Not only would manufacturers look to position their pilots as low as possible, a few pioneering spirits decided to take a fresh look at how the traditional double diamond frame was constructed. In the 1990s the rulebook had all but been torn up and a number of bike brands, unrestricted by medalling governing bodies’ geometrical protocol, set about rethinking everything which went into constructing a conventional bike frame.
When Softride first removed the seat tube from its triathlon frame, the ride quality, bounce and handling made the early models an unreliable choice. At this point the adaptation was more for comfort over speed. But it didn’t take long before a few tweaks, and Zipp joining the party, before the triathlon community saw what free speed could be gained from the revolutionary frame.
1991 saw Greg Welch ride Zipp’s 2001 model at the World Championships (our own Zipp 2001 pictured at the top of the page). Finishing second that year to the dominant Mark Allen. Welch persisted with the beam bike, eventually claiming the top step at Kona in 1994 aboard a Softride, with a 4 minute gap back to Dave Scott in second place. This would be the first time a non-double-diamond (NDD) frame would carry anyone to the win at Ironman’s centre piece race.
The NDD frame design was a financial burden for a lot of brand’s fighting to maintain parity with the frontrunners in the world of cycling. The prospect of an additional investment towards a bike built specifically for triathletes resulted in the concept falling from favour. The UCI’s ruling in 1999 which banned the use of the NDD on any UCI governed race served as the final nail in the non-standardised advancements’ coffin. The niche brands stagnated and ultimately spluttered to a halt.
The beam bike concept lay dormant for almost twenty years until a few bike brands picked up the baton with a fresh look and build lay-up which resulted in a frame which handled and supported the rider with the same feel of a traditional frame.
We are proud to be part of the rich tapestry of aerodynamic benchmarks and engineering innovation. Every part of what has gone before has informed the design process of the REAP Vulcan.
The modern-day beam bike rides and handles just like standardised frames, and in our case in a superior manner, with increased aerodynamics and less drag.
This leaves us thinking, with all that has gone before, why a beam bike is not always the only choice in non-UCI races. The science however is clear that the absence of a seat post creates not only a more aerodynamic bike frame to race, but the dissipating capacities of the beam, a more comfortable one too… and we enjoy proving this every time we get out on course.