Editor’s note: This story first appeared in Dirt Rag Issue #181, published in November 2014. Words by Jeff Archer. Photos by Seth Archer.
For every component that makes it to the bike shop, there are hundreds that never see the market. Some of these come from undercapitalized garage tinkerers, while others are from big-name companies doing a little experimenting. In the multicolored, anodized world of the mid-’90s, Ringlé was one of the big guys. Below are a few Ringlé prototype items that never made it to production, as well as a few trade-show samples.
Below is an early version of the first Ringlé product, the Trail Stem.
A rare Ringlé front hub that has straight pull spokes and a Grafton carbon fiber rotor. The plan was to use this on a joint effort between Ringlé, Grafton and Penske (which would supply the fork) for a special Yeti-made bike that never reached production.
Intended for the famous Lawwill-designed Yeti full-suspension bike, this rear-cassette hub shell has an experimental thread-on three-bolt disc brake adapter.
Another prototype, this rear-cassette hub has a large-diameter five-bolt disc brake adapter.
Many parts start out from one solid chunk of aluminum. This CNC blank contains six unfinished quick-release levers.
Comparison between a standard rear Bubba hub (right) and a prototype “giant” front hub.
This two-speed planetary rear hub was an attempt to simplify things by replacing the multiple front chainrings and derailleur with a hi-lo range via the hub. This was especially important for downhill bikes, as innovative new designs made front derailleur mounting problematic.
This Zooka stem cutaway highlights its minimalist internal construction.
Occasionally, blemished parts get converted to non-bike use. Here is a Super Duper 8 rear hub repurposed as an espresso tamper.
These parts can be seen at the Museum of Mountain Bike Art & Technology in historic downtown Statesville, North Carolina. If you can’t visit in person, check out the collection at mombat.org.