Domahidy Designs is a new brand with one mission: To create incredibly fun bikes to ride!
I’m launching Domahidy Designs with two 29er frames, my go to weapons of choice. They are identical in every way, save one: the material.
While at Niner Bikes, I cultivated a great relationship with the amazing people over at Reynolds in the UK. Working directly with their team, I helped design the Reynolds 853 DZB tubing that was a direct result of the increased strength needed for larger wheel bikes. It was logical, then, that I would use the same tubing for my new 29er, and thus the Domahidy Designs 853 hardtail was born. Steel is such a lively material and frames built around great steel are nirvana to ride.
At Niner, there was always a product missing for me: a titanium hardtail. I designed two prototypes while at Niner and showed them both at the 2007 Interbike show, but shortly after began work on what would become the Jet 9 RDO and Air 9 Carbon, putting the titanium project on the back burner. As the idea of Domahidy Designs began to ruminate, it didn’t take me long to put a finger on what material I wanted to use. Titanium has amazing damping properties, but more than that, it has an elasticity that makes riding ti bikes pure joy. You can feel a titanium frame wind-up in a sharp corner, and spring you forward on the exit, it’s kinetic energy actually giving you the feeling of forward momentum. It doesn’t rust, looks amazing, and, well, I’ve been wearing a titanium wedding band since the day I got married. It was a clear decision for me to make a Domahidy Designs Ti 29er.
One of my goals with the Domahidy Designs frames was to infuse new technology into classic frame design. Both the Reynolds 853 frame and the Titanium frame share the same geometry and same spec’s, including a tapered head tube (rare for a ti bike, even more rare for a steel bike), single speed or geared compatible, belt drive compatible and 142/12 drop outs. Inspired by the bikes at NAHBS, they are both finished off with an artisan hand painted paint job and attention to detail has been poured over on every single bolt, braze on, and cable guide.
Even the packaging is special, as CNC foam clam shell designed protection pieces encase the head tube, bottom bracket, drop outs, and seat tube/top tube junction, protecting your frame from the very worst shipping conditions. Each frame comes with a single speed or geared drop out, removable cable guides, rubber frame protection to keep scratching cables at bay, a seat collar, and a chainstay protector that contains a derailleur cable ‘guide’ internally to route the rear derailleur cable through.
These are only the first two frames, and once the Kickstarter campaing comes through, I will work feverishly to get new frames to market, with renewed vigor and determined speed. Domahidy Designs is about riding bikes, and I’m not locked in to one product range or one wheel size. My head is teaming with ideas, some already in play, and I can’t wait to share them all with you.
As I was working on the radical road bike design of the Factor Vis Vires, my MTB roots started infecting me. I looked around at bikes I might want to ride; the Chris King Cielo bikes came to mind, beautifully crafted and elegant steel hard tails and the Ritchey P-29, a retro cool hard tail from a brilliant MTB mind. As I started looking closer and closer at all of the amazing bikes out there, the idea of making my own seemed to make more and more sense. I would build exactly what I wanted to ride, just like at Niner. But could I get behind a brand called Domahidy? My name is difficult to pronounce, and didn't seem to be the right thing for a brand name. So I started messing around with it in Illustrator and came up with a brand and an identity I was really psyched about.
So then I turned my sights on the bike. Above I describe how I came to the conclusion of what materials I would use, but skipped over the finer details of how the Domahidy bikes came to be.
Fortunately, with over 25 years experience in the industry, and Niner as my backdrop, I have very good knowledge of what vendors to work with and, perhaps more importantly, which vendors not to work with. I was fortunate enough to have a position and credibility within the industry that allowed me to choose the vendor I wanted to go with for the Domahidy Designs project and that they also wanted to take on the project. As a startup, you don't always get your first choice. In my case, I was able to partner with the best Titanium and Steel welding manufacture on the island of Taiwan.
At Niner, I designed and developed the Bio-Centric EBB and had designed and was prototyping the Bio-Centric II, the one Niner is currently using in their bikes. In fact, I designed the new SIR 9 that Niner is currently selling, using the same DZB tubing as the Domahidy Designs 853 (just without the bent down tube). Although the patent for Bio-Centric is in my name, the patent holder is Niner, so I knew I couldn't use the Bio-Centric EBB. The decision for sliding drops was made. The one thing I also knew was that I wanted the bike to have a split for belt drive compatibility. I tried to work the split into the SIR 9, but couldn't find a place that I liked splitting and in the end abandoned the idea. For the Domahidy Designs bikes, it was paramount that I designed a drop out for the bike that could achieve the split.
There is nothing crazy about the drop out design for the bikes, it's a fairly standard, straight forward design. Pocket cut-outs were added to the drop out, and the attached threaded mount for the 'split' junction was also added.
With the first drawings of the Domahidy Designs frames, I was trying to balance belt chainring clearance with mud tire clearance. Without having any experience with what chainring sizes people would use with belt drive systems, I was just working off Gates measurement diagrams and trying to make sure I had enough clearance for as many options as possible. From here, I continued to push the design in the drawing phase, ultimately finalizing the design for first prototypes in June of 2012. By the end of July, I had the first prototypes that I could begin testing and riding.
Since I had already developed my graphics, I had also come up with a design for the paint job and was going to have one of the first prototypes finished completely, with production level decals and paint.
The first prototype frames were Reynolds 853 frames. They rode amazing, but the tire clearance was an issue. It simply wasn't enough and the rear triangle needed to be modified.
Development of the titanium frame began in October of 2012, paralleling the changes I needed to make in the steel bike. Not only was the rear triangle modified, but cable guide positions changed, new cable guides that were smaller and better looking for brake routing were designed and created (for both the steel and ti bikes) and derailleur cable guide locations also needed modification. I also added a process for the head tube. Instead of using a decal, I decided to machine the Domahidy Designs logo into it.
In addition to the frame development, I was also working on packaging development. This sample ti frame was also coming with an updated sample steel frame, and I wanted to prototype the clam shell packaging that would become standard packaging for Domahidy Designs frame.
The first samples were really great, but needed some refinement.
In June of 2013, I received the final Reynolds 853 sample with finalized packaging. This was the special 'Kickstarter' light green frame. It included changes made to the cable stop guide for the front derailleur, but did not have a machined head tube or the correct cable guide placement on the down tube. Further modifications of the cable guide placement on the down tube were made to insure that the crown of the fork didn't impact the cable guide. Drawings were finalized for production by July, 2013.
Since that time, I've continued ride testing and evaluation, and the construction of the Domahidy Designs web site. Factor Bikes had chewed through what was supposed to be a launch in fall of last year, so I postponed the release of Domahidy Designs until now.
Risks and challenges
In order to insure that Kickstarter backers receive their frames, the following timeline and milestones create an understanding of the work ahead. While I've spent the past two years developing and preparing for the launch, in order to insure as smooth a delivery as possible, there are still variables that need to be taken into account:
MARCH 22, 2014 - Kickstart campaign is successfully funded. Once I have confirmation that the Kickstarter campaign has been successfully funded, I will immediately place a PO with my Asian manufacturing partner.
MAY 15-30, 2014 - Raw materials are the biggest obstacle for production. Our titanium and steel suppliers usually offer a 15-30 day lead time for production orders of raw material, but I am allowing for a little more than that to insure I meet the deadlines I'm promising.
MAY 30-JUNE 15 - Production begins and ends. The production process includes all tube bending, mitering, and prep work. The frames then go to the welding line and complete welding and frame alignment. Paint prep is the final step.
JUNE 15-31 - Painting process. These frames are hand painted, one at a time, and have three colors (the red pin stripes are painted, not decaled). It is one of the most important steps in the process, and so I've given it more time to be completed.
By the first week in July, the entire order of Kickstarter backed frames will be on the water headed to Colorado to be sent off to Kickstarter backers. With a four week delivery time, bikes will arrive in Colorado at the end of July and be turned around for delivery to you guys.
Completed frames will go to our assembly factory in Taiwan to be built into complete bikes. This process takes a couple of weeks, but parts will be waiting there for complete bike assembly, with lead time for parts being less than the lead time for the production. Straggling parts may be an issue and could delay delivery.
Most frames and complete bikes will be delivered between August and September, leaving you at least a few months of great riding before the weather goes south. For those of you who are getting custom painted frames from Spectrum, these will take a little while longer and while I understand that October is not an ideal time to be getting your amazing new frame before winter sets in, I want to be sure I'm realistic about the timeframes I'm giving to you, my amazing backers. I plan to under promise and over deliver.
There is no product that is without challenges, but good execution is understanding where these might come from and prepare for them as best as possible. Having worked on these bikes for the better part of two years, I’ve taken my time to cross the t’s and dot the i’s. I have been in no rush to launch Domahidy Designs, and have cultivated the brand under one very strict guideline: when it’s ready to launch, I’ll launch. Having said that, there will still be obstacles to overcome on the road to production. Possible challenges could involve increased time to production from current prototype stage due to material shortages, testing, and/or manufacturing delays outside of my control. There is also the very small possibility of natural disasters, pirated cargo ships, a strike, or other unforeseen acts that always put a wrench in plans otherwise watertight.
Every challenge is an opportunity to continue to evolve, to think fast and to come up with solutions that in the end better the product, the process, and allow for continued growth. There is not a day that goes by that I don't learn something. I have full confidence that I am prepared for, or at the very least, can use my vast experience to tackle, any and all issues that might arise in bringing Domahidy Designs frames and bikes to market.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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