Back in the 1990s it seemed as if a new wonder material for frame construction was discovered every month. Carbon fiber wasn't as common as it is today, and manufacturers experimented with all sorts of exotic-sounding metals, everything from beryllium to scandium. It turns out beryllium is expensive and
toxic, so that didn't really catch on, but scandium (actually an aluminum / scandium alloy) had a much more successful run.
Is is time for another alloy to hit the market? US-based Allite Inc. think so, and they're debuting Allite Super Magnesium, which they say is 33% lighter than aluminum with 20 times the shock absorbtion. Previously, the material had been used for top-secret military and aerospace projects, but it's now available for non-classified applications, whether that's building a robot, a rifle scope, or a bike frame.
Anyone who's ever lit a sparkler knows how hot and bright magnesium can burn, but Super Magnesium is supposed to melt, rather than burst into flames, when subjected to a 1200-degree F flame. Allite also say that Super Magnesium is as corrosion resistant as aluminum, due to the addition of rare earth elements and the purity of the magnesium.
Allite has three different alloys, one that's designed to be welded, one that's best suited for casting, and another that's meant for forging. That means it could be used for rocker links, stems, or even a complete frame. Given the myriad of potential applications for Super Magnesium in the bike world it'll be interesting to see which, if any, manufacturers decide to give it a try.
The cost of a complete frame constructed from the material will be more expensive than aluminum, but still less expensive than carbon, and as an added bonus it can be recycled at the end of its lifespan. Of course, Allite aren't the first company to pursue the use of magnesium for bike frames - we'll have to wait and see if this alloy catches on.
Stems and dropouts are just two of the possible applications of Allite's Super Magnesium.