I wrote a post back in April 2021 (link at bottom of page) about my journey unearthing what is believed to be a very interesting S’Bike story. Contentious it may be, but regardless, I seem to have found a (possibly) strong, historical S’Bike thread. Whilst mountain biking is a fairly young sport at approximately 35-ish years old, it’s amazing how little information is available for some brands and their detailed histories, like S’Bike for example.
The original Swiss S’Bike design was a classic, ‘elevated-chainstay-beam-frame-type’ as we know, and whilst these particular frame designs look very cool, they do flex a lot due to the missing, regular chainstays. The frames that I bought, and made by Kinesis in Taiwan, were cleared out of the S’Bike factory on its closure according to the seller who lived nearby, so it is safe to assume that the S’Bike design team commissioned Kinesis to make some prototype frames that would increase frame rigidity by adding in the traditional chainstays, and whilst maintaining their classic S’Bike design. These Kinesis-S’Bike frames, and let’s call them prototype or Proto’ frames from here on, also bear a distinct resemblance to the French, Vario Tequila mountain bikes, although there are several, subtle differences between the two.
Anyway, of the four frames that I bought, 3 have since gone to new homes, and that leaves one for me to build up in ‘period-ish clothes’. With some help from my Swiss-based friends, I managed to get all of the parts to build it up. Firstly, big thanks go to Terrance Malone for the following list of goodies: The classic 90’s purple anodised Kinesis forks; A pair of quite rare, Swiss made carbon handlebars that go by the name of Barflex, and which also carry the Swiss Ferraroli brand; A pair of Terra One Rider T1 tyres (link in sidebar); Some really cool purple, Spank Industries ‘TUGG JOB’ bar grips. All of the other parts that I found to build up the bike came from Stefan Stettler, who owns THE most amazing bike shop in the world, and which you can read about in the links at the end of this post.
Apart from the Kinesis decal/sticker on the downtube of my Proto’ frame, I didn’t have any S’Bike decals, so these were going to be a challenge to get. However, it’s funny how fate and luck plays a part in project journeys like this one, and it went like this……..I ran an Underground Vintage Bicycle event in our village hall earlier this year (see post at bottom of this page) and I met someone called Gil Montague, who brought along his beautiful ’99 Ibis Bow Ti. Gil also owns a very cool business that specialises in designing and making decals for vintage bicycles and stuff. Lucky break huh! You can find Gil’s business, Retrodecals, in the sidebar of this page or directly through Facebook. After chatting with Gil, it became clear that he could easily recreate the S’Bike decals for me, and in a colour to match the rest of the purpley parts. S’Bike models were mostly designated with a number as well as a name, but my frame never made it to product launch, so it doesn’t have a model number or name. Therefore, I decided that it should have the prototype recognition where the usual model number decal would be, and Gil made me some ‘Proto’ decals in the same font and style as the original model number decals.
If/when you have read my first post on this S’Bike subject, you’ll know that I have another ‘unknown, assumed S’Bike’ prototype, possibly made by Verlicchi, with exactly the same frame dimensions as this Kinesis one, and with specially made ITM forks. This second bike shows the scars and wear of a well-ridden bike, and I’ve also had some epic rides on it as well (link at bottom of page for one epic example). At the moment, it is wearing a set of Ice Spiker Pro tyres for the very hard winter riding around here. So, with two ‘assumed-but-not-absolutely-proven’ S’Bike prototypes, I’m feeling pretty well pleased with myself, and whilst the first post has been well read around the globe, nobody has come up with anything factual which would prove or disprove my assumptions. Therefore, I sleep very well, although I would like to know more about each bike to ascertain the full facts. More research required.
I really like these two bikes, partly because I really like quirky bikes, and partly because they’re connected to an iconic company and frame design. Both bikes ride really well, but differently, with the Kinesis framed bike being more edgy to steer, as well as being a super-fast accelerating thing. The riding position and width of the bars makes climbing steep hills a bit awkward, although a higher stem would compromise its agility, and I think a pair of bar ends on it would look crap. Neither bike has any suspension, but it doesn’t change the levels of fun that can be had on both of them. The ice spike shod bike looks more like a ‘90s trials bike the way I have built it up, except that long seat tube identifies it clearly as a trail bike.
So what? I hear you say. Well, consider this deviation from Proto’ bikes for a moment. What if S’Bike were still a key brand in the cycle market today or the brand owner relaunched a new range? What would that classic beam-frame design look like if it was an electric MTB? Having considered this question, and I’m not a qualified ebike designer, I would do two e-versions of the bike. Picture this then🤔…..
e-S’Bike 1: Using the same frame design as my Kinesis Proto’ bike, the most powerful of the two models would have a battery in that big top beam part of the frame and I would put the motor in the back wheel, just like the Swiss Stromer bike. It would have a regenerative braking system like my electric trials bike, and crucially for winter, a well fitted, insulated pad that goes around the beam which houses the battery to keep it warm and to reduce cold weather power loss. This pad would serve two purposes, as it would also protect the rider/bike in the event of an ‘off’😬. I’m not sure why these wrap around insulating pads aren’t on the market now especially as it’s a known fact that a 20% power loss is easily suffered in cold weather due to a cold battery. The smaller the battery, the bigger the power loss is as well.
e-S’Bike 2: This is the light weight version with a motor in the bottom bracket and the battery in the seat tube like a Fazua design, and which would only offer light assistance like the current road race bikes that are on the market. There would be space for an additional battery in the beam if it’s required. This second bike would be easily light enough to carry over obstacles like farm gates etc. This bike would also pedal easily without any assistance due to zero drag from the unused electric motor.
There would obviously be some components that would be common to both bikes like disc brakes and a range of gearing options. I would see both bikes having some form of front suspension, with dropper posts and lots of frame lugs for carrying bags etc. Make no mistake, these two electric S’bikes aren’t gravel bikes, even though a modern day gravel bike is like an updated late ‘80s MTB, or an early S’Bike for that matter. My electric S’Bike concepts are meant to be 21st century adventure bikes, and an adventure doesn’t necessarily require big Jumps, drop offs or berms.
These ebike examples, just like the two Proto’ bikes below are not for trail parks, they’re for real mountain biking adventures. But really, it’s just about having fun on two wheels.
If/when I get more proven, factual information about these two frames, you’ll find it here, so subscribe for more😉.
Link to my first S’Bike post https://diaryofacyclingnobody.com/sbike-prototype-more-research-required/
Link to the first ever Retro-bike Underground event https://diaryofacyclingnobody.com/the-first-ever-retro-bike-undergound/
Link to an epic ride on a prototype bike https://diaryofacyclingnobody.com/a-true-rsf-spring-classic/
Link 1 to the most amazing bicycle shop in the world ever https://diaryofacyclingnobody.com/the-ultimate-aladdins-cave-of-bike-shops-is-in-switzerland/
Link 2 to the most amazing bicycle shop in the world ever https://diaryofacyclingnobody.com/part-2-of-the-ultimate-aladdins-cave-of-bicycle-shops-is-in-switzerland/
All photos by the Author
2 thoughts on “S’Bike Prototypes & electric S’Bikes. Really?”
Hello Guy, Merry Christmas. Nice to see S Bike has got a mention again. For anyone else reading this, I purchased one of these frames from Guy. My frame is still untouched in its box. I have been collecting parts to start the build, this could take some time as there are 2 bike projects ahead of it, one of which may have an interesting history. My plan is to build it as an urban street bike, or rather coincidentaly as an Ebike. I already converted a road bike using a Woosh bikes rear wheel kit.
Hiya Robin and good to hear about the plans for your frame. Send us some pics and information when it’s done and l’ll add it to this post, or the next S’Bike one.
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