4 New Materials That Could Improve Carbon Fiber

Apr 19, 2019
by James Smurthwaite  
Carbon is king in the mountain bike world, right? Most racers are riding on carbon machines, and they often sit proudly at the top of a brand's price list, decked out in the top spec. But carbon is far from perfect. It's expensive, it has a questionable environmental impact, and if it goes wrong, it can go really wrong. On top of this, some riders can find it overly stiff and harsh to ride. In short, there can be a trade off for the light and svelte frames it creates.

Over the past couple of years, a number of other materials and processes have emerged that could revolutionize the sport. At the moment, most of these are ways to tune carbon fiber, and may allow us to remove the negative aspects of carbon and keep all the good stuff. Let's take a look at four of the most promising:


Long Carbon Fiber Reinforced Composites - Recyclable Carbon


A big talking point around carbon in the last few years has been its ecological impact - when you’re done with it, the land fill beckons.

Hoping to solve that problem, HYC (Hsin Yung Chien Co Ltd.) have developed Long Carbon Fiber Reinforced Composites (LFT) together with Taiwan's government-funded Industrial Economics and Knowledge Centre. The company started making slats for conveyor belts, but recently saw the utility for its carbon in bike manufacturing and debuted a frame at the Taipei show.


So how does it work? Well HYC claims that the non-recyclability of carbon comes not from the fibers themselves but the epoxy resin in which the fibers are set. HYC uses its own PPS resin that is recyclable and only requires 10 percent carbon fibers to form the LFT tubes, although stronger mixes can be made with up to 30 percent carbon fibers. Unlike traditional carbon fiber manufacturing, which requires a lay up process, the LFC can be produced using an injection moulding technique, which should also make it cheaper in the long run.

HYC had a protoype frame at the show that used carbon tubes and 3D-printed lugs, similar to the Atherton Bikes production method. At the moment, the bike is heavier than a carbon fiber counterpart and reportedly, just as strong. However, HYC are hoping to bring that weight down as their methods become more sophisticated. HYC claims that LFT could be commercially viable within two years and that it has had interest from some of cycling's biggest manufacturers.

More info here.


Pellets of PPS ready to be molded.



Un-Break System - Prevents Catastrophic Failure


UBS or the Un-Break System, was developed by Kalloy Industrial and brought for the first time to the Taipei show. It's basically carbon with a layer of aluminium foil inside and Kalloy claim it can be bent, withstand greater impacts than traditional carbon fiber and even be drilled into. Basically, UBS is aiming to combine the lightness and stiffness of carbon fiber with the ductility and utility of aluminium.

When the UBS does break it will crack, but not totally fail like some carbon fiber structures do. Whereas regular carbon may expose sharp fibers and leave you looking for a bin bag to pick up what's left of your component, UBS should be more or less in one piece and could even be nursed home. While UBS is not lighter than carbon fiber in a straight fight, Kalloy claim it can be made thinner than carbon tubing thanks to the added strength of the aluminium so the final product should be lighter overall too.

This tube was broken, but cracked instead failing catastophically.

This isn't the first carbon/metal composite material cycling has seen and Rein4ced announced late last year they will be making frames from carbon and steel fiber. At the moment, Kalloy only have a few handlebars and seatposts made of UBS, but a greater product range, even frames would not be out of the question in the future.

Regardless of whether the material lives up to Kalloy's claims, the weave looks great.


Dyneema - Improves impact resistance and vibration absorption


It may be old news in the road cycling world, but Dyneema, claimed to be the world’s strongest fiber, is yet to break through into the world of mountain biking. It was first discovered by accident in 1968 after Dr Albert Pennings was doing research into polyethylene for a coal mining and fertilizer company and discovered a thread he couldn’t pull apart. After 20 years of R&D, Dyneema was born.

It’s claimed to be 15 times stronger than steel on a weight for weight basis, yet it can float on water. This combination of extreme strength and low weight make it suitable for a wide and expanding number of applications.

Newmen Components First Look String spokes

In cycling, we’ve mainly seen it in road cycling clothing, where it offers abrasion resistance to help with crashes. However, we’ve seen spokes made from Dyneema from Newman Wheels at the last two Taipei Cycle Shows, and a frame made from Dyneema, woven with carbon fiber, was displayed at a plastics show in 2016. DSM claim that Dyneema will increase the absorption of vibration by 100% and will also increase impact resistance.


Graphene/borophene - Even lighter, stronger and vibration absorption

Vittoria Tire Factory
Vittoria announced its graphene 2.0 tire technology in March.

Graphene has been touted as the world's wonder material since it was discovered in 2003, but we're still yet to fully see its impact in the cycling world. It is the world's strongest material, yet also elastic and super light, so it's no surprise then that the scientists who first found it were fast-tracked to a Nobel prize. It has started appearing in road cycling with British brand Dassi making a frame that wove graphene with carbon fiber for its light weight and vibration dapming properties. Vittoria also uses it in its tires and cite improved cut and abrasion resistance, a higher tensile strength, less air seepage, and improved grip in wet conditions.

The graphene in this rotor will apparently improve the surface friction, durability and heat dissipation properties of the disc.

But recently, a new material has come along that may replace it, borophene. The best way to think of borophene is as graphene+. It was first theorized in the 1990s and only synthesised in 2015. Much like graphene, it is a single layer thick but this time it's boron atoms, not carbon atoms. Borophene is claimed to be stronger and more flexible than graphene, while still sharing its conductive properties. At the moment, we can't make large quantities and it oxidizes very quickly, but if it can be refined, borophene could well bring even greater benefits to mountain biking.


202 Comments

  • + 337
 imagine the whole thing the other way around. Bikes were traitionally made of carbon and someone comes up with aluminum, the wonder material:

Aluminum can be cut to shape and welded, so it doesn't require expensive molds for production, just cut and weld, and thanks to is ductile nature, it can be hidroformed and machined to cool shapes too. But that's not everything, this new material won't crack upon hard impacts leaving the frame unsuable, it will just dent with no further consequences. Also in case in case of failure it won't be catasthrophic in most cases, as visible cracks would develope before. Is also the most abundant metal in the Earth and is widely recyclabe too.

All these benefits at the only cost of 1 pound heavier frames vs. a carbon counterpart.

Damn, shut up and take my money!
  • + 97
 Do you know if anyone has managed to bring it to market yet?
  • + 38
 Yeah, but then the PB welding specialists would bitch about any form of weld that isn't polished to look like carbon.
  • + 17
 @Kickmehard: there's a funny company that machines frame's halves and then glue them together, but I've heard of welding being used in aerospace, so we gotta be close to see it.
  • + 4
 Exactly. Some of the innovations shown in the article seem like convoluted ways to create something with similar properties as aluminium.
  • + 35
 That aluminum stuff sounds great. Maybe the next step after that would be a metallic substance that's even more durable and could ride even better! It can be easier to weld and post-process than aluminum, maybe it can even eliminate the fatigue failure mode associated with Al so the frames won't have a shelf life. Boy wouldn't that be IRONic. Seems kinda pie-in-the-sky but we can dream right?
  • + 16
 Hate to be a party pooper but I believe Iron is more abundant on Earth.
#Steelisreal
  • + 20
 @Cammyd14: aluminium is the 3rd most common element in the earth's crust after oxygen and silicon, I think iron comes next. I'm not sure how that looks if you add the earth's core but any material there is inaccessible so doesn't really count.
  • + 5
 @Cammyd14: ferrite actually
  • + 5
 @Kickmehard: there's enough gold in the earth's core to cover the entire surface of the earth 18'' deep! imagine what else is down there!
  • + 59
 @Cbc4447:let's be realistic, I'm pretty sure there would be monsters guarding that gold...
  • - 1
 @Kickmehard: I'd be more worried about the heat than any monsters hahahaha
  • + 20
 Just a FYI...While Aluminum is abundant, it has environmental concerns. It's not found in nature by itself. It goes through an extremely energy intensive process to be extracted in a usable form. Check it out on "how its made". It's pretty interesting.
  • - 5
flag thesharkman (Apr 19, 2019 at 6:44) (Below Threshold)
 How will you sell people on the ugly ass welds?
  • + 2
 "Aluminum can be cut to shape and welded, so it doesn't require expensive molds for production, just cut and weld, and thanks to is ductile nature, it can be hidroformed and machined to cool shapes too. But that's not everything, this new material won't crack upon hard impacts leaving the frame unsuable, it will just dent with no further consequences. Also in case in case of failure it won't be catasthrophic in most cases, as visible cracks would develope before. Is also the most abundant metal in the Earth and is widely recyclabe too.

All these benefits at the only cost of 1 pound heavier frames vs. a carbon counterpart."

Sounds like some kind of sorcery to me.
  • + 7
 Now imagine the newest material, steel. It's not as light as aluminum, but it is far easier to fabricate, as well as repair. It's also recyclable and unlike aluminum it's actually biodegradable!
  • + 7
 It's a wonderful improvement. I ditched my outdated Carbon Spartan for the Knolly Fugitive and am blown away by this impressive alloy they refer to as aluminum.
  • + 2
 @srodi: Is steel hydroforming a common thing for some steel frame manufacturers?
  • + 2
 @Ride406orDie: love my Dr Kimble! #knollyforlife #theanticarbon
  • + 1
 You are my hero
  • + 13
 "most abundant metal on earth"

you left out the 1000ft deep and multiple miles wide holes that you can see from friggin space, that a bauxite mine is. Aluminium is a great material, but the envirnmental wunderkin, it is not.
  • + 5
 @Cammyd14: but Iron would make a horrible bike. You need to make an alloy with Carbon
  • + 6
 @cedrico: forming steel requires much more die repair, this makes it a far more expensive process. iirc alum dies can form 100x more parts per service interval compared to steel.
  • + 3
 people are drawn to the seamless aesthetic of a carbon frame. Welds break up the lines and make apparent the “parts” of a bicycle. It’s “gestalt theory” no piece greater than the whole...it’s difficult for people to see the whole bike beyond the tubular segments. And that’s what people are paying for. I think pole gets it and that’s why they started CNCing frames and even just recently, rid their stamina 140 of bolt holes throughout the frame. Yes, it’s sold as green friendly, airplane grade aluminum...etc... I digress...
  • + 9
 That will never fly unless you can get the world to agree on it being either aluminum or aluminium.
  • + 2
 @conoat:

Nothing is..... though I'd love to throw a leg over a bamboo bike.

But even those look like they use a ton of resin. So cool tho but it would be all kinds of ballsy and you'd need at least a crop of sharp armchair engineers to make a full susser out of the stuff.
  • + 4
 @ripinitup: have yo seen the cost of a tool for hydroforming aluminium ...and the equipment to hydroform isn't cheap either.
  • + 3
 Steel can be hydroformed but doesn’t as common as aluminum @cedrico:
  • + 1
 @Dethphist: It's aluminum because that's what the British scientist who discovered it named it.
  • + 2
 @Kermit11: that goes for most metals actually, very few metals other than precious metals are found in their pure form in nature. This is because most metals are highly reactive (wants to form compounds). Nearly every metal has to undergo an energy intensive refinement process. For example iron, while not as abundant as aluminum is the most utilized metal/high demand. It is extracted from iron ores dug from the ground which is a composite of iron-oxides and impurities. In order to obtain pure iron, it's refined through a reduction process in a carbon rich (from coke) blast furnace.
  • + 1
 Yes !
  • + 2
 @Kermit11: one of the biggest advantages of aluminum is it's recyclability. It can be recycled over and over thousands of times , and it takes alot less energy to do this than to produce it from scratch.
  • + 2
 @yzedf: I think aluminum is also biodegradable (at least in the way that steel is ) it oxidizes and can be reabsorbed into the soil no ?
  • + 2
 @DGWW: Aluminium oxide forms on the surface and protects the rest of the metal from oxidation, meaning it will not biodegrade.

It does mean it is a good frame material!
  • + 0
 @twhart20: Interesting theory. But looking at Pole frames i can't see a design guided by a fine sense of aesthetics. Proportions and angles are off, fluid lines clash with straight ones, black dampers intersecting the lines of the frame, i could go on....
Now if we look at a frame like the Mondraker Foxy 29 or Mojo HD4, this is where carbon design shines (although the Foxy looks amazing in alu, too).
  • + 1
 I’ve just shunned carbon for 2 reasons:
1. I live on the edge of a gritstone area (the Peak District) where carbon is prone to being delaminated and cut to shreds by the terrain.
2. The bike I chose was available in aluminium for a lot less and can be recycled a lot easier if and when it reaches the end of its useful life.
  • + 2
 @huntingbears: I was about to disagree and argue with you as the British, Australians and rest of the world have the extra ‘i’, I was always told a tale that the first freight manifest to the U.S had a misspelling and left an ‘i’off. As you said though, the actual inventor named it Aluminum, editors renamed it. Dang! I learnt something new today!!!
  • + 2
 I agree with you. I was using them as an example of a company trying to compete with the aesthetics of carbon tubes. The lines of the bike itself are a different debate.

Also Agreed:
mondraker with their foxy 29 have managed to make their linkage, geo, lines, and composite come together to form an amazing object.
  • + 2
 Thing is, you say 1lb heavier but, when you add the wieght of all the layers of rubber an adhesive frame protection needed to protect carbon mtb frames from thier intended environment Pretty loose any weight advantage, might as well be riding chro mo
  • + 2
 For sure, I transferred to an aluminum enduro frame and titanium xc frame about 5 years ago... funny thing is my last (of approx 10) warranty claim was also 5 years ago!!!
  • + 3
 @Dethphist: Frankly it'd be easier and less destructive to get the world to decide between chips and crisps.
  • + 1
 @TommiHXH: peculiar I live at the bottom of cut gate and all my bikes are carbon and the only thing that gets eaten is rear mechs sprockets and chains
  • + 0
 Lets be real on the recycling of aluminum. Seth's Bike Hacks did it on a well deserved Walmart bike he found in the woods and got $5 for it. We aren't spending $3k on an aluminum bike to go recycle it for $5 bucks.
  • + 9
 @Thustlewhumber: It's not about the cash, it's about the environment. Yeah you get peanuts for it but that aluminum goes to make something else out of aluminum. You get jack shit for recycling plastic bottles but you do it anyway right? At least I do.
  • + 2
 That aluminum stuff sounds like witchcraft
  • + 2
 Which aluminum are you talking about? Pretty much all of the old guys I ride with could bore your ass off with stories of hospital visits caused by something aluminum failing.
  • + 1
 @cedrico: it is not a common thing but can be done.
  • + 3
 And then titanium is discovered! and the whole "cycle" starts again. ;-)
  • + 4
 Yeah exactly can we please stick to making mountain bikes out of metals and save the plastic for the racers.
  • + 2
 @Ttimer: some of these are alreadywell known tested and discarded as second rate in archery and the like
  • + 1
 @Dethphist: just pronounce it the way it's spelled. if you add an letter to pronounce it. you done f*cked up.
  • + 1
 Archery and bikes aren’t the same.

Yew wood makes a f*cking awesome bow but would be useless in bikes.

Most modern bows are also punny little things with child draw weights. Not that much stress. And some of them still break quite easily with nothing more than a few inches over draw.

Also much different kinds of stresses. @oneoldman:
  • + 121
 Marijuanene has been available for a long time, makes your ride whatever you want it to be
  • + 64
 Yes. It’s just that governments around the world act about it like Pinkbikers when they see an E-bike review
  • + 69
 @WAKIdesigns: Not the worst of comparisons! Both are great for lazy people and riders with chronic knee pain.
  • - 12
flag vinay (Apr 19, 2019 at 2:55) (Below Threshold)
 Hemp fiber is really strong and works great in a composite. Funny those Canadians. Marijuana only just became legal and indeed they act like teens who are just allowed to drink alcohol.
  • + 9
 cheech and chong were the original developers of marifiber...
  • + 12
 420% increase in flex and compliance.
  • + 2
 @colincolin: mj gets me hype and eases my knee pain
  • + 2
 hemp composites are nothing new. I think Urge did their activist helmet using hemp fiber.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Oh yeah, by no means did I mean to say they were new. Natural fibres like hemp and flax have been used for construction for hundreds of years. In rope and just like straw, probably also to reinforce clay to build walls and roofs (but that's your expertise). That would already make it a composite (with the clay being the matrix).
  • + 1
 @colincolin: I’m about to try to get into a medical test for basically a shock that unloads your knee to get rid of my chronic knee pain. I’d get extra stoke by not having extra knee pain!
  • + 67
 LOLZ. An image of our Revved molds was used in the cover photo, but no mention of it in the article. www.pinkbike.com/news/guerilla-gravity-us-made-carbon-frame-smash-trailpistol.html
  • + 6
 This needs more upvotes. Got those robots running full speed yet?
  • + 17
 @Boardlife69: 1 robot and 15 Coloradans, wide open throttle on Revved production!
  • + 17
 @GuerrillaGravity: I specifically opened this to read more about Revved frames and only saw shoelaced wheels.
  • + 4
 Came here to say just this about Revved carbon, which is quite different from what's on the market now. Maybe if you got rid of some of those capital draining human employees (who let's face it, are probably coal fired robots in disguise) and threw some advert dollars to PB you'd get some more pub. But seriously PB, you're better than this.
  • + 3
 Yup, same here, saw the GG mold pic, figured you guys got some recognition for your material choice and .... no mention of GG. Talk about crappy editing, come on PB, either give it up for Guerilla Gravity or fix the problem.
  • + 33
 Graphene should be seen more critical, especially in an environmentally "appearing" industry, as mountainbiking. Studies link graphene to effects similar to asbestos and now we are putting them in our tires, our carbon resins (frames/parts are then often cut without protection by dealers) and in our brake components...

After watching a few factory visit videos I have yet to stumble upon a company that upholds western standards regarding the workplace safety when handling composites. Very often they are sanding down parts and frames without protection, which will become even more dangerous with graphene or carbon nano tubes added to the resins.
  • + 3
 not heard about graphene health risks - can you post a link?
  • + 45
 @gmt: Here you go. In general I would say that a big issue is the time between exposure and lung cancer. If those nanoparticles behave similar to asbetos/WHO fibres it can take decades before the cancer has formed. So there can't possibly be comprehensive empirical studies of former workers right now.

Is graphene safe? - www.materialstoday.com/carbon/articles/s1369702112701013
EU-OSHA Workplace exposure to nanoparticles - osha.europa.eu/en/tools-and-publications/publications/literature_reviews/workplace_exposure_to_nanoparticles
CDC Carbon nanotube and asbestos exposures induce overlapping but distinct profiles of lung pathology in non-swiss albino CF-1 mice. www.cdc.gov/niosh/nioshtic-2/20047759.html
Single- and Multi-Wall Carbon Nanotubes Versus Asbestos: Are the Carbon Nanotubes a New Health Risk to Humans? - doi.org/10.1080/15287390903486527
CDC Nanotechnology: Should carbon nanotubes be handled in the workplace like asbestos? - blogs.cdc.gov/niosh-science-blog/2008/05/20/nano

(Carbon nanotubes are graphene molecules (2D) folded to become a tube (3D))
  • + 66
 @jmrmuc: This has to be the most backed-up claim in Pinkbike history.
  • + 27
 @fullfacemike: I prefer a short research to being called out on "fake news". One has to be careful these days Wink
  • - 6
flag ak-77 (Apr 19, 2019 at 3:45) (Below Threshold)
 @jmrmuc:
I don't think the comparison to carbon nanotubes is warranted. Graphite, in pencils or other applications, is actually the 3d version of graphene, and there are no health hazards associated with that.
Nevertheless there are real risks with nano particles made from materials that are harmless in bulk, and many of these so-called graphene products are just composites with some nano-sized graphene flakes added to them so you do have a point that care should be taken. I would not say that there is any proof yet either way about the harmfulness of graphene,but we should be wary.
  • + 8
 @ak-77: Hmm, I read an scientfic article/paper about the effects of CNTs in comparison with graphene and it was highlighted that the two dimensional structure of graphene could even possibly do more harm due to it's "sharp" shape, cutting trough tissue and also killing macrophages trying to remove them. Although I can't produce the source at this moment.

I still think the dumbed down explanation of single wall CNTs as rolled up graphene is valid, but I agree with you, that carbon can be found in different modifications one of which is graphite. Often the toxicity of airborne materials is dependent on the dimensions of the respired particles, as can be seen with WHO fibres.
  • + 1
 @jmrmuc: hmm, there's a bit of research being done on on airborne nanoplastic. the danger isn't necessarily the particles themselves, but the dioxins and pcb's they absorb. also, research indicates that the particles are small enough to pass through cell walls, and become migratory. i'm not that scientific, earned a BFA in sculpture and product design at calarts. i'm sure my understanding of all this is deficient.
  • + 2
 @ak-77: asbestos is a form. the minerals in the asbestos family can have other forms, solid, that are not asbestos. I have forgotten a lot, but I remember that because I found some asbestos form mineral on a field trip while in college. The dangers will be associated with the type of particles we are dealing with. Still, you are right, should be cautious and it needs to be studied.
  • + 2
 @gmt: it’s not hard to understand it’s a tiny thing can pass through cells just as asbestos and diesel particles post burn.
  • + 0
 @jmrmuc: hot safety tip, don't breath dust from composites, metals, or chemical vapour, even toast and cracker crumbs and can foul up your lungs
  • + 1
 @gmoss: Yes. There are a number of asbestiform minerals. Chrysotile asbestos isi think the most common. Riebekite is another. My understanding is that really tiny asbestos fibres and larger ones are cleared out by the lungs but there is an intermediate size that impales the lung lining and that is the issue. Glass fibres are similarly nasty scaring the lungs. Carbon fibres are also nasty. A lot of this stuff of course is inert and encapsulated in a matrix of epoxy, plastic plaster or what have you and it is only a hazard when cut and particles become airborne.
  • + 2
 @Someoldfart: Which is then a problem for workers in third world countries, bike shops and, when used in tires, for everyone.
  • + 2
 @ak-77: @ak-77:

"I don't think the comparison to carbon nanotubes is warranted. Graphite, in pencils or other applications, is actually the 3d version of graphene, and there are no health hazards associated with that. "

not even close. Graphite like atomic bonds are hybridized sp2, that's why it esfoliate into 2d structures, while graphene are diamond like sp3 bonds, EXTREMELY strong. It really is a different game.
  • + 1
 @Bruccio: uh what? Carbon can't make "sp3" bonds, whatever that is, and graphene is unstable...
  • + 2
 ..nevermind. Brain=dead
  • + 2
 @clink83: Diamonds have sp3 bonds: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diamond#Material_properties

@Bruccio As far as I know also graphene has only a hybridized sp2 configuration
  • + 2
 @clink83: sp3 are diamond like bonds...we use synthetic diamond windows to transmit megawatts of microwave pwer inside fusoin reactiors to heat up the plasma. the outstanding optical properties of diamond derives from sp3 bonds and sp2 bonds (that are never the less present) become nasty absorption hotspot Big Grin

@jmjr you're right mate, i had a brain fart and i was thinking about diamond like carbon nanotubes...just saw a nice presentation at a conference and got carried away Wink
  • + 1
 @Bruccio: I posted at like midnight, I was like what are you talking about carbon doesn't have those orbital filled with electrons...then I realized I wasn't thinking of the right thing:/
  • + 1
 @clink83: i feel you, bro Big Grin
  • + 1
 @jmjr: Thanks for links - they refer to to CNTs (carbon nanotubes) and graphene platelets being free, though. In our case they are bound up in a matrix resin and so this improves the situation. Even if you abrade resin/graphene combo, the dust particles are now bigger than the graphene on it's own. This needs to be researched but i suspect it will be a lot better. I don't see that CNTs are the same as graphene either, similar to other people's comments here.
  • + 2
 @gmt: The graphene is only bound after being mixed with the resin, so I still see a danger for the workers in the composite production overseas. I also have heard of CNT infused resins and as the bike industry loves marketing buzzwords, I added them to the list.

Graphene used in tires could become airborne, especially after the rubber matrix of the abraised particles degrades. As tire abraison already is the biggest cause of micro plastic pollution in western Europe and one of the biggest contributors to the particulate matter pollution, I still have concerns, especially as car tire manufacturers are already looking into graphene.
It shouldn't be the case that potentially hazardous materials are used for products that pollute the air we are breathing, without having been cleared beforehand. Asbestos was happily used for ages in brake pads before someone saw the dangers (even tough since WWII they were known), this shouldn't happen with graphene too.

But I think we can agree that a lot of research still has to be done, before definite decisions can be made.
  • + 2
 @jmjr: All fair points - it definitely an area to be careful with. Didn't know tyres were such polluters either!
  • + 21
 You used the GG frame maker as a cover photo but no mention of them?
  • + 14
 Duck tape isn't on the list?
  • + 2
 You are so far behind. Didn't you know Gorilla Tape is the new Duct Tape? Big Grin
  • + 8
 If we're wanting to know what the next wonder material is, we should look at the aerospace and military sectors... That's where the real money for practical applications of exotic materials is. Everything else is just playing
  • + 8
 Kind of true, but those industries have little regard to cost of material, which makes many of their innovations unsuitable for our applications. Innoviations from the automotive sector may be closer to our reality because they strike a better balance between performance and cost.
  • + 1
 @Ttimer: Right now there is little regard to cost. However, our favorite materials, steel, AL, carbon fiber, titanium, all came from military applications.

I think the biggest difference these days is that it doesnt take 20-30 years for marerials to trickle into the civilian sector like it used to.
  • + 2
 Honeycomb is the wonder material in the aerospace world. I'm surprised we haven't seen a set of cranks made from a honeycomb sandwich.
  • + 1
 Aerospace is all about 3d printing as the next wonder solution. You're theoretically able to make complex shapes with internal structures that were previously unable to be fabricated by traditional means. You're able to use multiple materials as well.
  • + 1
 @SpecializedFTW: The new Trek helmets use honeycomb!
  • + 6
 The graphene bs is a pure marketing ploy. It has a 2D crystalline structure and is highly unstable. Also it has yet to be produced in any viable quantity or size. The electronics industry will jump all over this the minute it is. I am starting to really hate how bike companies pitch their product thinking the consumer is a total retard. I guess the last sentence might not hold much weight considering who we have as a president.
  • + 2
 Head has been using graphene as a layer in ski construction for about 10 years.
  • + 4
 @lccomz: Highly doubtful that they really used single layer graphene particles, very often they just add a bit of graphene-like 3d particles into the resin and use it as a marketing buzzword.
  • + 1
 @jmrmuc: you are likely correct as I am no ski scientist. Me? I’m just a ski/bike bum and part-time stay at home dad.
  • + 2
 @lccomz: Me neither, just an engineering student pissed off by marketing claims, that are simply not true or stupid (for example the glorification of high modulus carbon fibre for everything)
  • + 1
 I’m not so sure I agree when it comes to Vittoria’s tires. They definitely roll faster, hold air better, and last longer since they came out with their Graphene compounds. It makes intuitive sense too, that filling in the porous structure of the rubber would have such an effect.
  • + 1
 @MegaStoke: Victoria also doesn't use graphene. Their particles have more layers -> graphite
  • + 1
 You mean the high end or huffy end
  • + 4
 Simple solution. Just build bikes out of metal and there would be no need to finding ways of carbon stronger, simples!

Anyway whats happened to carbon being a wonder meterial...'lighter, stonger, stiffer, better' than all things metal?? Thats what the industry had been banging on about for years. Now we need to find ways of making it stronger...makes me laugh!
  • + 2
 You are aware they try to make metals stronger too?
  • - 1
 @Compositepro: Yes....by adding more metal!
  • + 3
 My mate has a 4 month old plastic spesh enduro with a massive hole in the down tube from a rock. Not sold on this whole carbon thing, great for people who don’t pay / pay much for their bikes, but for the guy or gal on the trail?

(and I own a carbon DH bike)
  • - 2
 How did they manage that? those frames are stout
  • + 8
 @zyoungson: same reason for the materials mentioned in the article; carbon sucks at impact resistance.
  • + 5
 Am I your mate? Because I have a 5 month old plastic spesh enduro with a hole in the down tube from a rock strike. I got it repaired, which seems to be holding up alright. This will definitely be my last carbon bike, especially since it's a warranty replacement for my last enduro, which developed a crack on the seat tube.
  • + 3
 send it my way I’ll keep it out of the rubbish bin Smile
  • + 1
 Small world init !! @JacobKmtb:
  • + 3
 About HYC making LFC tubes using the LFT tech, is it really injection molding as described in the article? Injection moulding tubes seems like a hassle whereas extrusion seems so much more likely. Sure Magura already uses injection molding (since 2012 with the MT series of brakes) of thermoplastics with long fibres so that they can control the orientation of the fibres (as they will follow the fluid flow during the process) but these are relatively small. It would take a huge mold to injection mold a tube and you'll need either need huge sliding parts to make it hollow or you're going to do gas injection. But I'm not sure if that's going to mess with your fiber orientation. Of course extrusion of plastics is a hassle too as (unlike extrusion of aluminium) you're going need very long product specific tooling to stabilize it as it cools down. Alternatively extrusion blow molding (the way they make jerrycans, shampoo bottles etc) may work with long fibres too. It is relatively inexpensive even for smaller series and the flow direction (hence fiber orientation) is nice and predictable. So my guess would be on that. Heck, if they don't do it I will set up my own company and do it. Transition doesn't make the Bottlerocket bike anymore anyway so I'm going to take that name and run with it. Heck, I may even keep it airtight so that people can inflate their bike to tune stiffness. No carbon though, yuck! Hemp, flax and bamboo fibres should be good enough. Be sure to protect your bike with hippy- and pandarepellant!
  • + 1
 It affects orientation when we use hi pressure heads for forming car monocoques a tube will be no different We control this movement In the third axis through the fibre plies creating pressure to hold fibres in place doesn't work because you then increase the resistance through the stack and need more pressure at the head it goes up until you find a new way to do it The actual trailing edge on certain Airbus control surfaces are extruded and have a very high fibre to resin fraction
  • + 8
 #steelisreal
  • + 0
 untill it rusts
  • + 3
 @poah: EPD coat it or use some of the new super stainless steels
  • + 8
 So is aluminum. It just doesn't rhyme.
  • + 4
 I'm still trying to understand why bikes are heavier now than 10 years ago. Look at longstanding models that still sit in the same market segment likecthecstumpjumper, remedy, genius to name but 3 and they are heavier. Why?
  • + 13
 Maybe being a bit heavier means they get less warranty returns and they perform better. I think the average biker is riding rougher terrain now than 10 years ago too.
  • + 13
 Honestly, bikes today ride so much better. If the cost is a couple of pounds in weight, I'll take it. Droppers, bigger wheels, bigger, stronger tyres, longer travel that isn't like wet noodles all add weight so it's not really like for like.
  • + 3
 It's also because those who've tried riding 25 lbs trail bikes realised they're crap simply because they don't weigh enough to maintain momentum and stability over rough ground. There isn't really a way round that
  • + 5
 I don’t think it is the frame though that is much heavier. There might be some weight penalty but wheels, tires have become heavier due to an increased need for durability and protection. And putting these massive 1x12 dinner plates on the back of your bike can’t help.
  • + 4
 Because weight is not everything. At some point you have a choise : improve tires, have stronger wheels, a reliable 1x wide range, a dropper... or less weight.

They managed to keep the weight in the 12-16kg, which is a good choice in my opinion.
  • + 8
 @Uuno: i think the main reason is :more material = more weight.
The bikes are longer > more material
The bikes have bigger wheels > more material
Add to this that due to the bike park trend, almost all bikes are made to be used at least from times to times in bike parks, and therefore they are made stronger.
  • - 2
 So are we saying that a decade of improvement means reliability can't be improved for the same weight? Whty are better tyres heavier? They arent in other sports. Ive also yet to ride a heavier bike that gelt better than a lighter one. If heavy is do good why are dh bikes 10lbs lighter than a decade ago?
  • + 3
 @chrismac70:
They already told you.
Technology evolved with an emphasis on performance and therefore weight went up. You cannot manufacture a dinnerplate sized rear sprocket that is lighter than older, smaller ones without raising cost to astronomical levels. Same goes for wheels. They got lighter,but also bigger, so the advantage was offset already. Dropper posts are inherently heavier than normal posts,there's no way around that and tires need a certain amount of material in order to provide damping and carry momentum. It's all simple physics. We can't just expect evolving technology to decrease weight further and further. There are obviously limits for weight on any given part.
As long as tires are made of rubber,the only way to make them lighter is to use less material. That however will always impact performance. Dropper posts are built from two posts/tubes, a hydraulic system and seals and therefore will always be inherently heavier than one single tube.
  • + 2
 @chrismac70:
Also dh bikes got lighter because they went the exact other route.
They started using less gears for example.
Also that statement isn't that true really. Check some pro bike weights. They mostly ride some really heavy bikes.
  • + 4
 dropper posts, heavier tires, wider rims. people care less these days about curb weight than they used to. at least i do.
  • + 3
 Reasons for heavier bikes:
-bigger wheels (26" vs 29")
-wider rims (+30mm internal width)
-bigger tires (2.5 or 2.6" on trail bikes)
-Massive rear cogs (+50 tooth cogs)
-4 piston brakes
...and if your bike isn't heavy enough, just convert to coil sprung suspension!
  • + 4
 Our frames are physically bigger now, wheels are physically bigger, we all use remote controlled height adjustable seatposts, do-it-all bikes now have 150mm of travel, tires are stronger and air-tight, etc. etc. Do you get it now?
  • + 1
 @chrismac70: if a tire is 5% bigger but uses the same materials as before, it will be heavier. materials science hasn't changed much in over 20yrs. Kevlar, carbon, CNT, Aluminum, titanium, none have really changed since their development in the cold war years. manufacturing process has been able to make advances that extract the potential of these materials, but at the end of the day its the same raw building materials.
  • + 1
 @gmt: Not really. It's because the average biker "thinks" they are riding rougher terrain now than ten years ago. Trails are more buffed than ever. What's nice is the natural chunk keeps most riders away, so you get it all to your self.
  • + 6
 Do you even drift Borophene?
  • + 3
 dyneema is an amazing product, it's used for fall protection equipment. stronger than steel. not sure how it'll get into bike frames.
  • + 2
 I also make dyneema recovery straps, pulls, and other hoisting systems. Tug boats use it too!
  • + 1
 Not in frames currently but as spokes like Vectran has been used by Spinergy for decades and now also Pi Rope. Dyneema, it seems, do have better UV resistance than Vectran so it may very well be the best choice for spun rope spokes, but then it needs to be done better than what the first of the images above shows, the Pi Rope design is much tidier.
  • + 3
 @macross87: Dyneema is the best! I work for a rope company that sells to tugs and LNG/LPG ships. Pretty wild seeing 16-42mm lines hold a 300m long vessel.
  • + 1
 Do catastrophic carbon failures actually occur in the wild?
I’ve broken at least 6 carbon frames all of which failed with a pop delaminates and left a crack and were ridden home gingerly without blowing to bits ...sure if loaded over the absolute limit it can be catastrophic but I feel most cases are not like that and if they are it’s a bad design or used for something it shouldn’t be
  • + 12
 You've broken 6 carbon frames and still run carbon frames?
  • + 1
 Pretty sure Giro had a full face out in the '90s that had Dyneema in it. Possibly without carbon but think it was instead of a carbon kevlar mix!?
Thinking it was that red one people like Gracia wore. I had one, was a really comfortable lid. Just can't remember the name.....
  • + 1
 Can’t stand that manufacturers make their alloy bikes heavier so their carbon flagship models sell,
How did aluminium dh bikes get heavier over 5 years?
5 years ago you could build most Dh alloy frames up around 35-36lbs
Now they sell at 37-40.its Pure bullshit,give me a refined alloy bike any day over carbon.
  • + 3
 Thought that but my large Ironhorse Sunday was tiny so a lot less metal
  • + 1
 Maybe it just overshot to too light as well. At the start of this century, bikes just needed to be strong enough (except for the group that went to silly and dangerous lengths to make everything as light as possible). Then second half of that first decade there became more focus on more subtle riding (more appreciation for style and smoothness, less hucking to flat) and bikes became lighter. No more Nokian Gazzaloddi, no more 300mm travel Marzocchi (or 400mm on some of those German bikes), no more Specialized Demo 9 even. But maybe they became too light, unreliable and fragile.So I think they're designing for more reliability again. That's what you see from these materials as well. They may not necessarily be after more stiffness per weight, but instead after more strength, less catastrophic failure, easier to recycle etc. Add to that as mentioned a few times the features, puncture protection, bigger everything etc and it would be odd if bikes were lighter than they were a few years ago! But see, we're also having access to better training programs so considering how much stronger we surely must have got, bike weight has become pretty irrelevant Wink .
  • + 1
 Not really answering your question, but who gives a flying f*ck about a few pounds on a DH bike? Some evidence supports that a heavier DH frame rides BETTER than a lighter frame.
  • + 4
 Why did you use a picture of Revved manufacturing, but not talk about it in the article? #conspiracy
  • + 2
 "UBS or the Un-Break System". I had a kalloy seatpost in like 91 that was alu with a carbon wrap. the yeti c26 used carbon over alu tubes in 1989
  • + 1
 Really surprised it has taken this long for composite sandwich to make it into a frame. The benefits were rather startling back when I was taking a composites course 7~8 years ago.
  • + 2
 It didn't trek did it way back in oclv frames in the 90s
  • + 1
 @Compositepro: Oooh did not know that. Interesting!
  • + 3
 not exactly a composites engineer, but i think the fundamental problem is that most of the materials that can add toughness to a laminate are not as stiff as carbon fiber, so within the laminate they can't really bear any load under normal conditions. I'm pretty sure this is why the 90's trend of putting a bit of kevlar in everything fell away. By the time the kevlar sees any load, the carbon fiber has already broken, so why bother? By the time you've added enough secondary material to the laminate to actually hold it together in a fracture, the weight goes up considerably. Maybe something like the kalloy aluminum foil can be optimized eventually, but i'm not holding my breath. Likely better to just add more carbon and keep it from breaking in the first place.
  • + 5
 I propose aluminum
  • + 9
 Don’t be ridiculous, a light, easy to manipulate, durable and recyclable material like that has no place in the bike industry......
  • + 1
 Pure or which alloy?!
  • + 1
 @gmt: pure, solid frame, go off one drop and it would crumble
  • - 1
 Chopped up carbon bits , aluminum this is new. ?Dyneema is strong but quickly deteriorates from UV light. The chopped carbon bit frame uses much more epoxy so it's heavy. Mixing aluminum with carbon is always a bad idea and you need a non conductive material between which adds weight.
  • + 3
 Nice, I can get the log cabin rustic look in my bike with those rotors.
  • + 2
 Remember when we thought Titanium was a wonder material that was just too expensive... good times
  • + 1
 PB didn’t mention these people. I wondering if this is where Guerrilla Gravity is getting their tech. Hmmm...

rein4ced.com
  • + 5
 It is not. Rein4ced adds steel fibers into a traditional carbon fiber composite. Revved uses a completely different resin technology with much higher impact resistance without adding the weight of steel into the laminate.
  • + 2
 Dyneema and Vectran are completely different yet shown and described as the same product in this article.
  • - 1
 Not saying carbon isn’t ‘bad for the environment’ or that something else is ‘good.’

The reality is that it’s usually just not that simple.

www.ted.com/talks/michael_shellenberger_how_fear_of_nuclear_power_is_hurting_the_environment?language=en
  • + 3
 Marketing will make carbon better! Expect higher prices soon!
  • + 2
 So, we use that crappy alloy now to improve that "plastic fantastic" huh? That's fking brilliant LOL :>
  • + 3
 10-20% Kevlar plies in the layup.
100% carbon is scary too brittle alone.
  • + 2
 Exactly. It isn't like this Kevlar thing is new. Carbon/kevlar mix is simply better than sticking a sheet of aluminum in the middle.
  • + 4
 That's a buttplug.....
  • + 2
 we could use metal and just push a little harder.
  • + 2
 One question. Can it be recycled?
  • + 1
 Exactly. The answer is no it cannot be completely recycled. Fuck your carbon shit.
  • + 1
 The best carbon fiber still is (in no particular order) Titanium, Steel or Aluminum
  • + 3
 #4130 #4life
  • + 1
 Aluminum ,I have seen broken carbon more often than aluminum ,but I have seen cracked aluminum
  • + 1
 Why go for Carbon made from oil when you can grow your own carbon from Bamboo or Hemp?
  • + 2
 My B52 will spank your F35 all day everyday til 2050
  • + 1
 The armchair engineering in these comments are remarkably without emotion and bias. The evolution of PB is happening!
  • + 1
 Hundred dollar bills infused carbon will definitely be compliant!
  • + 1
 I’ve ordered carbon frame!
  • - 1
 Sorry for you and your purchase. You may not even experience buyer's remorse until your plastic frame splinters to shit. But it will splinter to shit
  • + 1
 @weebleswobbles: Wow.. how positive of an attitude you have. Even though there are millions of people that have carbon frames and no issues...
  • + 1
 Are those laces machine washable?
  • + 2
 #steelisreal
  • + 1
 What about metal matrix composites - this is also an area of growth
  • + 1
 old news, mmc came and went, well sort of, all modern alloys are mmc in nature. with interstitial particles formed in the heat treating process. but the marketing is over because its everywhere, Except huffy, those are scrap metal formed into bike like shapes
  • + 1
 Yeah Luke the titanium with the carbon whiskers in it ...yes it does exist
  • + 1
 why aren't more Scandium/Aluminum mixed frames in the marketplace?
  • + 1
 Chromoly is a good start!
  • + 1
 Titanic could float on water ..
  • + 1
 Promising!
  • + 0
 forget the carbon, tell us about the buttplug
  • + 3
 I read a different article than you.
  • + 1
 @bizutch: 3rd pic
  • + 1
 Plastic bikes suck
  • - 1
 You’ve spelt fibre wrong
  • + 2
 and you've substituted a grain for the past tense of arranging letters in the proper sequence to make a word, but you spelled it correctly at least

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