Peter Denk and Thomas Fuderer have an adventurous bike expedition through Baja California. During the journey, the two mechanical engineering students identify development potentials in their sponsored mountain bikes. Peter Denk has the opportunity to participate in improving the bikes and starts an internship in Taiwan.
The internship at Pacific Cycles Taiwan opens up undreamt-of opportunities for Peter Denk as a development engineer: as Head of Engineering he is responsible for the design of a variety of bikes. One of these is the legendary Pacific TS 1000. The full-suspension mountain bike sold extremely well and is also marketed under other trend labels, e.g. Muddy Fox.
Whilst studying, Peter Denk also continued to work as a designer and Head of Engineering at Pacific Cycles Taiwan, developing several bike models that would be successfully marketed under a variety of brands.
Peter Denk founded the innovative bike forge Hot Chili. With its VO2max, the company presented the world’s first frame* with a bi-oval down tube. The X-Rage was a high-class downhill bike.
The bike forge Hot Chili exploits innovations, creating pioneering cult bikes such as the Hot Chili X-Rage 1 or the Hot Chili Zymotic.
Markus Klausmann is runner-up in the Downhill Junior Championship. His racing bike is a Hot Chili X-Rage. With its WARP, Hot Chili presented the world’s first full-suspension bike using an air shock with a negative air chamber.
This design, which would later be called dual air, has been refined and still forms the basis of all good air suspension systems on bikes.
Denk Engineering obtained an exclusive order from Scott and designed all their models between 1995 and 2007. These included new developments such as the Scott Strike, which was the first full-suspension bike with a frame/shock weight of below 2 kilograms.
SCOTT Sports SA is a Swiss producer of sports articles with American roots. Right from the start the company set standards in the development of innovative bikes and components: as early as 1991 it revolutionized the still-young mountain bike segment with the development of the Unishock suspension. In the racing bike segment, development of aerodynamic racing handlebars, a milestone for the scene, cemented the Swiss producer’s success.
Denk Engineering was exclusively active for SCOTT for 12 years and largely responsible for further milestones in the company’s history.
Apart from the Hot Chili Rage 2, Denk Engineering developed the Scott Vertigo downhill bike, which was the first bike worldwide to have an adjustable geometry: head tube angle, seat tube angle, spring travel and chain stay length could be individually adapted to the course and the rider. It was also the first downhill bike to have completely non-rocking neutral kinematics.
In collaboration with Mavic and Michelin, Denk Engineering developed a 24-inch downhill rear wheel. An insightful innovation that proved, however, to be unviable.
Together with Thomas Fuderer, Peter Denk founded the company Denk Engineering. It sold its Hot Chili brand to Hermann in Schorndorf.
Working for Scott, Denk Engineering developed the Scott Intoxica, a carbon bike that offered 125 mm more spring travel than most downhill bikes of the time. From then on Denk Engineering was the first company in the bike sector to work on new technologies to make carbon bikes lighter and stiffer than aluminum bikes for serial production.
The Scott Octane downhill bike, developed by Denk Engineering, set new standards in adjustability with its independently adjustable steering head angle. For the first time, the spring linkage was separate from the damper in order to implement different characteristics. A seat system like that of motocross motorbikes was developed to achieve greater curve speeds.
Denk Engineering is also ahead of its time regarding suspension elements: Wolfgang Ebersbach developed a system that permits individual adjustment of the length and spring travel for downhill forks. Denk Engineering had the system patented and further developed it for cross-country bikes. The variable spring travel led to a significant improvement in climbing properties whilst maintaining ride comfort.
The system was bought by Rock Shox and sold under the name of U-Turn from 2000 onwards. The technology set new standards and is still on the market.
With the Scott G-Zero, the company presented the lightest full-suspension aluminum frame of its time. The G-Zero pivot kinematics was to become a further milestone in the development of full-suspension bikes.
Denk Engineering developed the completely new Direct Surface Bonding (DSB) technique that optimally glues carbon and metals. The technology convinces through its high stability and consistent product quality. It has become an industry standard used by many competitors.
Revolutionary Strike carbon technology made the full-suspension frame of the Scott Strike the lightest model of its time.
Another superlative: weighing just 1150 grams, the aluminum hardtail frame of the Scott Scandium Team Issue was the lightest ever produced. World Champion Thomas Frischknecht even managed to polish his own version down to 1087 grams.
The first aluminum racing bike frame below 1,000 grams created a furor: the Scott Scandium Road Team Issue achieved a frame weight of 990 grams thanks to ultralight scandium tubes. Nevertheless, no compromises were necessary regarding durability or ride characteristics, and the Scandium Team Issue was the first frame under a kilogram to enter serial production.
Denk Engineering launched a revolution in the bike industry regarding the production of carbon frames. The tube-to-tube process enormously simplified the development and production of carbon frames that had hitherto been almost impossible to master. It allowed carbon frames to be produced from individual tubes – in contrast to monocoque (single-piece) construction. With this system, even pressure can be applied during connection of the tubes. In addition, the quality of the frames can already be checked during the production process.
Thanks to the tube-to-tube process, an ultralight carbon frame was created for the Scott CR-1 that could also withstand the severest of tests and thus revolutionized the bike world. The use of tube-to-tube technology for CR-1 racing frames weighing 840 to 890 grams led to an immense increase in acceptance of carbon within the bike industry. The revolutionary process is still the industry standard.
The Scott Genius was developed as cross-country (80 mm) and marathon versions (125 mm) and triggered a mountain bike revolution.
The four-pivot kinematics of the Genius series set new standards because, unlike other four-pivot bikes, the Genius had the Intelligent Linkage System (ILS) that intelligently adapted the virtual pivot point to the terrain.
Another highlight of the Genius series is the pull shock we developed which, in combination with the ILS, allows the advantages of four-pivot kinematics to be really exploited for the first time ever (see below).
With the Genius Shock, the first air shock was developed that, in addition to linear characteristics, also had three spring travel options. Full travel, traction mode and lockout could be selected from the handlebar via the TwinLoc lever system. The shock was specially designed for the Genius series of frames and, in combination with its linkage via the Intelligent Linkage System (ILS), fully exploited the advantages of four-pivot kinematics for the first time.
With its development of the Internal Molding Process (IMP), Denk Engineering achieved a further milestone in the processing of carbon fibers. A mandrel made of expanded polystyrene (EPS) was used here and dipped in latex. The carbon layers are directly embedded in the mandrel. The latex is removed after forming. The result of this process is a carbon frame without seams and joints – that also has extremely precise fiber alignment.
Denk Engineering also reduced frame weight to below a kilogram in the mountain bike segment. As the Scott Scale, at 980 grams, is not just ultralight, but also proves its stiffness and stability under even the hardest of conditions, the frame set a standard for almost 10 years that many other producers failed to achieve.
The Scott Genius also continued its success story as a carbon version. The frame in the marathon version (125 mm spring travel) only weighed a sensational 1750 grams (without shock).
Thomas Frischknecht became World Champion in the 2005 MTB Marathon on this intelligent lightweight.
Denk Engineering developed a triathlon frame for Scott that, at just 1080 grams, was not just the lightest triathlon frame of its time, but also defined new standards: the Scott Plasma scored with a flow-optimized profile, an integrated seat post and special carbon technology.
The Scott Ransom not only had the first freeride frame made of carbon available on the market, but also had a shock with integrated spring travel adjustment. The rider could block the shock from the handlebar or set the spring travel to 90 mm or 165 mm, whereby the bike could achieve considerably faster speeds both uphill and downhill.
Patented Oil Transfer System (OTS) technology was used for spring travel adjustment on the shock. A hitherto unknown design of an oil-damped air spring for bikes.
A total of nine patents involving OTS technology were registered.
The first shock based on our patented OTS technology. Perfected with our innovative travel management system and the Intelligent Rebound Valve (IRV).
With intensive computer simulation and the first use of the Internal Molding Process (IMP), Denk Engineering got the frame weight of the Scott Addict below 800 grams. Despite weighing 100 grams less than the predecessor CR-1, the Addict scored with further improved stiffness values.
We set yet another benchmark with the Addict: we set the worldwide stiffness-to-weight reference for the following five years.
The full-suspension frame set of the Scott Spark is the lightest in the world.* The weight, not hitherto achieved by any other producer, is made possible by the IMP production process.
The Scott Gambler became a bestseller among downhill bikes and further increased the standing of Scott Sports SA in the downhill scene.
The American company Cannondale is a pioneer in the bike sector. Founded in 1971, it was one of the first bike producers to construct frames out of aluminum. Many highly successful athletes rode to success on Cannondale bikes, such as the Downhill World Champions Ann-Caro Chausson and Missy Giove, the Ironman World Champion Faris Al- Sultan and the victor of the Giro d' Italia Ivan Basso. Cannondale bikes are considered extremely reliable and durable, which the producer underlines with its lifelong warranty for the first owner of its frames.
Denk Engineering contributed enormously to the further success of the company between 2008 and 2014 with its innovative carbon bikes. Initially Peter Denk was the Technical Director then Vice President of R&D.
Whether in 2010 with 26-inch wheels or two years later in the 29-inch version: the carbon hardtail Cannondale Flash created a furor as the “superlative racer” (Bike magazine). With hitherto unknown stiffness values combined with extremely low weight and a “dream geometry” (MountainBIKE magazine), the bike was equally convincing uphill and downhill. “Unbeatable when combined with fast legs” was the summary in the German specialist magazine Bike. “The best-riding carbon-fiber hardtail you can buy,” according to the English press. Numerous victories on difficult courses underlined this assessment in practice.
The SuperSix EVO racing bike set new standards in 2011 with the world’s best stiffness-to-weight value and remarkable ride characteristics. It was celebrated by the press as the world’s best racing bike. Hence it was Tour Magazine’s “world’s best bike” and the “Editor’s choice” in Bicycling 2014. Two Grand Tour victories in a single season and numerous Eurobike Gold Awards rounded off its success.
With the Jekyll, we developed a bike for Cannondale that made a long-awaited biker dream come true.
In moments the bike could be automatically converted, via handlebar lever, from a taut 90 mm trailbike with strong forward thrust into an agile enduro that, with 150 mm spring travel, simply glided over obstacles. The quick-change artist’s secret lay above all in the Fox DYAD RT2 shock, that we developed in close collaboration with Fox.
The dream of “two bikes in one” Velonews 06 / 2010 had come true.
We also took a new, totally convincing, path for the frame design: it used BallisTec carbon, an extremely resilient material from the Japanese military industry that provides enormous stiffness and durability. The down tube and the uninterrupted seat tube of the Jekyll protect the suspension units against dirt. The Y-shaped top tube increases the stiffness and fracture resistance of the sensitive area around the seat post. In the top-of-the-range version, the bike weighs less than 12 kilograms: still a reference value today.
Like the 26-inch version in 2010, the Carbon Hardtail Cannondale Flash also caused a major furor in the bike scene with its 29-inch wheels. The bike lets its many victories on difficult racing courses speak for itself.
With the Cannondale Scalpel Carbon 29 we have designed a full-suspension mountain bike that combines the attributes of a racing bike with the comfort of a touring bike in perfect symbiosis. An extremely stiff featherweight carbon frame provides propulsion and acceleration, while a short chain stay and compact design are responsible for agility. In addition to the sophisticated geometry, the bike convinces through its innovative details: clamping of the rear swing arm at the axis provides torsional stiffness and a defined main pivot point gives the suspension sensitive response behavior.
The Scalpel is as swift as an arrow – the comfortable carbon ‘fully’ has been responsible for many of the Cannondale Racing Team’s victories.
After the unbelievable success of the Cannondale Jekyll, we developed another bike in 2013 that, thanks to the elite Fox DYAD RT2 shock, offered two completely independent spring travels: the Cannondale Trigger. With a spring travel of 70 or 120 mm, a frame weight of just 1,900 grams and an enormously stiff and sharp-steering 130 mm Lefty suspension fork, the bike offers all the prerequisites for achieving outstanding performance both uphill and downhill. The agile trail bike with strong forward thrust totally convinces both riders and the specialist press: “It would be difficult to find better bikes in this league,” stated Bike Editor Christoph Listmann (bike 08/2012)
The great ride experience is explained by the technical details of the Trigger: the steering head stiffness of 141 Nm/° ensures enormous propulsion and precise handling; the 425 mm rear makes it maneuverable, the short wheelbase provides mobility and agility. “Outstanding” is the overall judgement of the specialist press (Mountain BIKE 2013).
Cannondale presented the new race hardtail FSi 29 in 2014. The bike offered powerful acceleration and was highly maneuverable. Despite the agile riding performance, the bike provided enormous tracking stability and smooth running and thus, for the first time, overcame the disadvantages of early 29-inch bikes. By means of wider support for the spokes, the 29-inch wheels of the FSi also achieved the stiffness of smaller wheels for the first time.
Another revolution was the shortened chain stays that allow the cyclist to more easily surmount obstacles and provide the rear wheel with excellent traction. In practice, the racing bike convinced test riders and racers with its combination of stable directional stability and agile maneuverability. “The F-Si is one of the best with large wheels that I have ever been permitted to ride” according to Stefan Loibl in the specialist magazine Bike.
The Cannondale Super Six EVO2, which we developed in 2014, was widely celebrated by the specialist press as outstanding. With enormous stiffness and a frame weight below 700 grams (top model) the bike excited ambitious racers, while the comfortable riding performance convinced those simply riding for pleasure.
The bike gains its versatility from, among other things, its BallisTec carbon construction – which ensures lightness, stiffness and durability. Furthermore, the slightly larger head tube and the somewhat longer wheelbase ensure a more comfortable ride. The chain stays were designed for high rear-wheel traction for greater safety, whilst enabling enormous speeds.
“Ride characteristics top, optically harmonious,” according to the summary in (Tour 12/2013)
With a feather light 277 gram, the Cannondale EVO II fork was the lightest ever build mass production fork.
Due to the complex Layup structure, the fork withstands even the hardest tests of the industry.
The internal structure increases side stiffness and reduces vertical stiffness which leads to excellent ride quality.
For the GT Force series we designed an equally light-footed uphill and downhill bike. Absolutely non-rocking upwards with maximum safety downwards. We made this possible by developing our innovative Angle-Optimized Suspension (AOS) kinematics.
We also exploited our entire expertise in lightweight design. Despite a solid frame, we were able to achieve maximum weight reduction thanks to a minimum number of layers of high-modulus carbon.
We developed a revolutionary suspension concept especially for the GT Force series. For the first time it allows separation of the pedal movement and the suspension. A combination of a high pivot point and the intelligent PathLink lead to maximum pedal efficiency, optimum shock absorption and neutralization of chain growth.
The American company Specialized has always worked with the world’s best athletes, experts and engineers and has always been a motivating stimulus and an important inspiration for us. Specialized has accompanied us since we first discovered mountain bikes – because Specialized has written mountain bike history: they were the first to conquer a new market with mass-produced mountain bikes with the Stumpjumper in 1982. They constructed the first carbon frames and hold the US patent for the four-pivot rear swing arm.
Specialized’s holistic approach in handling composite materials, its Functional Advanced Composite Technology (FACT) and a suspension technology (FSR) that is entirely decoupled from rider effects are just two of the company’s current innovations.