Picture of How to build a suspension mountain bike
JKFAB TensionLink6 2008_000.jpg
JKFAB TensionLink6 2008_157.jpg
JKFAB TensionLink6 2008_LevRatio.jpg
I had previously sold my mountain bike and I really missed it so I decided to put together a new bike using parts I had in my garage. I built a frame around ten years ago when URT's (unified rear triangle) were somewhat popular and it actually rode pretty well so I thought I'd use a tension link (pull rod) design for a fun single speed. It may look flexy but it's really pretty stiff in torsion- the boom tube is made from .049 wall 4130 and the pivot is pretty beefy as well. The pivot sits directly over the BB so the suspension is always working, even when you stand, unlike the old URT designs. The steel frame here is probably close to seven pounds and it could be built a fair bit lighter.

This design can be constructed from Aluminum for a much greater weight savings and it can also be built to have as much as six inches of travel with a longer stroke shock.

The drawing shows a four inch travel version- note the difference in the rear triangle construction. Each square on the drawing equals one inch for scale.

This design has many advantages:
*ease of construction/fixturing and minimal welds
*up and rearward axle path
*ability to construct small frame size- easily down to 14" effective seat tube length
*low center of gravity/good mass centralization
*low standover height
*zero chain growth- bike pedals and climbs very well
*direct load paths- can be constructed to be very light weight and have excellent torsional stiffness
*all loads are fed into the ends of frame members
*can be built with very short chainstays
*can be built with 26" wheels or as a 29er/650B, geared bike or single speed
*simple/clean cable routing
*excellent tire clearance
*can be built with cantilever or disc brakes
*suspension is active whether you are sitting or standing
*linkage is easily modified to vary compression curve
*pull rod (tension link) is only loaded in tension so it can be very light weight
*frame members can be constructed from a wide variety of materials (4130 steel, carbon fiber, Titanium or Aluminum)
*frame size does not greatly affect suspension linkage geometry

Specs for the prototype are:
4" front travel
3.5" rear travel
15.75" chainstays
12.75" BB height
69 head angle
73 seat angle
23" top tube

This design is 100% open source and non patentable- it is free for everyone to use however they wish. Make modifications, put it into mass production or just build a couple of bikes for yourself and a friend!

I put up a page here with more info about the bike design-

Here's a video of how the suspension works-

Here's my neighbor taking a quick spin-

Update: Here's some pics and leverage curve for the long travel version. I've also included the source file for Linkage.
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OMG. This is fantastic. I remember the old Slingshot bikes from the 90's, this is so much cooler!

Never seen anything like this. Super cool!

Sort of like if you mashed a Slingshot and a Klein Mantra together.

Honus (author)  craftclarity1 year ago
Do you remember the Gizbag suspension bike from the early 90's that was built by Roo Trimble and Mike Augsburger of One-Off Titanium? It probably has more in common with that bike than any other. The pivot on the Gizbag was a bit too far back and it had a pretty severe falling rate. I was able to ride the Gizbag at Mt. Snow when they introduced it and it actually rode pretty well compared to a lot of other bikes at the time. Mike also built a Titanium Slingshot, which I also saw in person way back then.
Aron3133 years ago
It looks like it doesnt take much weight to push that suspension all the way to its limit.
Honus (author)  Aron3133 years ago
It performs pretty similar to a lot of short travel bikes using air shock technology from that era if you set it up for good bump compliance- it actually ramps up quite a bit at the end of travel due to that old air shock as they are very progressive.

Aron313 Honus3 years ago
Oh i thought the shock was a spring. I didnt see the fox ALPS4 at the bottom of this page.
I love the design, most amazingly simple and well thought out - exactly what I'm looking to make, though I'm thinking about making the frame out of reinforced carbon fibre to further decrease the weight. Could you possibly post the schematics for both the 4" and longer travel suspension versions again so I can possibly get the measurements off them? I really want to give this a go but am a serious noob and don't want to mess with the geometry too much.
Honus (author)  robotbikeboy6 years ago
Thanks- glad you like the design! What do you mean post the schematics again? They're both there on the first page.
Sorry, bit of an idiot when it comes to making myself understood... I have trouble reading the measurements on the schematics, the text is all blury and I can't make them out.
Honus (author)  robotbikeboy6 years ago
No problem! If you click on the "i" symbol in the upper left corner you can download a larger picture. For the 6" travel bike I recommend downloading the Linkage file and playing around with it in the Linkage program (there's a link for that there too.) If you have any other questions just let me know!
Genius! Thanks so much. Gonna try out your method first and then experiment with the carbon / ali options. Awesomeness!
Honus (author)  robotbikeboy6 years ago
Cool! Please post pics after you build it. I've got another design for a super cool downhill bike that I'm going to try and build this summer.
do you have plans? i want to build a downhill bike
Honus (author)  notingkool4 years ago
I have several! Of course none of them have been built yet (pending funding) so there's a whole lot of work to be done. I've got the fork, wheels and brakes but I still need to get my hands on a decent coil shock. The best one for pure downhill will be the 8 in travel bike- it's a super linear design. Check out the leverage ratio graph.
JKFAB HiPivot8 2010_000.jpgJKFAB HiPivot8 2010_LevRatio.jpg
cool. because a friend and i want to build two downhill bikes, but singlespeeds. to do "urban downhill".
hey, i like the design, the only downside i can see if the tention linkage puts pressure alot of pressure on the headtube over working the forks, a larger head angle could help reduce this, but when climbing the current design seems like it would be taking away alot of power from the rider and transfering that into suspetion sag. the only downside to that option is it makes handeling slower. sorry if this has been said or looked into before, i only glanced over the comments. if its fine with you i'd like to adapt some of your design into a monster tadpol trike im building.
Honus (author)  it_dont_work4 years ago
Oh yeah- I say use the design for whatever you want. Be sure to post pics!
Honus (author)  it_dont_work4 years ago
The tension link doesn't put pressure on the head tube or overwork the forks- I'm not quite sure what you mean by this. This bike climbs really well. With any bike design how well it climbs and sprints is a function of chain extension and weight transfer- that's why the main pivot is located where it is. The biggest drawback to a URT or floating BB design is the increase in sprung weight, which can have a negative affect on bump sensitivity. That's why they really don't work that well as a DH bike.
disc brake mounting options in gen 2would be awsome too. room for atleast an 8" rotor would make this quiete a competitive DH design.
Honus (author)  it_dont_work4 years ago
I've already got some 8" rotors! It would actually be a terrible DH bike- LOL...
I have a design for a DH bike- have a look at my post here and then be sure to read my mega long post on the next page that talks about the design. :)
Hellchild5 years ago
dude this looks so sketchy...
Honus (author)  Hellchild5 years ago
In what manner exactly? Are you speaking in terms of structure or suspension performance?

If anything, the frame is seriously overbuilt- I could probably build it 1.5 to 2 lbs. lighter. Structurally speaking it is very sound- the basic design of a large torsion tube coupled to a triangulated swing arm is pretty hard to beat in terms of torsional stiffness per pound of material used. Pull rod suspension has been around forever in Formula 1- I believe Gordon Murray was the first person to use it when he designed the old Brabham cars. Pull rods are pretty tough to beat in terms of strength to weight.
Hellchild Honus5 years ago
haha nevermind, thanks for the answer my friend:)
wrenchead5 years ago
Any updates on the mach 2 frame? I'm definitely going to have to build one of those this summer. A 29er could be a blast.
Honus (author)  wrenchead5 years ago
No updates yet- I still need to get a longer travel shock so nothing will happen until probably next summer.
tj17966 years ago
hay man how how cin i take the crank off a bmx bike and put them on mountain bike
Honus (author)  tj17966 years ago
If they're the tubular welded chromoly cranks you probably just need a set of euro style BB cups and a proper chainring spider. I'd go into your local bike shop that sells BMX stuff and ask them what you would need based on your current cranks.
tj1796 Honus6 years ago
well were i stay we dont have bike shops no more they all closed down so im my own bike shop an i no how to do all most any thing with a bike but wat im tryin to do now
Honus (author)  tj17966 years ago
What kind of cranks do you have? Maybe we should start there.
sovereign7 years ago
where would one go about getting one of those buell rear triangles?
Honus (author)  sovereign7 years ago
Your best bet is either eBay or Craigslist. You could also check websites like Ridemonkey.com. The next version that I build will have a different rear triangle that is much cleaner- I've already plotted the long travel design out using Linkage (a bicycle suspension design program) and I'll be uploading it soon.
fjyang7 years ago
It look like a Slingshot bike, Klein Mantra and Trek Y URT bikes all role inot one. Love the design, If you ever decide to put it into limited production, I'm interested.
Honus (author)  fjyang7 years ago
sovereign7 years ago
what size frame would you characterize this as? i'm actually thinking of trying to build a 29er full suspension bike. at 2500 bucks they're quite the investment
Honus (author)  sovereign7 years ago
It's a medium/18.5" frame. It would work very well as a 29er.
2shane27 years ago
That actually rides really well.... I have seen some of the "goo bikes" that pogo as they are being pedaled, and I thought the 12" of pedal travel and the 6" of suspension travel, was well a crap design, and should never have been released. But this remains fundamentally level. If it was my bike I'd be triangulating the stress out of the corner of the seat post - frame, and fitting an almost horizontal tube from the frame - to near the top of the seat post bracket. Good design tho.
Honus (author)  2shane27 years ago
Glad you like it- I'm currently figuring out a longer travel lighter weight version. The seat tube/frame doesn't need any additional triangulation- it's seriously overbuilt as it is and flex is definitely not a problem. If you used a small diameter thin wall seat tube then you'd have to reinforce it. The boom tube is plenty beefy.
bedbugg27 years ago
is it me or does that rear end have hydraulic v brakes?
Honus (author)  bedbugg27 years ago
It's an old Magura hydraulic cantilever brake.
Kiteman7 years ago
Honus, the link from the YouTube video you posted takes you to the edit page of the 'ible.
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