The RDA* is a bike designed specifically for daily commuting. It was the first production bike from Milk Bikes. (The RDA is not currently available)
The frame and forks have been designed from the ground up, with one goal in mind – being a super-commuter; it's clean, quiet and functional.
Built to be comfortable and stand the test of time. This bike features;
- Milk Bikes RDA cr-mo frame and forks - Shimano Alfine 8-speed internal hub gears - Gates Carbon Drive belt and sprockets - TRP Spyre mechanical disc brakes
Our minimal-maintenance philosophy means belt-drive is key. Chains are simply too dirty, too noisy and a pain to keep clean. Hub gears and disc brakes are the other two corner stones of what makes the RDA do what it's supposed to.
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Milk Bikes’s own design, constructed from aircraft-grade, double-butted, 4130 chromoly tubing. Every little detail is the result of hours of careful consideration. Here are the details;
- The frame is belt-ready; there is a stainless steel ‘belt port’ incorporated into the right seat stay. Belts cannot be split like a chain can, so in order to fit a belt you need to have a frame that is designed to take a belt. This is probably the only real drawback of the whole belt system and why it can’t be retro-fitted to an existing bike. The belt-port is located near the middle of the seat stay. The mid-stay location keeps any forces exerted on this joint to a minimum and maintains chainstay-dropout strength, which is important for obvious reasons.
There is absolutely no reason why having a break in the frame is a bad thing. Afterall, full-suspension mountain bikes have a raft of pivot points at various high-stress points in the frame, and those bikes are subjected to much higher stresses that a road-going bike will be subjected to.
- As already mentioned, Milk uses double-butted 4130 chromoly steel tubing. This has been a staple frame-building material for a long while due to the mechanical properties of this grade of steel – the fact that the aircraft industry uses it is testament to this. The end result is a relatively lightweight frame that gives a comfortable ride. Perfect for commuting. - The frame and forks have heaps of clearance and can take 700C or 26″ wheels, up to 44mm and 1.5″ sizes respectively, as well as full mudguards (or ‘fenders’, depending on which side of the pond you call home!). - The geometry; featuring classic head tube and seat tube angles help in giving a fast yet comfy riding position. The bottom bracket height is between that of a road bike and a mountain bike, giving masses of pedal clearance for cornering, kerbs, speed-humps, etc - but also allowing you to still reach the ground (on tip-toe!) if you like to sit on the saddle at the traffic lights. This little bit of extra height is subtle, but gives you a better view of the road ahead and the traffic around you (and gives motorists a better chance of hopefully seeing you above the car ahead of them). The MTB-style sloping top tube (or ‘compact frame’) gives ample stand-over height. - Available in 4 sizes; small, medium large and X-large.
- The frame and forks are designed for disc brakes only. Disc brakes may be slightly heavier than rim brakes, but that’s about the only area where rim brakes are better than discs; rim brakes are simply not as effective as disc brakes, especially in the wet – and they wear out the rims. - The forks are straight-bladed and also fabricated using 4130 chromoly, and the front dropouts are reversed (pointing forward, rather than backward) to counter any possibility of disc-brake-induced-wheel-ejection. This makes fitting the front wheel for the first time feel a bit strange! - The frame has 3 sets of bottle bosses. One set on the down tube and one on the seat tube, as normal, with an additional set on the under-side of the down tube, near the bottom bracket. This could be used to carry additional water bottles, although the intension is for your tools to be stored here – this way they’ll be out of the way and the weight will be kept low on the bike. Your seat post will be free to fit more lights too. Stainless bottle cage bolts are supplied with the frame. - The cables are routed down the under-side of the down tube, under the bottom bracket and then along the under-side of the chainstays. There are no cable stops, only cable guides. We strongly recommend fully-enclosed cable housings to limit cable maintenance. Housing clips are supplied with the frames. - A full compliment of rack and mudguard bosses are also featured, and all come with stainless bolts.
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The Drive. Milk’s frameset is designed to be used with Gates Carbon Drive system and Shimano’s internally geared Alfine hubs.
Gates has been supplying belt drives for various industrial applications for over 100 years. Their Carbon Drive system for was developed specifically for bikes and launched in 2007. This new-to-bicycles technology is growing in popularity within the bike industry due to the range of benefits over chain-drive set-ups;
- No need to lube, at all… ever. This means no grease to get on your clothes and hands, and nothing for road dirt to stick to. Cleaning the bike is a pleasure – simply wipe with a rag, easy as that. Honest. - Belt drive is very quiet, it’s practically silent. Something you instantly love and just as quickly forget (until you ride with your mate who still has a creaky, squeaky old chain!). - Gates have found that a correctly setup belt lasts twice as long as a chain, “Chains are often replaced due to stretch and wear rather than actual failure. The Carbon Drive belt does not stretch, so the smooth running performance remains consistent throughout its own life.” In practice though, we've found they last a lot longer. - With a chain drive system, there is an initial take-up of slack as you start pedalling. Belts don’t suffer from this, the drive is very ‘direct’ – like riding a fixed gear bike, but with a freewheel. Best of both!
This all sounds too good to be true, you say, there must surely be some drawbacks?! Well, yes of course there are drawbacks to belt-drive; you need to have a frame that can have a belt for a start. Also, it’s not possible to use derailleurs with a belt. BUT, that’s actually more a benefit than drawback - read on!
Gearing: The commuter frame is designed for a 50-groove front sprocketcoupled with a 24-groove rear sprocket and a 118-groove belt, although there is a range of other gearing ratios to choose from. Through testing the prototypes over a long period of time we found that this combination gives the most balanced gear ratio for use with internal hub gears.
To help demonstrate this we’ve produced a chart to show a direct comparison between Alfine 8 and 11 speed hubs and a typical MTB and road groupset. The bars show the range of speed in miles-per-hour with a constant cadence of 90rpm. As you can see both the Alfine hubs give a good range of gears in comparison to ‘normal’ gears.
Internally geared hubs turn one of the belt drive’s few drawbacks into a massive positive. No derailleurs mean there’s nothing to get dirty, get bent or need tweaking as all the working parts are sealed away within the hub’s shell. There are a number of hubs available at the moment from a range of manufacturers. We’ve designed the frames with Shimano’s Alfine hubs in mind, although the frame can be built with virtually any hub with a 135mm rear spacing.
* RDA? It stands for ‘Recommended Daily Allowance’
Milk / Series 01
An "A" Grade City Bike.
This was the first Milk Bikes Series bike, limited to a run of just 12 beautiful city bikes. All the bikes were handmade in the UK and each bike in the series was named after a Scottish Island. Barra (pictured) was shown at the Bespoked Handmade Bicycle Show in 2014.
Series 01 was designed with city living front and centre. The bike is quite small and features smaller (24") wheels combined with frame geometry that gives a comfortable ride and suits the majority of rider sizes. Smaller bikes make life a little easier, especially if you store the bike indoors and have limited space.
The marine ply deck uses skateboard deck tape and medical grade silicone tubing to keep cargo secure, and has an integrated coffee cup holder.
The front and rear lights are dynamo powered and integrated into the bike so batteries are not a problem.
The belt drive and 3-speed hub gear means the bike - and the rider! stay clean - no grease, no noise and almost no adjustment ever needed.
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The concept behind the Series bikes was; - Bikes were made in limited batches of 12, never to be repeated. - We call these batches SERIES. - Every SERIES is different from any other. - Each bike within a SERIES was named. - There will be just 4 SERIES produced each year.
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Lifestyle Shots by Julia Jarmulska Photography Studio Shots by Ben Broomfield Photography
Donky Bike was designed by Ben Wilson. The concept is explained below. Milk Bikes worked closely with the Donky Bike team to refine Ben's original design slightly with mass production in mind. We then identified a factory in Taiwan with the suitable experience and capability to produce this unusual bike.
"Bicycle use in London was growing rapidly, but many of the bikes on the street seemed unsuitable for urban use. Typically cheap ‘mountain bikes’ with too many gears and no way of carrying anything.
Ben Wilson and Jonathan Pooley started to talk about an affordable, practical town bike.
Thinking about the load-carrying designs from the Netherlands, plus the strength and simplicity of BMX components, a design started to take shape.
The requirements were:
Real-world load carrying ability: We would rather ride locally than drive a car. We need to move stuff everyday: groceries, plus all we need to carry for work and play.
Ride-ability: Great handling and steering, even at low speeds through traffic and when loaded with cargo. The key is transferring the weight down through the frame without ‘hanging’ loads on the handlebars.
Accessible price: If they can make cheap mountain bikes then could we make a utility bike at an affordable price?
Not disposable: A strong frame and durable, low-maintenance components that can be repaired or replaced anywhere in the world. A bike for life, not landfill.
Compact: A bike that can live easily in a Tokyo apartment or the hallway of a London flat.
Simple: Easy to build, ride and maintain.
20″ wheels were selected to keep the footprint compact.
The square-section beam carries all the load and offers a versatile platform for front and rear attachments.
The frame geometry and gearing gives a relaxed, efficient ride."
About Ben Wilson Ben Wilson has been passionate about bicycles since his stabilisers were taken off. He is also a 3D industrial designer whose work has been extensively published and exhibited worldwide. Ben designs, builds and rides bikes of all kinds, working with many major global brands. Ben also tutors a design course at the Royal College of Art in London.
Foffa / Fold-Up
Developed from scratch for London-based urban cycling brand Foffa Bikes.
The brief was for a folding bike that would compliment the existing range of city bikes. This bike needed to echo the clean, simple style that Foffa are known for.
Mango / Metrea Project
"British bike brand Mango Bikes produced this prototype aluminium frame, with an elevated driveside chainstay to act as a chainguard and a custom rack that can either bit fitted to the rear stays, as it is in this photo, or to the fork." road.cc
Milk Bikes worked closely with Mango Bikes on the design of this prototype commuting bike. We used Mango's very successful Point Blank frameset as the starting point and began the redevelop it with the rigors of the daily commute in mind.
A versatile rack system makes it possible to fit the rack at the front or bike of the bike, and the raised drive-side chainstay doubles as a chainguard. A D-lock can be secured to the non-drive-side chainstay when riding, keeping weight low to the ground and the lock out of the way when riding.
The bike was designed for Shimano's new urban-specific groupset called Metrea, and the prototype was put on display by Shimano at the world's biggest bike show, Eurobike.
We wanted something that wasn't going to take a lot of time to keep running well. Something that you could just pull out of the shed when you get home from work and go blast local trails for an hour. And then put it away when you get back until the next time you want to go riding.
The first ADL prototype was a 26inch beast. It worked really well, took everything we threw at it and more. The only hiccup we had was a severed belt half way through the 12-hour night race, which was in deep mud due to non-stop rain.
The second prototype was a 29er and we did some rigid forks with it too. That bike rides super well but for one reason or another we didn't put it into production.... one day, maybe.
The Babel Bike is a completely new genre of bicycle and the biggest step forward in bicycle safety since 1884 when Penny Farthings were replaced with the Rover Safety Bicycle, the bicycle design that you still see on the streets today.
"Our dream is to put a million more cyclists on our roads, and therefore take a million cars off them, and to do that we need to give cyclists their safety back. As a recent report put it ‘If we can tackle the safety issue, we could open the floodgates to a new era of mass cycling participation.
The shape and structure of the bikes helps to reduce deaths and serious injuries from turning lorries and buses at busy junctions – the single biggest killers of cyclists, but of course the bikes still need to be fast and fun to ride." Crispin Sinclair
Mark's role in the project is on the manufacturing and sourcing, as well as advising on component selection.
Mango / Portland
"An elegant riding solution, the Portland is our modern take on a classic design. The high bars and sprung saddle give a riding position that lets you roll through town or along the sea front for hours on end. The rear rack and basket option offer versatility and practicality. Polished aluminium parts keep the weight lower than most other bikes of its kind, whilst maintaining the original look we love. 7 gears, provided by Shimano, allow gradients to be tackled and the matte paint job, minimal graphics and stamped head tube badge finish off what is has become our office’s favourite choice for running to the shops." Mango Bikes
Milk Bikes worked closely with Mango to adjust the design and specification for this bike before identifying a manufacturing partner that could deliver Mango's high quality while maintaining affordability.
All images copyright Mango Bikes.
Muddypaws / growBIKE
Balance bikes are awesome. But kids can master them in a pretty short space of time, then it's time to fork out for a pedal bike.
This project was aimed to bridge the two; convert the balance bike into a pedal bike so that the kids can continue on to the next step in their cycling lives without the cost of another bike.
Cost was a major factor with the design and development of this bike, but through careful design and component choices this bike sold for under £100 at retail. Many balance bikes sell for more.
Dunlop Sport / Concept Bike
Designed and fabricated to showcase the range of biomimetic (inspired by nature) technologies used by Dunlop Sport in their range of rackets.
JR Drift Trikes / Game Changer
JR Drift Trikes saw a gap in the market for a geared, direct drive hub with excellent braking power. The answer was the Game Changer.
It was developed with internal hub manufacturer Sturmey Archer and delivers 380% gear advantage making it possible to pedal a drift trike in excess of 40mph. A massive 225mm floating disc brake rotor makes it possible to stop, and a specially designed fork and dropout was created too.
It's fair to say that the Game Changer has transformed the extreme sport of Drift Triking.
From the JR Drift Trikes website: "During development of our early trikes and using 1:1 pedal hubs, it soon became apparent to us that having a 1:1 pedal system was no great advantage over pegs. It was fine for the pull-away but once travelling 10mph+, the pedals were redundant. We soon got bored of waiting for the steeps and worrying about initiating a drift, killing speed. We knew there had to be a way to make a pedal system that worked. With Sturmey Archer's impressive knowledge and over 100 years experience combined with our constant testing and pedalling we came up with the perfect solution and what we believe will be a must-have for all drift trikes of the future.
So basically, the 'Game-Changer' turns every slight slope into a hill and every regular hill into a mountain. It can be pedalled in between every drift to maintain maximum speed and lets you pedal at 40mph+.
This is the hub of the future. Get involved, don't get left behind."
MIlk / ArtDA
Built to show at the Bespoked UK Handmade Bike Show in 2012, this bike was the first bike in world belt drive system from the German tyre manufacturer Continental.
This bike was hand painted by London-based artist Will Barras.
Other features include a white Brooks saddle designed by Ben Wilson, and wooden mudguards specially made by furniture maker Simon Muir.
An exploratory project for Universal Cycles, this Tall BMX was the result of a brief to come up with something different while sticking to an extremely tight budget.