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New carbon mix paves way for stronger, lighter bike frames

Dutch firm DSM says new Dyneema-carbon composite could double impact resistance

Peter Stuart
25 Nov 2016

Dutch multinational Royal DSM has developed a new form of carbon fibre composite that could significantly strengthen bike frames.

The new material will fuse current carbon fibres with DSM’s Dyneema fibre, which the company claims to be the strongest fibre in the world.

Dyneema, a subsidiary of Royal DSM, has already used its Dyneema UHMwPE (Ultra-High Molecular Weight Polyethylene) has already seen some use in the cycling industry, being used in Etxeondo shorts and S-Works shoe uppers for the added elastic and wear resistant characteristics.

Fusing these fibres with normal carbon fibre (made primarily from a polymer called Polyacrylonitrile) will offer increased ductility, vibration dampening and impact resistance – all big targets for the frame design.

'By marrying carbon with Dyneema, impact energy absorption can be increased by up to 100% while removing the risk of splintering,’ the brand claims.

Lighter frames

As a consequence of improving impact resistance we may also see the weight of carbon frames safely reduced. The fibres themselves are also less dense than carbon fibre, meaning that the weight will be slightly lower for the same volume of carbon.

The idea of using an additive in carbon fibre certainly isn't new. However, materials added for structural or technical advantages are typically inserted during the lay-up process to work with the existing carbon – as is the case with visco-elastic polymers used by the likes of Bianchi.

The Dyneema carbon, by contrast, changes and improves the carbon fibres at the most basic level.

The fibre has been used for textiles in the cycling industry, but its only use in the composites side so far has been in DSM’s own prototype carbon frameset which was exhibited at the K Trade Fair in Germany last month.

We expect that brands will begin to experiment with the material at the top end of the market in next year’s 2018 ranges.

So it may be some time before we can set a Dyneema frame on the road and see if the science can live up to the hype.

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