PRAXIS FORGING TURNS ALUMINUM INTO DRIVETRAIN GOLD
At Praxis, we’re proud to have made great strides in a short period of time, introducing a full family of innovative and high performance cranksets, chainrings and bottom brackets. Many people ask how our small company achieved this and what sets Praxis products apart. Our success is the result of an obsession to keep pushing the envelope toward the perfect bicycle drivetrain. It takes new thinking, problem solving, extensive engineering, testing and tooling.
Better-shifting, affordable replacement rings
Praxis’ first products were aftermarket replacement chainrings engineered to be as high-quality or even better than original equipment, and more affordable, too. Soon after, we invented our heralded Conversion Bottom Brackets, which became instant best-sellers. Finally there was a surefire way to silence those annoying creaking and clicking press-fit bottom brackets.
Then, responding to widespread consumer and industry demand, we turned our attention to creating a complete lineup of Praxis road and mountain cranksets, the perfect complement to our chainrings and bottom brackets. Following that we introduced a cassette, chainguides and a lineup of carbon and aluminum Praxis rims.
Today, we’re proud to report that Praxis products have been so well-received that you now find Praxis cranksets and rings as original equipment on famous-name bikes, such as Specialized, Giant, Trek and Ibis, to name a few.
From design to manufacturing
We can react quickly and introduce our innovative, high-performance and game-changing components because we invent, design and even manufacture in-house thanks to having Praxis offices both in the USA and Taiwan. While Praxis employees globe hop between offices as needed to keep production on schedule, designing, prototyping, testing and marketing mainly takes place in the USA. And, the production manufacturing happens in Taichung.
This means that from a new product’s conception by a Praxis engineer, to when it hits the road and trail on your bikes, we’re in control every step of the way. This allows us the flexibility to stop and improve or revise things as often as necessary, which is how we ensure the best, highest quality products.
Praxis’ tooling and machining magic
One of our most impressive technologies is our metal forging capabilities in Praxis Taiwan. It’s how we produce Praxis cold-forged aluminum shifting chainrings and cranksets (and other components).
There are actually so few companies forging bicycle parts worldwide, that at Praxis, we are currently the only company making and selling aftermarket cold-forged shifting rings to bicycle shops and consumers alike. These same chainrings are standard equipment on our Praxis cranksets, too. Plus our popular new hill-flattening micro-compact shifting rings are cold forged as well (currently in 48/32, 50/34, 52/36 and 53/39).
The reason so few bike companies cold forge products is because it requires expensive and massive machines. Roughly two-stories tall, these monsters hammer out parts with blows of hundreds of tons.
While the process is called “cold forging,” it’s actually done with the aluminum at room temperature. “Cold” makes sense when you compare cold to hot forging, which takes place with the alloy at temperatures ranging from about 360 – 520 degrees celsius (680 – 968 F).
Cold forging’s advantages are that it both shapes the metal and changes its molecular structure. Like how woodworkers orient the grain the right way, cold forging realigns the molecules the right way, which is along the shape of the components. In metal, this boosts hardness, durability and fatigue resistance.
With our shifting chainrings, cold forging lets us increase the amount of shifting features over what’s possible with normal CNC manufacturing. We use it to create individual tooth profiles, alternating tooth angles, timed shifting ramps and tactically placed shift pins with unique shape.
Other benefits of cold forging components include requiring very little clean-up after forging. And, it’s also unnecessary to heat treat afterwards so there’s no risk of parts warping or losing shape.
These are important attributes for precision drivetrain components, such as chainrings and cranks – and something not available with the much more common CNC-machined aftermarket rings.
Specific dies for every Praxis forged component
Forging machines can precisely form complicated shapes such as chainrings and crankarms thanks to dies placed below and above the aluminum. These dies allow the forging machine to pound the aluminum into the right shapes with one strike – what we call our “One Shot” forging process.
Die sets are specific to the product they’re used for. So, every new Praxis chainring, crankset or other new design we come up with requires designing and making dies for it. So while pounding aluminum into chainrings and cranksets may sound simple, a lot goes into every new design – and at Praxis we offer dozens of different cranksets and chainring combos.
2D and 3D Forging
Another advantage of forging our own parts is the ability to design cutting-edge products for the many different uses and price points in today’s rapidly evolving bike market. For example, we use 2D and 3D forging for different components. The latter refers to products comprised of a solid forged piece of aluminum, like our Cadet and Alba cranks.
3D Design utilizes a lighter hollow forging process seen in our Zayante and Girder cranks. Solid- or hollow-forged, both forging processes align the metal’s grain for light, tough and super stiff crankarms ready to take whatever you dish out.
Interestingly, 3D-forged components can be lighter and stiffer, too, because the geometry boosts the strength (versus adding material to do it). Witness our hollow-forged Praxis Zayante crank, recognized as one of the stiffest and most efficient in all of cycling.
Fit and finish just right
Finish machining and surface treating are the final steps before Praxis components are boxed and delivered. These include steps like cutting the pedal threading in cranks and trimming chainring tooth shapes to perfection.
Certain Praxis chainrings undergo another machining process adding the pins for flawless shifting. And everything is protected from corrosion and wear with material-specific high-quality surface finishes.
In most cases components are etched with small text providing important details about the part, such as chainring size and installation specifications. Finally, the Praxis graphics are applied for a beautiful finished product.
We hope you found this overview of Praxis’ metal forging capabilities interesting and helpful. For complete information on all the ways you can pump up your ride with Praxis components, be sure to browse our site, follow us on social media and frequent your local Praxis authorized bicycle shop.
Thanks for reading! Watch for upcoming articles about how our Conversion Bottom Bracket came to be, the weird science that goes into designing better-shifting chainrings and a look at Praxis’ proprietary carbon manufacturing.