The Incredibly Strong See-Through Bicycle

Want a lighter bike? Poke holes in it—the more the better.

By Jennifer Barone|Thursday, March 06, 2008
The woven frame of the Arantix Mountain Bike is stronger than the same mass of solid steel.
Image courtesy of Lester Muranaka / Delta 7 Sports

On the Arantix Mountain Bike from newbie Delta 7 Sports, the typical solid-cylinder tubing has been replaced by an airy, see-through lattice woven from a carbon-fiber composite and bundled in Kevlar string. The resulting gossamer web may look delicate, but pound for pound this quirky construction—called IsoTruss—is stronger than steel, aluminum, and titanium. It’s even stronger than solid carbon composites, the current front-runners among ultralight bike frames.

Like other carbon-fiber frames, this one is baked: Long, thin strands of carbon atoms, organized in a hexagonal pattern and coated with epoxy resin, are put in an oven at 255 degrees Fahrenheit for four hours of curing. Unlike other carbon-fiber frames, though, the Arantix could withstand a direct shrapnel hit. The lattice structure isolates damage to a single element instead of shattering under pressure, Delta 7 says.

Despite all its empty spaces, the handmade Arantix frame costs a hefty $6,995 (a full bike is $11,995). At 2.75 pounds, it falls just short of a featherweight record among mountain bikes, but the IsoTruss easily supports the 200-pound-plus Clydesdale racers that its competitors shun. Our advice? Skip the frame: It would be cheaper (and healthier) to go on a diet.

Comment on this article
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
DSCMayCover
+

Log in to your account

X
Email address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it emailed to you.

Not registered yet?

Register now for FREE. It takes only a few seconds to complete. Register now »