Bike manufacturers are big customers of the carbon fiber industry. Companies like Utah-based Rock West Composites furnish bike makers with carbon fiber tubing that they use to manufacture frames, seat posts, handlebars, and more. Things are so advanced that it’s now possible to buy a customized carbon fiber bike with a price as high as $21,000.
Yes, you read that correctly. An Oregon company known as Argonaut is now in the business of creating completely personalized and customized carbon fiber models that are as unique as the riders who purchase them. It is all thanks to a special design that overcomes some of the inherent limits of carbon fiber bikes.
Bike Frame Rigidity vs. Flexibility
The carbon fiber tubing Rock West Composites carries is an excellent product for bike frames due to its high rigidity, stiffness, and tensile strength. The material is everything bike makers want for building a streamlined bike that is both lightweight and efficient.
Carbon fiber’s rigidity is such that a rider can apply maximum force while pedaling and receive maximum forward propulsion in return. Energy is transferred much more easily for increased speed and greater distance. Unfortunately, human beings are subject to a flaw that can make carbon fiber bikes very uncomfortable.
The flesh and bone that make up the human body are not strong or resilient enough to continue absorbing the energy produced by a carbon fiber bike frame. As such, carbon fiber bikes require a lot of work. The longer a person rides, the more work the bike requires. Riders tire more quickly as well.
The solution is to put some flexibility back into the bike frame. Flexibility allows the frame to absorb the bumps and shocks of typical riding so that the rider doesn’t have to absorb them. That’s exactly what Argonaut is doing. Moreover, they have come up with a way to customize their bikes so that each one offers the most to its individual rider.
A Different Kind of Carbon Fiber
Creating a bike frame customized to the rider’s size, weight, power, and cycling ability required more than just a few adjustments in size and shape. It needed a different kind of carbon fiber production. Inventor and Argonaut CEO Ben Farver experimented for years until he came up with the idea of combining a unidirectional carbon fiber with a standard weave material.
By adjusting the amount of each material used, he was able to increase or decrease the flexibility of the frame. Then it was a matter of coming up with a way to measure rider needs by testing them. His company is now able to evaluate customers in order to build bike frames that offer just the right amount of flexibility in just the right places.
Customers also have the opportunity to choose from a list of customizations that make for an even better fit. A basic model starts around $12,000. The most customized bikes are the ones sporting the $21,000 price tag. And by the way, building one of these customized machines can take as long as 12 weeks.
It is truly amazing what can be done with carbon fiber in this day and age. Thanks to some brilliant engineering and a lot of hard work, Argonaut is now able to offer a bicycle unlike anything else in the market. Its price tag reflects just how unique it is.
If you cannot afford $21,000 for a bike, rest assured that there are other carbon fiber bikes out there that are substantially more affordable. You will just not get the same level of flexibility and customization.