Monday, March 22, 2010

2 Carbon Bike Customization From Rouse Bicycles

Chris Cornetto, a resident of Austin Texas, has been a long time reader of my blog. He has, in the past, gratified the vanity of my work by saying that he used my blog for 'research'.

While spending copious amounts of time on my blog is not good for your health, Chris put such research time to good use by starting up bicycle business with a friend. His new venture, Rouse Bicycles, will provide fully custom painted monocoque frames made of Toray T700 carbon fiber (see material specs).

The starting price for their first release, called Alter Ego, is $1800 for a simple two color paint scheme. Note that this paint can be anything a customer wants, i.e any color and any design, even with your name on it. If a full build is desired with components, that can be done too. Their only requirement is that the 'Rouse' brand name appears on the down tube and a Rouse identification badge placed on the head tube.

An Alter Ego build for "internal use" was recently shown on Facebook weighing just 15.5 pounds.

Chris holds degrees in Geology and management and has more than 15 years of experience working in the chemical industry. He has spent the past four years promoting raw materials for use in fiberglass and carbon fiber composite applications. So I suppose I wasn't surprised by the length his company has taken to be transparent about their product's safety.

Now there exists a European safety standard for racing bicycles approved by CEN, called EN 14781. It specifies safety and performance requirements for the design, assembly and testing of racing bicycles and sub-assemblies, and lays down guidelines for manufacture's instructions on the use and care of such bikes. It also applies to racing bikes intended for high-speed amateur use on public roads, and on which the saddle can be adjusted to provide a maximum saddle height of 635 mm or more.

To those interested, Chris provides some relevant information on what his numbers were from the battery of tests performed under this standard. Its on a rare occasion you get to see such information from a bicycle company. I put them in a table for easy digesting :

Chris does face a tiny challenge in that he doesn't have much information to compare these numbers against. He told me he referred to Damon Rinard's frame deflections database but Rinard's table lists deflection numbers for metal alloy frames. He also referred to some frame stiffness values for the models listed in this post but those do not list deflections and German Tour magazine carried them out with possibly different test procedures.

If you wish to help interpret his test results against comparable frames and testing protocols, give him a shout! Let's all learn what these numbers really mean.

An example setup shown for the mass drop impact test specified as a requirement in EN 14781. Image courtesy : Zen Composites.

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  1. Anonymous7:29 PM

    Rinards table does include two carbon frames. Don't get me started on Kestral.

    Anyway, aluminum is perhaps the best alloy to use for comparison purposes for 2 reasons. Weights are far more similar between aluminum & carbon and people who ride steel are far less likely to upgrade (or rather, need to understand a comparison) from aluminum to carbon.

    If you know even just a little bit about carbon then it's not hard to understand that it's probably the best thing we could be using for bikes. It's light. It's flexible. It's stiff. It can be fine tuned for weight and flexibility and and stiffness.

    While I'm not an anti-testing advocate by any means I do think that these frames have been tested for safety. People don't sell really expensive things that are prone to breaking. It's really really bad for business.

    Let's be honest people; NASA sends humans into outerspace in the same stuff you are going to ride to work on. Freaking out about carbon fiber is so antiquated. Seriously, if you've been able to make the leap of faith to a bicycle tire with an inner tube rather than a solid rubber roll than I think you can handle a carbon frame built in the number one carbon bike frame manufacturing company in the entire world.

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