18 July 2019

The consequences of stiff bicycle frames

Bicycle frames should be light and stiff. The past several years, technologies have developed further and further such that these frames become continuously lighter and stiffer. Some wonderful developments for (professional) cyclists, until they have an ugly fall.

The limits of carbon

The weight of bicycle frames has steadily gone downwards over the past years. The bicycle with which Eddy Merckx won the Tour fifty years ago is nothing in comparison with the bicycle of the soon to be winner of the Tour 2019. However, the carbon material is reaching its limits concerning its lightness and stiffness.

Lighter and stiffer bicycles also mean bicycles with lower strength and less impact resistance. “Not a problem”, some may say, “because bicycles are made for cycling, not falling.” However, several falls in cycling competitions have proven otherwise. A minor impact can inflict a destruction on traditional carbon frames, leading to breakage and the spectacular images of bicycles broken in two pieces after a fall.

Unbreakable frames by Feather technology

REIN4CED has ingeniously combined the characteristics of carbon and steel by developing a new technology called Feather where small steel fibers are added to traditional carbon as such creating a new material that is still light and stiff yet also very impact resistant. Compared to traditional fragile carbon, REIN4CED’s steel fiber composite shows compact damage signs upon impact (VIDEO: Impact properties REIN4CED's composite material). As the light frames retain high stiffness and mechanical integrity upon impact, the cyclists benefit from unbreakable frames.

Any potential damage visible on the steel fiber composite frames inform cyclists about impacts that have taken place. This way, they know about it and are able to take countermeasures if needed. The steel fiber composite of REIN4CED avoids major crashes and serious physical injuries resulting from the frame impacts. 

Even just now in the Tour 2019 we could witness the spectacular fall of Geraint Thomas who landed on his teammate’s bike snapping the bicycle in two (VIDEO: Fall of Geraint Thomas). No one was injured, but other stories exist.