The Echo and our relentless pursuit of manufacturing excellence
22 February, 2023

The Echo and our relentless pursuit of manufacturing excellence

By: Jose Maldonado

Blending our experience of what makes a beautiful riding bike with modern design and development tools and the ability to make it ourselves, we can bring together the art and science to deliver what we believe are the best bikes in the world.


The best bikes use a blend of carbon grades to give the most beneficial properties based on the need in that area. At ALLIED, we use no less than five different materials in each of our bikes -- each optimally selected, integrated, and oriented to achieve what we feel is the best-balanced ride on the market.

Not all carbon fiber is created equal. There are varying grades based on application and varying degrees of quality based on the producer, but fewer than you would think. You will often hear companies name their fiber with goofy marketing terms to try and differentiate theirs from everyone else. Still, the reality is, fiber generally comes in three grades, and a few Japanese companies produce a majority, and all are pretty nice. There is no one "superior" grade of fiber, just the right one for the application. We generally prefer intermediate modulus fiber because it has an excellent combination of strength and stiffness.   Often overlooked but of equal importance is the quality of the resin that holds it all together. Carbon fiber bikes are a composite, and the other part of that composite is the resin.

 

 

 

 

Huge strides have been made on this front, and in fact, most of the energy in composites development centers around the resins and how to more effectively combine the layers. When you talk about a composite material's toughness or its ability to resist impact, you are generally talking about the performance of its resin. The overseas factories that produce a majority of the carbon frame in the world are almost entirely vertically integrated, which means they purchase the fiber but combine it with their own resin formulations at the factory. The quality of these formulations is on the onus of the factory, they are under no pressure to have these formulations third-party tested, and the process of controlling quality is very complicated.

At ALLIED, we only use the best-quality, sourced-in-America pre-preg carbon fiber. The material we used is the same used by the American aerospace industry and undergoes the strictest testing and quality assurance levels. Does it cost more? Yes, but you must use the best materials when trying to make the best.


Carbon is an incredible material, it allows us an unbelievable amount of engineering freedom to make a bike that rides and performs in any way we can dream, but it isn't great at everything, so why force it? In all areas that require threads or a very high level of precision, we prefer to use aluminum, which we also manufacture in our machine shop.



 

 

We've heard this analogy before when comparing planes to bikes and the materials used to build them. You want to know everything about an airplane before you fly it, materials it was built with, construction, how it maneuvers, and how smooth of a ride it can be. The same goes for a bike. The best bikes can handle blistering descents. If you're ripping down a mountain at 50/60 MPH, you want absolute confidence that you can trust the machine to handle everything you throw at it. You want assurance that your bike has been thoughtfully engineered, made to exacting standards with the best materials, and tested to comply with the highest performance and safety standards.


Now that we’ve gone through some of our engineering approaches, let’s review some things you should know about the ECHO.

The ECHO stem is a fully integrated system designed in tandem with the fork to completely conceal the cables while still using a standard headset. When setting out to design the ECHO stem, it was our goal to be the simplest and most user-friendly on the market. The two main objectives were to be able to use any standard headset, and to be able to change stem lengths without having to re-cable the bike. We achieved both by running the cables through a channel on the top of the stem and through our compression plug into the steerer tube. Headset adjustment is moved from the traditional position at the top of the stem to a threaded portion on the bottom of the stem, much like a threaded headset. The stem and of course our fork and frame are 100% made in house to ensure perfect fitment and exact tolerances and all are painted to match. 


Our forks are second to none. The fork plays a massive role in the performance and safety of your bike. If something goes wrong with the fork, the results are often catastrophic. We've cut open many well-known component makers and bike manufacturer forks and are often surprised at how messy it is under the hood. Just because a carbon part looks nice on the outside doesn't mean it is a good part. The way that forks are generally made wouldn't pass our quality controls. It's no wonder that over the years, there have been countless fork recalls. Our forks are a point of pride, and it's the construction that differentiates them. The beauty of making our forks in our factory is the control over the inside and outside of each fork. We use custom-made continuous latex bladders that perfectly match the interior shape of our forks. One of the main differences, though, is in the steerer tube.

Because other manufacturers need to control the dimensions of their steerer tubes carefully, the exterior is ground, and the interior is machined to meet the dimensional requirements. This means that if a defect is present after molding, they will machine through it, disguising what could be a significant flaw in the part. Our forks do not require additional machining and processing. What is on your bike is what came out of the tool. We control interior, and exterior dimensions with exacting layups, custom bladders, and precision tooling machined in house. And yes, of course, our forks are superlight and strong.

 

Run it 2X or 1X, your choice. The ECHO is compatible with all electric and gravel drivetrains from SRAM and Shimano.


The steeper headtube angle and shorter rake on the ECHO make it more responsive to input which is why it feels more like a road bike in how it handles.


 

Most of the American bike industry has a mighty struggle on its hands: Creating idealized visions of products while remaining blind to how they're being made. We are very transparent about our manufacturing and welcome all to visit our factory in Northwest Arkansas to see and feel the ALLIED difference.

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