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  1. #1
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    Karl Nicolai / Suspension History

    I have a question that I hope can be resolved. I saw another post that lacked a complete knowledge on this topic. (It cited a questionable Wiki article)

    In the 1990's Karl Nicolai worked for Horst Leitner's AMP Research. One or both of them were instrumental in taking 4-bar linkage and applying it to mountain bike rear ends. Eventually, Specialized bought a particualr arrangement of this which is now called FSR. What is unclear is to what degree the two engineers had in the creation of FSR and the "Horst" link. The actual 4-bar design is a much more common engineering solution than most people think (car/truck/atv suspension for instance). I want to know if Nicolai came up with it and because he worked for Leitner that the patent has Leitner's name on it, was it done together, or was Horst the one with the idea?

    Also, if you look at AMP Research's patents, they developed a hydraulic disc brake around the same time as the FSR suspension design. It's funny because Horst Leitner has been responsible for major changes in Motorcycle and Bicycle design. And now, they make bed racks for pick-ups and gas caps for Hummers... WTF???

  2. #2
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    Search in the Turner forum, Mr. Turner also worked there at that time and has some history to tell himself.

  3. #3
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    Thanks, but...

    ...all I could find was tons of un-knowledgeable garbage. Everybody thinks they're an expert. I am now curious as to the role that Dave Turner played too. He was a racer for AMP, and then decided to start his own brand, or was he involved in the frame/linkage design from the get-go? Hmmmm... I didn't intend to bring up an old, beaten, dead horse...

  4. #4
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    What can I say....beaten dead horse it is.... anyway, I remember reading a reply from Dave himself in which He explained his role and Nicolai's at that time in AMP, and how the linkage was born. At least it was more direct knowledge from someone who was actually there, rather than all the speculation and bull you read from people everywhere.

    Here it is Question for D T who actualy Invented the Horst link...
    Last edited by Relayden; 02-14-2008 at 05:10 AM.

  5. #5
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    Ahhhh...

    ...and there it is:

    "I DO NOT know if it was Horst or Karl that came up with the flat link squishing the mini coil-over, but one thing is FOR SURE, Karl did not come up with the Horst Link or the 4 bar version of it. Horst was large and in charge of his company, all the time at all hours and days of the week. Unlikely that Karl contributed more than just a thought or 2, it was Horst that when he had the 'vision' could rip through multiple ideas in his mind and see where it had to go."

    Thanks!

  6. #6
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    Here's the complete post by DT....

    "I made an appointment with Horst to discuss the possibility of AMP doing a suspension design for Mongoose, in 1990 "I think". when I showed up for the meeting Horst showed me an obviously older sketch showing a 'Horst link' equipped bicycle. He said he had wanted to make a bike in the past but did not know of any company interested, well Mongoose was interested and prototyping of the strut style started shortly thereafter. Horst being a thinking business man as well as mad mechanical creator also applied for patents around the same time. Karlheinz Nicolai was not even an employee when Horst was working on his first 'link' and selling it to Mongoose. Many many months later I had quit Mongoose, skied a few months and was racing moto when I talked to Horst and he and I made a deal for me to come to work for AMP, sweeping up the shop and maybe he would let me use the grinder and manual mill and simple stuff, being an ex racer he did not want a meathead getting injured on the job! So, more months go by and I am in the shop sweeping up one day and see some office types chatting up Horst in the office, Polo shirts and loafers with tassles, you know the type. Seems that they were from Specialized and were kinda jealous of Mongoose and all the love MBA was pouring over everything that Horst was doing. Sooooooo, a week later several LX equipped Stumpy somethings showed up and I was allowed to take them apart and band saw the rear ends off in preparation for suspension mounts to be welded on for prototyping. It was at this time I have my first memory of karl nicololai at AMP. Horst had the idea of a 4 bar design for Specialized, but it used a rotary damper and leaf spring set up. The rotary damper was the 4th pivot and 'bar'. It was at this time I remember Karl, who was an intern basically working as a draftsman for Horst. At that time Horst used CAD, Cardboard Aided Design, so help with the drafting duties was a full time job. Well the rotary damper as 4th bar did not work, so it was Karl that got to spend a working weekend with Horst when the flat link with little coil shock was created and what will be remembered as the first Specialized full suspension bike. I DO NOT know if it was Horst or Karl that came up with the flat link squishing the mini coil-over, but one thing is FOR SURE, Karl did not come up with the Horst Link or the 4 bar version of it. Horst was large and in charge of his company, all the time at all hours and days of the week. Unlikely that Karl contributed more than just a thought or 2, it was Horst that when he had the 'vision' could rip through multiple ideas in his mind and see where it had to go.

    David Turner"

    I'd love to know what were the "just a thought or 2" from Karl... I think he deserves more respect than he really gets. I'm not saying he invented the thing, before anyone get me wrong.

    Cool guy, cool bikes. Gotta love his "mad scientist" approach to things. It's thinking outside of the box that sometimes drives things forwards.
    Check my Site

  7. #7
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    Not wishing to at all stir things up, as Warp mentions too. But during my day at the Nicolai Factory, of which Crisillo joined me. From the work that Karl is doing and his few words on working with DT.

    I really think that a sentence as this "Unlikely that Karl contributed more than just a thought or 2" is pretty poor. But for me it adds up nicely with the discussion I had with Karl in person that day...

    I have my own thoughts, which for sure is my opinion.
    The_Lecht_Rocks: whafe - cheeers - may i offer an official apology for the wagon wheeler "dis-belief"

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Whafe
    Not wishing to at all stir things up, as Warp mentions too. But during my day at the Nicolai Factory, of which Crisillo joined me. From the work that Karl is doing and his few words on working with DT.

    I really think that a sentence as this "Unlikely that Karl contributed more than just a thought or 2" is pretty poor. But for me it adds up nicely with the discussion I had with Karl in person that day...

    I have my own thoughts, which for sure is my opinion.
    Best thing to do here is to leave this be. It's between manufacturers and the rest is lore. Best to let the legend go on the way it does and watch your own words. I also had a discussion with Eurobike and their side, but I haven't mentioned what they told me. That would be poor.

  9. #9
    "Its All Good"
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    JC, indeed good thoughts.

    Hence the reason I did not go into detail of the conversation, as it was not at all with both said parties.

    I too enjoy the fact there is a legend and long may it live on
    The_Lecht_Rocks: whafe - cheeers - may i offer an official apology for the wagon wheeler "dis-belief"

  10. #10
    "El Whatever"
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerk_Chicken
    Best thing to do here is to leave this be.
    Yup... it's up to them.
    Check my Site

  11. #11
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    wow what a cool connection,,,

    Mister Horst is a great visionary and inventor nice to know a guy like karl got to share some time togheter.

    Who cares who invent what, when you are doing Research everybody collaborates even if only one get the credit, sometimes one word when you are eating lunch can explote month later inside somebody head and bring something brilliant to the table.

    No matter what this two guys are legends and we can not thank them enough for their efforts to make this bikes better machines.


    Oh man I will love to see what happen inside that shop in those days, "Electricity" some may say.

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