Sunday, July 03, 2005

Nanotube bike enters Tour de France editor Liz Kalaugher notes that nanotechnology has emerged as a competitive weapon at the Tour de France this year.

This year’s Tour de France will see cyclists from the Phonak Team use a bike with a frame containing carbon nanotubes. Swiss manufacturer BMC claims that the frame of its "Pro Machine" weighs less than 1 kg and has excellent stiffness and strength.

To create the frame, BMC used a composite technology developed by US sports equipment specialist Easton. The company's "enhanced resin system" embeds carbon fibre in a resin matrix that's reinforced with carbon nanotubes. Easton says that this improves strength and toughness in the spaces between the carbon fibres.

Easton has partnered with nanomaterials specialist Zyvex, US, which supplies functionalized nanotubes for the system. Zyvex is able to treat nanotube surfaces so that the tubes disperse more easily in other materials.

BMC claims to be the first to build a complete bicycle frame using Easton CNT-Nanotechnology. The frame contains only one alloy part - the bottom bracket threading. As well as using the new material, BMC says it invested in moulding technology. The structure did not require machining after manufacture, avoiding damage to the carbon fibres.

The 92nd Tour de France starts on 2 July and ends on 24 July. Riders will cover a total distance of 3607 km. US citizen Lance Armstrong is attempting to win the race for the seventh time. He has not, however, commented in public as to whether his bike contains carbon nanotubes.


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