Is it possible to improve upon the traditional diamond frame of a road bike without losing ground in efficiency? Avid cyclist,entrepreneur, and novelist, Lou Tortola, has given it a shot. After putting in over 3,000 miles on his bike last year and talking with his cycling friends in his age 50+ riding group who stopped riding or would shorten their rides due to discomfort or injuries, Mr. Tortola imagined a bicycle where the “straight to your bum” seat stay is replaced with shock-absorbing rings. The idea is to reduce road vibrations and impact to the rider’s spine. After coming up with a prototype and contacting bike builder, Paul Taylor, the Tortola Roundtail was built.
According to the Roundtail website, which just launched today, the bike design provides ten times the vertical flex and over sixty times the vibration absorption of a traditional frame. Plans are underway to make carbon fiber and titanium road bikes as well as get into the commuter bike and mountain bike market. This design could work really well for bike commuters if it can combine the efficiency of a road bike with a more comfortable ride. One question would be, how much does it weigh? There aren’t any specs yet on the website, but the rings are hollow and made of lightweight aluminum. The components look good too- nice wheels.
Being somewhat of a traditionalist, I am typically skeptical when it comes to new bicycle designs, but the Roundtail works really well. The bike is stiff, lively, and comfortable. What more could you ask for?
Roundtail is being unveiled at the San Diego Custom Bicycle Show with more bikes to come for Interbike in September. To learn more technical details about the bike click here.