2017 NAHBS: Steve Potts Silk Ti Soft Tail MTB with Suspension Rack

Each year at NAHBS, I like looking for innovative design solutions and this year, the bike that really resonated with me was this Steve Potts Silk Ti soft tail mountain bike. It’s got S&S couplers and a rear rack for touring. These days, you see nothing but bikepacking rigs for MTB tourers at NAHBS and on the internet, so seeing a ride like this is almost out of place. Then you look closer. Yes, the chainstays are made from a piece of laser-cut titanium, but check out the rack! Steve engineered a leaf-spring stabilizer on this rack, so when you hit a rough patch, the 1.75″ travel rear “shock” absorbs the terrain and this rack, due to its design, remains free of any jostling that might jettison your panniers onto the road or trail.

It’s hard to even begin to display how it works, but when you sit on the bike and compress the shock, the rack, with or without weight, keeps its normal height. Kooky? You bet. Smart? Uh huh. After all, this is NAHBS…

  • Scott Felter

    Oh, sick…fave so far. Nothing wrong with racks!

  • Dan Coppola

    What a cool bike, and a great throwback to the old Ibis Silk Ti and Ripley! The rack is a really nice piece of work to compliment the frame. John: maybe you can chime in on Steve Potts history for those of us who don’t know too much about him. Do you know if he was working with John Castellano in the old days of Ibis? Or did he work with him on this bike?

    • Jon Severson

      Steve Potts actually made a lot of John Castellano’s prototypes and rumors were he made his Castellano Ti frames which used the exact system above. Originally developed for Ibis by castellano, then his designs were made under his name after Ibis closed. But yes, this is 100% a Castellano design. Look under “Fango” for details an FEA analysis. John Castellano was an MIT grad who was an aeronautical engineer:


    • Gregory Dyas

      Castellano was there in the Potts exhibit all weekend.

  • FireUrEngine

    One of the best looking bikes I have seen. Loving the details. I want one.

  • Sarkis

    Always wanted a ibis silk ti or a bowti (why??)..and now this..Potts nails it with this stunner.

  • Gregory Dyas

    Had a great long discussion with John Castellano at the Potts/Eriksen booth over his extensive finite-element analysis, ongoing development & refinement of the chainstays, and his drive toward fitting 3″ tires in there. Fantastic guy, and it’s great to see such cutting-edge research in bike design at the custom builder level. Where initially I arched my eyebrow a bit at the entire rear triangle, wary of gimmicks on bikes in general, the amount of thought and iterative trial & testing that’s gone into this (somewhere around 45-50 designs physically built-out as chainstays & bikes and tested! I boggle at the thought.) show it to make complete sense and work extremely well. John is more than happy to get down into the nitty-gritty of the engineering behind what they’re doing, and the quality shows. Amazing work.

  • Ham Sandwich

    sometimes i feel like im over custom bikes. like, i think theyre cool and all but im perfectly happy with shitty bikes and stock builds. then i go to the potts booth and my heart starts to hurt. and i start thinking about how maybe my family could easily survive being homeless for a few years.

  • Awesome bike. Touches our buttons for fabrication. Nice chain ring choice.

  • Pelex

    Just flashed on the Box derailleur! Cool choice for a cool rig. Wonder if Toby Henderson knows?

    • Toby Henderson

      Yes I do Pelex

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