The Mythos Elix is a £500 3D printed upper
We have now seen 3D printed frame parts, cleats, computer mounts and power meters. Printed cycling parts and accessories show no signs of slowing down. This trend has continued as Metron, an additive manufacturing specialist with a long history in cycling, has now announced the first commercially available 3D printed stem through its new Mythos cycling component wing.
Metron Additive Manufacturing specializes in 3D printing with a long history in innovative cycling components and is led by Dimitris Katsanis. If Metron and Katsanis sound familiar, it could be the brand’s work developing custom components for British Cycling, Team Sky, Pinarello and Bradley Wiggins’ hour record in 2015. As recently as February this year, Metron helped develop Verve Cycling’s £4,470 3D-printed titanium power meter. Now the brand has turned to marketing 3D printing components with a stem the first part of the printer.
Mythos claims the Elix stem offers increased “usable stiffness”, providing a stem that both performs best and “looks the best”. Mythos points to 3D printing as the key factor, allowing the possibility of reinforcing specific areas, reducing weight in others and creating a “contemporary design”. The lattice-like design is certainly unique, but as the old saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so we’ll park the discussion on aesthetics for a moment and move on to more pressing questions about a 3D rod.
How is it done?
So how is a 3D stem made and is it safe?
Most probably know how additive manufacturing, or 3D printing as it’s more commonly known, works. In short, the 3D printing process layers and melts powdered material to build a layer-by-layer structure. The process allows manufacturers to design and print more complex designs than is otherwise possible with traditional manufacturing processes. Mythos explains that using 3D printing to manufacture its stems gives the company the ability to eliminate high stress areas with small local reinforcements and reduce weight in other areas by removing any non-essential material.
Titanium has been the material of choice for 3D printed cycling “stuff” so far, but Metron opted to use scalmalloy in the Elix stem. Scalmalloy is a material specific to 3D printing based on scandium, aluminum and magnesium, developed by Airbus engineers.
Additive manufacturing, scandium, aerospace, if you think that all sounds expensive, you’re right. The Elix stem will soon be available on Mtyhos.bike for the low price of £500.
As for being an actual stem, the Mythos comes in lengths ranging from 100mm to 130mm with a rise of +/- 8 degrees. With a claimed weight starting at 150 grams, the Mythos is unlikely to excite heavyweights too much. However, the stem is compatible with FSA ACR internal cable routing and could prove to be among the lightest stems offering such compatibility. Although the trellis design is very airy, it’s pretty safe to say that it wasn’t designed with aerodynamics in mind.
Is it safe?
When it comes to bicycle components, the stem is one of the most critical components on any bicycle. A failure here is unlikely to end well. It’s no surprise that the initial reaction of most cyclists is to question the wisdom/strength/safety of a 3D printed stem. Mythos has no such concerns, pointing to Metron’s vast experience in 3D printing and bicycle components and explaining that it was extensive testing that led Mythos to the final stem design.
Mythos described the design and testing process, explaining that it used “a manual topology optimization method, we switched between FEA (finite element analysis) simulations and CAD software to identify paths of load and therefore areas that needed more or less material, and then we made those changes iteratively.”
Once the final design was decided, Mythos began testing prototypes for each size. These fatigue tests used the test methods outlined in the ISO 4210 test standard. It’s far from the brand’s first foray into stem design, having created the TT cockpit that many riders Ineos have been using over the past few seasons.
But this is the first commercially available, and presumably, at least somewhat mass-produced, 3D-printed upper for consumer use.
It is also full of holes. It might be fair to assume that some riders might need a bit more convincing than with a more traditional stem design. Mythos recognizes this and has tested the stem with riders around the world on road, gravel and in the Italian series of fixed gear cups and points out a similar feeling when carbon fiber was first used in construction. of components.
That said, as with all 3D prints, the potential for an individual print defect may still exist. Australian brand Bastion uses test sticks in every print to test for tensile strength and bad layers. We asked Mythos if they used similar testing procedures.
This brings us to the obvious question. Why do we need a 3D printed rod? A stem isn’t the most performance-altering component and it seems Metron agrees, suggesting that the Mythos 3D stem “exists to drive innovation in the wider cycling community.” A noble and admirable goal for any stem but, according to Mythos, the 3D-printed stem might just be the first in a long list of new components. The Mythos is undeniably distinctive, eye-catching, and if this week’s CyclingTips podcast is any indication, it’s a real conversation starter.
If a stem is possible, components with real performance benefits, such as aero handlebars, could probably soon be on the horizon for Mythos. Beyond the individual components, it seems reasonable to assume that custom stem lengths or bar shapes for the masses might be the next logical step. Additionally, without the need for part-specific tooling, 3D printing components allow manufacturers to create unique products and prototypes in days rather than months.
Obviously, 3D printing is far from a new technology in the world of cycling. Many brands, including Metron, have already produced all kinds of components and accessories. That said, a semi-mass produced standalone upper seems like a step beyond where we were before. Only time will tell if the Mythos Elix firmly changes the trajectory of cycling technology in the direction of more additive manufacturing.