Carbon fiber has become increasingly popular as a material in manufacturing bicycles. Its lightness and durability, along with its ability to be molded into just about any shape, make it ideal for a bicycle material, so it should come as no surprise that carbon fiber bicycle frames have exploded in popularity over the last decade or so.
You’ll find that the majority of bicycle manufacturers come up with their own names or titles for their lines of carbon constructed frames, but for the most part all these materials are actually the same and come from one of six major carbon fiber producing companies.
Here’s a quick overview of carbon bikes in Naples, FL, how they’re made and why they’re in such high demand.
Making carbon fiber road bikes
The raw carbon fiber that’s used in making sports equipment generally comes from polyacrylonitrile (PAN) fiber, which gets put through heat treatment to be shaped into long, thin fibers. The higher the heat treatment, the stronger the carbon eventually becomes. Keep in mind that one of the primary purposes of carbon fiber in developing sports equipment is to deliver lower weight, so there needs to be less material used in the application to drop the weight.
During the early stages of production, raw carbon gets mixed in with some other ingredients to form a composite. Carbon can’t simply be used on its own—otherwise, the end result would be far too brittle. Therefore, it’s mixed in with an epoxy resin that binds the fibers together in a mold, and makes it easier to resist damage from impacts. At the point the resin is added to the material, it’s referred to as “prepreg carbon.” There are also some manufacturers that will mix graphene into the material, which provides an even better weight-to-strength ratio.
Any decent carbon fiber frame is going to use varying grades of carbon across the frame—there are some areas that require more stiffness than others, such as the down tube and bottom bracket shell, while other areas require a little more flexibility, such as the seat tubes and chainstays.
There are a couple common methods used for constructing carbon fiber bike frames. Many major brands layer sheets of carbon fiber on top of each other to different levels of thickness, depending on the level of quality the manufacturer is seeking to attain. The decision there with regard to how the carbon will be laid is typically made by engineers with the assistance of computer software.
The direction in which the carbon fibers face also varies. Unidirectional fibers provide the best stiffness-to-weight ratio, but are actually a bit too brittle, so it is instead much more common for manufacturers to use carbon weaving in the manufacturing process, as it’s easier to mold and is better able to withstand impact.
If you’re interested in learning more about carbon fiber and its use in manufacturing for bicycles, or if you’re looking into bike rentals in Naples, FL, we encourage you to contact Big Momma’s Bicycles today and we’ll be happy to answer your questions.