Tuesday, September 30, 2008

28 Delta 7 Iso Truss Bicycle Design Still Falling Short?

Early this year, I had written a post on the Isotruss bike frame from a strictly structural and engineering point of view. Read it here if you haven't.

While it was not known then how exactly the folks behind the bike would manufacture it and bring down the costs, we now know that they have taken many streamlining steps in both their manufacturing and management areas.

However, while all this has served to get all the production inhouse, giving the ability to lower costs, control quality more and produce a higher number of frames per year, they still haven't tackled some of the issues everyone has been talking about ever since the news of this design hit the media.

For example, apart from "the cheesgrater" and the "mobile geological reservoir" that people have been naming it, I see two other disadvantages that may or may not seem obvious.

Where can a rider fit his water bottle cages? Is this bike the "Hydration Killer"? And what about the sharp edges of the isotruss structure that could potentially hurt a user during use?

The somewhat partial yet important shielding effect from splashing water of a solid seat tube, top tube and down tube iseffectively eliminated. This can be a problem, while riding in rain since the rider is now subjected to a new stream of attacking water in the directions shown above. You can't tell someone not to ride in the rain either.

Many new bicycle manufacturers getting into the cycling scene think being "light weight", "super-strong" and seeming "fast" are everything.

While those are important, a lot of them do miss on function, the aesthetics, the overall riding experience and most importantly, customer satisfaction.

With so many companies in cycling competing with each other for customers, if one of them effectively fail to address these issues, they are in danger of easily losing to someone else. The customer is everything! Ignoring that aspect is a trade off you can't afford to make.

If anyone from Delta 7 is reading this, like you did on my previous post, you're most welcome to post some comments as to how you're going to tackle each of the issues. Where is the frame 'skin' that you've been talking about? Is that an add-on or are you not considering its possibility any longer?

Update : There were mentions of glue-on water bottle bosses in the comments to this post. A reader alerted me to a closeup picture where you can see this.

So here it is :

Close up view (via Bike Rumor)

Update (10/3/2008) :

Cozy Beehive reader Jon commented that during his test ride on the Arantix Mountain Bike at this year's Interbike, he found the ride performance only so-so compared to equally priced MTB models. But another interesting comment from him was that he found the seatstay-seat tube junction was so "huge" that it was hitting his legs on "almost every pedal stroke".

Courtesy : Acidinmyleg's Photostream (Notice the water bottle cage, pretty impressive 'glue on' bosses)

Looks like this is something Delta 7 has to sort out - yet another bone in its throat on the MTB side.

UPDATE (10/3/2008) : I just wanted to let you all know that during the outdoor demo of this year's Interbike, there were multiple failures on some of the Isotruss demo bikes!! Here's the confession from Delta 7 (via reader comments on Bike Rumor) :

" Unfortunately there were two failures during the demonstration at Bootleg Canyon. The batch of bikes made specifically for the event had an epoxy failure and the head lug disconnected (came apart) from the IsoTruss tubing. Complete analysis is still being worked on. The company went to great lengths to gather a few bikes from previous production runs to have available for the demonstration. "

Additionally, also see a related post from Bike Magic.


  1. Anonymous4:37 PM

    I saw the new frames at Interbike, and they have standard water bottle braze-ons glued into the proper locations (would that make them water bottle glue-ons). So the hydration issue is covered.

    But your point about water on the frame is valid. Of even more concern is cleaning the bike after a wet, dirty ride, especially the mountain bike. Do they supply a toothbrush with every frame to clean all the little bits?

  2. Anonymous4:44 PM

    A frame toothbrush!!! Funny as hell.

  3. Fluoride or mint? :)

    Thanks for the input, anon. I still can't get a picture of these 'glue-ons'. Where are these locations?

  4. I saw an Iso frame somewhere that had a fabric material over all of the skeleton to protect it from the elements. I can't remember where I saw it.

  5. Anonymous10:31 PM

    good one,ron!

  6. Being radical in design has its plus points, provided you get some basic things right. Fr instance, the new TREK Madone, while being critisized when it came out for its various aspects, is a pretty popular bike by today's standards. The new electronic Dura-Ace is catching on. Many others exists. However, I just can't see the Delta 7 frame selling to the everyday rider/racer. To sell, you need to change the collective mindset of riders - like as in what constitutes a "bike", how it should be made, what is ok and what isn't etc. But what the heck, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  7. Anonymous11:33 PM

    Hey if it gets more cyclists out on the road, then its a good thing.

  8. If you said that for something like an e-bike, I'd understand. Here we talk about a 5000 dollar frame with a far out rad design thats not really catching up. Speaking of rad, maybe that is the intention - market a bike tough to maintain, and make a bunch of money from aftermarket products like brushes and custom frame skins and what not.

  9. Anonymous1:37 PM

    Seems Delta 7's main objective was to build one of the lightest frames, and they have disregarded other aspects that are important to riders. If they add the frame cover, perhaps they can't hold the stake to lightest frame anymore?

  10. Ron, in the Bike Rumor photo above, the waterbottle "bosses" (glue-ons?) are located in the usual spot on the downtube, and they're fairly clear even to my myopic eyes. Blow the picture up and look where you'd expect braze-ons, and viola! they'll appear.

  11. Ghostrider,

    You see, someone alerted me to the bike rumor photo a day after I had written this post. So I plugged in that photo just today.

    Let me rearrange the post. Thanks.

  12. Anonymous7:26 PM

    Is the cable internally routed through the toptube? I can see something is going on there.

  13. ...i'm sure the guys at delta 7 run a search engine to follow the various articles & comments about their frameset & in which case, they gotta hate bgw...& it ain't nothing personal, on my part...


    ...i just cannot get a leg over this frame, if you will, whether it be for the road or the dirt...like you, ron, i picked up on the water/rain thing immediately...

    ...something else no one has talked about but that i would assume would be a problem, for me at least, is the noise factor...at say, 50mph or even faster at altitude, on long, steep mountain descents, that thing is gonna roar in the air...

    ...i'd also love to see results of a windtunnel test...there are so many surfaces to catch & throw air around, i can't imagine it could be considered aerodynamically sound...

    ...i may be wrong on those two points, regarding the noise & the aerodynamics, but you'd have to prove it to me...rough layman's extrapolation tells me i'm not...

    ...a particularly personal point is that i've always found the utilitarian aspect of road bicycles to have a certain elegance...nowadays, some of the molded wonders of the road are perhaps a little too stylized for my tastes, but the delta 7 iso truss lacks any of that elegance...

    ...i'm sure there are those who will grasp the look & find the structural aspect to be appealing...it ain't me, babe...

    ...hmmm...a toothbrush, huh ???...nice...

  14. Thanks BGW!


  15. My problem is the performance. I rode the mountain bike model at the Outdoor Demo at Interbike last week, and I was left with sort of a ho-hum feeling about the bike. Having just reviewed the Look 986, I felt it performed much better than the Delta 7 bike--and you can get the whole Look bike for the same price. (I feel it's a fair comparison because they seem to be going after the high-end racing XC hardtail market.)

  16. Oh, and the seat-stay/seat-tube junction is so huge, that it was hitting my legs with almost every pedal stroke. (Photo here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/30142041@N07/2883091442/)

  17. Thanks Jon. Very interesting experience from your side on riding this bike. I must add your views to the post. Look for an update.

  18. Anonymous10:13 PM

    Epoxy failure?! I thought this was the strongest, stiffest, most bomb proofest frame out there. Okay, who was the marketing fellow behind this again?

  19. Anonymous4:51 PM

    I think this bike will end up as a commercial failure because of its drawbacks. Why? If you want to sell something well, you need to get in the mind of a customer. Perception is everything, not product necessarily. And a lot of people have been getting the wrong perception about this bike, which has its reasons. Once the mind of the customer is made up, its hard to change it. You can either burst your way into the mind of a customer with a good product from all angles or lose it by sacrificing the essentials over something no one is concerned about now (who called for iso-truss anyway? plenty can do without one)

  20. I think they took care of it

  21. Richard9:58 PM

    I recently bought the road bike, so I can comment on some of the out dated information found here. Attachments of the water bottle cages are built into the structure. The road bike seat stays are narrow, and you will never hit them while pedaling or at any other time. The transition of the iso-structure to the other tubing has been perfected and shouldn't fail. (The frame does have a lifetime warranty if you're nervous). The road bike is very light, and very stiff, and transfers power to the rear wheels with an efficiency you have to feel to believe. The frame does not whistle or make any noise at any speed I have had it up to (47mph). It looks really cool in person, and have not met anyone that didn't drool after looking at it and picking it up. Water can't get into the solid tubing at each end of the structure. I have not ridden in the rain yet (dry in Utah now), so I can't comment on how wet you will get, but in the rain, it seems to me you will get soaked on any bike.... I think it is the fastest bike around, which is why I bought one.

  22. Richard : Thanks for your input. I take it that you spend a good amount of money on it and as such, any comments will be subjective and biased. Well, I'm not refuting it. If it works for you, great. We will, hoever, get away with supposing that Delta 7 read my 'outdated' article and chose to act on stories such as mine, making some improvements in their design. You got to believe it. Bicycle companies read blogs. They want to know what people are thinking. I'm glad I was able to expose the apparent shortcomings of this bike.

  23. Anonymous3:15 PM

    Just buy a waterpick to keep it clean and watch ur weight cause its pointless and stupid to go this far to minimize the bike and hop on with a beer gut

  24. I wonder if the Isotruss could be used to build a cargo bike weighing less than 30 pounds

  25. Anonymous2:33 AM

    I wonder if anyone actually bought a frame bike...

  26. Anonymous5:03 PM

    I can tell most of you making negative post are quite ignorant. there have been several professional teams racing the bikes and love them. They do not howl at high speeds and they actually collect less mud than solid tube frames. Cleaning is just an simple. Wise up before you open your mouth and expose your stupidity.

  27. I like the statement by BGW. Seriously, anyone who has the least understanding of aerodynamics knows that whistling isn't going to be a factor at paltry speeds like 50mph. That's just ignorant.

    I'm a pretty skeptical guy and I'm definitely not saying the design is perfect or even appeals to me, but I'm not stupid enough to think that whistling noises would be an issue on this frame. Would be pretty easy to check too, just hold the frame out the window with the car on the highway.

    I also have a very hard time believing that cleaning this frame would be any more difficult than keeping your spoked wheels, cabling and rear derailleur clean. I've not had any significant difficulties with this in my 28 years riding... and I have ridden through rivers up to my waist, torrential rains in full typhoons and off the trails, through the bush on private grounds in BC.

    Too bad that the other post purported to be a discussion of the technology, but really it's just a "what do people want to hear".

    If you are a structural engineer, let's see the analysis of the product. Not a discussion about its marketability or silly stuff like water deflection (easily solved by a cut up pop bottle or a fender of some sort).

  28. It has been some time and Delta 7 had some internal issues with differing opinions and alas disappeared from the marketplace. For those of you that loved the Bike but hated the price you are going to love this news, a new company called "Open Air Composites" recently purchased the rights to Iso Truss technology for bikes they are launching a new 29'er hard tail mountain bike for less then half its original price stay tuned


Thank you. I read every single comment.