I'm very excited about the 2012 North American Handbuilt Bicycle Show in the first weekend in March. (I was tempted to ride the Death Valley Double Century, but the two conflict.... Death Valley can wait.)
Fairwheel Bikes, which has been stealing a lot of attention from the big boys at Interbike the past few years with their ultra-light project bikes, is delivering a new project to the show: "Project Right". I just came across this today, having seen their latest blog update. Here's the frame:
Check that out: the left side of the rear triangle is completely missing, and there's no seat stays. This is really only an incremental change from the trend taken by Cervelo and Pinarello. Cervelo reduced the seat stays to mere formalities to provide vertical compliance, while Pinarello has been a leader (in marketing at least) in focusing material on the right chainstay, since that's the side where force is transmitted via the drivetrain.
Here's the Cervelo R5 in its most expensive form (the R5-Ca). As an aside, I finally came across one of these "in the wild", on the bike path in Sausalito. It looked really nice. I've stopped obsessing over how outrageously expensive it is. If people want to squander money, bikes is a fairly harmless way to do it. Anyway, notice the super-skinny seatstays:
You may as well cut those out: they're hardly providing structural support.
So that's what Fairwheel is doing: no seatstays, only one chainstay. Seems like a progression of a trend. But it's hardly new.
Chris Boardman's Lotus Superbike had a similar concept:
Nothing of interest on the left side; all support for the rear wheel is on the right. This bike was based on the Windcheetah, which Mike Burrows designed in 1982:
But the idea goes way, way further back than that. Documented by Jan Heine in his book, The Competition Bicycle, here's a Labor bike from 1906:
The design was to allow for quick wheel changes.
I really look forward to seeing the Fairwheel Bikes project "in the flesh" at the Hand Built Bike Show.