Carbon Fiber In Cycling

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In a sport such as cycling, every small advantage you can get over the opposition is greatly sought after. However, something like carbon fiber is much more than just a small advantage. Carbon fiber, compared to other materials such as Aluminum, Alloy, and Titanium, has the highest stiffness-to-weight ratio. Meaning, Carbon fiber is much stiffer and lighter. But why would you need something as light and stiff as Carbon fiber in cycling? First of all, when pedaling at a rate of 90-110 RPM, and producing more than 350 watts, you would want all that energy and power to be transferred towards forward movement, but, if your bike frame is not stiff and is flexing, your energy and power will be dispersed throughout the bike frame due to the flex.…show more content…
The best way to showcase just how important marginal gains are is by taking a look at the picture below. With the help of an extremely stiff and light Carbon fiber bike frame, the cyclist was able to take the win. If you noticed, look at how bent and low the two cyclists are, you may ask yourself, “Is that even necessary?” the answer is yes, both of those cyclists are trying to be as aerodynamic as possible. And if the rider has to “get aero”, then that means the bike has to be aerodynamic as well, this is when Carbon fiber steps in, once again. Due to Carbon fibers moldability, manufacturers can mold and shape thousand of possible designs and geometries to make an aerodynamic, lighter, or stiffer bike frame. But, this ultra strong high performance material has one big flaw, Carbon fiber is surprisingly brittle. If you take a solid object like a hammer and strike the Carbon fiber frame, the frame will crack and snap. But, if you do the same to Aluminum, Titanium, or Alloy, the frame will only bend. So, what is it about Carbon fiber that makes it what it is? Matt Wikstrom tells us about this high performance…show more content…
The result is akin to reinforced concrete, where the carbon fibre acts as reinforcement for the resin. The resin is the material that joins all the fibres together. They have to match each other really well, then you will have a better material. If the resin is not fully cross-linked, then it compromises its ability to withstand the elements and to also hold up with time. While carbon fibre composites have a high strength to weight ratio, they are highly susceptible to high loads over a small area, such as an impact. Once the integrity of the composite is compromised, the matrix essentially starts to crumble and must be repaired or replaced. Above are two photos that show the construction of Carbon fiber. On the left are cross-linking resins, and on the right are Carbon fiber sheets layered on top of oneanother. Right now the layering is pretty basic, however, there are rumors about other lightweight self-healing materials such as kevlar and polymer. Who knows, maybe in the future engineers could concoct a high performance material like a Kevlar-Carbon fiber woven sheets linked together by resin but coated with polymer. The possibilites are

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