he recommended the CCR milling cutter which we then used with a trochoidal machining strategy. When we finally saw the milling cutter in action - that just blew me and my colleagues away! We stood around the machine like little boys and watched as the small 6mm CCR milling cutter went almost 25mm deep and then the chips flew. That was crazy", Bernd Iwanow remembers. We used to drive our milling cutter in at an angle to mill out the pockets until we reached the desired cutting depth. Now we first make a starting hole, plunge the milling cutter with the entire cutting length fully into the depth and then we're ready to go".

CircularLine milling cutter for high speeds

The cutting data also made a lasting impression on the CNC professional. "We're running at a cutting speed of Vc 300 m/min and a feed speed of vf 2000 mm/min with a diameter of 6 mm, that's pretty intense," says Iwanow amazed. He suspects that the special coating is one of the reasons for achieving such cutting values. "Normal milling cutters would not be able to cope with these high speeds and would burn," he is certain. This is also confirmed by Markus Brunner, Regional Sales Manager at CERATIZIT. "Of course, this is not possible with every milling cutter. The higher radial forces also place higher demands on the tool," he explains. Apart from a more stable core geometry the coating is therefore crucial. 

Durable Dragonskin coating

„Our CircularLine CCR milling cutters are specially designed for trochoidal milling and therefore also have an ideal surface coating," explains Markus Brunner. "Like all our high-performance tools, our CCR milling cutters are also coated with DRAGONSKIN, which is particularly robust, wear-resistant and can easily withstand even high temperature fluctuations.  In the case of our CCR milling cutters for aluminium machining, Dragonskin means that our tools have a DLC coating. In combination with the sharp cutting edges and chip breakers, the milling cutter provides the best conditions for effectively machining the pockets on the bicycle frame - and there are plenty of them".

40 minutes processing time saved

The ideal frame structure of the Frace F160 has many pockets that have to be cleared out by means of a milling cutter. Bernd Iwanow is particularly pleased that this is now much faster than before. "With the CCR cutters I save 40 minutes of pure machining time on the chain stay, which is enormous. When changed the machining of the seat stay to the CCR cutter, I expect a similarly positive result. At present, the entire manufacturing process takes about 60 hours - the price is correspondingly high. Anyone interested in the frame of this exclusive bicycle will have to pay around 5000 ,- euros. But in return you get a real piece of Jewellery, which, produced in small quantities, is not only rare, but can compete with any established downhill bike in terms of performance. This is confirmed by professional downhill bikers who have already thoroughly tested the F160. Also, the important EFBE test standard, which the Frace has received, shows the high quality of the Enduro bike. 

First order delivered

"It was really a very ambitious goal that I had. But thanks to the active support of my technical advisor at CERATIZIT and the changeover to the optimal CERATIZIT tools I've actually made it. I am manufacturing a completely milled aluminium mountain bike as standard, which also works excellently off-road! The first Frace F160 will of course remain the property of the developer. For the second bike Bernd Iwanow has already received the first customer order: the frame with the serial number 002 was delivered personally to CERATIZIT Deutschland GmbH in Kempten. 

Bernd Iwanow and his Frace F160 - the aluminium bike milled from the solid

Watch now the video of this success story!