Museeuw MF1 first ride - Road Cycling UK

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Museeuw MF1 first ride

Record-equipped MF1 provides sublime ride

Fork has 50percent flax fibres

Seat stay follows current design practice

The Lion of Flanders head badge

Blue flax flower decorates seat tube

The idea that flax fibres can be used in the building of a bike frame with dynamic properties equal or superior to those of one made of carbon fibre alone seems almost too good to be true. Judging by RCUK’s first ride on the new Museeuw MF1 road frame, it is not. The MF1, or MFI as it has already been dubbed in the UK, is one of two frames bearing the name of the great Belgian classics specialist, and it is remarkable for its stiff but supple ride.

Both the MF1 and MF3, which is stiffer and intended for competition, have a percentage of flax fibres added to the carbon fibre that makes up the majority of the frame, with the MF1 the more comfort-orientated of the two. As such, it might be expected to be soft, flexible and poorly-suited to hard riding. Any such suspicions were dispelled within a mile of setting out; this could be the most impressive composites frame we have ridden.

Flax fibres have interested engineers for decades, since the true potential of composites materials first became apparent. A prototype for the Spitfire fighter aircraft employed flax-reinforced panels. The fibres are not only comparable to synthetic fibres in terms of strength, but have excellent vibration dampening properties. They are used extensively by car manufacturers such as BMW and Audi.

It is their ability to kill vibration that attracted the attention of IPA Composites in Belgium. With clients in the aerospace and motorsport industries, the company is well-placed to develop new technology. A cycle-mad engineer at IPA showed a frame made using flax to the Lion of Flanders, who took the bike for a ride and was sufficiently impressed to want to put his name on it.

We were every bit as enthusiastic. The ride is, quite simply, incredible, especially over rough, broken tarmac. While non-Museeuw-mounted publisher Simon Whiten bounced around on his aluminium-framed steed, RCUK’s editor flew across the bumps unruffled. The difference was marked, the ride sensation sublime. It is as if the sharp edges have been rounded off every bump, no matter how large. On a longer ride the comfort aspect of this frame, and its accompanying fork, should reduce rider fatigue considerably.

The frame’s stiffness was also impressive. Any expectations of a soft, spongy ride were immediately dispelled. Pressure on the pedals results in immediate acceleration, with out-of-the-saddle response especially impressive. The chainstays, which transmit the rider’s power, are entirely in High Modulus carbon fibre; the other main frame spars use between 30percent and 50percent flax, while the fork has exactly 50percent flax with a mix of HM and Intermediate Modulus carbon.

On the evidence of just one short (20km) ride, the Museeuw MF1 has set a new standard for ride quality and efficiency. Even hardened shop staff at one of Surrey’s most Italianophile retailers had to admit being impressed. RCUK was, for sure. The frames are hand-built by fabled Italian custom builder Billato, and are available in a choice of eight off the peg sizes or made to measure. Price for the MF1 is £2,899 including signed certificate, Museeuw DVD and customer name on the frame. Six colour options are available, each corresponding to one of Museeuw’s great victories. Look out for a longer road test on RCUK soon.


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