Monday, February 25, 2008

Carbon's Dirty Little Secret

***Jim Roff's TOMAC carbon in that front end!****

The past several years have seen nice jump in bike sales. Reagan-era Space Based Defense Initiative military contractors had created a new super-material that was lighter and stronger than anything else. It was used in fighter aircraft, heavy lift aircraft, satellites, etc. It was shapeable in ways metal is not, but was very costly and labor intensive. It also used a great deal of highly toxic resins to bond this material together. Once the spending slowed after Reagan left office, all these scientists and manufacturers lost their contracts. Where did they go?

The bike industry, mostly. Golf clubs too. They were snapped up by the early makers like KESTREL. TREK employed many of the engineers, using them today on bikes like Klein, Gary Fisher and LeMond which they own. Everyone assumes that since they are riding bikes, they are doing something "green" (this word will soon become more annoying than "extreme). Well..... kinda'. Steel, aluminum, titanium, and magnesium are all materials that are recycleable. These things could live again as other bicycles or products after their untimely demise on the hood of a car.
I have worked extensively with resins in my water feature days at Wet Design and Water Studio. The stuff in nasty, and highly dangerous to handle and inhale. I know for a fact that it is classified as a "haz mat" substance if spilled or how could that be "green?" Also, carbon weave ain't all that granola either. Put them together, and my thought was that this is not a very "green" material. So...I called the largest producer of carbon bikes in the country to find out.
Trek's design department answered an e-mail I sent to them, and called me back. they had confirmed that, to their knowledge, carbon fabric is NOT recycleable. I was a little surprised by the lack of available info on this, but it didn't take much digging to find out the answer. much as I love the lines and ride quality/weight of carbon bikes, are we better off to be happy with the steels and aluminums? The buying public will surely dictate, but would the numbers be as good if people knew? I don't know.....



At 11:13 AM, Blogger JIMBO said...

No Carbon... ummmm.. just dont look at the seat stays.. Its a factory Tomac Carbon sticker..

At 12:43 PM, Blogger Cap'n said...

By "frame" I meant "main triangle," GOD, don't you read the fineprint! :)

At 6:40 PM, Blogger Vegas said...

The resin was for aircraft? I thought it was all for Ronnie's coif!

And alls I know is that if sumbudy tries to confiscate my Toxic Tomac, they'll hafta go thru me and Alabama Bubba from the Redneck Commandos first!


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