Once limited to applications in the aerospace industry and the pinnacle series of motor sports competition, carbon fiber has been the material of choice for high-performance bicycles, wheels, and other cycling components for several decades. Carbon fiber provides bicycle engineers with the potential to create a riding experience that offers an unmatched combination of comfort, stiffness, strength, and efficiency. With its incredibly high strength-to-weight ratio and malleability, carbon fiber is second to none for building the world’s best bicycles. In its raw form, carbon fiber is a conjoining of thin, strong fibers. These fibers come in a variety of grades based on overall strength and modulus.
The higher the modulus, the stiffer and lighter it is—in the simplest of terms, “modulus” is a term for the stiffness of a given material. However, this doesn’t mean that the best bikes are completely constructed from high-modulus carbon fiber. On the contrary, the key to building bikes is to mix and match different types of carbon fibers in order to find the ideal balance between stiffness, strength, and weight. In addition, no bicycle is crafted from carbon fiber alone—it’s used in conjunction with resin, which acts as a bonding agent to hold the structure together. It’s a complex puzzle to create a carbon fiber bike that not only rides well, but can sprint away from the competition. But just like how the finest food ingredients demand the skills of a master chef to yield a truly exquisite meal, bicycle frame materials require engineering expertise to produce a truly great bicycle.