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Carbon Fiber is a Great Bike Material

2018-08-28 17:43:56

Carbon fiber is a great bike material for two reasons. First, it’s stiffer at lower weight than almost any other material we know of. Second, unlike metal, carbon fiber’s stiffness can be finely manipulated. Its stiffness properties apply only unidirectionally, or along the long axis of the fibers themselves, so stiffness can be tuned based on how the carbon fiber composite is oriented, or placed in the model. That’s called anisotropism. Metals, by contrast, are isotropic, exhibiting the same strength and stiffness properties along any axis of the material.

Engineers use sophisticated software programs that take into account the grade of carbon, the resin, the shape, size and orientation of the carbon fiber ply, and even where it’s located in the model. That’s how frames are optimized for extreme lightness or rigidity, or both, but those programs and the graduate-degree expertise to run them are expensive. And the cost of the High Modulus carbon needed to realize the most heavily tweaked designs—is what makes the nicest carbon fiber bikes so much more expensive than even their mid-line peers.

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