Carbon fibre bicycles: lighter, stronger, faster…but safer?

Professor Doug Perovic provides expert commentary to the New York Times on the use of carbon fibre as the latest technology for high-end bicycles

Perovic, Doug D.

Professor Doug Perovic, forensic engineer

July 28, 2014

The 101th Tour de France took place this past weekend. Over the last century, competitors have considered a range of techniques and technologies to improve their speed.

This year, carbon fibre was the only material used for bikes, and it has also replaced aluminum in wheel rims. The catch: unlike conventional materials like steel or aluminum, carbon fibre does not bend in collisions. Rather, they shatter.

What results, Perovic said, is that when a bike is stressed beyond its limits, it “fractures into many pieces while metals bend, the energy absorption is the bending.” While steel and aluminum bikes generally telegraph an impending failure by displaying cracks, carbon fiber generally fails without warning.

Read Professor Doug Perovic‘s expert commentary on the use of carbon fibre for bicycle construction in the New York Times full article, As Technology Makes Bicycles Lighter and Faster, It’s the Cyclists Falling Harder.

Updated on July 29: Professor Perovic’s expert commentary for the New York Times was also captured by The Irish Times in the feature carbon-fibre bicycles in the frame for rising number of injuries and by Business World Online under the original article headline.

Professor Doug Perovic is a materials science and engineering professor and a renowned expert in forensic engineering. He currently teaches the only forensic engineering course in Canada at the University of Toronto, where he challenges students to apply engineering design concepts to real-world problems – learning the tools they need for high-level sleuthing.