This week, we welcome Matthew Butterman on the show to discuss the growing role of composites in the Bicycle fabrication industry. Matthew is the news editor of Handbuilt Bicycle News and a 25-year veteran of the bicycle industry. He is also the current News Director for the Philly Bike Expo. On this episode, we'll be discussing how new carbon fiber technologies are benefiting the bicycle industry through better performing frames.
The use of carbon fiber composites in this $48 billion worldwide industry is growing every day. Particularly for high-end racing and performance bicycles, carbon fiber is the go-to material.
The popular narrative holds that carbon fiber bikes are made in Asian factories.
While most raw carbon fiber is sourced from Asia, a growing number of small, boutique bicycle frame builders in the U.S.. are working with carbon fiber exclusively. These handbuilt bicycle craftsmen are drawn to carbon fiber because of its orthotropic (different properties in multiple directions) nature, as opposed to the isotropic (same properties in all directions) nature of metal bicycles.
On this episode, Matthew and I will be discussing the history of carbon fiber in this industry as well as some of the newer advancements with hybrid composite technologies that combine carbon fiber with other lightweight fibers that provide resistance to impact damage.