Some riders spend plenty of cash and time trying to alter the head angle of their mountain bikes, with the popularity of aftermarket components such as angle headsets and offset bushings illustrating this point well. Yet when it comes to head angle experimentation few riders have gone as far as Peter Charnaud of Woodenbike.co, who set out to design and build himself a bike with an adjustable head angle.
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Charnaud found frustration in the fact that he couldn’t experiment as much as he wanted to with a regular frame and — being the builder of a wooden bike company — set out to do something about it. The result was this, a part wooden trail bike based around Devinci’s Spartan with a steering angle that can be quickly adjusted through a massive 15 degrees — enough to go from chopper slack to silly steep.
Adjusting the bike’s head angle sounds a doddle and can even be done while on the move. Simply slacken the two clamp handles and twist the knob at the top tube until the indicator at the head tube points at the desired angle, then it’s just a case of clamping the same two handles once more. The placement of the pivot that allows for this adjustment means that while the head angle changes the height of the frame’s stack alters only slightly.
Charnaud says this bike has helped him learn a lot about bicycle geometry first hand. Through isolating the head angle as the only variable on an otherwise identical bike, Charnaud found the influence the bike’s head angle had on its climbing ability was particularly surprising: “I cant believe how much easier it is to climb with a steeper angle, it seems like about two gears lower when you steepen by 7-8 degrees.”
Charnaud is currently planning his next experimental bike, stating “I would try with a different pivot point slightly further forward or even an elliptical trajectory where the pivot point moves according to the fork position. This could then achieve absolute height compensation.”
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