Johan Museeuw was a big Champion, one of the biggest in the Classic races of northern Europe, he won many professional races and a World Championship and now that he has retired he is putting that race experience into producing his own brand of top class frames and bikes. Now you can, as they say on their web-site, “share the experience of a World Champion, share the experience of a Museeuw Bike”
What’s the Story with these Frames?
These frames are made of a Carbon fiber, natural Flax Fiber which is a very robust, flexible and light, this fiber is so popular in the car industry that BMW and Audi, as well as the aeronautical industry, use it. In 2004 Johan enlisted the help of IPA Composites of Belgium and BILLATO Linea Telai of Italy and they came up with what Museeuw calls Flax Carbon Hybrid Race Bike.
The frame is composed of a combination of high-end flax and carbon fibers, which are joined using the twill composite hybrid sandwich technique. “What’s that?” you say, well the main advantage is that the process gives the frame excellent shock absorbing qualities for added comfort without loosing performance, a stiff yet pliable ride.
Who is IPA?
IPA designs and manufactures fibrous composite products using a multitude of techniques. IPA also designs products on specific customer request, among others for the car, sports and aeronautical industries. IPA owns the latest machinery and has over 30 years of experience and know-how under its belt, guaranteeing the highest of quality and timely delivery.
Time and again, with ambitious engineering and excellent craftsmanship, state-of-the-art technological applications are developed and improved. An engineer with a passion for cycling introduced Museeuw Bikes to the company, resulting in the present co-operation.
Billato is a family business which was established in 1954. Today, it has grown to be one of the five top frame builders in the world. The reason the Billato name does not ring any bells with even the most ardent cycling enthusiasts is due to the fact that Billato produced frames are raking in victories under other brands’ names.
A great many accomplished professional cyclists, among them Sean Kelly, Greg Lemond and Chris Boardman, already relied on Billato craftsmanship and experience, and as of 2006 Billato will be adding the production of Musseeuwbikes frames to its list of accomplishments as well.
The basic material is produced in Belgium and then transported to Billato’s new facility in Padova. Here the tubes are shaped and the frames hand-assembled using Billato’s unique Flax Carbon Wrapping System technique.
That’s the Science What About the Bikes?
There are three different models of Museeuw bikes, the MF-1 is the top of the range road bike, the MF-3 comes in three different styles; road, track and cyclo cross, then there is the MF-5 which is a more reasonably priced road bike with all the design and innovation of the others. All the Museeuw bikes come with a 10 year guarantee for peace of mind, they must be very sure of the frames! There is three different paint style designs and in six colors, we are not sure about the Lion style, it looks more like tiger stripes to us, the other paint jobs are more pleasing to the eye, but what is under the paint is much more important, here is what we think of each frame.
The MF-1 Road Frame
The MF-1 frame is Museeuw’s top frame; this is the frame that the Jako-Cyclingnews team will be riding on Belgian roads in 2008.
The tubes on the MF-1 either 40% to 50% Flax or 100% 3K Carbon HM and are connected with the use of lugs this isn’t the smoothest way, but it gives a very strong bond between the tubes and give great stiffness to the frame.
The top tube slopes slightly from head to seat, not too much, but enough to help handling and stiffness. The head tube is bulky which keeps the frame stiff and cuts down on torsion stress, the seat stays are of a wishbone design and the seat tube has an aero profile. The MF-1 is strong and light, everything you need from a bike frame, it’s not cheap, but a frame of this quality is never going to be a give away.
MF-1 Road Bike
The MF-3 Road Frame
The MF-3 frame does not have lugs to join the tubes, Billato build the frames without separate tube connections. Instead, a patented “wrapping system” is used; this also means that the MF-3 can be made to measure to suit the rider’s dimensions.
The MF-3 has a smooth, sleek look and it’s a little less expensive than the MF-1. If you were to ask us to choose between the two frame jointing systems, we couldn’t as they are both equally as strong, the choice would come down to looks, smooth or lugged?
MF-3 Road Bike
The MF-3 Cyclo Cross Frame
The Cyclo Cross frame has the same technology as the road frame, but of course has all the facets that a cross bike needs, higher bottom bracket, more wheel clearance and all the cables running across the top tube for less chance of them being fouled by mud. This is a classically designed Cyclo Cross frame and will take any conditions you could throw at it.
MF-3 Cyclo Cross
The MF-3 Track Frame
Smooth lines are perfect for a track bike as aerodynamics are important on the pista, this is not a out and out pursuiters bike, nor a specialist sprinters frame, but an all round track machine. Very classy and strong and will handle the tightest of tracks with style and with sure footed confidence. If you are looking for an all-round track machine, I wouldn’t look any further than the Museeuw MF-3 Track Frame. It’s expensive, but it would be worth every cent.
MF-3 Track Bike
The MF-5 Road Frame
This is the bottom of the range from Museeuw Bikes, but saying that it’s better than many of other manufacturer’s top frame. The frame is manufactured in the same method as the MF-1 with lugs, the difference is in the amount of Flax used in the main tubes, the MF-5 has 80% Flax, the forks are the same as all the others at 50% and the lugs and wishbone are both 100% Carbon like the more expensive MF-1 frame.
The frame dimensions are the same as the other frames so you know it will handle well with its semi-sloping top tube and regular angles. If you want the Museeuw experience, but want to save some money, then you need to seriously consider the MF-5.
It is not cheaply made and is cutting edge technology and let’s face it a wonderful looking bike.
MF-5 Road Bike
So What Is Our Opinion?
Brilliant, beautiful, technical, artistic and expensive! You have to pay for class in this world and Museeuw Bikes delivers class and style by the ton, but at a price. That is our only complaint. Otherwise these are among the best frames we have ever seen, but then they should be when you have an ex-rider of the experience of Johan Museeuw behind these bikes.
They also make carbon wheels which are 50% Flax and hand built in Belgium. Carbon overload here at Bike Cycling Reviews.