Carbon Fibre. What is It?

The first time I picked up a fully carbon fibre bike, I damn near threw it over my shoulder. The fact that quite a few bikes are having weight added to them in UCI events shows just how far we have come. Really, 6.8kgs for a fully built up bike is ridiculously light. As usual, there are the haters that are railing against the current rule saying it stops innovation. There is an argument I am staying right away from.

So, what is this magic stuff? This from Wiki

Carbon fiber, alternatively graphite fiber, carbon graphite or CF, is a material consisting of fibers about 5–10 ?m in diameter and composed mostly of carbon atoms. The carbon atoms are bonded together in crystals that are more or less aligned parallel to the long axis of the fiber. The crystal alignment gives the fiber high strength-to-volume ratio (makes it strong for its size). Several thousand carbon fibers are bundled together to form a tow, which may be used by itself or woven into a fabric.

A 6 ?m diameter carbon filament (running from bottom left to top right) compared to a human hair.

That photo gives you an idea of the width of one carbon fibre compared to a human hair. For a more detailed explanation on how the fibres are made, see this excellent article or this one.

To put it in context useful to a cycling site, check out the video below.

Actually, carbon fibre is the common name given to plastics reinforced by a carbon textile made from carbon fibres. Strictly speaking, the actual material used in most component is actually Carbon Fibre Composite.

To see how a carbon fibre frame is built, who better to go to than Colnago.

I hope this was of interest. I know I enjoyed reading about carbon fibre. Considering how much of a pro cyclists bike is carbon fibre, it wont be long before we are all seeing more CF components on our bikes.

Feel free to comment below.

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