High-end Italian eMTB manufacturer Thok is currently developing a new model with a carbon fiber frame, using the additive manufacturing expertise of Belgian industry veteran Materialize to prototype the frame design.
The Project 4 (or P4) prototype will eventually be Thok’s first carbon fiber “lightweight eMTB” when it launches next year, but the technology has already been trialled in Finale Ligure, on the Italian Riviera, as well as elsewhere. To the north is the company’s headquarters in Alba.
The frame is 3D printed from an aluminum and silicon alloy using selective laser melting, a high-powered laser that melts metal powder layer by layer following a sliced computer model. The process allows rapid prototyping of components with relatively little waste.
Thork’s development team is still working on the final design of the upcoming eMTB, which is expected to feature a lightweight Bosch Performance Line SX mid-drive motor producing 55 Nm (40.5 lb.ft) of torque and 600 watts of peak power. The unit is also available with optional 400 Wh, 545 Wh or 725 Wh batteries and a range extender.
Previously, the company had to produce a large number of prototype frames before the first version could be road tested. But the 3D printing process allowed the team to evaluate different component configurations or experiment with various geometries, and even decide whether to fully integrate or partially integrate the battery pack. Simultaneously manufacture parts that are similar in weight to the final product.
“Getting a running prototype and reproducing the necessary battery and motor integration was not possible with traditional methods,” said Thok’s industrial designer Luca Burzio. “Some parts are made by hydroforming and require molds, otherwise the prototype cannot be made. Even if the carbon prototypes cannot function, they cannot withstand long field tests. In this sense, the first fully molded part The full-suspension e-bike we built solved a big problem.”
Elsewhere, the current prototype rides on 29-inch carbon wheels with Schwalbe Magic Mary (front) and Nobby Nic (rear) tires, Fox suspension forks and midsection extrusions, a battery level indicator mounted in the top tube, And Bosch showed center handlebars, disc brakes, and mechanical gear sets.
The project is still in its early stages, so pricing or a release window haven’t been discussed yet – but whenever the P4 rebrands and introduces a carbon fiber frame, it’s unlikely it will hit the low-to-mid range if the recent Gram RC model is anything to go by.You can check out the rider’s prototype test POI clip in the Shorts video here.