The European Bike Project is one of our favorite Instagram accounts. Alex from TEBP constantly updates his feed with everything from interesting curios from tiny manufacturers to inside looks at European manufacturing to analyses of the environmental impact of our sport. He's currently travelling in New Zealand, where he started The Oceanian Bike Project.
For the full article with all the images of each bike read the article on PinkBike.com
Milton Bloomfield founded Dynamic Composites in 1997 to make his own carbon products, shortly after graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering. The shops next door were a kayak and a bike shop, so it’s no big surprise that he soon built a kayak and a bike frame.
Not long after that, he got interested in multisports, such as the Coast to Coast race. While Milton took part in such races, he also built carbon parts for others to use in the race, such as special drink systems or parts for kayaks. After this success, Milton soon made a frame for Sarah Ulmer who won the individual pursuit race at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Over the years, Milton was involved in more than 20 NZ Olympics and Paralympics medals as well as some iconic sailing achievements.
Now Dynamic Composites is working on its own mountain bike range, which will be sold under the “Brazn” brand. The track bikes used to be labelled “ZEN”, but Milton decided to move away from this name.
Currently, the team is working on three different bikes: a trail bike, a park bike, and an e-bike. They all have a single pivot suspension design with a medium to high idler pulley. The frames will be made in-house in Christchurch, NZ, including the CAD, tooling, making the actual frame, painting and assembly.
The Suspension Design
“Keeping things simple is difficult, making something complex is easy,” says Milton. When he went with his family on a three-week trip to Whistler back in 2018 he crashed and broke his scapula after the first week. While the rest of the family was in the bike park, he had two weeks off the bike to design a new bike for his next visit. He found that the waiting time at bike shops in Whistler was long and he was working on the bikes of his family every day, so the question of how he could build a frame with a simple suspension design came up.
He liked the high pivot bikes that started to appear in the downhill World Cup back then, so he decided to take this route too.
Keeping things simple is difficult, making something complex is easy.—Milton Bloomfield, Brazn Bikes
“With the right design and spring rate, you can have the progressivity to prevent bottom out harshness and maintain sensitivity at the same time,” Milton explained – and I could definitely feel that he was right when I had the chance to ride the park bike in Christchurch Adventure Park.
The biggest challenge was to get the lateral stiffness of the bottom bracket right. While some riders think that single pivot frames are not stiff enough, Milton points out that many motorbikes are single pivots too – so it’s all a matter of the right concept. One key feature to get the right stiffness is the use of bottom bracket size bearings for the frame pivot, but the braces between the seat- and chainstays surely help too.
The design also allows Milton to create pretty light frames – not having a lot of bearings and a rocker link simply saves weight. For example, the trail bike frame is around 2.8 kg (including shock).
Milton says: “I’m a perfectionist. When you understand all the aspects of bike design, it’s difficult to say 'It’s good enough.' I went through seven iterations of the e-bike frame before I actually built one frame. There is only so much you can do in CAD, at some point you have to go to the physical product. I could go on with the design forever, but version eight really is good enough.”
For 2023 and 2024, the e-bike will be available with Shimano Motors and Brazn got all the parts in stock for 2023. Suspension duties will be managed by DVO products and other parts will come from E*Thirteen and PRO.
When Milton designed the e-bike, he didn’t look at other options that are on the market. “Ignorance is bliss," he says. He didn’t want to take inspiration from other bikes, he wanted the bike to be his interpretation of an e-bike.
I had the chance to ride this bike around the Port Hills and in Victoria Park. While this is by no means a review, my first impression was positive. There are not many high pivot e-bikes with idler pulleys out there, even though the design makes a lot of sense: The slightly increased friction does not really matter and the lack of pedal kickback and more active suspension makes the ride even more enjoyable.
- Head Angle: 65°
- Effective Seat Angle: 76° / 75.4° / 75.1°
- Reach: 450 / 480 / 510 mm
- Stack: 633 / 642 / 647 mm
- Chainstays: 460 mm
- As ridden 22.3 kg (according to Brazn)
- 160 mm front, 150 mm rear travel
- 29” wheels
- Rear shock: 205 x 60 mm Trunnion
The Park Bike
I was lucky enough to ride the park bike at the chairlift-assisted Christchurch Adventure Park, which proved to be the perfect test lab for this bike. Riding this bike was a lot of fun and I was amazed how well the rear suspension worked. There was a lot of plushness, but at the same time there was enough progression to prevent any bottom-out harshness. Of course, the pedal kickback-reducing idler pulley design was very welcome too.
Due to some issues with my hands I usually ride with a Fasst Flexx handlebar, so using the almost perfectly straight carbon bar felt a bit harsh in the beginning, but I got used to it after some laps. Overall I loved the characteristics of this rig and if you mainly ride park, I’d definitely recommend staying tuned for the official release of this frame.
- Head Angle: 63°
- Effective Seat Angle: 73°
- Reach: 450 mm
- Stack: 609 mm
- Chainstays: 430 mm
- As ridden less than 15 kg (according to Brazn)
- 27.5” wheels
- 180 mm front, 180 mm rear travel
- BB92 bottom bracket
- Rear shock: 205 x 65 mm Trunnion
The Trail Bike
Milton went the extra mile and gave me the trail bike to try out as well. I rode it up the rather cruel Huntsbury Avenue and down the pretty mellow Huntsbury downhill track. I was amazed how well the bike pedalled uphill, even though Milton had put some decent rubber on the light carbon wheels. There was no suspension bob and the bike felt very efficient. Naturally, the downhill performance was not even close to the park bike, but I had a good time nevertheless. The rear suspension seemed to work better for me than the Fox 34, which I found a bit unresponsive, even with the compression open and the correct sag. What really counts for me though is the XC-like uphill performance of the frame, combined with an impressively low weight.
- Head Angle: 65°
- Effective Seat Angle: 75°
- Reach: 480 mm
- Stack: 613 mm
- Chainstays: 435 mm
- As ridden less than 14 kg (according to Brazn)
- Frameset with shock as ridden: 2780g
- 29” wheels
- 140 mm front, 130 mm rear travel
- PF30 bottom bracket
- Rear shock 185 x 50 mm
- Frames made in Christchurch, New Zealand
- E-bike: Available now
- Trail bike: Release approx. September 2023
- Park bike: No release date yet
- Price: Full E-Bike build from 18,995 NZD (= 11,750 USD)
- Website: https://www.brazn.bike/
- Instagram: @braznbikes
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BraznBikes