7 Things You Didn’t Know About Carbon Fiber

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Carbon Fiber


first steel then aluminum then titanium and then carbon fiber it is pretty much the material of choice to build bikes out of
nowadays in fact, you have to go back nearly 20 years to find a non-carbon fiber bike on the top step of the podium step of the Tour de France but the fact is this material is much misunderstood so we thought we tackle the subject try and put an end some of the injuring myths so we have spoken to lots of carbon composites engineers including Sebastian the designer at Canyon who looks exactly the same as John Degenkolb has anyone ever told you actually look just like John Degenkolb?
No, never actually you look just like John Degenkolb
I almost blushed to find out the truth about carbon Carbon isn’t suitable for heavy riders WRONG The suitability of a component in general doesn’t depend on the material. every part should be engineered with a specific Load case in mind admittedly there is a risk with carbon, fiber as with any frame material that you can push the limits of it in order to hit a super-light goal for example but problems only arise if it hasn’t been engineered correctly so the goal of lightweight is being prioritized above strength and durability if you are heavy rider you should always check to make sure a component you’re buying doesn’t have a weight limit attached to it no matter what the material of component you are buying but nowadays you shouldn’t really have a problem all carbon used on bikes come from just 5 manufacturers TRUE all carbon fiber frames and bike components are made using fibers from just 5 manufacturers yeah, that is actually true now admittedly those manufacturers make different grades of carbon fiber so it is not like every bike frame is of equal quality also you’ve got a lot of other ingredients to add into the mix not the least the engineering and also the manufacturing processes that ultimately determine the outcome of your bike higher modulus carbon means higher quality bikes Wrong “modulus” refers to the stiffness of the fibers that are woven into sheets of carbon fiber So as you go from a standard Modulus Fiber right through to ultra-high modulus the fibers get stiffer lighter and more expensive to manufacture hence why the marketing guys trying to sell you Bikes want to advertise the fact that their frames are made out of ultra-high modulus carbon but the truth is though No matter how expensive your bike you always need a mix of those fibers so if you were to make a bike entirely out of High-Modulus carbon it will be very light, it will be uncomfortably stiff and it would be exceedingly brittle so the art form of designing carbon fiber bikes is to get the right mix of fibers in the right places and in the right directions in order to get a bike that is light, stiff, comfortable and strong so High Modulus of this doesn’t necessarily mean high quality You can’t lean your bike against a radiator WRONG to make a carbon fiber bike it needs to be cooked so if you were to happen to leave your bike leaning against a radiator then it’ll melt right? well NO, fortunately that is wrong the resins used to glue carbon fibers together are able to withstand temperatures far higher than the humble radiator can produce just think about your Carbon wheels for example the braking surface Needs to survive temperatures well in excess of 100 C which is the temperature that your radiator probably hopefully won’t ever have to exceed if you were to leave your bike carelessly in an oven though well that might give you cause for concern
So try and avoid that at all costs and in actual fact, leaving it next to an external electric heater “the kind that glow bright red” that might also give you problems So be a little bit careful about where you leave it Sunlight Weakens Carbon WRONG Well actually that one could almost be true
“Not that we would ever find out here in the UK” the fact is that the resins used to glue Carbon Fibers together can sometimes be susceptible to UV light meaning that your frame or parts could “in theory” degrade over time but the fact is thought
that carbon manufacturers evolved to take that into account so UV resistant resins are now used
and UV protective finishes are also applied to the Carbon meaning that you should be able to use your frame or parts indefinitely and if you are still skeptical about this I suggest you take a strong look at that airplane next time about the board it Carbon Can’t be repaired Guess what? WRONG It took me a long time to believe this one Well, Steel frames, they can be fixed right? Re-welded But carbon?!! when that gets damaged the just goes in the Bin right? Well, No, Wrong It turns out that you can fix carbon fiber parts in fact, people do some absolutely amazing things to resurrect carbon you may lose some of the lightweight or stiffness that you enjoyed before it was damaged but you may still be able to ride your beloved bike Carbon is less safe than aluminuim That is …. WRONG Science Glasses theoretically speaking: almost any material can be made safe if you take into consideration its properties and thus capabilities and then it’s just a matter of looking at the stiffness and the weight and therefore the performance so carbon is neither less safe or more safe than aluminum it’s just different but one thing I did learn a couple of weeks ago that I thought is very interesting is that that because Carbon is laid up at 90 degrees or 45 degree angles to any possible crack It leads to a step-by-step or crack-by-crack type of failure whereas aluminum if that would get damaged, then is pretty much GAME OVER
because that is an isotropic material whatever the ****** that is now yes carbon will fail catastrophically
but then so will aluminum if the load exceeds its capabilities……is just plain physics but what carbon will Do ” as we Just said” is give out possible warnings
you just need to pay attention to the signs so any kind of cracking noise, crackling noises or visible signs hopefully by watching this I will have laid some enduring carbon fiber myths to rest if not, and in fact even if I have, I hope that there will be some healthy debate going on down the comments section below is video so do make sure you get involved in that now before I go, I would just like to pick up on the last point about safety this is not an endorsement for buying any old carbon fiber part as a material it is absolutely brilliant for making bike parts out of but as with any material it is only as good as the engineering and the manufacturing processes behind it so always be diligent when you buy Bike stuff and particularly if you are buying second hand with that last one in mind
if you click up there then I’ve got a video showing you just how to your bike over after a crash which is important as we now know with both metallic bike part and carbon Bike parts or if you click down there, then one of the founders of CERVELO “Phil white” has a really interesting and in-depth discussion about exactly what it is that makes up carbon fiber
so do make sure you check that out otherwise, to Subscribe to GCN just click on the globe CC made by @ASKCYC on twitter